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  • Writer's pictureBeverley Skurulis

Shaw River Hillside Station

Updated: Feb 29

No.48.   in my series of short stories.

Hillside Station on the Shaw River and on the other side of the river was an old inhabited tin mine.
Shaw River Hillside Station

Prospecting for gold on Hillside Station was an adventurous pursuit.

The nights out in the desert in our swags when the temperatures would sometimes be around minus 3deg. Rising predawn, to explore the terrain with metal detectors in search of gold adds a sense of anticipation. The quiet moments before the heat, having breakfast, filling water bottles, making sure we have everything we need for the day.

Using a large dragging chain hooked onto our belts, we would grid out our path on the earth, ensuring efficient coverage of the terrain, as the ground was so hard the larger the dragging chain the better mark making we made. Walking endlesly under the scorching sun added to the challenge, but the thrill of discovery made it an unforgettable experience. Trees were often nowhere to be seen for shade, unless we were in a gorge or around a water hole.

Hillside Stations first lease was taken up in 1880 , it is an aged homestead on the Shaw River near Marble Bar in Western Australia's Pilbara region. Hillside holds a special place in my artistic journey, with thousands of slides, photos, and hundreds of watercolour paintings where I captured the essence of the homestead, outbuildings, sheep and cattle yards, mustering vehicles and old station machinery. The weathered corrugated iron external laundry where the station owner's wife bravely laundered clothes in a twin-tub washing machine under scorching 50-degree heat.

In my early art days my artistic focus was on these old cattle stations and all that makes them a home and a job to so many.

An elderly couple resided across the river from the main homestead and it was also a corrugated weathered tin shed, a relic from the area's extensive tin mining history. Monsoon rains occasionally inundated the building, and when the river was swollen it left watermarks on walls, some surpassing 6 feet. The ever-changing Shaw River, whether dry or flowing. The challenging conditions this couple like us embraced and the novelty of annually venturing from their home in the city to the outback to explore and search for gold

Billy tea and home made scones provided the perfect opportunity for discussions on gold prospecting locations only shared to very few. The owner of the station gave us a look at satellite pictures which showed the old timers diggings, they came up as black holes in the sides of rock walls down gorges and in the most incredible locations, this made us wonder how the hell the old timers could have ever scaled those walls and camped out in those lonely stinking hot places, hundreds of miles from anywhere.

Armed with GPS navigation, an air-conditioned Landcruiser, and all the niceties of the 1970's and 80's, we marvelled at the abundance of gold those old timers had missed, due to their primitive prospecting methods.

With some of the smaller gold nuggets I dug up I would flatten them with a hammer then glue them into the painting that I had done of the area. Those smaller nuggets at the time were not worth a great deal, about $250.00 an ounce, where now gold is around $2,500.00

an ounce. Good luck if you have one of my paintings with a small gold nugget in it.

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01 dic 2023
Obtuvo 5 de 5 estrellas.

Don't you dare tell anyone about your big boab tree painting I have seen! (until I can afford to buy it one day). gold or no gold in it, doesnt matter....

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30 nov 2023
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Your painting captures the essence of your story so well

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