Jim Brigginshaw was born in Ipswich, Queensland and now lives in Iluka, New South Wales.
He has 60 years of all facets of newspaper journalism at nine major dailies in three States. He is a Walkley Award winner and was runner-up in the Australian Journalist of the Year award. He also has won Sir Harry Budd and Prodi awards for journalism.
A newspaper column, “Our Crazy World”, was published from June 1978 to April 2000, mostly six days a week. A new series resumed in 2006 and still appears fortnightly. A selection of his columns has been the basis of two books, A Ferret in Your Pants, and The Lure of the Treasured Tuft.
His previous books include Shimpu-san Healer of Hate; The Dream That Wouldn’t Die and Fishing the NSW North Coast.
from Monument to Misery
Coal dust ravaged the miners’ lungs. Coughing and spitting were the inevitable legacy of their lives in the appalling conditions underground. Disgusting as the spitting was, they had no choice, except when they laid eyes on the mansion on the hill. When they spat then, it was done with malicious intent—the black gobs of mucus expressing what they thought about this lavish reminder of their own squalor and poverty.
The miners called the object of their contempt Taffy Jones’s Castle. The name, meant to further denigrate the monument to their misery, found favour with coal baron Gareth Jones, who thought it meant his workers were accepting what he’d set out to achieve.
When he had the mansion built, he copied the ancient castles of his native land Wales. Towering stone walls topped by parapets and battlements, tall stained-glass windows, huge oak doors with studded brass hinges—there was nothing remotely like it anywhere in the infant colony of Queensland.
The difficult building work was done by convicts, whose labour was obtained through Jones’ generosity towards the right people in the right places. Emaciated, gaunt men, their rough clothing branded with the broad arrow marking them as prisoners, hacked the stone from quarries with picks and crowbars. They hauled the blocks through the bush on handcarts, chiselled them to size and manhandled them into position. When the mansion was finished, it was as close to a real castle as ego and money could get.
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