Paddy Hannan Memorial in Kalgoorlie
The Golden Earth
A fiery glow in the sky changes fear of the dark unknown
to relief, as its rays lift above the horizon
Old diggings and steep mine shafts dot the hillsides
like certain death-traps for their unwary victims
The suns rays catch on a rusty shack
Flattened cyanide drums form walls with holes cut for windows
Ragged curtains move snake-like in the wind so hot
You shy away before it turns your skin to leather
Inside, red dust filters onto the miner's face
His tired old frame spread-eagled on the Hessian bed
feet clad in mud-caked boots extend over the end
their laces hang suspended
Wrinkles in the tough skin his only legacy
to never-ending days of digging with pick and shovel
out in the cruel glare of the burning sun of this once
prosperous gold-fever driven mining town
Dust-covered tins of food, clutter the fracture-box shelving
A half-eaten meal lies on the bench, amid scattered old newspapers
The dirt floor a carpet of trodden cigarette butts
Overturned whiskey bottles signifying long nights of frustration and loneliness
A shaft of light silhouettes the old miner's face
the eyes are no longer annoyed by flies
which settle in numbers on his blue orbs
Once full of hope, they now stare at the roof
No more dreams of the big one hidden under the next rock,
Nor back-breaking labor in searing heat.
He is free from torment to wander the greener pastures
of this truly golden earth.
The old Pioneer gold diggers.
2010 Still sees miners risking their lives deep down in the bowels of our earth. Searching for that allusive gold.
Although today they take a risk with rock slides, the working conditions are brilliant. There is so much machinery that they hardly get their hands dirty.
Well actually they do but it can hardly be compared to the way the whole pioneering families suffered years ago. Often working with their bare hands laying flat on their stomachs digging in tiny little holes.
It is just so hard to visualise unless you have seen those holes where the men dug. We lived in Norseman a mining town south of Kalgoorlie in Western Australia. It is a very dangerous area to roam about. But it sure made us visualise how it must have been way back then.
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