Welcome to Life Images by Jill

Welcome to Life Images by Jill.........Stepping into the light and bringing together the images and stories of our world.
Through my blog I am
seeking to preserve images and memories of the beautiful world in which we live and the people in it.
I am a Freelance Journalist and Photographer based in Bunbury, Western Australia. My published work specialises in Western Australian travel articles and stories about inspiring everyday people. My passion is photography, writing, travel, wildflower and food photography.
I hope you enjoy scrolling through my blog. To visit other pages, please click on the tabs above, or go to my Blog Archive on the side bar. Please feel free to leave a comment at the bottom of any of my posts. I value your messages and look forward to hearing from you.If you like my work, and would like to buy a print, or commission me for some work, please go to my "contact me" tab.
Thank you for visiting my blog and helping me "step into the light".

Welcome!

Welcome!

Sunday, 2 June 2013

Coolgardie - Gold Fever! - Western Australia

Hi everyone, we are back to the goldfields today and continuing our tour up from the Holland Track, Cave Hill, Burra Rock and the Woodlines. If you missed the previous posts you can click on the links here - 
The Holland Track
Cave Hill, Burra Rock and the Woodlines

From Burra Rock it is an easy drive via the gravel Burra Rock and Napean Roads to Coolgardie. 

Bayley and Ford discovered gold at Fly Flat, near Coolgardie, in June 1892 - a year before Hannan, Flanagan and Shea found gold in Kalgoorlie. The discoveries lead to a gold rush which rivaled the Californian and the Klondike gold rushes, and said to be the greatest movement of people in Australia's history. 

Prospectors piled their possessions onto wooden carts, horse-drawn wagons, on horseback, or even walked pushing wheelbarrows to travel overland from Fremantle, Perth, Esperance and Albany to the goldfields. (I told you a bit more about this in my Holland Track post). 

On the goldfields they lived in tents or rough bush shelters, like the one you see below on display at the Kalgoorlie Mining Hall of Fame. (That is a mine head you can see in the background).

My grandfather and great-grandfather came to the goldfields from Victoria, before working on the pipeline and Mundaring Weir projects, and then finally settling at Narrogin and Bilbarin.

It was a tough life and many died in the attempt to strike it rich. There are many unnamed graves in the Coolgardie cemetery, but you can look through the register in the Coolgardie museum if you are looking for the resting place your ancestor - as we did!

A couple of years ago we discovered that my husband's Grandfather was buried at the Coolgardie cemetery in a plot only marked by a number. Since then we have had a headstone erected, and on this trip we went to see it. Now his life and his final resting place have been marked.  You can see the Coolgardie Cemetery in the photos below. Located on the western side of town on the Great Eastern Highway, it is an interesting place to visit as there is a lot of history recorded on its headstones.



Coolgardie was declared a townsite on 24 August 1893 and at its peak had a population of 16,000, with another 10,000 in the surrounding area, 7 newspapers, 2 stock exchanges, 6 banks, 23 hotels, and 3 breweries. Today its heritage precinct is a 'living museum' where you can learn about the history of the gold rush.  It really is worth stopping to look at the magnificent architecture and building.

Below you can see the Coolgardie Town Hall, government offices and Court House, which houses an excellent museum. Completed in 1898, this building is one of the finest examples of early Australian architecture.


A lot of the original buildings were probably built of wood boughs or corrugated tin. However the Government buildings were often built from local stone quarried in the area, and reflected solidarity, the wealth of the goldfields, and their prospects for the future. Now, in Coolgardie, as in other similar early mining towns, the solid stone buildings and a couple of hotels are all that remain. (Cue in the Western Australian mid west is another good example).


 

The area is dotted with mine shafts, so you need to be careful if you go walking. Here is a photo of a minehead located on a look out hill overlooking the town.








Today the Coolgardie only has a small population mostly involved in gold and nickel mining and pastoralism. Below you can see the main street of Coolgardie (the Great Eastern Highway), now very quiet and very different to what it was during the gold rush era. The road is very wide to allow camel and bullock trains to turn in the street.


From Western Australia
Here is another photo of the government buildings in Coolgardie. You could easily spend an hour or two in the museum and strolling around the town.



A prospector's cart displayed in the museum. The museum is a fascinating place to visit.



 
In the hot dry conditions of the goldfields, water was scarce, and was distilled and sold by the can. In 1895 the first plans were prepared by Engineer-in-Chief CY O'Connor, for an engineering feat that would stagger the world — an attempt to pump fresh water uphill 560 km, from Mundaring Weir in the hills near Perth to the goldfields of Coolgardie and Kalgoorlie.

The pipeline was completed in 1903, and is still in use today supplying water through 8000 kilometres of pipe to over 100,000 people and six million sheep throughout the goldfields and surrounding agricultural areas, over an area covering 44 000 square kilometres. 
(I will be back to tell you about that another day).

The pipeline is a major feature of the Great Eastern Highway on the way to Coolgardie and Kalgoorlie.



From Coolgardie we decided to go south along the gravel Victoria Rock Road to Gnarlbine Rock - 29km to the south. Explorer Henry Maxwell Lefroy camped here and discovered water on 8 June 1863, followed by Charles Cooke Hunt on 16 August 1864. Hunt improved the well and recorded its indigenous name, Mullinquirt. The rock, soak and well were one of the principal water supplies for the Coolgardie goldrush before the building of the pipeline.  John Holland and his party arrived at Gnarlbine on 16 June 1893, and reached Coolgardie on 18 June 1893.

As you can see in the images below, the well is now disused, but you can see the dry- stone wall construction, typical of hand built wells of that era. The rock is a great place to take a break, go for a walk or have lunch.  Our children enjoyed looking for tadpoles in the gnamma water holes on the rock.


My exploration of both Charles Cooke Hunt and John Holland with started a few years before when we found a "H" blazed on a tree near Cave Hill, intersected at Gnarlbine.

In the Coolgardie Pioneer cemetery is Agnes and John Holland's headstone - Agnes, died on 7 May 1894 at the age of 25, and John on 10 November 1936 at the age of 80.


Thanks for stopping by. I look forward to hearing from you and hope you have enjoyed the next part of our tour, but it is not over yet. We still have more granite rocks to explore, history to discover, and camps to camp.  

Do you like deliving into your ancestor's and country's history? I think the older I get the more interested I become. How about you?

I am linking up with Mosaic Monday, Our World Tuesday and Travel Photo Thursday. Please click on the links to see contributions from around the world.  
Mosaic Monday
Our World Tuesday 
Travel Photo Thursday

You might also like -  

Kalgoorlie - history written in gold
Golden Quest Discovery Trail 








 

31 comments:

  1. All the images are terrific...but the tepee...what a delight to see this.

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    1. not a tepee Laurie - but a tent. It is a bit hard to see the sides to see the shape properly. Basically just a couple of sticks propped up back and front, with a stick as a cross bar along the top and a piece of canvas thrown over. Very basic living arrangements with furniture also made from sticks, and probably a bed made from hessian bags.

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  2. Thank you for the lovely visit to Australia.

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  3. Wow, what an interesting blog post -full of beautiful photographs and lots of history. It sounds a fascinating place and I love the mosaic of all the buildings. Thanks for stopping by my blog, hope you have a great week.

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  4. Jill, what a great post. The town reminds me of an old west town here in the states. The museum looks cool and your photos are wonderful. Thanks for sharing your visit. Have a great week!

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  5. Wonderful tour. Very cool shots of the place.

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  6. An interesting historical post. Coolgardie dates, to the very month, when my father was born and the town hall from the year of my mother's birth. The artefacts in the museum are ones that I actually remember. Things did not change much until after the second world war. Love your pics.

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    1. oh amazing about the dates and your family. It is fascinating to see in museums things we remember from our childhood.
      I am glad you enjoyed my post.

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  7. Great tour!! Boom & Gary of the Vermilon River, Canada.

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  8. Such Aussie shots. Recognised that it must have been Australia before I read any of the post.

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  9. That's an advantage that Aussie has over NZ--much more room for exploration. Love your post. Thanks for the virtual tour.

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  10. Great photos and fascinating history. Such a difference between the almost spartan life many of of the miners lived and the huge and grand nature of the public buildings.

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  11. Your pics brought me straight back to Australia, Jill. They are just so atmospheric. What an interesting history you've woven into the story while still keeping it very much of today. I loved reading it.

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    1. thanks Jo - I have updated and written a bit more (as I do!) Happy travels Jo!

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  12. The architecture is really lovely. A nice set of shots.

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  13. it is like being transported back in time a hundred years or so. :)

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  14. Very special place for anyone such a wonderful, painless way to learn history). But even more so when you have the family history to go along with it. And I agree it definitely becomes more interesting as we age. My grandfather was a mining engineer and I remember some of his stories -- but not enough.

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  15. A really interesting post with great pictures to accompany it.

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  16. Hi Jill, when I clicked on your site I could see straight away that it was definitely a 'cup of tea' moment :) I have so enjoyed looking at not only today's post above but all of your images down your side bar..your food images are scrumptious. I was wondering if you've had a look at RedNomad's blog
    http://rednomadoz.blogspot.com.au/ she is an adventurer like yourself, and I can't help feeling you,and she would enjoy each others travels immensely..

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    1. thanks for stopping by, and for your comments!
      Yes I really enjoy Red Nomad's blog and love her writing style. I am getting a few tips from her for a trip later this year.
      Thanks again for stopping by.

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  17. This is such an interesting post. The difference between Coolgardie now and how bustling it must have been back in his heyday is fascinating. It's touching that you erected a headstone for your husband's grandfather. I'd like to hear more about that water pipeline, too.

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    1. Hi Michele - thanks for stopping by - I have written about the pipeline for you - check it out here - http://lifeimagesbyjill.blogspot.com.au/2013/06/the-need-for-water-on-goldfields-perth.html

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  18. Lovely handsome looking stone buildings.
    I can well imagine the hardship the gold prospectors suffered - especially in the heat. That's great that you found your grandfather's resting place and it must mean a lot to now have a headstone on it.
    Enjoyed the read.

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  19. Fantastic report on such an interesting area. We are currently in AZ and surrounded by former mining towns. They each have such amazing history - both of the people and the place. This one was great!

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  20. Those big wide streets - I love them. Coolgardie has some impressive buildings. How great you found the grave and marked it. I have never thought of visiting Coolgardie but it is on my radar now.

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  21. HI Jill, I was deeply touched about the story of your husband's discovery of his grandfather's burial place. It must be a great comfort and closure finding it and giving him a proper tombstone.
    I can just imagine the feeling of hope of those who rush to the goldfield and the hardships they dealt with as well.
    Thanks for the powerful post. I really felt I was transported into that place and time.

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  22. Great post, fantastic photos:) Greetings

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  23. beautiful colours & composition...lovely!

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  24. This area deserves far more time then the couple of days we were able to spare en route to South Australia across the Nullarbor last year. But then, most of the places we visited in WA deserve more time - with the possible exception of Port Hedland (for which I'd be glad to be proven wrong). Someone told us it'd take at least 10 years to explore WA properly - I'm inclined to agree!!

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    1. Hi Red, yes WA is a BIG state - I live here and am still exploring! There is always somewhere new to discover. Unfortunately we can't always spend the time we would like at places to do them justice. But that is true of every state in Australia - as I know we will discover when we cross the Nullabor to SAust later this year.
      Thanks for stopping by and happy travels.

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