Page:The Irish in Australia.djvu/115

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101
A FEW IRISH CENTRES.

diggers' army started to try their luck. When they reached their destination and settled down to the work of gold-finding, they drew their supplies from Geelong, as being the nearest and most accessible sea-port. Thus the lovely harbour of Geelong became crowded with shipping, and at the western end of the town there sprang into existence the bustling suburb of Kildare, which was peopled almost exclusively by Irish carriers and their families. These carriers made hay while the sun shone. They were the only means of regular communication between the diggings and the coast, and the storekeepers often paid them £100 per trip for the carriage of a ton of goods. In this way many of the carriers made fortunes in a few years' time, and, whilst some of them exemplified in their own persons the truth of the old saying, "Easily got, easily gone," others judiciously invested their money and established their families in opulence. For years past nearly the whole of the lucrative carrying trade of the Geelong district has been in the hands of one self-made Irishman, who from small beginnings has risen to a position of wealth and influence. Councillor Joseph Kerley, the gentleman referred to, is an enterprising Celt, a popular president of the Geelong and Western District St. Patrick's Society, and a generous benefactor to the Irish and Catholic institutions of the community in which he lives.

To ensure the continuance of the prosperity enjoyed by Geelong during the years that immediately followed the discovery of gold, two steps were necessary—railway communication with Ballarat, the leading gold-fields' centre, and the removal of a shoal or bar that formed a dangerous impediment to navigation at the entrance to the harbour. But, with a want of foresight they have ever since regretted,