Res­i­dent salutes by­gone era

North West Telegraph - - Lifestyle - Robert Dougherty

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.

Pic­ture: Port Hed­land His­tor­i­cal So­ci­ety

Wedge Street, Port Hed­land, 1905.

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