Yilgarn Shire in association with the Western Australian College of Advanced Education
Place of Publication
Southern Cross, Western Australia
This study of the environment and people of the Yilgarn region of Western Australia grew from a decision of the Shire of Yilgarn to commemorate the centenary of the discovery of commercial deposits of gold in the district in 1887-1888. The idea stemmed from the vision of Mr Romolo Patroni who saw the need to record the experiences of Yilgarn pioneers. He convinced the shire council under Cr Kenneth Beaton, president, 1972-1982, to publish a history of the district. The plan was fostered by Cr John Panizza, who became shire president in 1982 and brought to fruition by Cr Patroni who took the presidency in 1987.
An approach by the shire to the Mount Lawley College of Advanced Education for advice on the project was opportune. As head of the college's Social Sciences Department, I had been looking for an opportunity to involve students in field studies at undergraduate level, particularly in history, geography and sociology. This method of involving students in research had been pioneered by Jim Faull of Hartley C.A.E. in South Australia who, with a group of students and colleagues had written Melrose, Child of the Mountain, which was published in 1979. Dr Neil Stewart, the director of Mount Lawley C.A.E., backed the proposal enthusiastically and as a consequence, an agreement was reached between the college and the shire to write a book on the Yilgarn district.
From the start it was intended that the study would be well illustrated and lively in tone and would avoid becoming too theoretical in its content. However, it was decided to avoid a purely popular approach by investigating the Yilgarn from a range of perspectives both scientific and behavioural in nature. The consequence is this book which includes three scientific studies by Graham Pike, Lindsay Hunter and Bill Foulds and seven chapters contributed by historians Neville Green and John McKenzie; sociologist, Lynne Hunt; economist, John Prestage and geographers, David Murray, Dennis Rumley and Alan May, in addition to my own historical chapter. I have very much appreciated the scholarship and co-operation of my colleagues in producing this work.
The advantage of building a book from the contributions of several authors is the broad scope of the study which is possible. Potential disadvantages include lack of continuity and duplication. I hope that in the present study the advantages outweigh the disadvantages and that the content is not repeated except as necessary to establish each writer's argument. As it is, each chapter stands alone and is the sole responsibility of the author. The result is that the chapters can be read individually, yet they combine to provide a picture of the Yilgarn landscape and of the experiences of its people...