Resident salutes bygone era
In a bygone time residents roamed the land surrounding Port Hedland prospecting for gold, water was carted to the town site and camel trains brought goods to the region.
Local resident Molly Dann (nee Todd), who turned 91 on October 10, details some of her experiences in the area from childhood in the Pilbara goldfields.
Ms Dann, who was born at Tambourah mission in 1927, lived around Hedland all her life and now resides with family in South Hedland, said during the early days town life was fairly basic.
“It was very quiet (when I was a child), wasn’t as noisy as when I started mining gold,” she said.
“Not very many people, they (most people) worked around the boats. . . all the people working on the stations back then, we had teamsters coming through, camels carting wool in wagons.
“They were carting water from Yule River, using galvanised water tanks.
“(There was) more life back then.”
After her father, postmaster George William Todd, died and was buried in Hedland in 1938, the family took an interest in prospecting in the Pilbara, with particular focus on minerals, tantalite, gold and tin.
“Mineral, tantalite, gold. . . of course we did prospecting. My mum taught me she was a f...king good woman, my mum,” she said.
“We went to 12 mile, we got a lot of rock cod there and lot of snapper in the creek.”
One of Ms Dann’s 10 children, Patricia Mason, said her mum was one of only a few indigenous
women to witness six generations of family grow up.
“There’s actually six generations and for an Aboriginal woman I’ve never seen that before, for her age to see all her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren grow up,” she said.
“Mum never went anywhere else, she prospected out where she could because she doesn’t want to work in town that’s her livelihood.
“She wouldn’t work for non-Aboriginal people because the way they treated Aboriginal people was appalling, they still had that stigma, she remembers it but doesn’t like mentioning it. . . it destroyed her choices in life.”
A Western Mail, December 4, 1909 picture shows The Pier Hotel, Port Hedland. Mrs M A Pilkington was the proprietress.
Molly Dann and daughter, Patricia Mason in South Hedland.
Wedge Street, Port Hedland, 1905.