« back       further »

Verne loses his house

near Perth — 2000-01-08

IIn the past diary entries, I have often mentioned our friend Verne, the gold digger. He is going to accompany us on the first 2500 kilometres of our tour up to the coastal town of Broom, and has thus become a member of our expedition. He has been staying with us over the turn of the millennium and has to return to Coolgardie tomorrow to earn some money and to prepare things for his departure.

Like on all other evenings last week, we sit in our caravan side tent and discuss our venture as well as some other everyday things. Verne tells us that he has leased his land which contains large crystal deposits and a gold vein, for a period of 6 years. “Can every Australian simply go into the bush, mark out a piece of land and call it his own?” I am eager to know. “Well, yes, as long as it is still free and none of the numerous gold companies and no private person were there before you, that’s no problem!” Verne replies and explains the whole procedure in detail. “Unfortunately, my lease expires tomorrow at midnight. If I’m not there in time and enter my name, the time and date and size of the lot on the wooden pegs limiting my piece of land at twelve o’clock sharp, there’s a chance that someone will beat me to it and take the land away from me.” “Sounds awful!” Tanja and I reply, whereupon all Verne does is laugh heartily.

Two days later I phone Verne to find out if he made it there in time for marking out his lease. “I was an hour late.” I hear Verne’s cheerful voice. “What do you mean, you were an hour late?” I ask. “When I was about to enter my data on the peg I noticed that the Kundanna Mining Company, one of the biggest gold mining companies of Western Australia, had already made an entry in the papers and is therefore entitled to the land,” he answers cheerfully. I simply cannot believe what Verne is telling me. “And how come you didn’t make it on time?”, I ask. Verne tells me that the bus from Perth to Coolgardie was late. "You know, Denis, some time ago I discovered a gold vein on my piece of land. Unfortunately I don’t own the equipment to produce the gold. So I asked the mining company whether they were interested, whereupon they started to test the ground for gold. They came up with the same results. At the time we did not come to an agreement, and I thought the matter had been dropped. They were just waiting for me to make a mistake, and now it’s happened. So what, there’s nothing you can do about it. The whole thing has one big advantage, too, for now I’m free again. Property is a burden. And I don’t know who would have watered the plants in my absence. Besides, after the expedition I would like to live in the bush as a free man, preferably in a jeep. Now all we have to do is find enough gold so that I can afford the jeep. Verne tells me all this in a conversational tone that really amazes me.

We are happy about comments!