Other formats

    TEI XML file   ePub eBook file  


    mail icontwitter iconBlogspot iconrss icon

Past and Present, and Men of the Times.

Chapter XXI

page 201

Chapter XXI.

I visit the Australian Colonies—A Long Lecturing Tour—Notes on Australian Gold Discoveries—Some Famous Nuggets—I arrive in Wellington—Old Colonists and Old Friends—I start off to Prospect the King Country—My Experiences—I meet Mr. Cadman—His Promises—I Petition the House.

After writing to the Hon. W. Rolleston, I settled in Otago for six or seven years, auctioneering and writing the manuscript of a book entitled:—"The Australian Colonies, and Men and Women of the Times."

In 1887 I left New Zealand for New South Wales, to make a tour through the neighbouring colonies, taking with me a large quantity of copies of the book which I had published in England, entitled, "Ups and Downs, or Fifty years' Colonial Experience." Arriving in Sydney, I sold a number of my books to old acquaintances. I then started on a lecturing tour through New South Wales, meeting many old colonists, and obtaining a great number of subscribers for my new book, and also sold a quantity of the "Ups and Downs." After finishing New South Wales, I left for Victoria, where I delivered sundry lectures, and visited several mines.

I also met a number of old Californian diggers, from whom I gleaned a great deal of information about the large nuggets found in Victoria. After travelling six months through that country, I left Victoria for Tasmania; and delivered addresses almost all through that Colony. I took notes in my diary on everything of importance while in Tasmania, and I also met many old acquaintances of the early days.

After a successful tour in Tasmania, I took my passage for Adelaide, South Australia, and made a very successful tour page 202through that Colony. During my travels through the Australian Colonies, I called on the Premiers of each Colony, and other gentlemen who have done much for their Colony, if possible to obtain their photos, for the purpose of publishing them to the world. I obtained from them what I wanted, and got a free pass from each Premier to travel by rail through his Colony. Everywhere I delivered a lecture I was well received, and listened to with the greatest attention.

Before proceeding further with my personal experiences, I wish to jot down a few notes about the gold discoveries in Australia and some information concerning some of the big nuggets.

Victoria, Australia, is famed for its nuggets in the history of its progress in gold mining. During my tour through that Colony, I gathered a good deal of information about the nuggets obtained in that country. Records are found of enormous lumps of gold, and the greatest excitement prevailed when large nuggets were found, resulting in "rushes." Though gold was found in the early part of the century, it was not until 1851 that gold-mining became general. In 1851 two men, at Clunes, washed 50lbs. weight of gold in two days, and before the end of the year gold was found in various places, Ballarat coming to the front as the richest goldfield in the world. At the various goldfields diggers flocked in thousands, sometimes as far as 20,000 to 40,000 persons arriving on new diggings in the space of a few weeks or months. Bendigo, now Sandhurst, Castlemaine, and other places were soon populated, and the country became full of adventurers.

In 1852, it is said that 100,000 people landed in the Colony from Europe, and in more than one instance men went back on the return voyage of the ships by which they had arrived, having made their fortunes. One man had his horse shod with gold, but afterwards came to want. The game of "ninepins" was played with bottles of champagne, and dozens of this drink were emptied into tubs, and drunk from tin pannikins. Such was the rush that cabbages sold for 20s. each; fowls, 15s; eggs, 1s; and butter, 5s per pound. For years this excitement was kept up, and as nuggets were found and proved fortunes in themselves, the yearning for goldfields continued. Amongst those happy finds, "The Welcome Stranger," discovered on February 5th, 1858, is recorded as being the heaviest and most valuable nugget page 203in the world. John Deason and Richard Oats, two puddlers, found it close to the surface, in the neighbourhood of Dunolly, and it measured twenty-one inches in length, and was ten inches thick. The finders conveyed it to their hut, and in order to get rid of the adherent quartz, heated it in the fire before taking it to the Bank. The melted gold weighed 2,268 ounces odd, 98·66 per cent. of the nugget being pure gold. Its value, including pieces given away, was £9,543, at the Bank of England.

The "Welcome" nugget, found at Bakery Hill, Ballarat, on June 15th, 1858, was sold for £10,500, and after being exhibited for some times, was sold in Melbourne for £9325. This nugget weighed 2,159 ounces, and was found at a depth of 180 feet. This valuable nugget found its way to London, where, in November, 1859, it was melted and was found to contain 99·20 per cent. of pure gold.

The "Victorian" nugget, found in the White Horse Gully, Sandhurst, in 1852, weighed 340 ounces, and was bought by Parliament at a cost of £1,650 for presentation to the Queen. Where this nugget was found various others were discovered, some close to the surface, and weighing three hundred or less ounces. Nugget-hunting must have been exciting. We read of a boy, in September, 1888, digging up a 120-ounce nugget, at a depth of a few inches. In 1855, a nugget of 240 ounces was found lying on the surface at Mount Blackwood. In 1860, a moss-covered nugget was picked up, weighing 230 ounces; and, eight months later, a 236-ounce one was discovered within half an inch of the surface. On the other hand, a solid lump of gold, weighing 834 ounces, was found in 1860, at Ballarat, at a depth of 400 feet.

The "Blanche Barkly," of the value of £6,905, and weighing 1,744 ounces, was found by four men at Kingower, 13 feet below the surface. This nugget was exhibited at the Crystal Palace, London, where, it is stated, it was an object of great interest owing to its bulk, brightness, and solidity. The fortunate owners are said to have netted an average of £50 a week, Such was the run to see this lump of gold.

Another party of four found, in the Canadian Gully, Ballarat, at a depth of 60 feet, a nugget weighing 1,619 ounces, just after unearthing a nugget of 76 ounces. Two of the party had been in the colony not more than three months when they returned page 204to England with their prize, which yielded them £5,532 7s. 4d. Near the same gully, on September 8th, 1854, a nugget of gold, weighing 1,157 ounces 17 dwt. was found, and from the same hole upwards of 220lb. of smaller nuggets were obtained; so that the value of gold taken from this claim was not less than £13,000.

A nugget, only 8 dwt. lighter than the last-named, which was known as the "Lady Hotham," was discovered in Canadian Gully, Ballarat, at a depth of 60 feet, amongst quartz boulders and wash-dirt giving an ounce to the ton. At the first blow of the pick the miner suspected he had struck gold; at the second the pick stuck in the nugget. Five days afterwards, in the same claim and drive, and within 10 feet of the spot where the 1,619—ounce nugget was unearthed, a nugget weighing 1,011 ounces 15dwt. was discovered.

It was somewhat of the shape of a pyramid, a very fine specimen, with snowy-white quartz attached. The two working diggers continued operations for a fortnight longer for a yield of 100 ounces of small gold, and then sold their claim for 80 guineas.—"Handbook of Australian Mines."

The "Heron" was a nugget of gold found by two young men near old Golden Point, Fryer's Creek, and which weighed 1,008 ounces, and brought £4,080. The finders of this precious lump of yellow metal had only been three months in the Colony. The history of Victoria records an almost unlimited number of lucky finds, several of the nuggets bearing common or well-known names.

"The Viscount and Viscountess Canterbury" weighed respectively 1,105 and 884 ounces; "The Precious" weighed 126 ounces; "Rum Sow," 718 ounces; "The Needful," 247 ounces; "The Schlemm," 478 ounces; and "The Spondulix," "Baron Rothschild," Lady Loch," and "Lady Brassey" are the names of nuggets found in recent years.

In 1890, I left Australia for Wellington, the Empire City of New Zealand, and paid a visit to some of our oldest settlers. Mr. George Allen, for one, who has been a boatbuilder in Wellington for many years, and is now in his eighty-third year. He was also with me at the founding of Port Essington in 1838, and it is strange, after many years, for two old colonists to meet again, and it gives me great pleasure to see him so well and hearty as he is at his age. Also, Mr. John Plimmer, who calls page 205himself the "Father of Wellington;" and Mr. Renall, of Masterton, who built the first house there; Mr. Carrington at New Plymouth, Mr. Brown at the Hutt.

The gentlemen whom I have mentioned I saw land in 1841, while I was lying in Wellington Harbour in the "Waterlily" schooner. These gentlemen are now over eighty years of age. In 1842 I ran my vessel into New Plymouth, and sold flour to the emigrants, and there I first met Mr. Carrington surveying the town, where he was surrounded by Natives, and had to run for his life, and take shelter in old Dicky Barrett's wharé.

The same year I ran the "Waterlily" into Nelson, and sold the remainder of my flour. I saw women dig potato seed, peel them, and sow the peeling for seed. Such was the state of things there at that time, when New Zealand was a Maori hunting-ground.

In 1890, after paying a visit to a few old colonists, I took the train en route for the King Country. I stayed a few days at New Plymouth, and gave a lecture on "The Early Days of New Zealand," which paid me very well. I bought a horse, and was about to start upon my campaign into the King Country. A gentleman of the name of Jones was going to the Mokau. He told me he owned a large track of country he obtained from the Maoris, and it looked like a good mineral country. He said he owned a coal mine on his land, and was well known to the public as "Mokau Jones." I accompanied him to the Mokau, and from there I started on a prospecting tour through the King Country.

I was eight months travelling over that wild region, and was much impressed with its valuable resources. I found copper ore, antimony, tin, and coal, but found no gold. I obtained a horse from a Maori that I had been with, to pack about 100lbs. of specimens to a small village called Kihikihi, three miles from the railway station. This Maori had been very kind to me, and I paid him well for his trouble. At Kihikihi I met some Maoris driving to catch the train. I left my horse in a paddock and they gave me a lift.

On arriving at the station I met two notable chiefs—Tawhiao, second "King of the Maoris," and Rewi, two great warriors. Tawhiao and Rewi asked me if I was coming up to the King Country again, and I said I was. They both gave me their address, and an invitation to call on them and stay a few days.

page 206

I left for Auckland, and on my arrival I submitted several specimens of ore to the editors of the local papers. The specimens caused great excitement. I gave a lecture on the mineral wealth of the North Island of New Zealand in Abbot's Opera House, the place being crowded with the leading people of Auckland. The next day I met a gentleman, Mr. James Mackay by name, who told me the Native Minister, Mr. Cadman, was in Auckland, and that he would introduce me to him. I was introduced to Mr. Cadman, and showed him some specimens of ore. I asked him if I could get protection on a certain block to work a mineral claim. He said, "When you come to Wellington call on me at the Government Buildings, and I will see what can be done for you."

I stayed in Auckland a few weeks, and gave a series of lectures, which paid me well. I went to Wellington, and wrote a letter to Mr. Cadman, and this was the reply:—

"No. 91, 1140. "Native Office, Wellington. 25th June, 1891.

"Sir,—I have the honour, by the direction of the Native Minister, to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 23rd inst., with reference to the discovery you have made of what you conceive to be a valuable deposit of tin ore, situated in Native lands, within the so-called King Country, which has not yet passed through the Native Land Court. In reply, Mr. Cadman desires me to inform you that until the land is put through the Court the Government cannot grant you any protection; but that in the event of the land being hereafter required by or acceded to the Crown for mining purposes, he considers your discovery should be acknowledged in the usual way, by granting you the prior right to an extended area as a prospecting claim. Your letter has been forwarded on to the Minister of Mines.

"Signed, T. W. Lewis, Under Secretary."

W. J. Barry, Esq., Post Office, Wellington.

I took a quantity of different mineral specimens to Mr. Skey, which were highly reported on as valuable minerals. I then delivered a few lectures in Wellington, on the mineral wealth of the King Country, and left Wellington by boat for Auckland. I went by train to Otorohonga to attend a Native Land Court, page 207and got certain things done that I wanted. I then took train to Te Awamutu to get my horse out of the paddock. I left there to pay a visit to Rewi and King Tawhio, where I remained for two weeks. King Tawhio lent me a horse and pack saddle to pack the minerals I found, into Otorohanga, where I could take the train for Wellington. I left 150lbs. weight of minerals in a store, and proceeded to lecture in a few of the towns in the Waikato district. There I came across a very old colonist, whom I knew in Cromwell, by the name of Brown. I stayed at his farm for some time—this was in 1893. After finishing my lecturing tour, I took train for Auckland. My old friend Brown drove me to the station, and I made him a present of my horse, saddle and bridle.

I had at that time already made four trips into the King Country prospecting. The Auckland newspapers gave me great credit for my pluck and energy. I was laid up in Auckland, with la grippe, and when I got well enough to travel I went by boat to Wellington, bringing with me my mineral specimens.

I called on the Premier, the Hon. Mr. Seddon, who was then staying at the Club Hotel, taking with me a small bag, containing a quantity of my mineral specimens. The Premier examined them, and asked me the locality in which I found them—which I thought was not fair—and I gave him the name of a few blocks I had travelled over and prospected.

The Premier then gave me a letter to take to Mr. Gordon, one of the Government Analysts. I went to Mr. Gordon, and submitted my specimens for examination. I told him the King Country was full of mineral wealth, and it was strange that the Government did not take steps to give me some assistance. Leaving some of my mineral specimens with Mr. Gordon, I left his office. This was in 1894, when my funds were about exhausted. I petitioned the House of Representatives.

The following paragraph appeared in the New Zealand Times, on Friday, August 3rd, 1894:—The petition presented to the House of Representatives by Captain William Jackson Barry, which has been referred by the Petitions Committee, to the Government, "for consideration," sets out that the petitioner is now seventy-five years of age, and asks that his services to the Colony as Immigration Agent and explorer may receive due recompense, so that he may be protected against destitution, page 208during the short remaining period of his life. The petitioner sets out that in 1879, he was appointed Immigration Agent and lecturer, his passage to and from England only being paid. During the engagement, he delivered over 100 lectures on different platforms in England, and was the means of inducing a large number of persons who have since proved good colonists, to come here. Included amongst these were the "Lincolnshire Farmers" who are settled in Auckland, and have made good settlers. Owing, however, to the rigid economy practised at the time, Captain Barry received no remuneration for his services, the value of which was shown, by the references made to them, in the London Times and other English papers. The petitioner states that he has also been instrumental in the discovery of valuable mineral territory in the King Country, which his knowledge of the Natives enabled him to find, and which will prove a valuable discovery to the Colony, For these and other reasons enumerated, the petitioner trusts that his wants will be supplied. It may be noted that Captain Barry arrived in the Colony in 1829, he being then ten years of age and that he was in Wellington when Mr. John Plimmer landed here.