Updated: Jul 29, 2018
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Synopsis of interview
Born in South Australia he arrived in Fremantle in 1896 with his mother and siblings, to join his father who was working at the Great Boulder Mine. They came out on the steamship 'Innamincka'. He then details his journey by train to Kalgoorlie; the Cobb & Co. coach; Afghans and camel teams.
His father had contracted typhoid fever and his mother had to walk a distance through the bush to visit him.
Recollections of schooling at Reverend Collick's school in a tank in 1896 and then the Boulder school.
After leaving school at 14 he starting work with a building contractor; work with a bike shop, Alfred's Dairy and sandalwooding.
He describes his travels to the Whim Creek Copper Mine aboard the SS Koombana and the slave-like conditions he encountered at the mine.
Details his walk 69 miles to Roebourne; being caught by police and a night in gaol.
To return to Kalgoorlie he is employed as a cook for a cattle droving team and describes the poor treatment of aboriginal stockmen and working conditions.
He recollects a conversation he had with an employee of the SS Kombanna, and how the employee told him the ship was dangerous since it was re-plated, as it was top heavy. This man thought it would sink during a cyclone. The ship did sink during a cyclone on the 20th March, 1912 killing 150 people. This was the first time Bennetts had told this story. This section of audio is of lesser quality, so a transcript of this section will soon be available.
About George Bennetts
11 April 1890 - 27 March 1980
Born at Wallaroo Mines, South Australia. Came to Western Australia 16 January 1896.
Son of George Bennetts, Engine Driver, and Julia Ann Pope.
Married 30 January 1912, District Registry Office, Kalgoorlie, Alice Lillian King (born circa 1891), daughter of Fred and Alice Naomi Berry, Children: four sons and three daughters. Widowed 5 January 1977.
Educated at Reverend Collick’s School 1896, Convent School on the Horseshoe Lease, and South Boulder School, Left school at 14 years.
Started work as labourer with building contractor, then in bicycle trade.
Pulled sandalwood (1906) Joined Western Australian Government Railways (1911) as a porter, worked in Kalgoorlie and Boulder as acting conductor and ticket collector Worked on Ivanhoe mine From 1913 in Commonwealth Railways construction branch, then on trains, head conductor on first Trans-Australia train Retired to Perth
Labor Kalgoorlie Municipal Council 28 November 1935–November 1952
Photographs used in Video:
Not all of the images relate directly to Mr Bennetts, but are used to help portray the conditions or environment he is discussing.