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III

Exactly nine months after Bayley reported the find at Coolgardie, Paddy Hannan arrived at Coolgardie


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with news of a rich discovery at what is now Kalgoorlie, twenty-four miles east of Coolgardie, and applied for and was granted a reward claim. His find of alluvial was specially important, for it led to the discovery of the lodes of the Golden Mile, which is held to be the richest square mile in gold that has ever been worked.

Hannan was well known to me. He was under rather than over the average height, of medium build, with bright, beady eyes, a long beard and a ruddy complexion that betokened a healthy and vigorous outdoor life. Like many of the prospectors who opened up the goldfields, he was an Irishman; he was born in the parish of Quin, County Clare, about 1842, and came to Australia when he was twenty-one years of age. In disposition he was quite unlike the jovial, riotous type fairly common in mining communities. Though not a total abstainer, yet he was remarkably temperate. Nothing could induce him to go beyond the limits of what temperance prescribes. On that point he was adamant. It did not contribute to his popularity amongst the gay reckless spirits of the early goldfields days, but he did not mind. He was not garrulous or a good conversationalist, though in some respects pleasant and genial. He was kindly, quiet and reserved. His education was that of the ordinary Irish peasant boy educated under the national school system, but his handwriting was excellent, and his letters are singular for their clearness of diction.

Despite Hannan's nationality, he was without imagination or sense of humour. All that happened to him he thought was commonplace and prosaic. The romantic side of gold-seeking, the wandering open-air


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life he led, did not appeal to him as to others. He was not drawn to the bush by—

“The vision splendid of the sunlit plain extended,
And at night the wondrous glory of the everlasting stars.”

No such ideas filled his mind. The story he told me of his great discovery was simple and direct. It was:

“I arrived in the colony in March, 1889, and was at Parkers Range about forty miles from Southern Cross, when Bayley reported the discovery of a rich reef at Coolgardie. I joined in the rush.

“Early in June, 1893, news arrived at Coolgardie of a good discovery at a place called Mount Yuille, somewhere to the east or north-east. Parties left Coolgardie in search of the find. A few days after the report had been received, my mate, Thomas Flanagan, and I left Coolgardie. We left on June 7. We would have left earlier with the others, but we could not obtain horses, and so were delayed two or three days. We were lucky enough to pick up some animals in the bush ten or twelve miles from Coolgardie. The other parties going to Mount Yuille were mostly travelling with teams. Only one or two of the prospecting groups had horses of their own. We were a separate party, as we wished to be free to travel when we liked. We could also by this arrangement if we chose prospect any country during the journey.

“A very large number was in the main party going to Mount Yuille. Only Bayley's claim was working at Coolgardie, and the alluvial had become


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exhausted just about the time we left, hence the strong desire amongst the men to reach the new find.

“On June 10, three days after leaving Coolgardie, we reached what is now Kalgoorlie. The other parties had gone on in the direction of the reported discovery, but it was only to find later that the report had been false.

“Well, as I have said, when we came on June 10 to Mount Charlotte, my mate and I decided to stop and prospect the country round about. To us it looked country where there might be alluvial. We found colours of gold and then got good gold at the north end of Mount Charlotte to down south of Maritana Hill.

“There was another man by the way, Dan Shea was his name, to whom we gave an equal share in our venture.

“We soon realised that we were located on a valuable field. Alluvial gold was in abundance. We got scores of ounces. It was agreed that I should go to Coolgardie and apply for a reward claim. I left Flanagan and Shea to watch our interests, and on June 17 started for Coolgardie. I got there on a Saturday night.

“The news of our find soon got abroad. There was a good deal of excitement. Hundreds of men set out for the scene. The flats and gullies all about our reward claim became alive with diggers dryblowing and finding gold.

“The water difficulty, which had been unusually great, was solved. Rain began to fall as I was on my way to Coolgardie to report the find,


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and continued for some time. The fall was fairly heavy. It was exceedingly welcome to us all and relieved the shortage from which we suffered. The downpour left plenty of water in rock holes and lakes. The supply lasted until November.

“Where the ground was too wet for dryblowing, the men dried the earth by fires and so could work their claims.”

Above is the story of Hannan's discovery as told to me by Hannan. It was apparently altogether an after-thought that made him think it worth while mentioning that when he left to apply for the reward claim the three men had only two quarts of water left. “But for the rain,” he remarked, “I don't know what we would have done.” He added:

“Not long after the discovery at Kalgoorlie I left for a holiday. I had not seen the sea for five years, and prospecting is a hard life. It was only now and again we could get fresh meat. I was not in good health, and I felt a spell away from the fields to be necessary.”

Wherever gold discoveries have been made there are various versions of what happened. That applies to Hannan's find. By some it was said that it was not he who first discovered gold near Mount Charlotte. Hannan was then over fifty years of age, and these people say that, as both Flanagan and Shea were older men, he as the youngest of the three was asked by the other two to journey to Coolgardie and apply


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for a reward claim. As he made the first report the find became associated with him and was known as “Hannan's.” Shea always asserted that it was he, not Hannan or Flanagan, who picked up the first nugget. One old and highly respected resident of the goldfields who was intimately acquainted with all three men informed me that Flanagan was the first to find gold, and that he found it when looking for a horse. Flanagan, like Hannan, came from Clare, and soon after he died in Melbourne.

Other old residents say that the three men, when travelling with a large party to Mount Yuille, found gold near Mount Charlotte, but carefully concealed the fact of the discovery in order that they might be able to make the most of it, and stayed behind on the plea that they had lost a horse. The members of the main party continued their journey, but many days later they discovered that the search for Mount Yuille was a wild goose chase. When they returned and reached Mount Charlotte they were amazed to see the place a hive of busy dryblowers, most of whom were getting gold.

Irrespective of who actually was the first to pick up gold, Hannan was unquestionably the principal man of the three. The main Kalgoorlie thoroughfare is called Hannan Street, the oldest and chief club is Hannan's Club, and his memory is honoured by a statue in front of the town hall. The statue is not raised on a high pedestal above the people, but it is over a drinking fount close to the side path showing him in his rough prospecting clothes with a water bag in his hand. It truly represents him as he was, a man of the people and a good type of the daring prospectors who opened up the Coolgardie goldfields. As Hannan


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said to me, he did not consider that the success of the party of three, of whom he was one, was due to any merit of theirs. It was mere luck.

Photograph Facing Page 58: Memorial Fountain in Kalgoorlie to Paddy Hannan. The figure is a very good representation of what he was like in his prospecting days.



The Mount Charlotte discovery was rich alluvial, but its real importance lies in the fact that it was responsible for the discovery of the Golden Mile. How it happened may be shortly told.

Mr. (afterwards Sir) George Brookman with some fourteen others, including Mr. (afterwards Sir) George Doolette, had formed a small syndicate in Adelaide for the purpose of sending men to Western Australia to prospect for gold-mines. The total sum subscribed amounted to only £150. A few free shares were given to the prospectors, W. G. Brookman and Sam Pearce. When these two men reached Perth they purchased a spring dray and two horses. They were compelled to walk the whole distance, some three hundred and fifty miles, beside the dray. They arrived at Coolgardie three weeks and a day after they left Adelaide. They decided to go to Hannan's Find. Early in July they pegged out the mines of what is now known as the Golden Mile, mines that in a few years had a total capital value approaching £30,000,000 and produced many times that value in gold.

After these mines were pegged out there were many who condemned them as “wild cats.” It was said that it was a shame to attempt to foist them on the public as worth working. But Sam Pearce was a born prospector. He had a prospector's instinct and seemed almost to scent gold. Of the two men who pegged out the mines of the Golden Mile, Sir George Brookman


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afterwards wrote: “To their singular luck these men brought the reliable guides of sound judgment and mature knowledge.” These qualities helped towards their success.

During the closing years of the last century the eyes of the civilised world were turned towards the Coolgardie goldfields. Mr. Joseph Chamberlain, as Secretary of State for the Colonies, declared that, given the substantial truthfulness of the gold discovery reports, Western Australia for many years would be the most prosperous part of the British Empire. Gold would attract people and capital, and in his opinion both people and capital would remain and build up not only mining but also agriculture and other industries. What he then predicted became an accomplished fact.

Photograph Facing Page 60: Above: A view of the “Golden Mile”, said to be the richest square mile in gold contents in the world. Below: The Kalgoorlie Miner offices.



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