Kitty Pluto was one of the most successful Aboriginal prospectors on the Cape York Peninsula, Queensland.
Aboriginal people have been involved in Australian prospecting and mining from its beginning. Aboriginal guides and assistants were as crucial to frontier prospectors as they were to explorers; their bushcraft was used to find mineralisation as well as tracks and water. On the small remote fields of the north, their labour was particularly important. Henry Reynolds cites the Mulgrave mining warden writing in 1891, that local Aborigines were “Very useful to the miners, who have so many difficulties to contend against, in a country so much broken and covered with so dense a jungle”. On the Rocky goldfield, on Cape York, local Aborigines carried in all supplies because the country was too hard for packhorses.
Aborigines also prospected and mined, either alone, or as partners or assistants of non-indigenous miners. Unfortunately, they are seriously under-documented and we know only a few of them by name. Continue Reading →