GOLD AT LAKE DARLOT
About the month of October, 1894, Rogers and party, with their camels,
were camped at Cutmore's (or Doyle's) Well, and, on studying the map of
the Elder Exploring Expedition, they saw that Mr. Wells had marked the
country north of Lake Darlot as "probably auriferous." This they
determined to visit, and, more fortunate than ourselves, were not caught
in the intricacies of the salt lake.
Returning in disgust, having found no signs of gold, they passed the
granites, where they got water, and camped on a promising piece of
country, where they soon found gold in the the reefs. Here they worked for
some time with but little encouragement, until after Christmas, when
alluvial gold was found on the surface by a member of another party who
came upon the original discoverers in a somewhat startling manner.
Cable, Janet, and Pickering had pushed out also from Cutmore's Well, and
by finding water on a granite between the two, had reached the rocks near
Lake Darlot. Here they found camped a tribe of aboriginals, to whom they
showed kindness--too much kindness it appears, for the treacherous
thieves, having tasted the white man's food, conceived the bold idea of
raiding the camp, killing its occupants, and annexing their provisions.
At midnight the prospectors were attacked, Cable and Janet being speared
as they lay in their blankets, Cable through the stomach and Janet in
the arm, Pickering escaping, for he had laid down his blanket under a
tree, away from the packs, to get shade from the moon. He is, too, a man
of exceptionally small stature, and so eluded the quick sight of the
In spite of the disadvantage under which they were placed by the sudden
attack and wounds, the white men overpowered and dispersed their
treacherous foes. In what a terrible position they were now placed,
fifty-five miles from Cutmore's Well, the nearest certain water, for the
chances that the water found between would be dried up, were great! Only
one man unwounded and one suffering the most awful tortures of pain; and
nobody with the smallest medical skill, within God knows how many miles!
Death seemed certain, but while life remained they were not the men to
give in, and they thought of a plan whereby the life of their mate might
be saved if only their horses held out. They travelled five miles, then
camped, and the available man returned to the rocks to water the horses
at the risk of being again attacked by the niggers. And thus dot and go
one, they hoped to reach Cutmore's.
So much endurance could not remain unrewarded and the two wounded men were
overjoyed by the report of a shot (a dynamite shot as it afterwards
transpired, fired by Rogers, Parks, and Lockhart as they worked on their
reef), and as soon as the horses returned, the little band set forth in
the direction from which the welcome sound had come, and before long saw
the camp of the lucky prospectors.
Fortunately Mr. Parks had some knowledge of surgery, picked up in the
African bush, where he had been a trader, and so could doctor the wounded
men. Here they camped until one morning, Janet, recovered of his hurt,
picked up a nugget of gold, strangely enough, close to the track from
Roger's camp to the reef he was working. This nugget was the first-fruit
of a plentiful harvest, and presently they went down to the coast where
poor Cable could be properly attended to in hospital. Pickering and Janet
returned as soon as possible, but not before some inkling of their find
had leaked out; consequently when they returned, just at the time of our
arrival on the scene, their tracks were followed, and a "rush" set in.
We were not long in making our camp at the new diggings, or in getting to
work to hunt for gold. Being out for a syndicate, who naturally wanted
something big in the way of a reef, we were precluded from the alluring
search for alluvial, "specking," as it is termed.
It seems the simplest thing in the world to find a good mine--that is, as
I said before, after you have found it! On Sunday, February 17th, Paddy
and I took a walk, and stepped right on to an outcrop of quartz showing
beautiful gold. Quite simple! Any fool can prospect; all he wants is a
little luck, and the strange inner urgings that make him examine a certain
quartz reef or blow that others have passed, perhaps dozens of times,
without happening to look in the right place! Roughly marking out an area,
to establish our prior claim to the ground amongst those already on the
field, we returned to camp and gave Jim, who had been packing water from
the granites, the joyful news.
On Monday before daylight we were out, and soon had eighteen acres marked
off by a post at each corner, and our notices posted on a conspicuous
tree, which we had been unable to do the day before, Sunday-pegging being
Fresh parties were now arriving daily, and the consequent demand for water
made it necessary for Jim to camp at the rocks, and bring us a supply
whenever he was able.
This was not accomplished without some trouble, for not only were the
soaks we had dug with so much labour, made use of by the new-comers,
which we did not object to, but our right to the water was often disputed
by some who, with small regard for the truth, said that it was they who
had sunk the wells! Jim, however, was not the man to be bluffed, and, in
spite of lameness from sciatica in the loins and hip, managed to keep us
well supplied. Short-handed already, we were further handicapped by Paddy
smashing his thumb, and thus, for a time, I was the only sound workman of