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LIFE ON THE GOLDFIELDS

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Opening ceremony of the 1st State School Coolgardie, 1894

Students and adults in front of the two tents that constituted Coolgardie's first government school, established two years after the discovery of gold in the area.

    Hannan's from Mt Charlotte, 1894

This view across a flat, arid and treeless plain shows the small township that grew from ‘Hannan’s Camp’, the beginnings of today’s City of Kalgoorlie-Boulder.

   

Clara Saunders - a pioneer of Coolgardie, 1894

One of the first European women on the eastern goldfields, she recorded her reminiscences of the time that are a useful resource.

    Water rations for gold miners, 1894

The price of water was such on WA’s arid eastern goldfields that mine workers received an allocation of water as part of their wages.

    Buying water at Dunnville, c1894

This epitomises the water shortages on the goldfields with a group queuing to buy water from a store at a remote gold prospecting camp.

    Arthur George Shelley at the 25 Mile Camp, 1894-95

A prospector typical of many others who left their homes and employment and travelled long distances to WA’s harsh interior in the hopes of finding gold.

 

Family life on the goldfields, 1895

A rare photograph showing a family outside a tent - women and children were in the minority on the early goldfields.

 

Horse corpse, 1895

This dried-up corpse of a horse epitomises the desperate need for water on WA’s eastern goldfields.

    Sunday morning in camp, Coolgardie, 1895

The small dish of water shared by the four miners is an excellent indication of life on the arid goldfields prior to a pipeline being built.

    Christmas in Kalgoorlie, 1895

This scene was photographed to be sent to friends and family at Christmas time to give them an idea of life on WA’s goldfields.

    Western Australia Condenser Company, c1895

With saltwater more common than freshwater on WA’s arid goldfields, condensing machines were patented to turn saline water into potable water.

 

Prospectors with camel team, c1895

A prospecting team preparing to depart in search of gold using camels as transport for themselves and their water supply.

    Government Hospital exterior, Coolgardie, c1895

Nurses, staff and patients outside the tents that served as wards at the Government Hospital established in Coolgardie following the Gold Rush.

    'Tinned Dog Hut', c1895

Building materials in the remote goldfields were scare and expensive so prospectors used what they could to make shelters, even empty food cans.

 

Mr and Mrs Robinson at Kalgoorlie, 1896

A group of gold prospectors and miners, including a married couple from Australia’s eastern states, unusual because wives were often left behind.

     George Dainty, shopkeeper, 1896

A shopkeeper photographed outside his store in WA’s arid goldfields where he sold water by the jugfull among other provisions.

    Government Hospital ward, Coolgardie, c1897

Nurses and patients in a hospital tent ward where many were treated for illnesses associated with the lack of clean water such as typhoid.

  T'Othersiders Shop, 1899

This sign indicates the eastern state origins of the shop owners and the ‘us’ versus ‘them’ mentality that developed following WA’s fabulous gold discoveries.

 

Human skeleton lying in scrub, c1900-10

These skeletal remains epitomise the very real danger faced by prospectors on WA’s arid goldfields that they might die of thirst.

 

Mammoth government condenser at Coolgardie, 1902

A government undertaking of mammoth proportions to convert saline water to freshwater, in particular to replenish steam trains on the arid goldfields.

    Grave of Tagh Mahomed, Coolgardie Cemetery, 2002

The grave of one of the cameleers who earned a living carting supplies, including water, to remote and arid WA goldfields.