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Title: The Monster Mine
Author: Anonymous (P.G. M)
* A Project Gutenberg of Australia eBook *
eBook No.: 0600901h.html
Edition: 1
Language: English
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Date first posted: May 2006
Date most recently updated: May 2006

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The Monster Mine

by

P.G. M

(This story first appeared in The South Australian Odd Fellows' Magazine August, 1845)

Hope Lodge
Hayloft Hotel
August 16th, 1945

This day is memorable in the annals of the principality as the centenary of the purchase by a Company of the Great Copper Mine on the Burra, and will be celebrated by a grand festival.

One hundred years ago a few individuals of limited means subscribed together, with much difficulty, the (at that time large) sum of 20,000. With this they purchased, of the Local Government of that period, twenty thousand acres of mineral land; and the spot fixed on is that immense tract of country now occupied by the seven great and flourishing cities--Featherstonhaugh, Stockton-on-Burra, Aston, Buncely, Grahamstown, Bagota, and Snobsgain.

At that time the district was approached with great difficulty, the roads over hill and dale being infested with wild dogs (wolves) and natives (ourang-outangs), and almost impassable to other than travellers on horseback, the few wheeled vehicles which existed being clumsy conveyances called drays, and drawn by bullocks; for so great was the demand for, and scarcity of, horses at that time, that bullocks, goats, and even dogs were employed in drawing the valuable ore to the port of shipment, which was the now inconsiderable port of Adelaide. The splendid harbour of Boston Bay was then either unknown or treated with a neglect almost inconceivable to those who now know it as the most important resort for shipping in the known world. Atmospheric railways and aerial machines were, it is true, talked of, but the matter-of-fact men of the day considered them theoretical, visionary, and impracticable; and when we consider that the vessels of the period occupied a space of four months in transferring the ore (for no means for smelting were then established) to England, then the only market for it, we shall cease to wonder that, for a length of time, it was doubtful whether the scheme would prove successful or otherwise.

To those who are acquainted with the immense wealth of the proprietors of this property--the Princes of the soil; to those who look at their palaces, their castles, and their villas, it is almost Incredible that, so short a time back as one century, their ancestors were at immense trouble to raise the paltry amount referred to, which each of the one thousand proprietors could now readily pay ten times over; that, in fact, two great political parties, called the Nobs and Snobs, (supposed to be the same as the Whig and Tory of a still earlier period), actually coalesced to attain this object, notwithstanding the almost frantic opposition offered by two gentlemen of the name of Manager, who apparently held very influential positions in the principality, or rather, as it was called at that time, the colony.

The City of Adelaide, then, as now, the seat of Government, boasted few of the splendid buildings which now embellish it. The ancient monument in the midst of Light-square was scarcely completed. A monument erected by the Odd Fellows, to the memory of a deceased brother, was only then in the course of erection.

A few of the oldest Churches and Chapels that are dotted over our vast city were certainly in existence, and one Catholic Bishop had lately arrived in the place.

No splendid Cathedral, either Protestant or Catholic, reared its proud head in this our embryo city. The Prince's palace, the palaces of the Archbishops and Bishops, were not thought of. The great man of the place, who, from his advanced years, was known by the soubriquet of the Grey Governor, resided in a portion of the Prince's palace, which those curious in antiquarian researches may still find occupied as apartments and offices by the Lord Steward's clerks; and one unpretending Chapel, in the Monastery of St Murphy, is still pointed out by the venerable father O'Recollect as the nucleus of that great building.

No Colleges actually existed, except in the legends of the oldest inhabitants, who spoke (without, however, anything like confidence) of a College which had existed in air (Quere in Eyre?) in earlier days.

The great-grandfather of our present beloved Prince was then but an infant in the cradle; and the land was governed by nominees of our great ally, England, with whom friendly relations have been maintained from that time to the present; indeed, as our readers must be aware, this ancestor of our beloved Prince was afterwards the renowned Albert Edward the First of England.

Records have, however, been handed down of a visit to this clime paid by King John, who died eight hundred years ago; after which a long blank of seven hundred years occurs in the documents in the hands of the Lord Keeper of Records.

We are afraid we are occupying too much space in the oldest established journal of the principality, but cannot resist one more circumstance, which is amusing to those who consider the rude state in which our ancestors carried on their commercial arrangements. It is a well-recorded fact that the great monetary medium was a simple paper document, signed chiefly by one of the Mr Managers before alluded to, which was taken currently as cash, the knowledge of electricity being so confined at that time that our present excellent monetary system was unthought of, and he who had proposed such a scheme would have been looked upon as a madman.

One fact more. It is said that wheat-seed was sown months before it was reaped, and the fructification was left entirely to nature. Much doubt has arisen in the minds of many scientific men as to the possibility of growing wheat without electricity; and we have the satisfaction of informing our readers that a series of experiments are now being carried on by Professor Oldenough to ascertain the fact.

But the ringing of bells and the firing of the great steam cannon at Fort Boston announce the fact that the festivities of the day have now commenced, and as our Lodge takes a prominent part in them, I must resign my seat in the electro-phonotypographical chair to some one more worthy to fill it.

THE END

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