History of West Australia/Charles Cutbush

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ONE stroke of fortune makes a whole goldfield akin. It matters little what occupation or avocation one's grandfather pursued, or what industry or profession one engaged in previous to arriving in these cosmopolitan cities, so long as present virtues and behaviour are compatible with good citizenship and fellowship. Past conduct, of whatever colour it may have been composed, suffers no introspection and cross-examination from an inquisitive mind; the confession of silence is as gracious as the reward of present virtue and valour. How that miraculous intervention of luck changes destiny and life! A few moments before, and the lean-pursed prospector, with a swag on his own or a camel's back, a fading supply of edibles of ghostly luxury, ruin facing him if the hunted metal escapes his gaze, revolves a thousand turbulent thoughts in a restless mind, and then "Eureka," joy, splendour, and prominence! The transformation that discovery works in the fortunate prospector has all the gilded gorgeousness of a caliph's dream. His name soon flourishes on promotive boards and committees, and finds lasting preservation in the annals of institutions.

Such is often the fortune of adventurous prospectors into the depths of auriferous wildernesses. The world holds that their daring deserves all the success they can command, and the world is seldom so unjealously noble. Mr. Charles Cutbush seems to have arrived in the land of Pactolus with a "Golden Butterfly" secreted somewhere in his chain of fate. Prospects far and wide, distant and dreary, were undertaken with a noble horse, a complaining camel, or an inanimate "bike," as his unresponsive but trusty companions and carriers. Mr. Cutbush at last fared fortunate, and was enabled to assist others at the loom of Clotho. His services in this regard inaugurate a new era in the history of his life. To him the doctrine of goldfields' casualty applies, for chance may make a Crœsus' or a Lazarus of each of the devotees of fortune on the great speculative sea of gold fields' contingency. Chance, too, or luck, is with miners a divinity that shapes their ends, and is cursed or blessed according to its actions. Accepting their philosophy, we must conclude that this impersonal deity favoured Mr. Cutbush.

Mr. Cutbush was born in Sydney in 1866, and was educated at the Grammar School in that city. As a youth he figured prominently at cycle meetings, and on several occasions showed his calibre by carrying off certain special prizes. In the acme of his cycling power he created a long-distance record for New South Wales. His capabilities on the wheel, though lucrative from the point of view of competitive sports, were of more practical value to him on his prospecting journeys through the sandy deserts of Western Australia. His attachment to this form of athletic exercise, and others of a more or less kindred nature, has been conspicuously shown by the supreme interest he has taken in sporting matters on the Western Australian fields.

In 1893 Mr. Cutbush arrived in Coolgardie. Making this his headquarters, he set out on various expeditions in search of gold. His returns from these extensive tours were not a full compensation for the time and trouble expended in the attempt to reach some golden grotto. When the great rush to Kurnalpi took place, Mr. Cutbush was among the first to arrive. The balance of fortune swung more pleasantly in his favour, and hopes of future aggrandisement were restored. From this excited vicinity, where hundreds of miners still groped among the alluvial for grains and slugs, Mr. Cutbush, satisfied that the place was exhaustively worked, left for Hannan's. On reaching there in 1894, he took a look round the neighbourhood, and pleased with its aspect, determined to settle down in the township and start business. He became a partner of Mr. J. W. Fimister in a most profitable venture.

When material affairs began to prosper, Mr. Cutbush resolved to take an active part in municipal life. A Progress Committee was soon formed for the purpose of taking precautions for the security and welfare of the citizens. Although this corporation had no legal existence, its aims and objects are practically the same as those of a municipal council, and the difference, which is everything, consists in the process of executing those aims. A Progress Committee is like a lay-preacher, unpolished, practical, ready, and not over disposed to be eclectic and dignified. This committee was formed, its drastic constitution was drawn up, and Mr. Cutbush was appointed first secretary, being returned at the head of the poll. He discharged the duties incumbent on the office with praiseworthy efficiency.

At a later period, when Kalgoorlie had assumed more definitely the appearances of a thriving town, a hospital was erected, and a committee chosen to superintend its management and interests. Mr. Cutbush was elected to the honourable position of chairman of committee, and was highly successful in this directing capacity. He has also held the secretaryship of the Hannan's Racing Club for two years.

As one of its municipal pioneers, and most useful citizens, Mr. Cutbush is entitled to the respect of Hannan's. He contributed his skill and energy towards forming the protocol of the municipality, and though many of the early enactments and provisions have suffered amendment, modification, and abrogation, as environments expanded and circumstances changed, he and his fellows did yeomanlike service for the era for which they were intended and devised. Mr. Cutbush has many traits of character which have created friendships and elicited the good opinion of his fellow men, in a land where honesty of purpose and other ethical virtues are extolled.