Clara Saunders Part 2

(In Part 1 Clara travelled to Southern Cross from Brisbane) Part 1

Water was being cared from soaks and clay pans miles away; even the trees and shrubs looked parched and dry for the want of moisture, and the salt on the dry lake dazzled one’s eyes.

The main amusements were dancing and horse riding, picnicing and surprise parties. Life here was never dull. There was a good deal of activity out a Parker’s Range, Hopes Hill and surrounding districts, in the way of prospecting.

My first outing was to visit the Frasers Mine with Emily. Captain Oats was there and what a congenial gentleman he was. He showed us over the mine and was anxious to explain everything in detail. As it was the first gold mine I had ever seen, I was more than interested. We concluded the outing by looking around the small house that Deaming had built.

“Are you fond of dancing?” asked Emily.

“Ah, yes. I learned in Brisbane.:

“That’s good. Suppose we have a dance on Monday and I’ll introduce you to the boys.”

As soon as the music started there were many young men eager to dance. My first partner was Jack Raeside, a good dancer and I enjoyed every minute of it and he remarked that I waltzed well. The evening was bright, one dance after another. It was not long before Jack returned and asked for another dance.

“I’m sorry, Jack, but I must be sociable and share my dances as there are so few girls and so many young men.”

“I’m disappointed, but I understand.” He remarked.

We had all had a very happy time when the evening drew to a close. The following evening to our surprise, several of the boys came along and we had some music and singing, and I was surprised to hear so many good voices, including Jack’s, who sang a very popular song.

During the evening a riding party was arranged to Hopes Hill. Jack was to bring a horse for me and Tom was to take Emily. I was rather nervous, not having ridden much and my horse was rather hard to handle at the start, but soon settled down. We had a glorious day cantering over the dry lake. The weather was perfect and my horse proved one of the best.
From then on I found myself beginning to like the Cross. I had already made so many friends young and old, and strange though it may seem at my age, this man I felt sure was to play a part in my future life.

Mrs Benstead

Mrs Beanstead arrived in due course, a very attractie woman in looks and build and a personality that would attract anyone’s attention. She was very talented, has a lovely voice. We could see at once that there was a lot in this woman, she was certainly above the average and would be a great asset to the Cross. She soon got to work and you would think she had been there for months. If necessary, she could go into the kitchen and cook a dinner for 60 or 70 people without any trouble.

Strange to say, Fred Jacoby (later mine host of the Mundaring Weir Hotel) came to the Cross soon after Mrs Benstead and put up at the Hotel for a while. He was a very brilliant entertainer those days, could play the piano and sing like a bird. When dinner was over in the evening, Fred went inot the private dining room where the piano was and started to play and sing.

As soon as Mrs Benstead heard him she changed into an evening dress, her had done in a charming style, and as she entered, Fred thought she was a lovely vision, not just woman. She carried a roll of music and asked Fred to play some of the songs for her. She started to sing and Fred, having lovely voice those days, also sang with her. It was not long before there was an audience. She and Fred sand duets together, one after another, and when they had finished, to their surprise, Dr Black had come along with his banjo. With him was Charley Saw of the Commercial Bank and Evan Wisdom. It was a lovely evening.

As a welcome to Mrs Benstead, several bottles of champagne were drunk. Mr Benstead had gone to the Coolgardie Rush before Mrs Benstead had arrived. Mrs Farren soon realised she had a very reliable woman and was quite contented when the time drew near for her fifth daughter to be born.

Time went on. Many happy events took place, until one day the little town was plunged into sadness by the untimely death of two very popular miners in the open cut at Frasers Mind. There was not one person who failed to attend their funeral and saw them laid to rest in a double grave which is now the old cemetery over the lake. From then on, things seemed on the down grade, as there was a strike at the Frasers Mine. This caused a decline in business.

The men concerned grew restless, and little later when things really were at its worst, the town was thrown into a state of wildest excitement when it was made known that Bailey had arrived in Southern Cross on the 1st of September, 1892 to take a reward claim. He had deposited gold in the Commercial Bank, 50 oz.

Mr C Saw was manager at the time and placed the gold on display so that each and all may view same. It is hard to describe the magnificent sight of these beautiful specimens and nuggets. One can imagine the state of wild excitement in out midst by this wonderful discovery. Activity started in all directions, every man was anxious to be first on the Field. Every available horse in the district was rounded up. Vehicles of every description from wheelbarrows to waggons were made ready for the road. Horses were sold at very high prices and the men were all making for the new find.

To be continued …

#Bailey #Benstead #Coolgardie #goldrush #saunders

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