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fi TrK DOLLYPOT!
There ts a wealth of story yet untold about our goldfields, past and present. In order to remedy this and provide the old-timers and the new generation with the opportunity of bringing the picturesque personalities of the past and present to life in these pages a prize of 10/6 weekly will be given to the yarn selected to go "Over the Plates." Send contributions to "Non-Com," "The Western Mail," Perth, and endorse the envelope "The Dolly Pot."
~OVER THE PLATES.
Memories of Mines and Men.
By Suter Abis, Inglewood.
Time has changed in many ways
But one thing changes never.
The memory oí those happy days
We fell once spent together.
DEAR "Non-com,"-Nannine came into
existence about 1892 when Bayley found gold on the "Island." According to all accounts he got plenty. His patch
and the immediate vicinity have been worked spasmodically ever since; man: made good while others were only 01 tucker. The gold they say goes into the bed of the lake and there is no telling what may be hidden under that deep layer of mud.
Although I first saw Nannine about 1894 when Mullewa was the "head of the line," it was not until about nine year later that I resided there, when Cue had acquired that distinction. Later still Nannine became the terminus.. The in habitants of every town "farther up" the gold belt always clamoured for the rail- way to come to their centre, and not without reason. It brought the inner world much closer, transport was quicker and cheaper, and it brought finance as
As the line advanced so did the team- sters. The first siding opened up saw an exodus from the last centre. They picked up their loading at the temporary ramps, and kept on doing it until that section of the line was finished, when they formed a new central camp. It meant a lot of money to any town, and no one was ever pleased to see a line started to another place. Almost every town be- gan to decline once the line had passed through, while the new one put on an air of affluence; for the time being lt waa the business head for outlying centres There were scores of teams-horses donkeys and camels-and there was a lot of trade quite apart from the local min ing activities.
The first trip to Nannine was made on one of Jules Gascard's mail coaches driven by Bob Allen, better known as "Raspberry Bob." He was so used to the name that he took no offence at it even when mentioned by strangers.
We left Cue about 8 a.m., passed through Jack's Well and arrived at Cork Tree for dinner. George Stanbrook kept the hotel then and Susie Wein, an ex- ceedingly pretty girl, was waitress. She later entered a contest for "the prettiest girl on the Murchison" and was well ahead until the last night when the "boys of the village" who were mostly golden hole men, caused a stir by handing in 'handfuls of notes for old Mrs. Donovan, the washer lady, who "walked it out," much to Susie's disguest.
Cork Tree Flat was an unforbidding looking place, but the hotel made up for that deficiency. The dinner was all that could be desired and the surroundings of the hotel were kept scrupulously clean. A block of about a quarter of an acre was surrounded by a fence of bottles about three feet wide... ' In' later years this grew to great proportions; there must have been millions of bottles.
Towards evening we approached the Nannine Lake, which on account of bad seasons was bone dry. Although there was no water the coach had to keep to a beaten track. Any slip and we were gone, for all along the road for about five miles through the lake were car- casses of horses and camels entangled In the black ooze; there wasn't a chance in a thousand , of any of them getting out without help. As we proceeded we saw one horse which had struggled for about 20 yards leaving a churned surface be- hind him. Nothing but the head . was showing; yet he whinnied when he saw us. A ball from the driver's Winchester put him out of misery. The usual route was through the "Glue Pot", (and a beauty it was) along the limestone ridge on the edge of the lake but the way we went meant saving a couple of miles.
Old Raspberry, whose name belied his choice of drinks, was a fund of infor- mation and put his knowledge to good use. He won drinks from the box seat passengers first try on what looked a hundred to one against him. "Ill bet yez drinks," he said, "that the first man we see in Nannine will be Corporal Tyler." We were about three miles out then and didn't think that he could see Tyler from that distance, and even if he did there was plenty of time for him to shift before we arrived. He was asked, "How many people in Nannine?" "Oh about 500" he said. "Then," said the passengers, "we'll double the bet." "Good oh," he said. "That'll do me."
"Now," he said, "I'll make another bet with yez, and that is that not only will Tyler be the first man sighted but that he will be drawing mud maps, but," he added, "yez'll have to lay me two to one about that." He soon got his odds and the drinks appeared to be as good
It was a hot day and getting well on towards evening as we approached the town. The tin roofs shone In the. sun and small spirals of dust rose up in the "willy-willy" and more raised by teams hung over the town.
When Bob made the bet he didn't say that on the road we travelled the police station was the first building met with; but it was, and outside of it dressed in riding breeches and helmet which shone in the sun, was Tyler sit- ting on his "hunkers," drawing a stick about the ground describing something to another man. Bob had won. He told us then that never had he arrived by that
road unless a similar thing war happen- ing. Tyler met every coach and he couldn't possibly tell a story without il- lustrations in the sand. We didn't be- grudge him the drinks-and they weren't the first or last he won on similar bets.
Nannine resembled lots of other min- ing centres; tin and iron houses; many with hessian walls, and the usual array of pubs, business places, and blacksmiths' shops. The country was bare and the quartz hills on one side and the flat lake country on the other didn't add to the outlook. But it was a good place just the same and the centre for Quinns, Burnakurra, Star of the East and Wiluna on the east, Meekatharra. Abbotts and Peak Hill on the north, and all station properties on the west.
During the 1900 floods a boat was sailed from Nannine to Stake Well, a distance of 12 miles and a load of flour brought back. It was the only way. Re- gattas were held on the big stretch of water and on one occasion the sports had to be postponed because the heavy winds made the water too rough.
They had swimming races, too. There was a barber there who resembled the one described by Banjo Patterson in the Man from Ironbark. He was small and flash-and a champion swimmer to boot. He was one of the leaders in getting up the swimming events and from reports he put up sensational times in trials which were always in private. No one ever saw him train. He was scratch man and favourite for most of the events. A bookmaker friend laid him at evens for all he could get. The-day of the race he started In the 100 yards event. They had to go round a boat anchored 50 yards out; he never got halfway and had to be dragged out of the water to save him from drowning. He couldn't swim at all-but bis mate had the boodle, and both left the same night. Just as well.
About as friendly and sociable a crowd as could be found anywhere were the Nannine folk "But Not Goodbye" would have enjoyed it then.
Prominent men in the business line were H. R. Williams (now in England) of the Big Store, whose firm did all the forwarding for the rabbit-proof fence department, H. and J. Eves, of the "S.P.Q.R." store over the way. Harry is still about Walkaway, but Jim has passed on. Louie Zürcher, of Crooks and Brooker, with Alex Campbell (now de- ceased) as off-sider. Louie will well re member the day his sulky caught fire on the Meeka road; he doused it with sand Another time the gas main at Mrs. Wil lows's pub went wrong. Louie looked for it at night with a lighted match. He found it and lost his whiskers, but he said it SHOULD have been all right-"I had a safety match."
Jack and Jim Bond kept the North Murchison Hotel. Miss Mulholland was housekeeper. Later she married Jack and went to Canada to live while Jim car ried on the business with Alice Blythe the singer and pianist, as manageress Later she became the landlady. Other publicans were Dan Gill, Dan Downes Ted Dixon and Mrs. Willows. For a time too, Bill Snell kept a hotel. He had sheep country out near Burnakurra where he first made his rise. . He was sitting (not too pleased with things) on (a big boulder which had been rolled into position for a datum peg when be found lit was "lousy with gold." He took up
leases and erected a battery and for a long time held the fort. Gus Nelson was publican there, butcher, and general fac totum, and although he held many li cences afterwards he finally settled down to farming life at Nabawa, outside Ger
Ted Lehman was mine host at Quinn; where the famous "Quinns Cup" was run and where Harry Grant grew the beard It was a lively spot, and it was a poor prospector who could not find enough gold
there to "tucker up" and make another trip further out. Alf Perry, an old Nan nineite, seems to be the reigning king there '' now. He has a battery and as it has been working for years it seems safe to say it isn't a losing proposition.
Tom Thick, later a farmer at Mückin budin, and now a salt contractor at Norseman, was the man of the moment at Barambie. This is, the place where the ladies with the uncommon name resided. There were the "Mulga Queen "Highland Mary," "Florldora," "Seven Mile Liz" and "Kangaroo Kate"-all rough diamonds, but good at heart.
At the Star of the East was a rich mine which had to be abandoned on ac count of water. Mark Maingay was the manager there for many years. Paddy Green kept the pub. Three miles away at Gabanintha Harry Dawson kept
store. Joe Dyson was the mainstay in the mining world and was always in hopes of finding the famous "blue reef but it is still in hiding. Ernie Bend and his brother saw to the beef market
Chesterfield was a mining centre about 50 miles north-west of Nannine, close to Belele station. Bill Streuffert (recently passed over at Meekatharra) was the dispenser of good things, and the Cash- man Brothers were the men who got the good gold. They got it in lumps.
Harry Swinton, the engine driver, left there on account of his health, and with his good wife and young Fred made a home at Gap Well, 10 miles from Nan- nine. The best recommendation this place had was the -big round well of
water. Drovers passed through with big
mobs of bullocks, but no matter how much water they drew with the well whip lt never went down more than a foot or so, and filled again almost immedi ately. Teamsters made this a camping ground, and Mrs. Swinton started boarding house. Today the old people are gone, but Fred carries on with his sheep run, and those who have never heard of the lovely big "Gap oranges
must be new chums indeed.
In the old days Mr. Cruickshank, later a cattle inspector, near Broome- was manager of Annean Station, about miles west of Nannine township. Then Bill Tierney took it over, and the four in-hands which came from that home stead were something to be admired; on
that run is Mill Mill pool, one of the
choice spots of the district In which to spend a shooting holiday. Most times there are duck galore, and pigeons and
Stake Well on the Cue line was for a while the scene of a gold mining venture Jack Irwin (Vic.) and Tom Doug (N.Z.) were interested parties. Billy Bray (Chapman River, Geraldton) and
brothers did well there. Alex Forsyth was mine host for many years. This was the outlet for Reedy's Patch, where the
mine is now. There were some very rich dabs got in-that part; it wasn't far from Bitter Well and Tancrow, where ducks went at night time when the lake was full. Jack Earner could tell of many a day spent there. On Bitter Well pool was a duck hawk; a brown chap with a dark ring round his neck; he was a great friend to shooters, who could almost be sure of having more than one try to down any ducks on the water. As soon as they rose the hawk was at them, and drove them back to water. They were more afraid of him than the gun and often made the mistake of coming too close to the shooter in the hurry to get into cover. Seldom did those who knew this hawk leave without paying him for his trouble and assistance. A duck or
water hen would be hung on a convenient limb, and he looked for it. A stranger who went shooting in that direction came back empty handed. His only kill he said was at Bitter WelL "where he shot a dirty little hawk which kept flying round him." He didn't know until then how unpopular a man could become over small thing like that.
Harry Ellis kept the Nannine cordial factory. He recently passed over at
Brunswick Junction. Alex McCrae (Vic toria Park) had a big drapery establisih ment. Bob Roepke (now at Wickepin was a miner at the Champion mine. This trio were the best billiard players in the town. There were plenty of tables and snooker, pyramids and billiard tourna ments were all the go; but these mem preferred devil's pool-at half a crown a time. They spent hours a day at it and although many took a hand they soon became spectators. They were too hot for the ordinary player, and seldom left before the closing hour; then they played the games over again-at the bar.
A. C. Twine, a very big man, was P.M and Billy Cantelow was his assistant Billy was a champion runner, and Twine was the most Obliging P.M alive. He knew how far some men had to travel to get their mail, take out money orders etc., and it was nothing for him to get up at any hour of the night or morning and oblige them so that they could start their journey home and get to work.- He was full of the milk of human kind
Masterton was mayor for a while, and later Ted Dixon took it on. Alf Oldham was Town Clerk. The members of the council 'got it into their heads that all vehicles should carry lights at night and wrote thé-police about it, asking for the by-law to be enforced. It was to take effect from the first of a given month They even advertised it in the Cue paper which circulated in Nannine.
This particular date happened to be the one on which Archbishop Riley came from the north and made a stay for the day at the Twelve Mile. All Nannine went out to meet him, including tho al dermen. It was the night of the full moon. None of them gave a thought to the lighting by-law. On the way home they were all caught-except H. R. Wil liams, who got the tip from one who had been intercepted. He had a light taken to him, but that didn't prevent him from sitting on the bench and fining each of his colleages a pound each. They were the only men who were ever charged For months afterwards teamsters who had no better lights than candles in bottles would carry them on their wag- gons when in town.
George Wilcox (Supreme Court) was C.PB. for a time and was followed bs Frank Walsh (retired recently from Arbi- tration Court). Bob Anderson and Jack Edwards worked the Caledonian mine on the Hospital Hill, where Dr. Rigby was medico. Jack Tuohy and Paddy Darra- gan (Meekatharra) had one of the finest blacksmith's shops in the north. They did a great business but had to shift when the line passed through. Robinson's mine on the hill was very rich but water wass the' trouble. He was offered a large sum for it, but refused. Mines were al- ways worth such fabulous sums. It has been deserted for many years. Alf Perry has a lot of the machinery at Quinns. Dick Caddy (deceased) managed the mine for Snell at Burnakurra. Tom Allanson (Mullewa) worked for W. H. Williams and also had a dairy round. When he was about 16 he was full whiskered and still wears them. Arthur Dinee was drowned bv a rush of water in Robbie's mme. Jimmy is in the P.O., Perth. W. Kelly has gone the way of all flesh; he was a Queenslander of the old school. Old Mrs. O'Brien lived to be 80. Rose lives in Perth. Jim Smith (manager Roy Hill station) was head serang for Irwin and Douglas. He was no slouch with an axe. He married Carrie Willows. Jack Earner (Midland Junction) took Lucy to wife. Harry Sorenson, who rode all the whi- ners at the Quinns Cup meeting, ls still on top. His mate Frank Vale, is in High- gate Hill. Roary McLeod and his wife were Identities who lived near Tuohy's smithy. If you wanted to know what she thought of you it was only necessary to raise the old lady's ire. You'd hear
Bill and Alf Jose kept a garden three miles west of town, while Jim Bond kept one at the Three Mile on the Meeka road. He had a splendid place, and got half-a-crown a pound for his grapes. In the early days he carted melons and vegetables to Cue. He earned every penny he got Jim Dunn, one of H. R. Wil
liams's men, is still on top. He wears
well. Billy Bogen, the little engine driver who played a great game of foot- ball, Curly Turnbull and Dick Mathews, who used to sing "On the Road to Man- dalay" as well as the next, have all passed on. Geo. Johns a, one-time teamster, has station property at the Twelve Mile. Hugh Dunlop fell down a shaft near the Champion mine and was killed. Cock Sands, who on his own admission plucked a sheep instead of skinning lt the first time he tackled butchering, made Nor- tham his home, Jack Tierney, the but- cher, has killed his last beast, and Ted Brown one time council employee, is buried at Meekatharra.
Many a night was spent with Jack Earner and his crowd shooting duck at Polelle Pools. We never missed a good bag. A great man with a gun was John.
Dan Downey held a publican's licence for many a year; he passed over at Nor- tham. He used to tell a good tale about a visit which Sir John Forrest paid to Nannine at a time when the line head was at Mullewa. He came by four-in hand drag and spent a night at each town as he passed through. Dan's ver- sion was vouched for by others who were present at the dinner.
To make Sir John's visit a success and place before him (as Premier of - the State) all the requirements of the dis- trict, lt was agreed that a banquet should be held at Dan's Hotel. It had the big- gest dining room and many were ex- pected to attend. They did. The trouble was suitable waiters. It would never do to have one In ordinary clothes attend such a high dignitary. It must be done in proper style. But how? Rather than make a mess of it Dan agreed to be chief waiter and attend to the visitor; but he' had no suitable clothes; there was only one dress suit in the town and that belonged to an Orangeman. Dan was of another faith; but anxiety to do the thing properly overcame his preju- dice, and he got into the suit which fit- ted him handsomely. And whatever else Dan might be he was a handsome man. His one condition was that he was not to partake of any intoxicant until mid- night. That was even harder than wear- ing a heretic's suit; but it had to be faced. ,\
The evening passed on with Dan sur- prising himself and every one else with his ability as a waiter and his avoidance" of the contents of a Monopole bottle. He addressed Sir John as "Your Lord- ship" and "Your Excellency," and was so pleased he could even have addressed him in higher terms, and Sir John in his turn, looked well satisfied.
The midnight hour had struck and Dan was released from his promise. To make amends for his long abstinence he swal- lowed the best part of a bottle of fizz. This mellowed him and he became more friendly. It was a thirsty night-he took some more. As the wine worked Dan's formality left him. He became over-zealous to help the visitor to drinks. He filled up every few minutes but Sir John took it in good part
Later he got impatient when he found the glass still full, and not getting much of a hearing, said, "Go on John-drink her up; get a move on." Slr John ob- liged, but very slightly, and Dan, striking him on the back with the flat of his hand, said "Irrigate, you blank, irrigate!" Sir John said he would-get another bottle. As Dan went out some of the crowd took possession of him much to the detriment of the dress suit, which got a very rough handling. What the owner thought about it when lt was re- turned is not recorded, but it would not be very helpful in settling any religious
Billy Borwick (North Fremantle Hotel) made his goldfields debut at Nannine. He arrived from "good old Vic" on his way to Meekatharra. His face was as rosy
as a girl's. He thought he was back in Melbourne and wanted to know if he could get a cab to take him out-25 miles. The nearest cab was in Geraldton, some hundreds of miles away. Bill has learned a lot since. His brother Peter was boni- face at one of the Meeka julceries
Rabbits were first discovered on the Island about three miles from the town about 1904. Ossy Benbow, Alex Mccrae,
Jack Earner and myself got many a brace there, using ferrets to hunt them out of their burrows, which were made in the opaline rock.
Seven years later the Government de- cided to erect a north and south rabbit proof fence to keep rabbits from coming into the Murchison pastoral country. A bit belated, as they had at least seven years' start. Hundreds of tons of wire netting came through and was sent to the depot at Gum Creek, some fifty miles east on the Wiluna-road. It still stands and no doubt the boundary riders do the rounds. But there were so many rabbits west of it by the time it was finished that it was of little use. Later an east and west line which passed six miles north of Nannine near the duck pools was erected. This was a decade too late, like the other one. Up and down these fences emus would parade in scores, and often died there, too, because they hadn't the sense to turn back. During the "wet" of 1900 when turkeys came south in thousands the young birds were trapped by the hundred along the fences. The old birds flew over and walked along the opposite side waiting for the young ones to join them, or else went on with the flock and forgot all about the chickens.
The first gold escort by car undertaken in W.A. was between Nannine and Bar- rambie, a mining centre 75 miles east.
The occupants of the car were Jock Thompson, afterwards in Parliament, and prominent in the Yampi iron ore leases, "Banjo" Patterson, driver, and myself. Banjo is now in Perth and one of his boys is well known as an East Perth
We left Nannine at 7 a.m. and re- turned with the gold the same night, a total run of 150 miles, which, at that time, was considered to be very good go- ing; and it was, too, considering that the cars were anything but the articles they are today, and that the road was just a bush track along which teams carted goods and firewood. They were extremely rough and the wheel tracks deep; in many places they had to be "straddled" by the car, and stumps were plentiful.
Banjo, however, was a good man at the wheel, although he had had enough by the time he reached home. It was a
The old town is a skeleton, but there is no telling what it might have been with a fair chance. The mining com- panies those days did not have millions behind them; just enough to go to water level or take out what was easy to get in the way oí stone; so one mine after another became a derelict. Some other day they may have better luck.