miner
All the home comforts you could want…

Where was the first gold rush in Western Australia? If you believe the history books (and you shouldn’t) they’ll say it was at Halls Creek in 1885. Not even close. The first gold rush was more than 30 years earlier.

Just off the South Western Highway, a bit south of Byford, lies the sleepy townsite of Cardup. It was here in 1854 that the newspapers breathlessly announced the first gold to be discovered in this State. Allegedly hundreds of men had camped there and were toiling away finding it easy to produce small mountains of gold. One group of prospectors had picked up more than nine kilograms without any difficulty at all.

This was great news for the people of Western Australia. The failing colony had been forced to take on convicts as cheap labour, and everyone was looking jealously at Victoria which was on the verge of becoming one of the wealthiest places on Earth thanks to its gold mines.

Many people were looking for gold here, especially since the government had announced a £500 reward for the first verified finds. The Cardup prospectors, however, were never to receive this money.

Unfortunately for our wannabe gold mine owners, Harry Hughes, then secretary of the Mechanics’ Institute, decided to take a trip to Cardup to investigate the rumours. Rather than hundreds of men, he found about twenty.

Rather than gold piled up everywhere, the best he could be shown was some quartz with tiny specks of something shiny on it, which might or might not be gold.

In any case, most of the miners were on the verge of giving up and going back to their usual careers which they had hastily abandoned for the chance of instant riches.

The moral of the story is clear. Don’t believe the history books but, even more importantly, don’t believe the newspapers. And don’t give up your day job.