Monday, November 21, 2011


Gulgong, the gold mining town where Jimmy married Ethel in 1898, had a distinct social pecking order.
A unique insight into this is given by the British novelist, Anthony Trollope, who visited the town in 1871, 27 years before Jimmy and Ethel married there.

Gullgong [sic] was certainly a rough place ... but not quite so rough as I had expected.
There was an hotel there, at which I got a bedroom to myself, though but a small one, and made only of slabs ...
Every habitation and shop had probably required but a few days for its erection ...
Everything needful, however, seemed to be at hand.
There were bakers, butchers, grocers, and dealers in soft goods.
There were public-houses and banks in abundance.
There was an auctioneer's establishment ...
There was a photographer, and there was a theatre, at which I saw the 'Colleen Bawn' acted with a great deal of spirit ...
After the theatre a munificent banker of the town gave us an oyster supper, at a supper-room ...
I was charmed to hear that a few nights before there had been a most successful public ball.
But I was distressed to find that there had been some heart-burning.
Where was the line to be drawn in reference to the ladies?
The postmistress would not attend the ball unless the barmaids were excluded. The barmaids - I think very properly - were admitted, and the postmistress, who enjoyed the reputation of being the beauty of Gullgong, remained at home.

Ethel bore the brunt of this social snobbery after she married a black man, Jimmy Governor.
But that's the way things were, and still can be, in Australian country towns where people appear to be more concerned about their social status and reputations than in the city.