The Gouger of The Bulletin


By John ‘Nugget’ Campbell

Many of us older fossickers drew inspiration from the prolific writings of one of Australia’s foremost fossickers and authors, Ion L. Idriess (1889-1979). As a youngster, the first book of his that I read was called My Mate Dick, published in 1962, which tells of Idriess’s gold fossicking adventures with Dick Welsh on the Starke River goldfield of Cape York. They found a small unworked section of the mostly abandoned goldfield and cleaned up some good alluvial gold. I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in the Cape York goldfields.

Soldier, prospector, bushman, adventurer, author – Idriess was all of these and much of it is captured in the more than 50 books and countless newspaper and magazine articles he wrote during his considerable lifetime. In World War One, Idriess, a skilled sniper, was with the Lighthorse on Gallipoli and in the Sinai and was wounded at Beersheeba.

On March 10 this year I was privileged to attend an informal talk at the Lightning Ridge Historical Society Museum by Jim Bradly, one of the world’s foremost authorities on Idriess and a long-time mate of mine. Although we were a year late, 2009 marked a century since Idriess had taken out his miner’s right at Lightning Ridge and Jim was there to launch his book Gouger of The Bulletin. During his time at Lightning Ridge, Idriess wrote articles for The Bulletin magazine under the name of ‘Gouger’.

The full article can be found in the May 2010 issue of Gold Gem and Treasure. Subscribe now.

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