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2 corrections, most recently by birdwing - Show corrections



In the "Gympie Times" of October 15, 1896, the late Mr. James Nash told his own story of the discovery of the Gympie goldfield as follows:—

About the middle of August, 1867, I left Nanango- for Gladstone, I had been working some time in Nanango ; there was nothing there worth staying for, so I thought of going to Gladstone, trying all likely places on the way. I had nothing but my dish, pick, and dog with me. I came by Mt. Stanley to Yabba, and there I stayed one night, starting again on Monday mornings reached an old sheep station at night, about 12 miles from Yabba, stayed there with two boys who were tailing cattle. I had been breaking quartz all day, while travelling down the range, and the boys, seeing my dish, asked me if I was prospecting ; they told we there had been some gold found at a place three miles from there called, I believe, Bella Creek. I tried it, and got colours in several places;   then went to Brisbane by Imbil, where I bought a horse and rations ; came back and tried the same creek in several places and only got a colour. I then left for Imbil; camped there a night with Rees Howel (who was running the mail from Maryborough to Brisbane) and Mr. Lamb (manager of Imbil) ; left Imbil next morning, got to Denman's camp about 11 o'clock, saw a fire, boiled the billy, and had dinner. Just as I had finished Bob Wannel came up; he was hauling timber for Denman. I asked him to tell me where to cross the river (Mary), and he told me he would send a boy with me after dinner. I told him I had taken dinner, but he wanted me to have a drink of tea for friendship's sake. After he had dinner we all went to Denman's tent; he said he was an old digger from Victoria. I showed him the few specks from Bella Creek ; he told me the Six-Mile Creek would be a likely place for gold. Mr. Wannel sent a boy to show me the crossing ; when I did cross I was searching for the track until the boy came looking for his bullocks. He put me on it and I reached Traveston that night, stayed there with Harry Best and a man named Ramsey, stockman for Mr. Powell. I left there next morning and got to the Six-Mile Creek, but not liking the look of it I did not try it at all, nor any other place, until travel ling down what is now Caledonian Hill. Just at the end of where Mr. T. J. Ferguson's garden now is I tried a dish of dirt, and got a speck in it. That half day and the next day I got an ounce and three pennyweights. On the second day I broke the hammer headed pick I had and could do no more digging, so I went on to Mary borough, where I tried two banks and several stores, but could not sell the gold. (Times were so bad that they hardly knew what gold was like.) At last I tried Mr. Southerden a second time, and he allowed me £3 for It—£l in money, the rest in tools and rations. I then went back to try the place again, taking about 10 or 12 days for the Journey both ways, and the stay in Mary borough. When I got back I started digging in the same place, washing at the back of what is now the Tattersall's Hotel, but the water getting dirty I went up the creek, near where the gas works now is. While washing the first dirt there, I picked up gold beside me in small pieces. I stayed on there. I had camped about where Mr. Woodrow's store is now, but shifted farther up the creek where I was working. I got 75oz. in six days, and then started for Maryborough again. Camped at Curra station one night, helped bury a black boy next morning, then took five days to reach Maryborough. My horse knocked up near the Five-mile. I reached the punt just at dark, and could not get the old horse on, so I left him, and carried my swag and saddle to the Sydney Hotel. I took the first steamer to Brisbane. On- board I met a young fellow named Malcolm, and we stayed together at the St. Patrick's Hotel. I told him I would be going into the bush back of Mary borough, with horse, dray, and rations, and that if he would like to come it would cost him nothing. I went then to Flavelle Bros. and sold the 75oz. of gold. The Hon. W. H. Walsh, then member for Maryborough, was in the shop, when I sold the gold,

He asked me where I got it. I inform ed him that I got it "up North," mean ing north of Brisbane ; not at the Palmer, as some say I told him. I bought a horse from Mr. Redhead (farmer), and a dray from Kent's saleyard, and had a cradle made at the old Pimlico shop. I took steamer back to Maryborough, taking Malcolm with me ; went to Travis's store for tarpaulin, rations, corn, and chaff ; then started for my camp. We took about nine days to get back, having to unload several times to cross creeks. Started work again, and waited nearly a fortnight for my brother John ; I had left directions for him at the Sydney Hotel. I thought I would wait no longer for him, but report the find, so I started at sundown from the camp, reached Tiaro at day light, missing my brother on the way, As soon as I reached Maryborough I knew he had gone up, so I reported at once to Mr. Sheri dan, being told he was a P.M. ; he sent Sergeant Ware to peg out the claim. With Sergeant Ware came Maurice and W. Walsh, Charles Brown (now in Gympie), W. Leishman, and. I think, Mr. J. Cart right. A few days after the report nearly all the people had left Mary borough ; then the rush took place. Mr. Davidson (now Surveyor-General), then Land Commissioner in Maryborough, put the compass on my claim, and cut off a claim and a half at the bottom. My brother had a claim near mine. Mr. Denman has spread many false re ports abou the discovery of Gympie. I had never met him until I called at the camp when I could not find the crossing, and then did not have a meal with him. nor did I try the only place he told   me would be likely to have gold in. Be fore I reported he passed one day, and wished to know how I was doing- I told him there was a little gold, there, and offered him the dish and pick to try his luck, but he said no, he had bad luck in Victoria, and would not go in for dig ging again, he had his timber to look after. I did not see him again till after the rush, and certainly did not have any rations from either Denman or Mr. Powell, nor did I ever try any dirt on Traveston, as was asserted in "Figaro" some time ago. Mr. A. Mes ton did not get any information from me about the discovery of Gympie, and the reports in his book, "The History of Queensland," are altogether incorrect. Before I reported there were lots of blacks passing ; they wanted to know what I was doing, and I told them "looking for stuff same as another white man at Kilkivan" (where they were getting copper then). I knew one of the blacks named Miva Doctor (or King of Miva, as he styled himself), who appeared to be boss, so they were friendly enough. James and Peter Graham were the first to have a store on the field. JAMES NASH. (Mr. Nash died at Gympie on October 5, 1913, at the age of 79. A monument to his memory was unveiled at Gympie on January 8, 1915.—Ed. "Q.").