Back in the day
By Ashleigh Murch
ON SATURDAY March 12, 1898 The Albany Advertiser announced that ’four workmen from Denmark applied to Mr ECD Keyser for miner’s rights. One of the men stated that he had obtained £3 worth of gold by dollying from 40lb [of] stone. The gold was discovered a short distance from Denmark.’
This following Tuesday’s paper reported ‘GOLD DISCOVERIES AT DENMARK: RICH SPECIMENS’.
The article reported that a Mr Allen, an axeman for Millars Timber, who had previously been a miner at Coolgardie, had ’dollied some of the stone and in a single dish got about 4 pennyweights of gold. The gold is coarse. The stone is brown and very similar to some that is found on the fields of Coolgardie and Norseman … One piece of whitish quartz shows a large blob of gold. From his long experience as a miner, Mr Allen is of the opinion that it is a true fissure lode, and that it will prove payable.’
As the find was presumed to be on Millars’ land, Mr Allen took the SS Rockton to Melbourne, to discuss with Mr CG Millar taking up a claim and arranging capital to develop the find.
Six weeks later a major article appeared in The Advertiser, entitled ‘THE REPORTED DISCOVERY OF GOLD AT DENMARK. A VISIT TO THE CLAIMS. (BY OUR SPECIAL REPORTER)’.
Clearly, this was important news, as the unnamed special reporter took two columns and more than 2500 words to make his report. Sadly, we don’t have room for his full report here, but he truly waxes lyrical!
He reported that Mr Allen had been back in Denmark for three weeks and had taken the Denmark postmaster to see the claim. Our intrepid special reporter ‘took the first opportunity of seeing what foundation there was for this local gold rush.’
Public interest in the find was indicated by the fact that when the reporter took the train to Denmark that Wednesday afternoon he was accompanied by ‘a number of prominent Albany men’ including MPs, and police sergeant H Stokes.
’Some of the party had provided themselves with miner’s rights and were apparently entering upon the adventure with feelings of fluctuating doubt and confidence. They had all seen the stone and the gold, and were satisfied as men could be that if the same stone could be found in the Denmark district the time had arrived for a boom and for a ‘rush’.’ But it was not to be.
We take up the story with Sergeant Stokes’ report: ‘I asked one of the men for permission to take some of the rubble from the spot where it was stated that colours of gold had been obtained. This he allowed me to do, and in company with the postmaster at Denmark … and this man I went to the spot. The man … was plainly seen by the postmaster and another man to put his fingers into his vest pocket and sprinkle ‘something’ on the spot.
‘My companions searched the surface and found a small colour of gold … Several of the party washed dishes of dirt and obtained colours from rubble taken from the spot pointed out. Several other men washed rubble taken from close by, but failed to obtain any colour of gold whatever. I examined places round about and, in my opinion, and the opinion of others present who professed to be authorities on mining, there is no indication whatever of gold being there. All expressed the belief that the gold found had been placed there. ‘The whole thing is a hoax.’
So ended Denmark’s ’gold rush’. No further information could be found as to Mr Allen’s motives, or whether he was charged with any offence.
The reports in papers of the time give a much fuller story than I can give here. If you want to read more, they can be found at www.denmarkhistoricalsocietywa.org.au under ‘latest news’.