Russian Jack – The other J F K

Dollypot, Greenhide and Spindrift:  a journal of bush history

Russian Jack and Synchronicity  –    by Diane Oldman

I rather thought I had made up the word ‘synchronicity’ and when I attempted to look it up in several dictionaries I couldn’t find it.  So I decided it was a new noun – my noun.  Then I discovered this definition from Wikipedia: Synchronicity (the experience of two or more events that are apparently causally unrelated occurring together in a meaningful manner. To count as synchronicity, the events should be unlikely to occur together by chance.) 
This is a story of how synchronicity led me to Russian Jack hero of WA’s Northwest, a JP from Carnarvon, Hesperian Press, Cathie Clement, writer-historian and many others.  I am not going to repeat Russian Jack’s story as it is well known to all those who have studied the history of our Northwest; I am merely recalling my involvement with this larger than life figure.

My story begins in England in 1994 when my sister asked me, on my return to WA, to check the name Kirkus in the Australian telephone directories. Claire Kirkus, a friend of hers living in France was seeking connections with her husband’s Kirkus ancestors.  I did eventually discover a connection with a sea captain in Melbourne in the 1850s but this fact is only the B movie to my main feature.

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Commemorating the 125th Anniversary of Coolgardie -a verse

author: tony mate bozich

the track
I walk along the beaten track to old Coolgardie town
where pioneers trudged in earliest days with grim but hopeful frown,
the asphalt whispers, murmurs low, my mind is all unhearing,
I think about the men who slogged through bush and heat all searing.


the discovery of Coolgardie

Seventeenth of September 1892,
a spring day crisp and clear,
when the timeless bush all through
boasts a wild flowering without peer.

In Southern Cross on this day
outside the cafe, post office, hotel
men talk and wile time away,
work has been quiet a spell.

Up and down the main street,
in groups of various size scattered,
young, not young, slovenly or neat,
but all in the custom hatted.

A lone horseman comes into view,
a pack animal in tow behind,
“The usual red dust covered through,”
a moment observes the common mind.

For it’s nothing unusual seeing
men straggling in from the bush,
the rationale of most hereabouts being
eventually making a prospecting push.

Arthur Bayley is recognised by most,
he struck gold at Lake Anneen,
been to many a remote outpost,
he’s bushwise and athletically keen.

His mount traverses the potholed street
while attention to prior themes recedes,
later in the hotel they’ll meet,
ascertain how country he’s visited reads.

But he continues past the hotel,
heads for the Mining Warden’s place
and suddenly a mental warning bell
causes the general pulse to race.

“Hey, it’s Bayley!” goes the cry,
some noticing the bulging saddle bags,
and struck by realisation why
outside Finnerty’s Bayley halts the nags.

The crowd dispersed about the thoroughfare
from a mien submerged and sickly
in a minute mass from everywhere,
their intrinsic resilience surfacing quickly,

by which time Bayley’s scrambled inside,
escaping the inevitable crush
of hundreds sensing his dusty ride
reeks of a gold strike lush.

And indeed with Compton the registrar
for the official Yilgarn Mining Ward
he registers a claim located far
in two names – Bayley and Ford.


in memoriam
There’s William Ford and Arthur Bayley,
immortal names they are,
by Goldfields folk remembered daily
though long they’ve crossed the bar.

‘Twas they and their prospecting mates
the odds stacked high resisted,
and though their memory slow abates
forever high they’re listed.

Coolgardie – The Hall Family,early days

The following collection of photographs are reproduced with the kind permission of Marshall Hall and Family. In his words:- 'Charles FitzJohn Hall was the main produce merchant in Coolgardie from 1896-1918. Prior to this he made his money in gold … [Continue reading]

Mystery Box – in the Gala Annual Show!

I came across this following photograph dated 20 Sep 1900 and immediately thought that the wooden item in the top of the display looked very much like the case which held the petition for separation from the rest of Western Australia. Im not sure if … [Continue reading]

Old Age and Youth – Darlot Divorce

We often think that family law matters didn't go to court in the early days but this unusual story shows that matters could still be most complicated and acrimonious:- Leonora Miner (WA : 1910 - 1928), Saturday 6 August 1927, page 3 Old … [Continue reading]