The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 4, Issue 10 (February 1, 1930)
The Alluring Quest
The Alluring Quest.
Since June last, I have been camped on the top of the Blue Mountains, 4,000 ft. up, following the alluring vicissitudes of a gold digger's life. Four of the worst months of the year under canvas in preference to the comforts of a well-appointed home in Sydney. Why and for what purpose? With the liberal assistance of a permanent retiring allowance, I have all I require for my daily needs, but nothing much to give away. The poverty and distress among the poorer classes in this city is appalling. It is the product of continual industrial upheavals. I am past the age to hope for suitable employment that would help to supplement my income. There are hundreds of younger and better qualified men than I vainly seeking for that already, so I resolved to get out and do what I could with pick, shovel, and dish, and all I win, be it little or much, if Dame Fortune is good enough to smile on my efforts, will be devoted to the alleviation of the poverty and distress I have already mentioned.
So far, nothing of a startling nature has been revealed, but I am so well satisfied with my prospects that I am going to continue for a few months longer, despite all the disabilities and discomforts of a “hatter's” life. My camp is right in the bush and isolated in the fullest sense of the term. Twenty miles from the nearest Railway Station and Post Office, twelve miles from the nearest habitation, and 120 miles from my home. Here I am, away from the sight or sound of man, with no other companions than the feathered tribes, the beautiful wild flowers, the tall gaunt gum trees, and the starry heavens at night. In nature's workshop, in nature's cathedral, I work and worship daily in the hope, or I might say, assurance, that my efforts will be crowned with success. In this adventure I have the sympathetic and active assistance of my dear and valued friend, Mr. Paget, and our ladies, without whose interest and co-operation the successful achievement of my enterprise would be difficult as well as doubtful. I have shut the door on 68, but can still sling a long handled shovel to the time of a lively tune.
I have been working in a valley which terminates at the top of a high waterfall at the head of a deep gorge. I have dug cross and circular trenches six and seven feet deep to trap the water, which, in the rainy season, rushes down page 35 off the hillsides. Instead of running over the surface it will now fill the trenches and percolate through and underneath the wash dirt and carry any fine gold over the fall into a hole (ten by twelve by four feet deep), that I have dug out at the bottom to catch all that is washed over. It is here that I shall occasionally lift out and wash the spoil.