I recently visited the Blue Lake at St Bathans, which I had heard of so many times before. What I hadn’t realised was that, beginning in 1864, miners had chipped and sluiced their way through the quartz rock of the 120 meter high Kildare Hill. By 1933 the hill had become a 168 meter deep pit. From the 1880s the miners used hydraulic lift technology to suck water and gravel out of the pit to where it could be worked for gold.
Once I had been to the town and felt the desolation of the place I could not look at the Blue Lake with anything but a gloomy feeling of hard labour long gone. I felt the pain of physical labour driven by greed for gold. I know these things are all natural to the human condition and the people who worked there probably had nothing better to do. My feelings still remained when I tried to photograph this place. So, I focused on the gloom. The tendrils of winter trees reaching up to the light trying to make something out of the pit with those gloomy walls oppressing them. The light shining on the jetty, a symbol of fleeting hope. I would have hated to be one of those miners and am very grateful for the life we now live. Probably, in no small part, due to those pioneers.