The Lyons-Ryan Family of 'Ellendale', Marong, Victoria
Droving in the North West
Patrick and Ellen Lyons' eldest son, John, left Marong in 1886 when he was in his mid 20s to try his luck on the Western Australian goldfields. The first important gold finds in Western Australia were in the Kimberley area of the north-west where gold was discovered in 1883. John travelled to the west in company with two other residents of the Bendigo Region but he remained there after the others returned - a letter from John to his brother, William, dated "Kimberley, WA, 3/1/87", talks of the hardships on the goldfields and this is referred to again in an article in the Bendigo Advertiser (22 February 1887) which suggests that the venture was only marginally successful ... "The party had a rough time of it, and the whole result of the expenditure of some hundreds of pounds was the obtaining of 11 ozs of gold".
Despite this, John continued prospecting for a few years and a Miner's Right for the Pilbara Goldfield (further to the south) was issued to him on 21 May 1894.
In 1896, however, John apparently had had enough of prospecting and he undertook a cattle drive from the DeGrey River in the north-west to Dongara on the east coast, a journey of about 1400 kilometres that took some 5 months.
John's grandson Adrian Lyons has transcribed a journal that John kept during the cattle drive - the full transcript is included as an appendix to 'Ellendale and Beyond'. As Adrian comments; "Things have changed very little along his route to this day and having passed through much of it myself, I can appreciate some of the hardships that they must have endured in their daily activities. It's a pity that he wasn't more descriptive in his notes."