06 April 2014
A few semi-precious rocks
From 1913 to 1941 the Rail Commissioners published most excellent annual reports, full of detail and with an acerbic commentary. While Eumungerie didn’t get much attention in the second element, it did have a full set of data published about its railway activities – comings and goings of people and things. There was even an attempt at summarising the financial statements for the railway – salaries paid, tickets sold and goods receipted. Given the small scale of railway’s non-grain operations at this location, fairly intimate details could be discovered – for instance, a ‘one man station’ for many years meant that the porter’s salary was the sum total of ‘salaries paid’ in the published copy of the annual report. Anyway, a couple of columns attracted my attention and for once it had nothing to do with wheat.
A little coal was transported in and out of Eumungerie, but not much of it. Across those 29 years of records a whole 14 tons of coal arrived in Eumungerie by rail – seven in 1917 and another seven in 1925. Doubtless this was a novelty, as the locals relied upon the iron bark from the regional forests for their consumption. Even more surprisingly, 10 tons – one railway truck – of coal was exported from Eumungerie in 1915 (two years before the first load arrived!). Who knows? Clerical error possibly?
Other minerals were also railed into and out of Eumungerie. By ‘other’, both I and the Commissioners mean ‘other than coal’. On the in-bound trip, 925 tons of ‘other minerals’ arrived on site. I suspect that the largest commodity was some form of organic mineral, like super phosphate, being trialled on crops. Two years – 1938 and 1939 – accounted for 808 tons of imported ‘other minerals.
It’s the export of ‘other minerals’ that really interests this writer. Between 1913 and 1923, someone or number of businesses forwarded an average of 155 tons of one or more non-coal minerals from Eumungerie. Exports occurred only three more years after then, in 1930, 1931 and 1941. It suggests a fairly low value, small time operation, possibly with road transport filling the breaching years. My guess is river sand. Second best guess is gravel. Happy to be corrected or confirmed on this matter.
As you can guess by my general non-plussed state in the prior paragraph, there isn’t a real lot more I can add. It was likely that the minerals were transported in bags, loaded from the wool dump and collected by either No. 16 or No. 6 Conditional Pick-ups, which ran Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, but were not scheduled to run on the same day. If it was bagged sand, it may even have been stored inside the goods shed if not tarped in the railway yard.
So, there you go, another mystery due to the sands of time….