Looking Back – Agnew

HARRY F CAMPBELL – Reminicences

Craiggiemore GM

Craiggiemore GM

The grandfather of  Senator Ian Campbell

The following are the reminisces of Harry Campbell which were written by him in 1979 for the Western Australian 150th Centenary from foundation

I was born in Perth on 18th April 1906, the same date as the San Francisco Earthquake. My Parents lived at Laverton where my father was manager of a small mine called the Craiggiemore. Mother naturally came to her mother in Perth where the medical profession were probably better represented for her first born.

The railway was not beyond Malcolm in those days and Cobb & Co coaches were recognised transport to Laverton and the wide spread mining centres beyond.  Incidentally the headframe or poppet legs were still there 10 years ago when I last visited Laverton.

Cobb and Co Coach

Cobb and Co Coach

I have no memories of Laverton. My first recollection is of a house close to the mine at Waroonga later called Agnew which was 3 miles from Lawlers where the main mine the “Great Eastern” was located. The group of mines all owned by Bewick Moreing & Co were controlled from the Great Eastern by the Superintendent –  a Mr McGriggor.

My father managed the “Waroonga” under McGriggor. The mine engineer in charge of all Bewick Moreing mines including the “Sons of Gwalia” at Leonora was Herbert Hoover, much later President of the U.S.A.    I don’t remember him but do remember the general household fuss when he came for an occasional meal on his periodic inspections. Dad was underground manager at the Great Eastern before he was given the Waroonga management. 22 years later Claude de Bernales brought him back to manage the Waroonga under the new name of Agnew.

All the houses were of corrugated galvanised iron, walls and roof, all painted white, linings and ceilings were of hessian, all heavily lime washed and floors of pine. The top staff houses sometimes had ceilings and linings of stamped metal. All stoves were wood burning and mulga or gum tree logs were supplied in 6 foot lengths by the mine. You had to cut them up, unless you were in the top hierarchy. I remember the assayer and his wife, raw English newcomers who rested the ends of the logs (fairly small in diameter) on chairs and gradually pushed them forward into the fireplace as they burnt away. Obviously neither could use an axe.

Agnew Townsite

Agnew Townsite

All goods had to be carted from the railhead miles away at Leonora, food, building materials, mine supplies, every single thing except milk and meat and firewood. Most people kept goats which provided the milk.

I remember camel teams and donkey teams pulling the wagons. I also remember the Afghan Traders with their covered wagons drawn by a pair of camels. They brought mens and womens clothing, dress material, pins, needles and what have you. They were welcome visitors and very kindly distributed lollies to children. They were widely known through the scattered farms of WA as well, I learnt later one survivor was in business at Cranbrook as a general storekeeper until recent times and very well respected.

Agnew - by Alex Palmer

Agnew – by Alex Palmer

Narrow gauge tramlines with small steam locos connected the 5 mines in the group and out into the bush where the mine timer was cut.  There must have been a bush racecourse because I remember a small timber grandstand and running some footraces but not winning and we all got a George V Coronation Medal. We went out there on a train.


The Dirty Acre – The Boulder Block

Rather rowdy,
Dingy, cloudy,
Dusty, dirty, dim and dowdy,
Thirsty throats to mock.
Can’t mistake her,
Good drought slaker,
Six pubs to the bloomin’ acre,
Weary hummers,
Beery bummers,
Cadging ‘deeners’, ‘zacks’ and ‘thrummers’,
Mooching in a flock,
Frontispieces hard and chilly,
Sparring pots off ‘Dick’ and ‘Billy’
(‘Nough to drive a barman silly)
On the Boulder Block.
Sulphur frying,
Kinchins crying
Cyanide from sand dumps flying,
Senses reel and rock.
Whistles squealing,
Black smoke reeling,
Bingie gets a curious feeling
On the Boulder Block.
Drunks all fighting,
Crowd delighting,
Grimy derelicts exciting
Sympathy from mugs;
‘Have-beens’ viewing
Past with rueing
(Watching for the chance of chewing
Ears of tender ‘lugs’).
Miners drinking,
Crib-cans clinking –
Just off shift and no one shrinking
(Never mind the clock!)
Ragged shirt, gleaming collar,
Empty ‘kick’ and mighty dollar;
Health, and wealth, and grief, and squalor –
That’s the Boulder Block.



Boulder Block Hotel (towards the centre of the bottom of this ariel photograph)


Goldfields Heroes – The Dease Collection 2

Sidney George Curtis and Family

The Boulder Boys The following photographs are from the “The Soldiers of Barrack Street” collection and are  the collection of famed West Australian photographer Denis Dease who operated the Dease studio at 117 Barrack Street from 1898 to 1929. … [Continue reading]

Montgomery House – Sepia Saturday

The Montgomery House 9th Nov 1909

This very prestigious home was built by the Montgomery Family who live in it for three generations. The family is well known for its drapery business on the corner of Hannan and Porter Street in Kalgoorlie. The house is now up for sale with … [Continue reading]

A Life on the Stage – Early Goldfields Theatres


On the 4th September 1894 Hannans Find was declared and the track from Coolgardie became the main street. The camp was now becoming a town and more and more business were starting to spring up. Many made from hessian and canvas with a wooden frame. … [Continue reading]