Norman Jorgensen is one of the finest fellows in Western Australian writing: welcoming, friendly, open-hearted, and with a well of bonhomie that makes instant fans of anyone who runs across him. On top of all that, he has a fantastic line on rousing books for all ages, including In Flanders Field, Jack’s Island, and the recent The Smuggler’s Curse, that bring a sense of wonder and adventure back into reading.

You can find out all you need to know about Norman at his website. Suffice to say he’s an absolute pal, not least to my son Master 12, who has just the slightest taste of star-worship going on whenever they meet. It’s an absolute pleasure to welcome Norman on board.

Precious Things: Norman Jorgensen.

The book that means the most to me? The Million Pound Bank Note by Mark Twain. This copy is more of a keepsake than a book that changed my life by reading it, though I have read and enjoyed it. In fact, I am a big Mark Twain fan and even travelled to Elmira, New York State, to visit his grave and writing studio. I sort of felt I owed him as I borrowed much of the idea for my book, Jack’s Island, from Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn.




My great grandfather, John Earnest Hansen Jorgensen, was a gold miner in the small town of Bonnievale about an hour from Kalgoorlie out in the eastern goldfields. He was killed aged 26 in a mine cave-in in 1906 along with two other miners. John left a young wife and two small children, including my grandfather, Norman Hansen Jorgensen.


Years later, my grandmother, Nell, gave me the book John had just bought from the B Stein and Co Lending Library, Bayley Street, Coolgardie. It has his signature, JE Hansen, Bonnievale, on page 1. It has remained in the family all that time, and now, happily, I have it and treasure it. It is a direct connection back to 1906 through three generations of my family, and I still get moved taking it from the shelf, like I just did then to scan the cover.


Moya Sharp from the Outback Family History site posted this article she found in the Kalgoorlie Miner newspaper on the anniversary of the accident only a few weeks ago.

THE FUNERAL – An Impressive Ceremony – Kalgoorlie Miner 11th Jan 1906

Funeral Card for the Victims of the Vale of Coolgardie Tragedy.

As anticipated, the funeral was the largest seen here for many years.

The procession left the Government Hospital at 4 o’clock, and, headed by the Federal A.M. A. Band — 24 strong — was a most impressive sight when passing up Bayley street. Following the band was a foot procession of 300 members of the A.N.A. and A.M.A. Then came a lorry carrying the three coffins. The lorry was draped in -black and was smothered with floral devices. Marching here were 18 pallbearer representing the tribute party at the mime, the A.M.A., and A.N.A. Then came a procession of 60 vehicles, mostly occupied by business people and townsmen of every degree. The procession was about a mile long, taking 25 minutes rounding the post office corner.

Arrived at the cemetery, services were read by the Revs. A. C. Jenkims (Wesleyan) and. Dawson Edwards (Presbyterian), jointly, over the coffins on the lorry, after which the coffins of Jorgensen and Christensen were taken to the Wesleyan portion of the cemetery, and that of Milroy to the Scotch division. The two ministers here performed the last offices independently. Addresses of a most impressive nature were delivered, and the whole ceremony occupied over an hour. Wreaths were sent from many sources, including the A.M.A. , A.N.A., footballers, and others.’

Amongst the visitors noticed were Mr. R. G. Ardagh, secretary of the Trades and Labour Council, Kalgoorlie, and Mr. Dodd, general secretary of the A.M.A.

The funeral was unique, because of the fact that no hearse or morning coaches were included, the relatives of the deceased men being conveyed to the cemetery in close covered waggotnettes.

The town of Bonnievale was practically empty, only the battery and cyanide hands at the Westralia mine being at work. Burbanks sent, a large contingent, and, being a half holiday, the business people of Coolgardie attended in large numbers. Independent of the procession, the streets were crowded with spectators.


From the Funeral Card:-

In Loving Rememberance


our Dear Comrades

(of Bonnivale)

Who were killed by a fall of earth in the

Vale Of Coolgardie Mine WA on Jan 9th 1906

Friends of ours, whose lot was cast

With me in the distant past

Where like shadows flitting past

Fact and Fancy, thought and theme

Word and work begin to seem

Like a half remembered dream!

Touched by chance have all things been

Yet we think of thee as when

We had speech of lip and pen

“In the Midst of Life we are in Death”



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