before_goldBefore Gold
by Jim Cameron

ISBN 978-0-85905-982-4, (New, 2023), well illustrated, indexed, French flap soft cover, 321 pages, with a 1908 colour map, $60.00

Before Gold is the mining history of Northampton. The first mining field in WA, it was a flourishing copper and lead producer. Changes in markets led to an erratic life but rich veins remain. Jim Cameron is a retired lecturer on WA economic history, and Northampton born.

Winner of the 2023 Williams/Lee Steere Publication prize.

Several of the entries were strong contenders for the prize, however one book stood out – Jim Cameron's Before Gold: the Northampton Mineral District 1846-1880. Published by Hesperian Press.

This well-researched, excellently referenced book demonstrates a high standard of scholarship and the use of a wide range of sources. It is the first work to explore the birth of the WA mining industry and the first major work to cover the period between convicts and gold – so it fills a large gap in Western Australian historical writing. Employing the skills of both geographer and historian Cameron's story is never one-dimensional as it ranges far and wide, including market prices for ore in London and Wales, transport and shipping difficulties, colonial government policies and many other aspects as well. Jim Cameron's engaging and informative narrative is supported by maps, tables and graphs and he is so familiar with his material that it feels as though he knows the people he writes about! The book is also fully indexed – a feature greatly valued by busy researchers. Before Gold is a landmark publication and a worthy winner.