Just His Luck
In 1893 Paddy Hannan discovered gold at Mt Charlotte in Kalgoorlie, starting the greatest gold rush in Western Australia’s history. Born Patrick Hannan in Quin, Ireland, in 1843, Paddy migrated to Australia in 1863 to set up home in Melbourne. Taking on mining work in the colonies, Paddy ventured to New Zealand where he worked the fields for six years. He eventually returned to Australia where he traveled to Western Australia in 1889. He was working near Southern Cross when Arthur Bailey returned to claim his find at Coolgardie. After having a quick word with Warden Finnerty, Paddy and his mate Tom Flanagan made plans to head to Coolgardie. The two prospected in Coolgardie, making a fair living for themselves, before rounding up some horses and heading east to Mt Youle, where they had got wind of another gold strike.
Now, this is where the story gets a little bit cloudy about who actually made the discovery. Paddy claims that, whilst on their way to Mt Youle and looking for a stray horse, Flanagan discovered a substantial piece of gold at Mt Charlotte. When they realised the potential of their find, Hannan decided to seek out Daniel Shea, a mate who had left a little earlier to Mt Youle and was in the area. This is a claim that Shea’s brother later refuted, following the death of Daniel in 1908.
They named the hill, Mt Charlotte, and Paddy left his mates to return to Coolgardie to lodge their claim, which he did on the 17th June, 1893. Whilst Paddy was away, Shea and Flanagan found over 100 ounces of gold. Within days over 900 men were prospecting the area which started the biggest gold rush in Western Australia’s history and the last great gold rush in Australian history.
Kalgoorlie or Hannan’s Find (as it was known) boomed virtually overnight as prospectors flocked into the area. The three found a considerable amount of gold from their gold leases before they sold their original claim and left in early 1894. Like Paddy and his mates, in 1894 many prospectors and miners were becoming disheartened by the small quantity of alluvial gold found in the quartz deposits. It had long been believed that quartz was the rock most likely to contain gold. But they were wrong. All but a few miners stayed on whilst the rest left to seek their fortunes elsewhere. Paddy would spend the next decade working the eastern goldfields of Western Australia before retiring in 1910 at the age of 67, to Melbourne.
Thanks to Paddy’s discovery of gold, the State had to act fast to build a viable infrastructure for the many thousands of men rushing into the goldfields to try their luck. Water was extremely scarce, highly-priced and an absolute necessity for the extraction of gold. The solution was to build a pipeline from Mundaring to Kalgoorlie which would transport the much needed water (via pumping stations) to the goldfields. C.Y. O’connor‘s goldfields pipeline would be the answer to everyone’s prayers. Click here for more information about the Goldfields Pipeline.
Meanwhile, a Canadian miner, Larry Cammilleri, was the first to discover that the quartz in the area wasn’t carrying most of the gold. Soon new yields were being discovered further underground. Miners, forced to move south of Kalgoorlie, soon discovered the deep reefs (Golden Mile) on the Boulder Fault, which proved much richer and led to the boom in Kalgoorlie and the establishment of the town of Boulder. This marked a new era for the colony and led to the development of the first large scale industrial mining in the State.
Shea, Flanagan and Hannan were each granted a town lot in Kalgoorlie, as a reward for their discovery and Shea and Hannan were both granted a pension by the Western Australian Government. Unfortunately, Flanagan had died in 1899 from the flu and never received a pension. Paddy spent his final years living in Melbourne with his two nieces, before passing away in 1925. He is buried at the Melbourne Cemetery.
Though Hannan’s Find was not part of the reef that would later become known as the “Golden Mile” his discovery drew enormous attention to the area. In honour of his discovery, Kalgoorlie named its main street and railway station after him (Hannan), and if you venture into just about any Hotel in Kalgoorlie you can drink a toast to the humble Irishman prospector with a pint of Hannan lager. If you happen to stop at Coolgardie you can visit the place Paddy Hannan once slept (now the local deli).
In 1929, a Memorial fountain in honour of Paddy Hannan was erected but it was later relocated to the foyer of the Mining Hall of Fame. A replica fountain was erected in 1983. At Burswood Park in Perth another statue was erected in honour of this pioneering legend. Click here for more information about the Paddy Hannan Memorial Fountain.