Page:The Irish in Australia.djvu/93

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79
A BIRTHPLACE OF FREEDOM.

new and still untouched sources of wealth that lay deep down in the earth. The glorious result of this new development of antipodean enterprise soon became manifest. Individual mining gradually gave place to co-operative mining; companies were formed in which the shareholders provided the capital necessary for so much expensive deep-sinking; after many dangers and difficulties the rocky barrier was pierced at last, an extensive and permanent gold-field was opened up, and the prosperity of Ballarat was assured.

Perhaps the most remarkable of the companies that, by their energy, perseverance and pluck, contributed to this magnificent result, was the "Band of Hope," in which Irish enterprise and industry were very largely represented. Its history is of the most chequered character. Originally inaugurated by 120 working miners, it took no less than twelve months' continuous labour to get to the bottom of the hard basaltic rock. In the effort to sink their first shaft, an underground stream broke in upon them, and a powerful steam engine had to be employed to pump up an immense quantity of accumulated water. To keep out this enemy they built a wall of clay around the shaft, but the work was hardly finished before the water broke through and flooded them out again. A second time they rebuilt the wall, and once again it gave way to the pressure of the underground streams. Undaunted by their continued ill-luck, they erected it a third time and at last succeeded in keeping out the water. Continuing their descent through the rock, after being flooded out from time to time, they eventually reached a depth of 340 feet. Then they commenced to drive a tunnel to the south-east, and once again their old enemy, the water, came down upon them, accompanied this time by an immense quantity of sand. "It was now over