Goldfields life had its pleasures and a few tragedies
OVER 40 years have passed since I went to
Lancefield as a bride. The train was late and we drove through the hot night over a rough, uneven track with a lantern swinging at the. back of the sulky and casting weird shadows as the horse's hooves clop clopped on the hard-baked ground.
The quaint little houses scat- tered higgledy-piggledy about the township were cheerful and homelike inside. Nearly every house had its piano and many happy hours were spent round them singing the old songs,
They were happy days, marred only by occasional mine acci- dents-tragic interludes which showed that our people were quick to give sympathy and back it by practical aid.
I was anxious to descend a mine but my courage failed me when I saw the cage drop into the yawning black hole and heard the clang of the (signals showing the levels to which the
men had to be taken.
The "higgledy-piggledy" houses of Lancefield with portions of the mine buildings in the
My first glimpse of the natives was when a huge blackfellow accompanied by his gin and a piccaninny appeared at the door and shouted at me. The man carried a 6-ft. spear
tipped with a three-cornered sliver of glass which glinted evilly each time he brandished
the weapon. They had no fell designs, on me, I discovered later, but I was glad when my husband brought home a dog to keep me company.
My canine guardian was old, and toothless but his deep, long-drawn growl was a menac- ing sound and the natives were terrified of him.
THE glory pf the Goldfields'
sunsets is not easily for gotten. At the end of a scorch-
ing day the fiery bali would sink in a flaming splendour of crimson and gold that gradu- ally faded to pastel shades, One night in 1908 we saw a brilliant display of the Aurora Australis. People said that such a sight had'never been seen before and some folks thought the end of the world was near and racked their brains for half-forgotten prayers.
In 1910 1 got up at 3 a.m. once on a clear frosty morn
ing to behold Halley's Comet in all its glory, and took out my little son rolled in a rug
to see the sight. Picnic Jaunts
IN the spring we used to orga-
nise picnic parties and travel out to where the everlasting flowers made a carpet extend- ing as far as the eye could see. Dried and arranged with kurra- jong leaves they made beautiful decorations which lasted through the hot dry months.
I remember the outsized baker and the butcher who was never in a hurry; the milkman who
always inquired after the "young juveniles" and little Alphonso the Spaniard who wore a perpetual grin and kept us supplied with fruit and vege-
Alphonso had a young assis- tant who came from the New Norcia monastery. One day the young man's spade slipped and hit him a painful blow on the toe. He said one word with tre- mendous fervour. Alphonso grinning widely, chortled: "For ten years you try to catch Hea- ven and now you lose it in one word."
A Prank Misfired
^HERE was young Mac who,
suitably adorned with burnt cork and aboriginal trimmings, was heading for a fancy dress ball. Seeing old Paul resting in his bough shed, he tiptoed over and with menace in his voice said: "You gibbit baccy, boss."
"Get to hell out of here " roared old Paul producing a wicked-looking revolver and brandishing it wildly. Mac reached the ball in record time. My best friend at Lancefield was dear old Granty, who would wash and iron or clean the house for 10/ a day. Her favourite flowers were "christy anthems" and I never see a
bunch of chrysanthemums without thinking of Granty.
I got my taste for opera at Lancefield, sitting outside my home on the hot summer even- ings listening to the Italians singing. Their magnificent voices used to rise and fall in a flood of melody and gradu- ally die away in the distance.
It was a sad day when I looked for the last time on Lancefield and the house that was our first home and the birthplace of two of my children. Goodbye little home of delightful memories, you will never be forgotten!
Pastoral Pioneers |
THE' late Mr. James Nairn,
whose death occurred at
Narrogin on September 28.
1950, was a third generation member of a family which had been associated with the pas- toral industry in this State for over 120 years.
Mr. Nairn was the eldest son of the late W, J, Nairn, a for mer owner of Byro Station, Upper Murchison, and,was the grandson of James Nairn who arrived in this State shortly after Governor Stirling in 1829 and took up Nooloolo Station, Carnamah.
Mr, Nairn was born at Don- garra in 1874 and spent the early part of his life in that district. In his early twenties he joined his father and suc- cessfully managed Byro Sta- tion for some years. He bad lived quietly at Narrogin for several years prior to his
\ RECENT issue of 'The
Western Mail" carried a
very interesting article by Colin V. Fields oq the construction of Western Australia^ first aircraft.
He makes one claim for this machine, however, which ean not be sustained when hç sug- gested that it was tho, first Australian-built plane io ¡be flown in the Common- wealth.
This distinction belongs to a. plane built by the Duigan bro- thers, Jack and Reg, on their father's property Spring Plains., near Mia Mia (Victoria) The brothers built and flew their biplane in 1909, only a IÍW months after the Wright Bros.
I A.K.T., Dangin,
(Thanks for the interesting ¡follow-up. In referring to the Wright Bros., 1 think you al- lude to their French demonstra^ tions in 1908, Their first pow» ered flights were made much earlier, in December, 1903. I Ed.]