Harry Swain’s Scales

 John Hayes 

 

John has in his possession, a set of gold weighing scales,
once owned and used by his ancestor Harry Swain

 

I am a set of old scales now tarnished with time,

I once weighed every ounce of young Harry Swain’s mine.

The Horseshoe at Burbanks and the Bonnievale claim,

where I met many men seeking fortune and fame

 

It was Bayley and Ford who first clearly revealed

the wealth of Coolgardie's alluvial field.

Those adventurers trekked through unchartered terrain

to peg their “Reward” on a desolate plain.

 

Soon many would follow a well beaten track

From civilized cities to the arid outback

Where Warden Finnerty had Crown Law to uphold

in Coolgardie’s “old camp” with  its streets paved in gold.

 

Ah! To hear once again that most jubilant sound

when a miner yelled “Strike!” from his pit in the ground.

Then a moment of silence would follow the shout

as the faces of many would gather about.

 

When nuggets were placed upon my polished plate

I would tally the cost of each bright pennyweight,

that was clawed from the earth of a miner’s leasehold

and his sacrifice made for discovering gold.

 

They thirsted and starved for their fever was rife,

they wagered their health and they gambled with life.

But the lure of the quest would conquer their fear

of dreams turned to dust by the end of the year.

 

For treasure unfound brought to many, despair,

while hardship and heartache assembled out there.

Triumph and tragedy walked hand in hand

as mounds with white crosses spread over the land.

 

When typhoid was rampant then each passing day

they lay bodies to rest in the Coolgardie clay.

Those stricken with sorrow and consumed by their fears,

saw their future dreams fade in a mist of warm tears.

 

The memories are dim, yet Coolgardie’s name

will long be remembered for gold bearing fame.

Then Kalgoorlie became the jewel of the Crown

for  the wealth in her veins that ran deeper down.

 

In a velvet lined case we all travelled in style

from the Bendigo fields to the great Golden Mile,

though our presence today can only provide

a link to the past since old Harry Swain died.

 

Now we sit on the shelf, the brass weights and I,

forgotten, abandoned, as time passes by.

And the phantoms of all that I knew in my day,

like my dreams of the nineties, have faded away.

 

 

Back to John's Home page