Gold Fever

On a squatter’s small selection
Not far east of Northam town
Waits a wife and her two children
For her husband to come down

For he’s gone off chasing nuggets
In a far off northern field
And he’s gone to seek his fortune
Gone to reap a golden yield

But the fare up cost a packet
And the mining gear cost more
And before he’d even got there
He was stiff and tired and sore

Now he’s gone and staked a claim out
And he’s worked it night and day
But it hasn’t shown much colour
And he cannot make it pay

Then he hears about a rush on
In a field near Marble Bar
So he sells his worthless claim up
And he tracks another star

Then he’s far away from thinking
Of his wife and kids and home
And he takes up heavy drinking
And he spends his days alone

And the heat and flies and rot gut
Slowly start to rot his brain
And the last bit of his money
Quickly trickles down the drain

Then they find him late one morning
Hanging bloated from a tree
And his ghost now haunts the goldfield
Where the wind blows wild and free

And his wife still waits and wonders
As she watches down the track
In a hopeless lonely vigil
For her loved one to come back

And each time a swaggy passes
She runs out to see his face
And though hope may spring eternal
Her man’s lost without a trace

And to top off all this sadness
His old claim was taken on
Just another five feet deeper
The next miner’s fortune shone

And so it was for many
Who were drawn in search of gold
Some got rich, some not a penny
Some got dead and some got old

For the gold it was a fever
That men caught like a disease
And today still has the power
To cajole and flirt and tease

Inspired by a true story in the book ‘Mates and Gold’ and dedicated to the prospector near Peak Hill who was unable to go on and to his wife and his kids who were left to fend for themselves.

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