Tag Archives: mining

The Lay of the Last Miner

I was given this poem written by W. Robertson many years ago as my great great grandfather, (Glaud) Pender is mentioned by name.  The author wanders and reminisces about various early  mine sites in Victoria, Australia. It was originally published as an eight page booklet.  So far I haven’t found any more information or a source for it  but no doubt there is someone out there who can tell us more.

                 THE OLD MINER
or
THE LAY OF THE LAST MINER

Whilst strolling through Con Burrow’s “Home”,
‘Mong lone ones who had ceased to roam,
The eye was caught of miner old,
Who yearned to tell of days of gold.
I bid good cheer, well filled the pipe,
And asked of his adventurous life.
He halved his seat with thankful smile,
And, in response, in digger’s style,
Told of his life in district mines
From early to the latest times.
I noted how his eyes grew bright
In spite of age and locks snow-white;
While proud he held his head erect
As if he had naught to regret,
He started with a pleasure keen, –
A last rally, as will be seen;
He’d pondered oft those stirring times,
In Fifty-one, when but a lad,
At  “Hiscock’s”,  I remember dad
Excited got on finding gold,
And gave up care of shepherd’s fold;
He took me when from there he went
Up further north on golden scent.

We pitched our camp, hence Ballarat
Where gold was got from hill and flat.
They were the days when life was fast –
Mates came from shop, farm, bank and mast,
Chancing nuggets or a duffer:
Some made their piles – some but tucker.
He rushed “Canadian”, also “Eureka”,
And “Black Hill” did the gold seeker,
A rope, pick, dish, with windlass short,
Cradle and tub came as from naught.
Shanked it from ship did chums galore,
Sure on landing of fortunes store.
Good finds first were on shallow ground,
And following, each lead deeper down
To wet and drift on “Gum Tree Flat”,
We found all leads did steer for that.
The “Baker Hill” from “Oval” came,
At Humffray Street went west again;
It gave a nugget at the rise, –
“The “Wecome” – famous for its size.
“Gravel Pits” lead from “Loco” shed
Was traced down past the Fire Brigade,
Then on across the “Main” “Plank” road,
Where southern streams gave it their load.
This “Road” which was our favourite walk
Would history tell if it could talk.
Here with crinoline and flounces
The ladies came to share our ounces;
From then was firm foundation laid,
Of that which we’ve a city made.
We’ve ebbed and flowed, oft been in doubt –

I recall “The East” when luck was out,
Croakers arose – rock was ahead.
Still better north ! so rumour said:
Bendigo news gave gold fever.
I rolled my swag for the walk over;
Worked there a while, then Castlemaine,
When news from West moved me again;
Now on a coach – no more a walker –
Mates booked my seat on to Majorca.
Then my habit – craving for change –
Brought me to “Back Creek” o’er the range;
Easy won wash, good gold was got;
This place is now known as Talbot.
“Cobb” took us then on to Avoca;
Too quiet for me. – thanks for your smoke, sir;
Your weed is good.  Oh! you’re a gent –
Your coin will be carefully spent.
From Avoca to Ararat,
To “Canton Lead”, “Flint” and “Cathcart,”
I journeyed as a digger bold
Who knew all tricks that could be told.
The miners’ life, in their own way,
I lived and lived but for the day;
While luck was in I spent too free,
And thus I oft was “on the spree”.
To “Fiery Creek” I went full tear,
When tidings came of a rush there;
Beaufort was rich, and Raglan too;
We opened Chute, then Waterloo.
‘Twas overrun.  When Linton shone
I joined again the moving throng

To gullies rich and flats that feed
The “Edinburgh” and “Standard Lead”.
“Lucky Woman’s” gave all a thrill
When gold was struck on “Dreamer’s Hill”.
Times were good – we did not dally,
But worked from there to Happy Valley,
In deeper runs my mates then went,
Below basalt, sand, and cement.
We had “Morey”, a “Canterbrey,”
“Volunteers” with the “Waverley,”
But “British” miners beat the lot,
And made this place a noted spot.
We traced the lead down past the “Cleft”,
To Piggoreet right o’er a clift,
Where met we with the Smythe’s creek men,
‘Tween “Trunk” and “Horn” at “Try Again.”
Here was the “Devil’s Kitchen” famed –
Old-timers thought ‘twould ne’er be tamed;
But times do change – they tell me now
“There’s not enough to make a row.
Past “Golden”, “Belts”, “Gates,” “Streams,” and “Lakes,”
Where Pender, Webb, and Maughan were mates,
Through Newtown, up the Scarsdale run,
I worked my passage to Haddon,
And saw that township at its prime,
When no one drew the colour line,
While I was on my country tour,
Ballarat mates made good and sure;
Well paid for all their work they got
By tracing lead west under rock,

Through Curtis Street to Lydiard’s crest,
‘Cross Sturt and Dana, then south-west.
The “Frontage Scheme”, here they did try it –
It caused as much talk as “The Riot”.
In legal fees, it thousands cost,
Thus profits were to miners lost.
We since have found “The Block” was best –
A system that has stood the test.
Over western quartz the dirt was rich,
Here mining reached its highest pitch.
Who forgets the “Koh-i-noor” and “Band”?
The “Albion” or the “Hand in Hand”?
The “Inkerman”? – it gave great wealth,
But scoured a valley for itself.
From Newington it went out west,
Where in the Park, we’ll let it rest.
The main lead to the “Milkmaid” ran,
Past “Malakoff,” out to “Redan”,
‘Twas hurrah! for “St. George” and “Red Jacket”,
As through Sebas, they then did track it,
Right to the edge of “Plateau’s” rails,
Where “Cobblers” fed the “Prince of Wales”,
Past “Bonshaw” on to “Alstan’s” height,
Where Watson ruled with “Gulf” in sight.
There the “Scottish and the Cornish”
On Cambrian Hill lived with the Welsh;
Over a channel was Napoleon.
Which turned the lot east to the Durham;
From here the gold was thin and fine,
But where was crossed the “Eastern Line”;
Though Buninyong gave in its share,

The Durham sluices showed but fair.
Revival came to Creswick again;
“Australasians” call was “More Men!”
I heard, and left the “Chinese” town,
Scarce lost a shift – just there and down.
The lead got poor; you know, I wot,
Of disaster – that’s not forgot!
Awful! Awful! Depressed we were,
While “Spring Hill” continued like a flare,
Inviting all; all roads led there;
Miners re-met from everywhere.
Its shallow runs they gave good divs.
How money flowed in memory lives;
Still deeper down it kept its glory,
Through “De Murska” to “Ristori”.
Here Peacock, Brawn, and Leishman start –
I mean, of course, their mining part.
In Allendale I made my home,
Worked in the “Madame” and the “Lone”;
The crib-time of our life was here,
Where all were gay and of good cheer.
‘Twas “out of date” to have a tent;
The carpet bags to tip were sent;
Red shirts had gone, and moleskins vile;
Sac suits to order were the style.
We sorry were to leave this home
Again alluvial fields to roam.
Quartz ? Not me! I enjoyed too true
The alluvial life and mates I knew;
No quartz for me, with dusty slopes!
The graveyard of  digger’s hopes !
I had a turn at Rutherglen,

But lonely felt among new men.
Soon I was back to Carisbrook
To “Chalks”, “Pioneer”, then o’er to “Duke,”
And “Main Lead’s” mines, where Bryant says
The champions were of mining days.
Timor now waned, Alma had gone,
Craigie no more had “Napes” or “Kong”.
“Mt Mercer” then gave forth a call,
But proved the poorest of them all.
The Rokewood spurt – not worth a fig –
A shallow, sandy place to dig.
At Pitfield we had novel times,
The summer sun roasts as it shines;
Its bleak and windy clayey plains
Are churned to mud by winter’s rains;
But spite of that a lively run,
In huts and shanties there was fun;
The field was poor, and was my last;
Other diggings have gone down fast.
I, wage-earning, left, worked in the creek,
Till age warned me to give up the seek;
From then till now I’ve taken rest,
And followed mining from the press.

The “Mt William” rush was like a meteor –
A flash, then over, was its feature;
Rutherglen’s wound up, Creswick the same,
In Ballarat it lacks a name;
No money for Avoca’s “Stream”;
Tom Mitchell’s tried to “Ristor”(e),I read,
The fortunes of the Kingston lead;
The “Langi” field has been a dud,

“Cept where enriched by Cathcart’s flood;
They’ve failed the “Durham” to revive,
It seems we’ve lost the power to strive.
There’s miles of leads, both deep and wet,
Which for the future will be left.
We’ve enjoyed our pleasures to the dregs,
And put Australia on its legs,
Less fickle goods with gold does change;
Hence, no spurts in “Corner” or “Exchange”.
Ah! thus it seems the end is near
Of life and times I held so dear.

Good luck! to those who canny were,
And now enjoy their own armchair.

But, as for me, I’ve had my day,
I’m feeling faint – ’tis Nature’s way;
Evening’s near gone – give me your hand,
I feel that I no more will stand.
Remember me to miners all;
Tell them I’m paying my last call;
I fancy now two whistles blow –
That means but a short time to go.

Darkness comes on; night shift draws nigh;
The air is bad . . . good-bye . . . good-b —.

W. ROBERTSON    Ballarat East.

What made me remember this poem was an interesting series of posts in  the Carisbrook Historical Facebook Group about the belt buckles the men used to wear  and which people find in these old mining areas.  The ornamentation on the buckles highlights the diversity of people who followed the gold diggings.

Put belt buckles into the Search Box and you will get a ovely selection of photos and comments.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/1436750269909379/

The following  Cricket belt buckle was found in the ruins of an old miners hut near Castlemaine, with many Chinese coins beside it.  You can find the full details about it here.

 

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The Glint of Gold at Beechworth

Tom Tansey lived in Beechworth during the 1930s.  He lived in Camp St and when he walked to the end of the street it was just a hop, step and jump  to Reidy Creek where the photo shows Tom, on the left,  indulging in his hobby of sluicing for gold with his friend Rex Thompson.  His hobby might have been fishing when he lived in Traralgon but now it was the search for gold.

Tom was looking for alluvial gold in the creek bed or trapped in the fissures in the rocks.  After filling his barrow with soil and rocks he would then use water to wash away the relatively lighter soil and leave behind particles of gold. For this he  could either use a small round pan   or  a larger sluice.  They both did the same job of separating the heavier gold from the lighter soil – the sluice just coped with larger quantities.  Alas, Tom didn’t make his fortune.

These two images from the State Library of Victoria show miners using the two methods.

And finally an image of three miners  from a Beechworth History page   to complement  this week’s theme image of three miners out fishing which Sepia Saturday had used.  These three look as though they were having a fine old time.

Go to the links on  Sepia Saturday for more tall tales and true  of miners and anglers

Glaud Pender, and the Duke of Edinburgh

Pipes, Handshakes and Politicians I have but few so instead  to satisfy Sepia Saturday this week I will tell about an occasion when I’m sure there would have been many handshakes and greetings as the members of a Victorian mining community came together.

On the morning of Tuesday, 17th March 1868 my great great great grandfather,  40 year old Glaud Pender of Browns and Scarsdale,  had one thing on his mind. He was preparing to stand up in front of a meeting of his fellow citizens, after having been introduced by the Mayor, to propose  that they send a Get Well message to the young Duke of Edinburgh.    Browns and Scarsdale was an early gold mining town in Central Victoria and at the  time the district had about 4000 residents,

GPenderAn older Glaud Pender

Alfred Ernest Albert, the second son of Queen Victoria, was born in 1844 and joined the navy as a midshipman,. By 1867 he was both a captain and the Duke of Edinburgh. He sailed his first command, H.M.S. Galatea, from the Mediterranean to South America and after two months at the Cape reached Adelaide in Australia in October 1867 to begin the first royal tour of Australia.

Duke ofEdinburgh 1867Alfred, Duke of Edinburgh, in 1867, from the State Library of Victoria

He then visited Melbourne, Hobart, Sydney, Brisbane then Sydney again. This time in Sydney he went to a charity picnic at Clontarf on 12th March. where Henry O’Farrell shot him in the back. The Drawing Room at Government House was converted into an operating theatre. where a couple of days later the bullet was removed  by the Royal Navy surgeons with a special gold probe

Henry James O'Farrell SLNSWHenry James O’Farrell, thanks to the State Library of N ew South Wales.

The Government tried to show an Irish conspiracy theory but O’Farrell said he acted alone. He had been mentally ill but this wasn’t sufficient to prevent him from being found guilty and executed., even though the Duke of Edinburgh  requested the sentence not be carried out.  The Duke came back to Australia the following year and dedicated hospitals, the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, in both Sydney and Melbourne to commemorate his safe recovery.

And this is why, five days after the shooting, Glaud Pender found himself on his feet in Scarsdale proposing a Get Well motion. Australia had been very embarrassed by the incident and towns and cities, large and small, were quick to rush to express their horror and indignation and confirm that they were very loyal to Queen Victoria.. The following
week Glaud’s motion was reported in the nearby Ballarat Star from Ballarat, where O’Farrell’s  brother had a branch of his Melbourne law firm.

A transcription from The Ballarat Star, Friday 27th March. 1868

INDIGNATION MEETING AT SCARSDALE.

Mr Alexander Young,  Mayor, occupied the chair. Mr Glaud Pender moved—”
That the inhabitants of Browns and Scarsdale beg most respectfully to express their utter detestation o£ the cowardly attempt upon the life of his Royal Highness tho Duke of Edinburgh, their profound sympathy with him in his sufferings, and their fervent prayers for his speedy recovery.” Mr M’Vitty seconded, Mr John Ward supported, and the resolution was carried unanimously, amid great applause.

Mr Knights then moved the second resolution as follows—” That the inhabitants of Browns and Scarsdale take this opportunity of expressing their heartfelt and unabated loyalty to their beloved Queen and tho Royal family.” Mr Hawkes seconded, upon which the motion was put and carried unanimously.

The Rev Sam Walker (Church of England) was then called upon to move the address to her Majesty and Prince Alfred as follows:—”I, the Mayor of Browns and Scarsdale, in the name of the inhabitants of the borough, in public meeting assembled, beg most respectfully to express their utter detestation of the cowardly attempt upon the life of his Royal Highness
the Duke of Edinburgh, their profound sympathy with him in his suffering, and their fervent prayers for his speedy recovery. They also take this opportunity of expressing their heartfelt and unabated loyalty to their beloved Queen and the Royal family.” Mr Donaldson seconded the resolution, which was put and carried with enthusiasm.

Mr Turner moved the third resolution as follows—”That a copy of the address be forwarded to his Excellency the Governor for transmission to her Majesty the Queen and his Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh.” Mr Hugh Young seconded, and the resolution was carried unanimously.

The singing of the National Anthem closed the proceedings.

And then, if they’d had the internet they would have raced home  to find the links to more handshakes, greetings and politicians  on this week’s Sepia Saturday

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