The lone prospectors McLeod
He was christened as William
McLeod, but the William became
Billy and as such he remained.
McLeod was one of the most
skilled bushmen who were in the forefront
of the ‘seventies. His characteristic feature of preferring to do his exploring and prospecting without the customary mate did not excite comment
among the miners. He was a lone prospector, not because of his unsocial
tendencies, not because he belonged to the
so-called bush hermit class, but simply that
he thought he could move more freely
travelling or working alone.
Those who knew McLeod spoke of him as a man above the ordinary. They looked
to him to set things right at times,
“Ask Billy,” they said. His nature, like
that of J. V. Mulligan, was generous, his
manner was pleasant. Of him men spoke kindly.
Gympie was the field that induced
Billy McLeod to go to Queensland
and, as others did, he followed each new rush as it broke out. A pastoral company in
the south had such a high opinion of him that
they commissioned him to inspect and
report to them grazing country favourably
looked upon by him as he went northward.
He had his ups and downs as all
prospectors have. A tale is told that once, while his luck was well out, he
went to a homestead and asked for
work. The station owner who knew him expressed surprise at this and instead of giving
him work, gave him packhorses and
other needs sending him off with
the statement that men could
always be had for station work,
but explorers and prospectors such as
he were not so plentiful. Twelve months
later McLeod made a 300 miles journey
for the purpose of repaying the loan.