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New Guinea Goldfields. ? -♦? ?
'GOLD DUST AND ASHES.' Ion Idriess' Latest Work.
'A goldlield! He had found il — and alone! That knowledge and the gleaming sluff Ilirilled his hearl. After many years he -had realised Ihe pros pector's dream, fnlold wealth lying underfoot ! A fortune for himself: fortunes for others! This yellow
metal could transform him from an unknown wanderer into a financial giant, in a moment. . . . Hold might be lying here in tons. . . . The law of the jungle here was ended. In a second of time this land had com menced a new era in history.' Thus Ion Idriess pictures 'Shark- eye Park' soliloquising on the dis covery which was to change the his tory of the Mandated Territory of New Guinea. 'Nature's last stronghold . . . Land of sudden death, delirious hap piness. Irafric despair.' and begins his 'romantic story of the New Guinea goldfields' in his latest, work. 'Gold Dust and Ashes.' which has just been published by Angus and Hoberlson. Lid. Australians — and. indeed, a much wider reading public than Ausiralians — have become familiar wiHi Ion Idriess' books and because of the high, standards attained by those earlier creations of his virile pen Ihey antici pated something out of the ordinary when 'Gold Dust and Ashes' was promised. They have not been disap pointed ! It is an enthralling story, rharac lerised by that same intense realism, vivid picturisalion and intimate know ledge of his subject that- lifted Ion Idriess from comparative obscurity into the front, rank of world's authors. This book will enjoy an immense popu larity with the present generation, but it is safe to. predict that Mie story it fells will weave an even greater spell
over (he minds of lalej- generations, when Ihe transforming influence of modern civilisation has removed all bill traces of those primitive condi tions which were encountered and overcome by the stoul-hearled and daring men and women whom we meet in these pages. The very nature of Ihe land made il a splendid subject, from which an Milhor wilh Idriess' ability might con struct a great story, and he has 'handled it in a masterly way. which enables the reader to visualise the country and follow the incidents re corded with ease. In the pages of Ibis volume we witness the translation of a wild, dream into reality. Where once the jungle held sway, the can nibal and Ihe head hunter indulged in I heir wild orgies and the mosl primi tive means of transport existed, we lind at last Ihe highest achievements of science and civilisation in the shape of modern machinery, wireless com munication and aerial transport un dertaken by one of ihe finest, aerial services in the world. 'A shrewd, calculating, courageous Mid determined man, possessed of al most Inexhaustible energy.' was Cecil John Levien. once a Government pat 10I officer at Buku (Ncrlh Solomons:, whose brain was largely responsible ior bringing about this change. 'He had u feeling thai this Mandated Ter ritory of New Guinea was destined to make history within the Empire.' we are told — and il did. ? He was 51 years or age. but he had all Ihe energy and imagination of youth, as the sub sequent- story reveals. Here is a pen picture which shows us I'he type of man: 'His mind worked like' light ning. As he worked he might' be thinking days, weeks, months, even years ahead. While culling a path through a trackless forest he could see Ihe road il would be in five years' time. He could sail into a land-locked bay and visualise the savage lands beyond under coceanul plantations, the native valley a white man's town; the
throb of l.'he loin-loins a wireless me lody.' He was. in very fact, a Coluni Vtis of his day. ??Somewhere in this tangled maze was one while man who could [nil wings lo Levien's vision. And he sat alone away back there, like an old man of the mountains guarding his hoard, not caring.' But Levien cared and 'he persisled in his search for this lone prospeclor .'Shark-eye' Park) who had made Ihe greal discovery, until lie found him. Then began Ihe ful Ijhnenl of 'iiis dreams. One chapter tells how Bill Royal, when feeding desperate, found gold at Kilie Creek. We read of his terrible slruggle up to the heights and through the jungle, and of how -his hands trembled as he washed Ihe first pros
pect. Then: 'II was a song of destiny that tinkled from Ihe dish. Hi- stared. Irauslixed at the 'yellow gold. Then jumped up Ireiubliiig. Hie dish in his oulslrelched hand. Wildly he shouleil. 'Gold!1 'Gold!' Gold!' 'There was gold ?everywhere.' No mailer where they washed a dish there was gold, ounces of il, to Ihe dish. II was thick nn the cheek bol lom. Ihiekcr in Hi,, rock bars; if, was even up in Ihe wash and among the roots of Ihe trees.'' From this point- the author relates Ihe slory of the fields and shows 'how Levien's plans and schemes gradually look shape. Amazing difficulties were encountered and overcome and the blood of (he. reader tingles as he fol lows the thrilling narrative from page lo page. We are told how the first aero planes arrived on the goldfields and solved Ihe transport problems of the gold-seekers. Then progress was rapid and more and larger machines were demanded and supplied until ? 'a day came when Levien saw spread out before him an aeroplane Meet worth USO.OOO. That Heel had car ried, in I'hree and a half years more I han I '2.(1(10.000 pounds of 'cargo, with r.77« passengers, and hud made .V.)K7 I rips with only one casualty. ln one month in J H.'i 1 no less than :-*-! Ions were flown in over the inounlains a far grealer quantity of cargo than the combined air fleets of the world had transported during t'ie previous I'» inonlhs!' 'A world's record bolh in aviation ami in engineer-mining. That is not a boasl; it is a simple fact. For lony we have admired the accomplishment's of other nations. Let us still admire them. But let us. loo. admire- the. achievements of our own men.' As Levien surveys Ihe scene he j-onders on Ihe changes an, I his rarl in then,:— He was 5S! l|(. |,a,i accom plished a lot in these last few years. All he' had dreamed had come to pass, olhers would carry on beyond his -lie;nn-. He supposed he was worth I' I nO.OiHi now. Mm |h. rnilI||, ],,,!,. iiilere-| in thinking or money: nolhin^ like Hie salisfaction he felt' in liavinu (|(III(1 ;l' ? S-1 '?'- tilings, ll,. would give all Ibis money for Hie priceless pleasure or doing some oilier big works again. But il was not to be. ||js work had reached ils end: 'Arrived in Mel bourne. Levien caughl a chill and died wilhm three days. I|js |ils| words were; -Placer shares will .-„ lo Kin.' Kvenls have justilied Ilia! 'prophecy.' Two inonlhs after Levien's death Mi'e greal dredges he had planned to place on the field were se| iiMiiolion. Fol lowing the ceremony which was car ried out with much rejoicing a 'plane look off and i-isinjr, skimmed on its Vvay up the gorge; and up. till the river looked a silver thread below. Tl ? aiiin porlhole was opened. Gently a Ml lie package was unfastened and a slit made in the canvas covering with in. Two arms were thrnsl oul into the ^usly air and the ashes of Levien lloale,) away over Kic Rulolo Valley. -Gold-dusl .in* J ashe.s.' earlli lo earth down in Ihe gorge below.' Idriess has given us a story thai i;.nks with I hose otln'' works of his which have done so much lo raise the reputation of Australian lilerafure. not ? inly in I lie minds of her, own country men, bill in the opinion of the outside world.