Paddy Hannan has a long association with Kalgoorlie-Boulder. Paddy found gold in Kalgoorlie in 1893 which resulted in this City having the largest population outside the Perth metropolitan area.
Patrick Hannan was born in County Clare, Ireland in 1843. At the age of 20 he came to Australia, working for some years around various gold diggings at Ballarat and Bendigo before heading to Western Australia in 1889.
When a rich gold discovery was reported at Coolgardie in 1892, Hannan travelled to the new find and in June 1893 registered the claim that lead to Australia’s last great gold rush! While many made their fortunes in the WA Goldfields, neither Hannan nor his mates made much out of their important discovery.
Paddy actually left the area in 1894 returning in 1897 to a warm welcome. A tree was planted in Kalgoorlie near the site of his first find. In 1907, he retired to Brunswick in Victoria at the age of 69. He never returned to WA after 1913 and died in 1925 aged 83. He is buried in the Melbourne Cemetery.
In 1965 the people of Kalgoorlie paid for a headstone to be erected on his grave.
A copper statue of Paddy with a drinking fountain was erected in 1929 outside the Kalgoorlie Town Hall. Due to continued vandalism, in 1982 the statue was restored and replaced with a bronze replica. The original then had pride of place in the foyer of the Kalgoorlie Town Hall.
The original Paddy Hannan statue took part in the historic ‘Tracks to Federation’ train journey from Adelaide to Kalgoorlie in 2001. On arrival back in Kalgoorlie, he was moved with much pomp and ceremony to his new home at the Australian Prospectors and Miners Hall of Fame. Wednesday 24 October 2001 will go down as a momentous day in the City’s history, as part of the Centenary of Federation celebrations.
Kalgoorlie-Boulder residents turned out in force on that day to welcome the Centenary of Federation special commemorative Indian Pacific train as it pulled in to the siding at Kalgoorlie Railway Station, returning Paddy Hannan to his rightful home. The original copper leaf statue of Paddy had journeyed to Adelaide the week before and then boarded the special train with City Chief Executive Officer Ian Fletcher, his wife Chris, and some 300 special guests making the commemorative trip.
Among them was popular entertainer ‘Angry’ Anderson. As MC for the journey, he conducted various interviews with the likes of Professor Geoffrey Blainey and the City’s CEO. Paddy soon became popular with all the passengers who took a special shine to Kalgoorlie-Boulder’s famous forefather.
The ‘Tracks to Federation’ trip was a celebration of the recreation of the first ever East West train journey from Adelaide to Perth. The train stopped in Kalgoorlie-Boulder for about 12 hours, with guests treated to some traditional, warm Goldfields hospitality.
Indeed, the hospitality must have been warm, as later Mayor Paul Robson was presented with a special plaque from the Centenary of Federation committee, honouring Kalgoorlie-Boulder as ‘Most hospitable town’ along the entire route. When Paddy disembarked from the train, he was carried by two ‘pioneers’ in the form of Matt Bolland and Stuart Fleming from the Brookman Street Theatre, home of the Goldfields Repertory Club.
Fellow Club member Mark Kont became the Mayor’s ‘town crier’ for the day and heralded Paddy’s return to the City during a parade down Hannan Street. Paddy journeyed by horse and cart to the top end of Hannan Street and was then transported by truck to the new Australian Prospectors and Miners Hall of Fame at the Hannans North precinct.
Guests celebrated with a luncheon and tour of the new facility and Paddy was placed in his own new ‘room with a view’ at the Hall of Fame. In the afternoon the celebrations continued with the City of Kalgoorlie-Boulder hosting a free community event at Centennial Park. Guest of honour was AFL footballer Dean Kemp who joined local youngsters in a special Sports Expo.
Local artists offered a wonderful array of entertainment and special presentations were held to honour local volunteers as part of the International year of the Volunteer. Perth band ‘The New Romantics’ continued celebrations later into the evening and then the Federation train passengers headed back to the platform and boarded the train for the final stage of their journey to East Perth.