Full Record

Correspondence The requirements of the Yilgarn goldfield
Record no:
20 September 1890
A Letter to the Editor signed 'A VISITOR' and making reference to John Forrest and a Mr Raeside.
Kept:Press clippings book 1, p. 53



SIR, — On visiting Yilgarn a short time after Mr Forrest's visit, I there
had the opportunity of reading, in the WEST AUSTRALIAN, the report by the

hon. gentleman.  Now, from what I saw myself, after visiting most of the
claims, I should esteem it a favour, if he would allow me space to draw
attention to the facts of the case.  The Commissioner says: — "From my own
observations I have no hesitation in saying that we have a gold field at
Yilgarn, and I feel confident that having regard to the large area of gold
bearing country in the early future, this field will be largely developed,
and it behoves the Government to encourage and assist by every means in
its power this development."

After coming to this conclusion, let us look at what the hon. gentleman
advises.  First the water supply as of the greatest importance, as at the
present all the fields have to depend upon is three small tanks and a few
mud holes.  What they require is to large tanks, say, of 50,000 yard each,
one at Parker's Range and one at the Cross, placed at convenient distances
from the town, not eight miles away as at present.  The cost of putting
down two such tanks by contract would be about £12,000.  This would settle
the water question once and for all.  What the hon. gentleman suggests is,
to spend £500 at Parker's, which would give them another mud hole of no
use in a dry season, and at the Cross condenser at a cost of about £1000,
which would be another folly equal to the borer, as the mining companies
experience with the salt water goes to prove, that condensing is anything
but profitable employment; and it is planned in working order and continue
the output of 3000 gallons, would tax even Mr Raeside's ingenuity, when it
has been proved that one third of the total bulk is saline matter and the
other two-thirds water.  In fact, anyone would infer from Mr Forrest's
report that the Government's first care is to provide easy and lucrative
employment for Mr Raeside, and secondly to provide a water supply for the
fields.  With respect to the present water supply, leaving out Sayer's
Tank, the others are little better than pig holes, and to think that so
many people are depending upon this miserable provision, is not very
creditable to any one concerned.  At Strawbery Rocks we find a large
natural basin in the rock.  When discovered it was full of soil; now in
the middle of this a circular tank has been dug and carefully stoned up,
when by removing the whole of the soil and dispensing with the stone,
double the capacity at far less cost would have been attained.  At the
Fourteen Mile Rocks this work is again to be seen in exactly the same
form.  Let all future work be done by contract under the supervision of
the Warden.  Of the cost of the present work we know very little, but by
the look of things I should say it was something considerable.  It would
be interesting to know the present cost per yard.  There are men now in
the colony who would be glad of such work at from 2s 3d to 2s 6d per yard.

With regard to the main road, that is urgently wanted.  The telegraph
could be very well dispensed with for the present.  It may benefit a few
scrip dealers in Perth, who have been already a curse to the field.  There
is nothing to warrant this expenditure when the fields are languishing for
want of capital, and starving for water, and every road in the district is
next to impassable.  As for the land, is it not very extraordinary that Mr
Forrest should think it would grow hay, when he can see it a foot high on
any camping ground.  I must say the land is the best Western Australia can
show, but private enterprise must stand by until the Commissioner sets
apart a special area, as the Land Regulations shut the whole thing up.
The rainfall is quite as good as that in any part of the south east, where
we grow hay and corn.  In most seasons, if I could get a block on
reasonable terms, I should be very glad to save the Government the trouble
of leading the way.  Of the result I should have no fear.  I think it a
great pity that even Mr Forrest, should throw doubt and discredit upon our
much abused land.  Throw the land open for selection on easy terms, and
the Government need not trouble themselves further about the matter.  Why
should it be a special area?  We are not short of land around the field.
In fact, what the field wants is a fair show to produce their own fodder,
a permanent water supply, good roads, and the public crusher at Parker's
Range, and last but not least, the repeal of the No-Liability Act, which
is no more than a direct license to swindle, suitable only for exchange
mining.  Capital seems to have lost all confidence in our mines, and to
restore that confidence should be the aim of the Government.  A public
crusher would do more towards developing Parker's Range than anything
else, and would pay for its own upkeep and a good percentage on the
capital; besides the cost of the plant would not exceed £5,000 including
water.  I am sure the vote of the fields would be more for a crusher
rather than a telegraph line, and the bars of gold going into Perth would
pay for more than a waggon [sic] load of telegrams.
Yours &c.
August 20.
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