History of West Australia/George Hewer

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NO amount of centripetal force can counteract some energetic tendencies to fly forth tangentially from the customary habitudes of one continually-revolving circle. Its dull monotony and sickening familiar paths are as displeasing to the mind as the sight of some dreary landscape which you have gazed at only too often from your jolting seat in a railway carriage, is to the æsthetic, novelty-craving eye.

Possibly it is not over-good for a man's energies to stream down the same channel, ever deepening its bed and reducing its spate and force. It is better, if it is a natural inclination, for a man to allow his energies cut their way by diverting courses in various estuaries. Then more will have benefited by the equal distribution. There is nothing more beautiful among the many attributes and qualities of a man than that rare possession of priceless energy which so illumines his soul that he stands out in brilliant contours before a group of mechanically inactive mortals.

Mr. Hewer has a store of energy which has flown and trickled into remote corners of his many vocations. Circumstances and their necessitous adaptation may have obliged him to divert their course, yet his ability to do so is commendable. It is one of the most evolved characteristics of this evolutionary nineteenth century, and its rarity makes it more appreciable. But not only did he essay these different ventures, but he was also highly successful in extracting profit and concurrent reputation with each.

Mr. George Hewer was born in Gloucestershire in 1858. He received high-class instruction in an English school, which well fitted him for the numerous duties of after-life. A good and sound preparatory training, if conducted on commercial and technical lines, is the best and most useful layer that can be stored in the germ-cells of the brain. Fully qualified for the calls, the emergencies, and complexities of business life, he went to London to gain experience and push his fortune within its extensive boundaries.

For seven years he engaged in shipping and mercantile business with considerable success. He had no reason to be dissatisfied with his youthful endeavours, for each year he waxed greater in income and experience. London, with its myriad connections, its labyrnthine tissues of trade and commerce, affords as complete and comprehensive an education on all commercial topics as any man would ever desire to have. While reflecting and deliberating within himself on the various advantages different areas and climes could yield to youth and enterprise, he singled out Australia as the one most approving to the impartial jury of his mind.

Accordingly, he sailed for Melbourne in 1883. He had scarcely disembarked when several considerations induced him to go on to Sydney. With a keen resolve to adhere to his native resolutions, and with the inspiriting cry of "Forward!" he set to business with a dare and a dash that would have raised him victorious and triumphant over equal combatants in the commercial arena. Still, equal vantage-ground is not conceded to mind-wrestlers; an unfair handicap is put on the new and unknown arrival.

Finding that in Queensland more scope was possible and more certainty of success, he left Sydney for Mackay. He stayed there for three years, actively engaged in the sugar industry. Results became more remunerative, he became more encouraged, and the hopes of further success stimulated him on to greater enterprises.

He removed from Mackay to Townsville, and was associated with a contractor. Though this sphere was foreign to the line of former pursuits, he yet embarked on it with the certainty and security of a time-honoured expert. After a few small undertakings at first, he soon contracted for operations of immense importance and cost. Monuments of his excellent designs, skill, and taste are to be witnessed in the large bridges which he erected—one over the Ross Creek, and one at Cooktown and Mackay. Close examination of these living works of his ability prove that the execution was the work of a master in the science. Still, he found on the successful completion of his several important operations that there was nothing beyond that could keep pace with the development of his energies and speculative abilities. A man's mind naturally ascends a little in front of his growing achievements. If the latter stop, are checked or frustrated from without, the still-ascending mind does not descend to begin again, but places her ladder against some other height.

With a receptive mind and a keen faculty of judgment, he had learnt much useful local information on many subjects, and had made a careful revision of their comparative advantages and points of merit. Mining seemed to him to have strong attractions for his energies and capabilities. There undoubtedly was scope and a possibility for indefinite wealth should fortune at all run in his way. So discerning, he accepted the managership of some tin mines at Mount Amos, Cooktown. He supervised the company's interests for a few months, till he wisely resolved, on sufficient insight into the general principles of operations being realised, to strike out for himself in this new commercial departure. He returned to Mackay on the above expiration, and proceeded to organise and equip silver prospecting parties. Nothing considerable resulted from these prospecting tours; still it was profitable from the point of view of practical experience. He had now been a few years in Queensland, and had adapted himself to the multiple requirements of his manifold ventures with conspicuous success. Every new field for endeavour being completely exhausted, he considered it expedient to return to Sydney and await fresh news of development in some other quarter.

In Sydney he resumed his former position as accountant, and continued it to March, 1896. In that year he sailed for Western Australia, and has remained in that rising colony to the present time. On his arrival he became associated with Mr. W. J. Stoneham, and superintended for him the accountancy branch of his business. Gradually his connection with that gentleman became deeper and more extensive, and now when Mr. Stoneham is obliged to absent himself from the colony he appoints Mr. Hewer attorney in his stead. He holds the power of attorney for Mr. Stoneham for Hannan's Consols, Arrow Brownhill, the Colonial Goldfields, Bardoc Main Reefs, and Hampton Plains Blocks 45 and 50—the latter two being good prospecting "shows." In Number 50 they possess a rich auriferous reef, and they have erected a five-head battery. More machinery will soon be in operation, and developments will proceed merrily on. Yet, as to the labour conditions of the mining laws, he emphatically endorses the sentiments of Mr. Morgans, whose biography appears in another part of this book.

Mr. Hewer's business and its consequent responsibility and severity have increased with corresponding celerity. As Mr. Stoneham's many engagements necessitate his repeated and protracted absences from the colony, the power of attorney which is vested in Mr. Hewer is not a mere nominal function, but an important and onerous trust. Mr. Hewer's practical and financial abilities, however, are well able to discharge successfully the duties of many similar offices. His ripe and varied experiences, his bright intellectual qualifications, his energy and enterprise, render him a highly efficient and capable administrator. His views are, like the judgment faculty from which they proceed, broad and sound.

He is of a bright, cheerful, and vivacious disposition, and his personality, with these component desirable attributes, could not be otherwise than amenable to feelings of respect and affection.