IN THESE GOLD SEEKING DAYS
The grass from yonder flat has faded And all its freshness doomed,
For diggers' picks have now invaded
The ground where wild flowers bloomed
The gold that had for ages slumbered, Locked close, in nature's maze
We diggers trace through drives un numbered ,In these gold seeking days.
The trees that many an acre covered, 'Neath which the emu played
Where bright plumb'd birds so often hover'd,are now for firewood laid.
The wilderness becomes a township, And busy life displays,
Where diggers meet in cordial friendship In these gold seeking days.
And here we toil in search of treasure, Far from our childhood's home;
Bereft of every social pleasure,unheeded and unknown;
Yet hope, the digger' heart sustaining Sheds her effulgent rays;
And bids us strive without complaining In these gold seeking days.
So after leaving the Berlin goldfield, I take a short run west across to the Wehla area but instead of finding the remains of a gold mining area ghost town, I find fenced and flagged off mining leases on the old goldfield. Rather than get in trouble entering onto a possible mining lease, I head east again, towards Kingower. Riding along, I spot the road to the Kingower Cemetery. I'm always keen to maybe learn something of an area's history. Inside the cemetery, it's obvious the locals take pride in the grounds. Colourful flowers grow next to the well tended graves. Some of the early ones have new headstones and plaques. Others simply exist, unmarked save for a numbered peg.
It's a shame all graves don't include a brief history of the occupants, like this.
At least some people have a great sense of humour, even deceased.
One of the really old graves.
Some tell of the terrible struggles to survive in this area prior to modern medical help.
Then there were sites like this, that really are heart breakers.
A 27yo woman, Mary Stewart who lost her fifteen month old daughter, Janet, in May, 1863, then her own life in November, 1863.
The adjoining grave, in what I believe to be a family plot due to its wrought iron fence, is that of Alexander Forbes, who was apparently a Storeowner and Publican, who died only 14 months earlier in September, 1862.
I'm still trying to find a link between Stewart and Forbes and how they died. I'll add that to the report at a later date if I have any luck.
What I have found so far is that Forbes was business partners with a former gold miner, John Catto, who became the Kingower Postmaster. It was behind their premises in the young goldfield town that the (at the time) largest nugget, the Blanche Barkly (1743.5 troy ounces or 145.25 pounds) was dug from 17 feet down. Named after the Governor of Victoria, Henry Barkly's young daughter, Blanche, it was found in August, 1857 by a party of new miners to the Kingower goldfields, brothers Robert and James Ambrose (from Gravesend, England) and brothers Samuel and Charles Napier, (from New Brunswick, Canada) working a joint claim. I'd imagine the trade at Forbes hotel would have been brisk from that point onwards. Aren't graveyards and history great. But to look at just the grave, you'd never know this.
Just as I was walking back to the bike after finishing my tour of the whole cemetary, a car drove in. It was the Secretary of the Kingower Cemetary Board. His wife was recently buried here and he had come by to do some weed control, mainly stopping the young sapling trees from taking over the area. It was great talking to him. We chatted about the cemetary features and history, including about the unmarked Chinese miner's graves and the wooden plaque headstones, the loss of the graveyard records office in a fire, then goldmining, district history and also about my own find, which he was quite impressed to see. We had a few great laughs, including about him being made a "Life Member" of the cemetary. I could have spent all day talking with him, but he needed to attend to his business and I needed to ride. But it was a truly great encounter. One of the best of the trip.
Anyhoo, back on the bike I rode around the area following tracks and trails, exploring this famous goldfield...
Where gold nuggets were once picked up like potatoes from the brown soil. Then down through the forrest...
heading out past the Union Mine site and coming back into the small town's main crossroads three times before finally consulting the GPS and heading towards Inglewood township. Lost? Me? Never!