History of West Australia/Dorham Longford Doolette

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Dorham Longford Doolette HOFWA.jpg
Photo by
Greenham & Evans.

WHEN Jason and his merry band of Argonauts—the flower of Grecian youth—set out on their voyage to the land of the Golden Fleece, an adventure dear to classic memory was given to the pages of mythology. Of the stupendous tasks they had to perform we all know. Their way was on every side beset with difficulties; but like true heroes of mythology they surmounted them, and returned from Colchis in triumph with the coveted prize. The search for things golden has ever been associated with hardship and peril. And surely we may find the counterparts of Jason's journey in modern times. When the Western goldfields broke out, many young Australians went to the front and led the way in opening up the vast resources of the colony. Among them was Mr. D. L. Doolette, who was born at Adelaide, and went from college to the University for a few years. He came to the West in the van of the gold-seekers, and proceeded to the present site of Kalgoorlie. He worked there for six months, "reefing," during which period he opened up the Golden Horseshoe and several other properties in close proximity to the Great Boulder and Lake View mines. With the nomadic instincts of the gold hunter, he followed up every "rush" with unflagging consistency. Mr. Doolette's luck was not always so sensational as his experiences. He was one of the many men who went to the Siberia and the Kurnalpi "rushes," and the terrible sufferings endured by those who tramped to those places forms a tragic chapter in the history of the Coolgardie fields. Mr. Doolette resolved to break fresh ground, and set out on an extensive prospecting tour in May, 1894, with Mr. C. Northmore, for the grim back country. These two gentlemen went through the Ninety-Mile and on to Mount Malcolm, discovering on the way Niagara, then known as the Waterfall. They prospected the country fairly well, but did not find any good mining properties just then. From Mount Malcolm they journeyed to Lake Darlot, Lake Way, and on to Earlstone Creek. Their efforts to find anything rich were not successful, although they had managed to strike gold in many places. After prospecting for eight months, they returned to Coolgardie, but did not long rest at leisure. Early in 1895, the adventurous pair went out again, this time accompanied by Mr. J. Timms, who decided to cast in his lot with them. Striking for Niagara, they carried out a plan of systematic prospecting, with the result that several good properties were found, the first being the Port Pirie. Just when the trio were doing the best, Mr. Timms sickened of typhoid fever, and his companions were conveying him to the Coolgardie Hospital when the poor fellow died at the Ninety-Mile, where he was afforded the best burial that the primitive conditions of life could give. Messrs. Doolette and Northmore once more set their faces in the direction of Niagara, having been joined by Mr. G. W. Bagot. Arriving at Niagara, the prospecting work was extended afield, and the Challenge and the Golden Monarch and other properties, now belonging to the Challenge Gold Estates and the Niagara Proprietary companies, were found. The best of these at the present time are the Sapphire, Lady Betty, and the Port Pirie mines. In the midst of their success, Messrs. Doolette and Northmore lost by death their friend and companion, Mr. Bagot, who took typhoid fever the day the Challenge was found. He died within a week.

Being men of good commercial ability, Messrs. Doolette and Northmore, through representatives in London, had their varied properties placed on the English market, where they were floated for a large sum. Mr. Doolette seems to have a faculty for getting on to new places, and his last field of operations was at Red Hill, where he secured a number of valuable leases, all of which promise remarkably well. Though not a new place in the strictest sense of the word, very little was heard of Red Hill till March, 1897, when Mr. Doolette and Mr. Northmore took up leases there. This turned out a very good "spec." on their behalf, and their Red Hill leases should eventually develop into big properties.

Mr. Doolette is retiring rather than obtrusive, and he carries himself with effective reserve. He is a shrewd business man, but in his moments of relaxation is entertaining and companionable. When he can be induced to strike the reminiscent key of early goldfields' experiences, one cannot help thinking that the vigour of his youth has been well spent, and that he has been fortunate enough to reap his reward while yet young in years.