I like to collect books about the history of the Pilbara, it’s pretty hard country; there’s been a lot of bloody murder. I came up here from a farm down South where things weren’t too good. I decided to come up North and make a fortune. I was going to spend six years here, and it’s been 40 years now. I went to Goldsworthy Mine to work in the explosive division and then went to Shay Gap.
In 1993 they shut Shay Gap, that’s when I got interested mucking around with gold. These other blokes I knew were always looking for gold and then they asked me to peg some ground for them and I borrowed a metal detector. It took six months before I found anything, then I got a bull dozer and found a lot more. I had two other partners, we got a lot of gold, probably about 500 ounces, which today is worth $500,000, back in those days it was only $400 an ounce.
I got out of that partnership and came to Marble Bar where I got my own leases.
Back in the 70’s and 80’s it used to be easy to peg a lease, there was a lot of ground available, you would give the mines department the paperwork, and they would grant you a lease. I found a 60 ounce piece once, that’s been my golden moment, it was 67 ounces, and back then there was no tax on gold in Western Australia. Now, it’s getting harder to find untapped places, it’s really been hammered and the number of people with metal detectors has risen big time. There could be the odd place where gold turns up when it’s not expected, but there are no big bonanzas.
I’ve got a house which is two kilometres out of town, we don’t have 24 hour power, but I’ve got some solar power, some panels and batteries and a generator. I built myself a bush (Spinifex) shed, it works like a Coolgardie safe, you put Spinifex inside a netting and make that into walls, then you get some water to run down, and, hopefully a little bit of breeze, so there’s your air conditioner. In the old days everyone had them on the station, it’s better than roasting in 43 degree heat. I grow a few of my own vegetables, it worries me getting them from the supermarket with all the spray they use to kill the bugs.
Everything grows up here, tomatoes, spinach, even cauliflower, all that stuff, the only thing that won’t grow is broad beans. As a kid we grew up on a farm, always had motorbikes, I’ve always liked them, I collected a few motorbikes- a 1927 Norton, and a 1925 Harley Davidson, couple of others, but don’t worry about them. I’ve also got an F Series Valiant. I can’t resist, I pick up anything that’s old, signs, old engines and knick knacks.
I’m a Councillor of East Pilbara Shire; I represent the North East ward, which goes all the way out to the desert, to Kunawarrijtji, Punmu, and all those communities. We have about six different zones, it’s about 500 kilometres wide and 1200 kilometres long, it used to be the biggest shire in the world, but apparently now Greenland has taken over, but I reckon half of it is under water. I hate the cities - I hate the traffic, I can feel my blood pressure going through the roof when I visit Port Hedland.