REMINISCENCES OF THE OLD GOLD DIGGERS.

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THE STOLEN SHEEP

[FOR THE BULLETIN.]

Say, mate, its a tidy long stretch since we parted near old Lambin Flat; Twenty years? - Yes, I reckon it is, and a sprinklin of odd uns on that. Lets seeafter you with the lightlve a fancy twas sometime about A day or so after the time old Tommy the butcher pegged out. What ! dont you remember old Tommy? Why all on the diggins knew him Had a butchery down the main Creek, pretty nigh to the Companys whim ; A small, wizened runt of a man like a shrivelled up scrap of green-hideI thought you would call him to minddid they ever find out how he died ? No ? never got trace of his carcase from that day to this. Umphthats queer, But I fancy theres one man about who could soon make the mystery clear.

Foul play ?hmwell no, not exactly, that is if its murder you mean ; But as cheesey a case for a corner as ever Ned Tucker has seen. Prhaps now you would-nt believe that I helped to put Tommy away, Oh, you neednt be starin like that though you feel a bit shocked, I dare say. But listen: Its safe now, I reckon, to let the cat out of the bag, And I know you of yore pretty well as a fellow not given to nag.

Well, you see twas on old Possum Flat we were workin, Jim Clinton and I Both lime-burners right from the start, so, of course, it was Root, hog or die ; But after a-bottomin duffers for five or six weeks at a spell We were not only down at the mouth but were down at the heel, mate, as well. Not a scrap in the tucker-bag left, and not even the price of a feed, With our credit all stopped at the stores and no friend to be found in our need, And the hunger a-gnawin our inards and givin us rats all the day, Though we pulled in our belts a bit tighter a-thinkin to ease it that way. So at last we got puzzlin our wits bout makin a rise in the dark ; And of all other men we considered old Tommy our easiest mark.

We didnt half relish the notion, and there was, you may safely depend, A fight betwixt hunger and conscience, but conscience gave up in the end. So we laid both our noddles together and faked up a dodge pretty slick. To wait on the butcher that evenin with an order for muttonon tick Thats to put a good face on it, matey. How somever, one part of our plan Was to borrow a small-wheeled toboggan from a cove that they called Curly Dan. You recollect Dan, I suppose?a short, stiff- built style of a chap, Who used to hawk cow-heel and tripe in a queer little box of a trap. Well, the dead of the night found us there with the barrow all ready at hand. And our hearts goin thumpity-thump, that shaky we scarcely could stand. we hadnt much trouble in forcin and enterin into his den As you know, they werent over-perticler about their door-fastenins then So in I goes, clawin and gropin, whilst Clinton kept watch in the street, And it seemed that each carcase and quarter was wrapped in a calico sheet. I didnt stand pickin and choosin to get at the best in the stall, But made a wild grab for the nearest and lugged it away, hook and all, And staggerin, half-starved as I was, with the slippery load on my back, I slung it down flop in the cart and we trundled away down the track.

It was not till we reached the old tent that we ventured to peep at our prize Iv seen some queer things in my travels, but never a worse met my eyes. Ugh ! it makes me feel all of a creep when I think of the horrible sight. Jumpin Joss! says I, what have we here? when a puff o wind blows out the light. And there I stands shakin and quakin, whilst Jim was knocked all of a heap, For the thing that we saw in the barrow was not in the form of a sheep. No ; but there in a greasy old night-shirt that covered him down to his toes, With a rope round his thin, stringy neck, and all blue at the gills and the nose, And his eyes like the eyes of a grasshopper, a startin right out of his head.

Lay the scraggy old scrubber himself, lad, was Tommy, the butcher, stark dead. There was nothin else for it, of course, but to plant his old carcase and slide, But as neither of us had the stummick to handle his cold, clammy hide. We backed the cart up to a shaft, and just tilted him in neck-and-crop And never cried crack till wed shovelled a cartload of mullock on top. Then we run the truck into the scrub, packed our blueys and went on a tower, Jumpin' Joss!" says I, what have we here? And paid all our debts with the storekeeps at the rate of about five mile an hour ; But the devil knows how wed have fared if we hadn't met you on the way Andwell that was the end of old Tommy; so heres to his ashes I say !
Richmond, Vic.

TOM FREEMAN.

CHRISTMAS NUMBER OF THE BULLETIN Vol. 11 No. 618 (19 Dec 1891)
https://nla.gov.au/nla.obj-488979849

1642119913_nla.jpg
 
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Home Town of "Waltzing Matilda" The Swagman at the North Gregory

By BERYL KENNEDY

THE little town of Winton in mid-western Queensland (population 1800) has been doing itself proud with a new civic hotel, rising in super-phoenix splendor, at a cost of 150,000, from the famous old North Gregory. Its to be the finest country pub in the State; a boon when they repair thither for business and relaxation to the bush folk of that vast open plain into which Winton seems to be just dumped. They cheerfully parted with an extra 25,000 in rates to hasten on the job.

The new hostelry (there are four others) offers the last word in comfort, with an infallible air-conditioning system, and even a rumpus-room for the tough boys" at the back of the luxurious bar. The go-ahead character of Winton, which prospers with the large sheep stations around it and suffers with them in the cruel droughts of a particularly dry region, seemed to invite a search into this small towns early history, and this unearthed from Brisbanes Oxley Library The Reminiscences of W. H. Corfield, 1862-1899.

Corfields life from 1878 was linked with Winton. He and his partner Fitzmaurice were teamsters on the grand scale, carrying to every goldfield in North Queensland. In July, 1878, they set out from Townsville, crossing the divide between the Landsborough and Diamantina Rivers, and travelled down by Jessamine and Mills Creeks to the Western River. Here, at Pelican Springs, they found that an ex-sergeant-of-police, R. Allen, had established a hotel and store, to serve teamsters travelling through with loadings for the immense scattered holdings recently settled. Liking the look of Pelican Springs, they decided to try their luck there, too, and built their hotel, the North Gregory, in 1879. As timber was almost non-existent, the floors were puddled with mud; gins, with piccaninnies on back for extra weight, stamped it down. ,

By 1880 Pelican Springs was making progress, for there were six or seven houses and a police-station, though no lock-up; prisoners, mainly aborigines, were chained to a log until they could be taken to Blackall. During this year the natives made a last protest and some mutual massacring ensued. About 1882 the inevitable Chinaman appeared, soon followed by many others. Also, a school and hospital were built and another hotel, the Royal Mail this one by Mr. and Mrs. Lynett, who arrived at Pelican Springs at the same time as Corfield and Fitzmaurice.

It was said that all graziers from the Lower Diamantina stayed at the Royal Mail and drank rum, and all from the Upper Diamantina at the North Gregory and drank whisky. Bob Allen, the first resident, was made postmaster, and Pelican Springs became Winton at his suggestion. The streets were named after the chief stations in the district: Vindex, Elder she, Cork, Dagworth, Sesbania, Werna, Oondooroo, Manuka. Corfield, who soon became the leading citizen and first representative of Gregory in the Queensland Parliament, sold his hotel to a colorful figure named W. Browne Steele, who liked to be known as the George Adams of the West. He ran exciting and very popular sweepstakes. Late in 1882 the first clergyman to visit the place held a service in the North Gregory billiard-room, creating an atmosphere by draping the billiard-table in a blue blanket and the cue-rack in a red one. The kitchen bullock-bell was rung to summon worshippers, and the Chinese cook, a sporting character, said Waffor? Nother laffle? All li. Put me down a pound.

Cobb and Co.s mail-service started in 1880, the drivers vying with one another for the handsomest team. , Corfield gives a graphic description of two coaches entering from opposite roads, one drawn by perfectly-matched greys, the other by spanking chestnuts. By 1886 the town had forged ahead; the Winton Herald was established, and roller-skating was the rage when Corfield returned from a trip abroad. As he passed the empty Court House he glimpsed the P.M. practising with buffer pillows strapped to neck and lower region of his spine.

When the North Gregory was only 16 years old Banjo Paterson came to stay with the McPhersons of Dagworth station, where he was told the tale of the swagman who, when found with a purloined jumbuck, jumped into Combo waterhole. For the first time he heard the music of Craigie-lea, played by Miss McPherson, his fancy at once caught by its provocative lilt. With the new term Waltzing Matilda also teasing the poets mind, the famous song was as good as made. There have been endless arguments in North Gregory bars and lounges as to where exactly the song was played and sung for the first time, for a party from Dagworth returned with Paterson to Winton, some staying at the hotel and some with the poet at Mrs. Rileys, formerly of Vindex, there being a piano at each place.
As Waltzing Matilda leaped into nation-wide popularity, Winton rejoiced in being its birthplace, and as the years have gone, as they do for country pubs, with exciting annual events, a fire or two, and occasionally a famous guest like Dr. Thomas Wood, Patersons favorite ballad has always been remembered at the North Gregory, and sung by all sorts of men.

And now the swagman has come to stay, for when the shires consulting engineer. Jack Mulholland, with a passion for Paterson, was planning the new hotel, he suggested that the council ask Daphne Mayo to make four bronze panels for the heavy oak front-door, each depicting a verse of Waltzing Matilda. Miss Mayo has, also designed three scenes to be sand-blasted and used singly on the many big glass-doors. These portray, first, the swaggie again, secondly the districts primary industries, and thirdly Qantas, for in 1920 this now-familiar name came into existence at the first directors meeting in the North Gregory, though Longreach was soon made its headquarters.
A grand new swimming-pool appears on the same plan as the new hotel, to be built about 200yds. away. Between these two will be a wading-pool, shaped like a billabong, with a handsome large coolibah waiting there already in the right spot. It is hoped that later a statue of a swagman can be placed there, perhaps a national offering to the Banjo, who loved the West and its men and horses.

The bulletin.Vol. 75 No. 3881 (30 Jun 1954)
https://nla.gov.au/nla.obj-547494668

Life on the road for the swagman and the Overland, Bluff Rock, 1923

1642283202_ie289410.jpg


https://digital.slq.qld.gov.au/cantaloupe/iiif/2/IE289413:FL293812.jpg/full/1000,570/0/default.jpg
 
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Another fantastic story Jemba.
I had the privilege of meeting a Swaggy as a very young boy on the banks of the Cudgegong River when i was about 5 years old. His name was Nobby and he asked my Dad whether there was any chance of getting a plate of stew. He stayed that night and was gone by morning. My Dad and Uncle Bob were panning for gold and filling little medicine bottles with nuggets. I can still remember seeing them sitting on the windowsill and The golden shade they cast on the wall as the sun penetrated the clear glass.
Mackka
 
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Thanks Mackka. Yep I love the old yarns too. :Y: I usually down load a heap of them to a USB, just for a bit of a read when out bush. cheers mate
 
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"Old Tom."

(FOR THE BULLETIN.)

Conspicuous amongst the originals so frequently met with at the old-time rushes was a tall, spare, elderly man with a slight stoop and a long, full, white board. Of a kindly disposition and quiet demeanour, Old Tom, as he was usually designated, was liked and respected by all who knew him. He was an enthusiastic spiritualist, and although silent and reserved in general conversation, would hold forth by the hour on his favourite doctrine, whenever he could get a sympathetic audience. He was generally considered to be off his chump, as the diggers phrased it, and, in view of his antecedents, they were probably not far wrong. Be that as it may, many a merry hour they enjoyed at what came in time to be known as old Tom's services. He had a small annuity, sufficient for his few requirements and frugal habits, and so he had ample leisure to follow the sent of his inclinations. These lay chiefly in using the planchette," whereby he had accumulated a vast pile of manuscript, which, being all but illegible, might fairly be described as being of no use to any one but the owner. As might be expected, he had to put up with a lot of chaff now and then, but beyond an occasional Weel, Tom, old man, hoo aboot the sperrits noo? and the like, which good-humoured interrogatories Tom would answer by a kindly nod and a twinkle in his grey eye, his general inoffensiveness and simplicity of character compelled consideration from the most thoughtless or facetiously inclined.

On line days he would come sauntering up the lead," and seating himself on a log open out a package of manuscript, much to the delight of the surrounding shepherds, who, scenting a service, would speedily gather about the old man from all the adjacent claims. gentlemen, he would, begin, with your permission I will read a few of my latest panche grams. Toms funny pronunciation of this new compound of his own coinage would invariably evoke a burst of laughter, and amid a chorus of encouraging cries to fire away, old brusher, Were in, Tom, and so forth he would go through his paper in quiet earnest tones ; and being a good elocutionist would usually command the attention of his carers till he had finished reading, when he would wind up with a dissertation on the spheres or kindred matter, until shepherding hours were o' - "ud it was time to go nome. But the services were not always so decorously conducted. Occasionally the paper he chanced to read would contain so many absurdly ludicrous images that the uproarious demonstrations of his congregation would prove too much for even old Toms patient equanimity, and he would reluctantly roll up his papers and depart with a grave and sorrowful mien. The venerable figure of old Tom is no longer to be met with on the leads, for he has gone to those spheres he so dearly loved to talk of. I will now relate a brief passage in his life, which may serve' to throw some light on the vagaries of his later years.

Second Part.

Many years ago, in the good old times when Old Tom was still young and gold plentiful and much easier to find than now-a-daysworse luck he and his brother Dick had a rich claim on one of the great alluvial rushes of the day. The depth of the shaft was (ill feet, and the brothers had hired a casual acquaintance named Ben. to assist at the windlass ; having now nearly worked out, they had plenty of stowage-room, so, except for the wash-dirt, the hauling was over, and they all worked below. Having a roomy tent, the three men lived together, and, to save time, it was customary for Tom to go home and prepare dinner, and when it was ready to return and call the others. On a certain day he went home as usual, leaving Dick at work knocking down washdirt, A very little way behind him Ben. was stowing mullock, and ramming it home by means of a short heavy wooden rammerwith the twofold object of securing the roof and economising room. The dirt proved exceptionally rich, and Dick told Ben. to come and see a nugget he had just picked out. Ben. crawled over, taking the rammer with him, and looked at the gold. It was about the size of a hens egg slightly flattened. Whilst Dick, with head bent-down, was admiringly regarding it, and conjecturing its weight, Ben., drawing back a and raising the hammer, dealt him a tremendous blow on the nape of the neck. Without a sound the body sank on its side. Ben. took off his cap, wiped the perspiration from his brow, and, stretching out his arm, turned the dead man on his back, and looked at him attentively. Raising his shirt he undid a broad chamois-leather belt with pockets surrounding it at intervals an article in common use by the diggers of the days when banks were notand pulling it from under the body fastened it round his own. He listened. The hook was jingling against the end of the shaft, Tom was shaking the rope- the signal for dinner. Shouting' up the usual all right! he went to the stowage and threw out rapidly about a cartload of stuff. In the cavity he placed the dead Hick in a sitting posture, and, having made scarcely room enough, leaned his back against a prop, and with his feet jammed the limbs hard up. Then he threw back the stuff, covering up his handiwork thoroughly, squared up the margin of the mullock, and ran his shovel lightly over the soft rock floor, carefully obliterating any unusual marks. After a final searching look all round, to make quite certain he had over looked nothing, he put the nugget in his pocket, extinguished the light, and went up the shaft.

When he got home he told Tom that his brother had taken a pick to the. smith to get laid and steeled, and as he might begone for a considerable time they need not wait for him. Accordingly, dinner over, the two men returned to work. On their way back they passed a crowd looking at a dog-fight; a man stepped out and accosted Ben., but Tom kept on to the claim and went down the shaft. Now, during the interval of the dinner-hour a curious thing quite unforeseen by Ben. had happened. Owing to the relaxation of the muscles one of the dead mans limbs had straightened out. Therefore when Tom lit his candle and began to crawl along the drive his eye all at once fell upon this strange object protruding from the mullock. He stoppedfascinated, failing to comprehend. For a second or two he remained motionless, as a man who comes suddenly upon a snake- then, as the fearful truth of murder broke upon him, he drew back into the shaft, confused and terrified, for he felt that his own life, too, hung trembling in the balance. At that moment, the oscillating rope and some falling particles of rock, proclaimed that Ben. was coming down. By a supreme effort Tom subdued his agitation, and springing into the steps, shouted to Ben. in as steady tones as he could command, to go back, that he had left his purse on the table, and was coming up to go home for it. Ben., confident that all was secure below, returned to the top, while Tom, with great difficulty, continued his ascent. On reaching the surface he rested for a moment, averting his head to hide his grim resolve and the tell-tale pallor of his face. Then, with a quick glance around to make sure of assistance, he scrambled to his feet, and making a desperate rush at Ben., bore him to the ground, shouting - , Help! murder! help! The diggers in the vicinity ran to the spot and seized the murderer.

Tom's fast-failing strength enabled him to tell his story as darkness fell upon him, and they carried him away for medical aid. When I say that the severe mental shock he had sustained necessitated his removal to an asylum for a few months; that Ben. was executed, and that the money and gold for which he bartered his life, proved the source of Toms income during the remainder of his days, I think I have told all I know about Old Tom.

J. LYALL

The bulletin.Vol. 11 No. 535 (17 May 1890)
https://nla.gov.au/nla.obj-443670219

A gold miner using a sluice box at Nullagine, 1916

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https://purl.slwa.wa.gov.au/download/slwa_b2600762_1.jpg

Note: a shepherd was a man set to watch a claim not been worked, but would be soon.!
 
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Thanks mate :Y: I will be away now for a bit post more when I get back. cheers mate
 
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A PROSPECTOR LOST.

ALLEGED DISCOVERY OF A NEW GOLD-FIELD.

The discovery of a goldfield of unusual richness between Harrietville and the Omeo, is reported by a party of prospectors, who were actually on the spot, and who also bring melancholy news concerning Mr Bloomfield, a well known prospector in the Buckland country. We condense the narrative from the Ovens Advertiser: "The returned man reports that they obtained with a tin dish three ounces of gold per man per day ; and even allowing a margin for exaggeration, there is not the slightest doubt that a very rich creek has been discovered, named by the discoverers the cumberumba. In confirmation of his assertion, the man West, showed a quantity of gold obtained by them previous to their returning to Harrietville for the carpenter. He asserts that Bloomfield first saw the gold in the roots of the grass, and although we give this rumour with caution, we know that such things have occurred, and the same statement is made in the official report. The history of the discovery is as follows: About nine years ago, just after the first rush to the Buckland, then called the Buffalo rush, a party of enterprising miners, of whom Bloomfield was one, started up the Ovens River with the intention of crossing the mountains in the vicinity of the Bogong. This they actually accomplished over one of the roughest and most difficult countries in all Australia, but on the road they remarked several likely looking creeks, amongst them the creek on which they have since been prospecting. Bloomfield never lost sight of this spot, and has only just carried out an intention long existing of revisiting it.

Accordingly, having supplied himself with a mate, he some months since started with provisions on pack horses, and struck the creek nearly at the point they had crossed it almost nine years ago. Here his dreams were quickly realised, and so fully, that after panning out a quantity of gold, the prospectors started back towards Harrietville (planting as a precaution some of their remaining provisions on the road), in order to obtain proper tools, and a carpenter to help them in erecting a hut and making sluice boxes. They reached Harrietville in safety, got a fresh mate, and again headed back for the new El Dorado. It was on this journey that Bloomfield was missed, for in the meantime very heavy snow had fallen, of which even we in Beechworth had a slight sprinkling. On gaining the top of one of the spurs, getting into deeper snow as they rose, Bloomfield called to his mates to leave the horses, and follow him into the next gully, to see if they were on the right track, this they refused to do, saying, that in case their provisions "gave out," they would still have the horse flesh to full back upon. Bloomfield probably did not hear this in the deadened atmosphere, and they saw him pass on.

As he did not return for a couple of horses, they determined to follow, and tracked him for six or seven miles in the snow into some heavy scrub when night came on, and they were obliged to camp without shelter. To render their situation more miserable, a snow storm commenced, and scarcely alive in the morning, both Bloomfield's and their own tracks being quite obliterated, they tried back for the spur they had left, and after innumerable hardships, and escapes from being buried in snow drifts, which are there twenty and thirty feet deep, they succeeded in regaining Harrietville. There are two chances for Bloomfield, as he is a thorough bushman, and one who would not easily lose his head under any circumstances, but make a determined fight for his life. One is, that he has reached Parsloe's Inn, on the Victoria River, or that he found the provisions the party had wisely planted on the way down, which would at all events prevent exhaustion from hunger. He would also have been aware of the danger of sleeping in snow, unless he were able to build a snow house, and if he had not lost his direction his compass was unluckily out of order), might, by pressing on vigorously, easily reach the station in question next day. As to the actual discovery of a rich creek, we have not the sliglitest doubt, but it is difficult of access at all times, and quite isolated for four or five months in the year. There is some doubt what course the creek takes, but it is thought it empties itself into the Livingstone before that river joins the Mitta Mitta. it may yet be more easily reached by the Little River. or the Ombat.

The Herald (Melbourne, Vic. : 1861 - 1954)
https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/244290652?searchTerm=lost gold field#

Danny Pedler, a prospector

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https://collections.slsa.sa.gov.au/resource/PRG+1365/1/472
 
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