Australians are renowned for their eccentric, larrikin, devil-may-care attitude to life. The history of Australia is full of these interesting characters. One of the most famous is Ned Kelly, but there are many others. Is it because the genetic pool came from the prisoners Mother England sent here. Or the Italians, Greeks,Chinese and many other nationalities came here to make their fortunes in the gold fields….
As we travelled around Australia in 2010 we would come across the remnants of some of these solitary people. One such person was Jack Carins. He was born in 1890 and from 1940 he lived in this corrugated iron shack. It is in central Western Australia approx 15 kilometres from Coolgardie in the middle of the richest gold strike in the world (gold is still being mined in this area) He made his living fossicking for gold and once a week would ride his bicycle into town for supplies. It was in 1971 on one of those trips to town that he fell off his bike and broke a leg and a hip. He was taken to hospital but when discharged he went back to his shack and committed suicide.
I find it very hard to imagine how a person could live in those conditions. That part of Australia has scorching hot summers and very cold winters. That shack would be very drafty and cold in the winter and unbearably hot, like an oven, in the summer. Maybe it was the thought that he would not be able to care for himself after the fall and couldn’t face leaving his life of solitude to move into the town that pushed this very independent man to take his life. I admire the strength of character it would take to lead that sort of life.
The area and the shack are now preserved as a monument to Jack Carins
I wonder if there are any modern-day hermits quietly living their lives in some unforgotten corner of the land. Australia is certainly big and empty enough to hide away in. Some how I think in this day and age any one trying to live that way would be found by the authorities and rounded up into some sort of an institution…