The story of Mrs Jessie Pollock (Jessie) began with the arrival of her grandfather William Hunt, from New Zealand, in the latter part of the nineteenth century . He took out a lease on the Gem gold mine at Womban, Dwyers Creek, Moruya
The mine produced some 900 ozs of gold (2011 val.$1.8m) which enabled him to purchase land at “the Creek.” Later, his son Albert, acquired 20 acres and started a farm. He married Rose Hannah- a Cobargo born girl from the Moffat family, and 7 children were born to them – only one, a son, did not survive.
Albert took out a lease on a section of the nearby Silver mine to help with farming & family expenses. The lease produced gold & silver in fair quantity, enabling Albert to provide a durable house for his family- but like so many miners of the time, he developed silicosis from the drilling dust ,and died when Jessie was two years old.
Jessie’s ‘education for life’ began with a stern curriculum. It was cope or go without, as she, with brothers & sisters, helped their mother – a widow with no income, endowment or pension – endure the hardship & chores of raising six children on 20 acres of land in the bush. Rose – already with some experience in vegetable gardening , milking cows & operating a butter churn, while Albert worked his mine - set to with renewed vigour.
The garden area was extended, and Rose, with knap-sack strapped to her back and water from the nearby creek, made sure it flourished. She burnt logs & stumps for charcoal that was sold to blacksmiths for 2 bob-a-bag. A room near the kitchen was set up for dining and 3 course meals sold to mine workers at 2/6 (25c).The meals became so popular, two extra staff were needed to cope.
Amongst the fondest of Jessie’s memories, were schooldays at Dwyer’s Creek School in Paton Road. Her day began with a walk thru the forest past the 200 ft, deep mine shafts of the silver mine, love of her school teacher, and scenes of bullock teams hauling logs from the forest and past the school. But said Jessie, “The language coming from the mouths of those teamsters , and us only kids!” The geologist from the Silver mine would invite us to his laboratory and show us how to colour water by using different chemicals. We thought it was magic!
Jessie finished her schooling at Moruya Public School. Much of her day was spent walking the 8klm required, to and from, till she acquired her first horse.
She has vivid memories of inter school sports days, and playing games of vigoro against kids from Granite Town (Moruya Quarry) public school. Next – Jessie’s life married to a gold miner. Note: If you are interested in the history of the Eurobodalla we have three excellent Historical Societies in Batemans Bay, Moruya and Narooma