The Palmer

When stirring news provoked the land,
When ‘ Gold Rush’ was the cry,
When thoughts of wealth, a fever fanned,
Then nothing could deny -

The eager rush of human tide,
To where the strike was made:
Some ‘Eldorado’ there might hide
In stream, or forest glade.

Of all the diggings so revealed,
Of wealth or hardship told,
None could match that savage field
- The erstwhile ‘Stream of Gold’.

West from northern Cooktown's shore,
Past wild Conglomerate Range,
Some thirty thousand men would pour,
Through untamed land so strange.


Full half of them were ‘pigtailed’ men,

By ship load they arrived,
There presence spawned some animus,
And racial hatred thrived.

The Tongs impressed a human host
To serve as packing train,
To haul their goods from by the coast,
To Palmers wild terrain.

With baskets bobbing on a pole,
They jogged so pure and slow:
Now fifty miles towards their goal -
One hundred more to go.

Dark cannibals would haunt the track,
Would raid them where they worked,
This was the land of fearsome black-
‘Twas here the Merkins lurked.


Diggings fouled the fishholes, fresh

Before these intruders came;
So ox and horse and human flesh
Would now be needful game.

The miners swarmed the river bed,
the gullies far and wide,
Where law was slow to reach ahead,
To quell a lawless tide.

So many crimes defiled the land;
Of murder and of stealth,
Which were not of the black man’s hand,
Who sought not golden wealth.

Then some were trapped there by the ‘Wet’,
They overstayed their luck,
Starvation now, their lives beset -
And still the Merkins struck.


At last alluvial fare grew lean,

was sparse upon the shelves;
But still the Chinese sleuced the stream -
Now fought amongst themselves.

The reefs yet lay agleam with gold,
And this the whites would win,
When teamsters battling odds untold,
Could haul the stampers in.

The Palmer field is long since dead,
No town, no claim remains;
Where thirty thousand forged ahead,
Calm nature once more reigns.

When tales unfold of strikes of gold,
An era that has passed,
The Palmer Rush will be retold,
The greatest, and the last.

Clarry Dunstan

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