Reminiscences of the gold fields and elsewhere in New South Wales

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Reminiscences of the gold fields and elsewhere in New South Wales

Post  Guest on Mon Mar 25, 2013 4:38 pm

Reminiscences of the gold fields and elsewhere in New South Wales,
covering a period of forty-eight years' service as an officer of police (1907)


"The cheek may wear a smile
''Though bitter anguish rends the victim's breast."

THE many discoveries of gold in New South
Wales in the fifties caused thousands of all
classes of men, from various climes, to flock
to the new rushes, in anticipation of making
speedy fortunes, and, as was but natural, produced
a condition of life incredible to those who have
not experienced it.

I was stationed on the Braidwood gold fields
in 1859, and for many years later, during which I
witnessed many extraordinary phases of human
character. In those days there were large popu-
lations settled at Crown Flat and Mudmelong
localities, situated on the famous Araluen
Eldorado, which subsequently developed into the
most important alluvial diggings in Australasia.
The richness of the place, and the prosperity of
its large population, gained for it the sobriquet of
"The Happy Valley." It was surrounded by vast
mountains 2000 feet high, and the supplies for
publicans, storekeepers, and others had, in the
absence of roads or tracks, to be taken down the
mountain spurs on slides. Mr. Blatchford had
large stores established at Crown Flat and Mud-
melong, and used to supply the principal publicans
with spirits, all of which had to be taken down
the Major's Creek mountain on slides.

One afternoon I was informed at Major's
Creek that a miner named Lionel Rochester was
accidentally killed in his hut down the mountain.
On my way to the locality I met the slide man,
who informed me that a terrible accident had
taken i>la('e; thai, while proceedinjjj down the
range, haviu<x a hogshead of rum on his slide, the
horse swerved, brought the slide against a rock,
the result being that the hogshead slipped off and
rolled down the mountain. On reaching a promi-
nent point it bounded and lodged directly on the
miner's hut, demolished it, and exploded with a
terrific report, resembling the discharge of a can-
non. We went to the hut, expecting to find the
miner dead, but found he had marvellously
escaped, and had succeeded in saving a bucketful
of rum. On seeing us, he remarked, ''It is a bad
wind that does not blow fair for somebody."

He was a man of fine physique, about 50 years
old, well-set, good-looking, and of a military cast.
There was a sapling resting on two uprights in
front of the wrecked hut, from which were sus-
pended about forty dead snakes of various colours
and sizes. After a brief conversation as to his
narrow escape from the rum fiend, I asked where
he got so many snakes.

"I killed them, and a number of others, during
my two months' encampment here. I have been
in the British Army in India; have been mining
in California, where I have seen thousands of
reptiles, but I have never seen so many snakes as
I have on this mountain. Look at this one,"
pointing to a peculiar brown snake about twelve
feet long; "it's like a large gutta-percha tube.
See, it has a prominent ligament from the head
to the tail, along the ventral side. This snake is
known as the Rota Anguis, probably the most
dangerous of all."

"Where did you get it?" I inquired.

"I killed it this morning close by, at very
great risk. While going up the mountain, I saw
what I thought was a cask-hoop, but soon dis-
covered it was a hoop snake. I endeavoured to
strike it with my sapling, but failed. I saw from
the gyrations it made that my position was seri-
ous, and ran down the declivity to an ironbark-
tree, when lo! I heard the whizzing of the wheel
serpent, which I saw was almost upon me. I
moved beside the tree, and, just as it glanced the
ironbark, I struck it with my sapling and frac-
tured the vertebra. There is sure to be another
of the class about, and, as my hut is now demol-
ished, I think it is a good omen for me to leave,
and I will do so this afternoon, and go to Crown
Flat. I have now had two marvellous escapes,
and I think these are sufficient for one day."


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Re: Reminiscences of the gold fields and elsewhere in New South Wales

Post  gedanate on Wed May 20, 2015 6:39 am

Yup. We'd all better watch out for those Hoopsnakes. They're the worst! Razz
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