The Women’s Rush

Shenton Street in Menzies circa 1906

Following the discovery of the Golden Eagle nugget at Larkinville on 15 January 1931, gold was at the forefront in the minds of Western Australians. Reminiscent of earlier gold rush years, some men left their jobs to travel to the field in the hope they would strike it rich. Gold was the hot topic of the day and everyone kept their eyes peeled, including the women of Menzies.

On 22 January 1931, Miss J Allan was walking along a footpath in Menzies when she specked a small piece of gold ten yards away on Shenton Street. She picked it up, continued looking and specked a few more pieces. No doubt drawing attention as she inspected the road, other women and children became aware of what she was doing and hurriedly joined her in the middle of the street.

About 20 women and children were observed gathered on Shenton Street specking gold from four to five grains in weight and up to two pennyweights. One “lucky digger” joined the scene and brought along her pan. Panning off the wash, she uncovered two pennyweights of shotty gold.

Seeing the success with the pan, the rush set in and women began grabbing whatever utensils they could find in order to “carry away the wash.” Pots and pans; dishes and trays; some with handles and some without.

One enterprising matron was armed with two saucepans, a broom and a carving fork.

It was reported that the mining laws and regulations were ignored as everyone eagerly worked to get what they could off the ground. It was “every woman for herself” and men standing nearby (including the butcher, baker, town clerk and policeman) opted to watch rather than join in the fray, “evidently knowing the value of the broom as a weapon when gold is the object in view.

With the gold collected, the short-lived rush in the middle of Shenton Street came to an end. All up it was predicted that approximately £8 to £10 worth of gold was found and that everyone involved in the rush walked away with a little gold in their hands.

Another view of Shenton Street in Menzies circa 1906

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2 thoughts on “The Women’s Rush

  1. I was wondering if Marvel Loch comes under your field of writing .My parents lived there before the war I think about 1940
    My father was killed during the war and my Mother remarried so I don’t know much about the area Has it crossed your radar?
    I should love to get a brief idea of what it was like Thank you Shirl-ann nee Buckingham Blake

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    1. Hi Shirl-Ann. Unfortunately Marvel Loch hasn’t come into my field of writing. I usually write stories that capture my attention and thus far, I haven’t seen any for Marvel Loch. If you haven’t already done so, I highly recommend Trove (https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/?q=) for searching for information about what it was like. I’m certain the old newspapers would have useful information.

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