Thursday, June 23, 2016

Golden Destiny: The Centenary History of Kalgoorlie-Boulder and the Eastern Goldfields of Western Australia by Martyn Webb and Audrey Webb.

Golden Destiny: The Centenary History of Kalgoorlie-Boulder and the Eastern Goldfields of Western Australia by Martyn Webb and Audrey Webb. Hardcover book published by City of Kalgoorlie-Boulder 1993, 1070 pages with black and white photographs and some black and white illustrations and maps.

Focusing on the twin mining towns of Kalgoorlie-Boulder, this book draws upon Western Australia’s experience of the search for and exploitation of gold over almost 140 years, with special reference to the discovery and development of the Eastern Goldfields and the famed Golden Mile. Their story is rich in detail. It describes how gold helped transform Western Australia, with its 1 million square miles of territory, from a land of ‘despondency and despair’ with less than 50,000 inhabitants in 1890 to its present population of more than 1.5 million (1993). Their story also covers the transformation of the Western Australian gold industry from its use of the most primitive methods to advanced modern technologies as it moved from free-lance alluvial mining, to labour- intensive heavily-capitalised company-operated deep mining, to the current reworking of 100 year old gold centres by large-scale open-cut mining operations. The book shows how isolation and aridity on the Eastern Goldfields gave a new twist to that peculiar age-old relationship between gold and people — and thereby helped to create one of Australia’s most distinctive ways of life. Commissioned by the City of Kalgoorlie-Boulder as its contribution to the centenary of the discovery of gold at Kalgoorlie in 1893 by Paddy Hannan, Tom Flanagan and Dan Shea, Golden Destiny is profusely illustrated by contemporary photographs, maps and diagrams, well supported with documentary evidence, and fleshed out with the real life stories of past and present goldfielders from all walks of life.”

Local histories. I don't know if it's the same all over the world, but people here in Australia do like to read about where they live (...or have lived... or where their ancestors have lived), no matter how big or small a place it is. During my book finding expeditions I'm often stumped by the amount of places with a history written about them, that i've never heard of. I think this could have something to do with growing up and living most of my life in one big city. It was only when I moved away from the throbbing metropolis of Melbourne all those years ago, that I realised how Melbournecentric my life had been up to that point. Don't get me wrong, I think I did have a fairly good geographical knowledge of this country and yes I did know where most of the bigger places are. It's when you find a book about Mundaring, Dixie or Yankalilla that things start to get a bit more interesting... and I start to get a bit bamboozled. Fortunately we now have google to help us figure out the difficult and embarrassing questions about where things are and I can confidently list a book on line as being a local history book about somewhere which I now have a fair idea where it is.

Kalgoorlie and Boulder (Western Australia, bottom half, inland from Perth) are places that I am aware of. Over the years i've sold numerous books looking at the history of this area and what a rich history it is. So rich that the authors of this book decided to fill over 1,000 pages with it's history, producing this large brick of a book. It's a statement, it's the sort of thing that could do you serious damage if not handled properly. Listing stuff on line, means that I have to handle any book I list more than a few times; carrying it home, shelving it, photographing it, writing it up and shelving it again. This is a two hand book, meaning that you need both hands to handle it. I can feel my biceps growing (or groaning) each time I pick it up. Books like this are the reason why kindles were invented... (not really).

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