Mr. G. McLeish’s Story.
Mr. George McLeish a former well-known resident of Mintaro, will celebrat (sic) his eighty-first birthday to-day. Time has dealt kindly with him, for despite many vicissitudes and a life full of energy and hard work, he has in a wonderful degree maintained both physical and mental alertness, and at the home of his niece, Mrs. A. W. Brown, of Princes street, Alberton, exhibits an activity in gardening pursuits that is truly astonishing.
—Landed in 1840.—
Mr. McLeish’s parents were among the earliest colonists in South Australia. They left Glasgow, in the brig Dauntless in 1839. and landed at the Old Port in March of the following year. “My father’s first move,” he told a reporter, ‘was to upper Dry Creek, where he took up a section of land within a mile of Modbury. My recollection of this period is associated with hard work The crosscut saw was constantly in my hands, and at 13 I drove
[image- screenshot taken 22/1/2022]
a pair of bullocks, conveying dry wattle for burning into North Adelaide, receiving for each load the handsome sum of 2/6. I did that for months, until we teemed four bullocks, and then I thought I was a man. I carried in sheaoak to the limekilns close to the Windmill Hotel at 15/ a load, and did the same to Magarey’s flourmill at Hindmarsh, and to Cook’s mill at Hackney. About 1850 father took up some sections close to Mintaro, with allotments in the township. We lived in tents until a three-roomed house was built. The famous Burra Copper Mines had been opened, and I engaged in the cartage of ore to Port Adelaide and Port Wakefield.
—Visits to Victorian Goldfields.—
“In the latter end of 1852 news reached us of the gold finds in Victoria. I made three trips there altogether. My two brothers preceded me, and did so well that they sent for my father and myself. I was then 17 years of age. My brother sent us 1 lb. weight of gold to pay our passages. The brig in which we voyaged to Port Melbourne occupied three weeks, and another week was spent in travelling on foot with swags and provisions to the place where my brothers were located. On arrival we found to our disappointment that the claim taken out by them for us had been jumped. It was the irony of fate that the new owners took out of it 40 lb. of the precious metal. My father and I, with four others, made up a prospecting party, but we only just managed to make a living.
—Unprofitable Railway Contract—
“The third trip to the goldfields was after my marriage in 1858, this time to Snowy River. My brother-in-law, Mr. John Tickle (now living at Prospect) and I reached Beechworth, and there we met thousands of men coming back from the new rush. We went no further, but bought a claim at Spring Creek. We lost our money, on account of water difficulties in the shaft, and took a contract on the railway line then being constructed to Beechworth from Melbourne. There were eight in the party, and we purchased horses and carts, but experienced another financial wreck, because of the unexpected hardness of the blasting operations, and were unable to complete the contract. Fortunately, I had enough money saved to take me home. Mr. Tickle and my brother (Mr. Martin McLeish), who is now living at Unley, tramped back down the River Murray route to Adelaide, a distance of 800 miles.
—Success at Mintaro.—
“On my return to Mintaro I started contracting with the Lower Midland and North Midland Roads Boards, sitting at Riverton and Clare respectively, and made a number of roads, bridges, embankments, and culverts for those bodies at the rate of about £11 a chain. Fortune smiled on me, and eventually I retired from business for a few years. I was one of the promoters of the Mintaro Slate Company, and remained a director until the death of my wife in 1900, then sold out the Mintaro interests, and went to live at North Adelaide.