Bardoc Ghosts

Back in 2004 I corresponded for a time (the old fashioned way by letter) with a man who spent time in Bardoc as a child and he was in the process of writing his memoirs

Frank Kilpatrick from Bassendean.  He wrote:-

“Greetings, my daughter, who has access to the internet , tells me from your web site that you have an interest in Bardoc and particularly the Bardoc Cemetery.  Glad to find someone else who knows where the town was. The following is an excerpt from my memoirs which I hope you will like.

Sarah A Williamson Bardoc

Sarah A Williamson Bardoc

“Just exactly who was Sarah A Williamson, nee Handley? Why did she leave her cool green Tasmania to die in the Western Australian Goldfields in 1908? Does anyone know or care that her bones lie mouldering underneath the rich red Bardoc loam, surrounded by sombre desolate grey scrub, silent but for a lonely breeze sighing through the casuarina boughs?”

So here you see that we are thinking alike a bit. All of these gone and forgotten folk had stories and they should be told. Is there someone out there who knows Sarah’s story do you think?

Bardoc holds a special place in my heart. I lived there as a child from 1935 to 1938 when it was a very different place; a bustling prospecting area and a busy rail siding. It was a place of great adventure to me, and since I retired, I have had the chance to return there several times to try to briefly soak up some of the atmosphere. One can’t return to the past of course, but I have a ‘fruit salad’ of vivid Bardoc memories of wide spaces, adventure, odd characters, sadness, hardship, gold, family life and the beauty and frightening loneliness of the bush and the wonderful perfumes of the wildflowers.  I am now a 74 year old relic and I vegetate in the sole less suburbs of Perth with an interest (though not a great talent for) writing.  Yours with kind regards

Frank Kirkpatrick Oct 14th 2004”

Frank and I have lost contact now but I have found out some information on ‘Sarah Williamson’ on his behalf which I hope will tell her story just a little:-

Sarah Annie Williamson died on the 21st September 1908 at Bardoc (on Crown Land), she was 55 years old and died from cancer of the uterus. She was the daughter of George Handley, a sea captain and Jane Brownell. She was born in Hobart Tasmania on the 1st Oct 1852 and she married in Beaconsfield Tasmania in 1875 at the age of 22yrs to William Williamson. She was to travel to Western Australia in 1898 with her husband and remained there till her death ten years later in 1908. Sarah and William had no children.

Bardoc Hotel

Taken in 1897.
Left: M. [Maggie] Steedman, afterwards Mrs George Jessop
Centre: W. [William] Steedman
Right: Sarah Hurley, afterwards Mrs Roly Cridland”

Her family must have remembered her to have erected the headstone to mark her place of burial in this lonely place.  Frank may think that he is not a gifted writer but when he speaks of the silence of the bush all but for the wind moving through the trees I can feel what he means as I too have many times been in a lonely cemetery with nothing but the wind to hear. It doesn’t feel like a sad or lonely place to me but one of peace, perfect for a final resting place. Much better than in a packed urban cemeteries surrounded by Frank’s sole-less suburbs.

Bardoc Cemetery is located on the Mt Vetters Station and permission is needed to visit the site. There are 27 people buried there. It is 51 kms North of Kalgoorlie on the road to Leonora. There are two cemetery reserves at Bardoc.  The first area was considered too close to the town and a second cemetery was designated further out and the plan was to exhume the bodies already buried in the first cemetery and re bury them but this never happened.

Where ever you are today Frank I hope that you still visit Bardoc. if only in your thoughts.


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My name is Moya Sharp, I live in Kalgoorlie Western Australia and have worked most of my adult life in the history/museum industry. I have been passionate about history for as long as I can remember and in particular the history of my adopted home the Eastern Goldfields of Western Australia. Through my website I am committed to providing as many records and photographs free to any one who is interested in the family and local history of the region.

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  1. Barrie McMahon says:

    Frank certainly is a very good writer. He manages to capture in a few words images that are very vivid – desolate grey scrub, rich red loam. Not even Perth’s suburbia could wipe these from his mind.

  2. David Lane says:

    Frank Kilpatrick is well and lives in Donnybrook with his lovely wife. His daughter Frances lives with her daughter, Sarah in the same town.
    Lovely man and family
    David F. Lane 15th February 2018


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