Gone and quite forgotten

Headstones are an effort to leave a permanent reminder of our demise. But they too, return to dust. There are countless gravestones like this over our big country, decaying, decayed, destroyed. I shall tell the sad story of two of them now, and revive their memory, if only for a short time. James Gray’s crackedContinue reading “Gone and quite forgotten”

Italian cyclist lauded in outback cemetery

Although Italian cyclist Leo Beretta lived far from home in the dusty mining town of Coolgardie, he was so esteemed among locals that an eight-foot granite memorial was raised in his memory. Beretta died when he was training at the Coolgardie Recreation Reserve.Cycle racing was the world’s most popular and lucrative sport at the turnContinue reading “Italian cyclist lauded in outback cemetery”

Tall policeman not strong enough

Coolgardie’s first class constable William Ackerman Westrop died at midnight of consumption of the throat, a fairly popular way to die in the 1890s. The term usually referred to the wasting that accompanied tuberculosis. His illness was blamed on “turning out at all hours of the night in attending to the prisoners brought in’’ to theContinue reading “Tall policeman not strong enough”

Jockey predicted his own death

Jockey John J Evans had a premonition that he would not make it through the day of racing at Coolgardie on August 11, 1901. He was right. His mount, Arthur, refused to rise at the first obstacle in the first race of the second day of the sixth Coolgardie Cup, the hurdle. It crashed intoContinue reading “Jockey predicted his own death”

Typhoid terrorised the nation

Epidemics of infectious diseases came and went in early Australian history – smallpox, measles, the plague, Asiatic and Spanish flu – but typhoid was considered endemic. Outbreaks in the goldfields were inevitable, with overcrowding, no sanitation, a limited water supply and co-existing gold fever. It tended to occur in healthy young men and showed noContinue reading “Typhoid terrorised the nation”