Outback Graves Markers


Burial Location:Hawk's Nest Gold Mine  (details...)
Occupation: Prospector
Place of Death: Hawk's Nest Gold Mine
Date of Death: 14 March 1896
Date of Burial:18 March 1896
Age:23 years
Cause of Death:Killed by Lightning
OGM Ref#: 0997


Known as Johnnie. The surname is sometimes spelled as Aspinal. The deceased was from a family of 9 children: 5 boys and 4 girls born to an English father and a Scottish mother. The father, also John, went to New Zealand in 1861 and found his way into the stark rugged mountains of Central Otago where he settled on a gold claim at the confluence of Skippers Creek and the Shotover River. There, little Johnnie grew up. His siblings were: Miles born 1872; John (Birth Registration 1873/27808); Daniel (Birth Registration 1875/1123); Isabella (Birth Registration 1876/4571); Helen (Birth Registration 1878/12139); Ruth (Birth Registration 1880/17626); Mary Elizabeth (Birth Registration 1882/18543); William James (Birth Registration 1884/18825); Henry Ratcliffe (Birth Registration 1886/19091); Ralph Ryland (Birth Registration 1888/16019). John Snr had originally travelled from England to Bendigo and later moved on to New Zealand's "River of Gold". So his eldest son had a background in gold prospecting. When their father died in 1890, John and his older brother, Miles, and his next brother, Dan, worked the gold claim at Skippers. John then left his New Zealand home on 19 February 1895, travelled first to Queenstown, then Dunedin, before booking a steerage passage to Melbourne on the "SS Rotomahana". From there he booked another steerage passage on the "SS Cloncurry" which took him first to Adelaide and then to Fremantle. Documenting every part of his journey, he then left by train for Southern Cross on 22 March and found the train very crowded. There was a tremendous load on the train, with two engines pulling for a journey which took 17 hours to complete, arriving at the Cross about breakfast time. They had stopped for refreshments at Chidlow's Well and reached Northam at 7 o'clock. There they had to change carriages and "had an hour to get a feed which was served bush style and not at all bad for a bob - chops, sausages and hash - chops mighty tough though!" The next refreshment was at Kellerberrin at midnight. "Here was a huge fire burning to indicate the shanty and an Irish girl was handing out a cup of tea and sandwich at 1/- a time and she called the place 'Killerburn'". At 3am they had another cup of tea at Hines Hill and at 8 o'clock, they arrived at Southern Cross. On 25 March, he arranged to get up to Coolgardie with a teamster who had a wagon and 5 or 6 horses, carrying from 2 1/2 to 3 tons. After a very eventful trip he reached Coolgardie by the end of March and spent almost a week preparing for the next leg of his journey - the 24 miles to Hannans, which was "officially called Kalgoorlie". He then returned to Coolgardie where he concluded a deal with Gunny Khan for two Australian bred camels (more hardy, carry more weight and are less liable to disease) at the stiff price of 134 pounds. They were guaranteed to lift at least 500 pounds. For a further 30/- per week, he was offered the services of Amzula, an Afghan camel driver. Taking 3 months of provisions, they finally began their journey on 15 May, visiting Lake Barlee, Sandy Creek, Rocky Creek, Granite Creek, Lake Raeside, Lake Darlot, Deadmans Flat, Mt Malcolm, Bummers Creek, Yerilla, Niagara, Bardoc, Broad Arrow, Black Flag and all places in between. Aspinall continued his journeys, documenting his movements and experiences every day until he came to Hawks Nest, where his final journal entry was made on "Friday March 13th 1896". On 14th March, having left a camp at Hawk's Nest, his body was found about 100 yards from his own camp, lying on its face with the clothes ripped off one side and one boot off. Constable Bradley, of Menzies, went out on 22 March to make enquiries and reported that Aspinall was killed by lightning. In 1895, young Johnnie set out to try his luck in the Western Australian goldfields. Barely a year later, his body was found about 100 yards from his camp at Hawk's Nest. The deceased was buried behind the old Hawk's Nest Gold Mine in the Laverton district.
Parents:Elizabeth Dakers (nee CRAIGIE) and John ASPINALL
Birth Details:1873, Skippers Point, Otago, New Zealand
Death Certificate:471/1896
State Records Office: Gold Mining Lease No 204 The Victory United AU WA S20 cons964 1893/1263 Item 1893-08-26 - 1894-04-02 Part of FILES - MINING Hugh Esler, Albert Mertzy, John Aspinall and James Richard Driscoll - Cuddingwarra. Transfers to Fred Carlisle.
Comments:Further reading : "Lonely Graves and Burials at Sea" by Kevin & Yvonne Coate