The Story of Patrick ‘Paddy’ Hannan
Paddy Hannan struck gold! Literally! Back in the late 1800s, the discovery of gold in Coolgardie in outback Western Australia drew thousands of eager diggers to the region. Irishman Patrick ‘Paddy’ Hannan was among those who followed, keen to make his fortune. He travelled with fellow Irishmen, all hoping to strike it rich, and in Kalgoorlie he made a lucky discovery. It was the first find in the region, and sparked its own influx of prospectors, unearthing one of the richest concentrations of gold in the world.
Read on to learn more about the man at the centre of this rich piece of Western Australian history, which has a special connection to Brown Hill Estate.
Paddy Hannan: From Ireland to Australia
Hailing from Quin in south-west Ireland, Patrick ‘Paddy’ Hannan moved to Australia as a young man in 1863. On arrival, he headed straight for the goldfields in Victoria’s Ballarat to join his uncle in the mines, which marked the start of a working life spent prospecting. Over the years, Hannan worked in various locations, digging for gold in New South Wales and South Australia, and as far afield as New Zealand, before making his way to Western Australia in the 1890s. The East Coast experienced its first gold rush 30 years prior and at this time the West Coast was only just getting started.
How Paddy Hannan Struck Gold
Hannan had been prospecting around Southern Cross in Western Australia, about 400 km east of Perth, when he heard about gold being discovered further east. This is very likely to have been the whopping 15kg find in Coolgardie by Arthur Bayley and William Ford in 1892. With his prospecting partner, Thomas Flanagan, Hannan made his way to Coolgardie, but they found many others had the same idea and the area was well covered. As a result, Hannan decided to venture east, which turned out to be a fruitful move.
There are several slightly different stories about how Hannan struck gold, but the craftiest version is our favourite. The story goes that Hannan, Flanagan and, by this time, fellow digger Dan O’Shea, were travelling in a pack with other prospectors. The night before the group was due to ride out from their camp in Mt Charlotte – on 10 June 1893 – Hannan and Flanagan stumbled across gold in a gully. It’s believed that Hannan, who was especially good at finding water sources, hit on the gold while looking for a spot to fill his waterbags. Not wanting to reveal the discovery to the others in the pack, they kept the find to themselves and, during the night, led one of their horses away from camp. This gave them the perfect excuse to stay back the next morning and send the group on without them – they needed to find their horse. The ruse worked, with the men free to keep the site all for themselves, and their digging uncovered almost 3kg of alluvial gold. The men pegged the site, Hannan made his way back to Coolgardie to register the claim, and the rest is, quite literally, history.
This discovery sparked the Kalgoorlie gold rush, which brought hordes of diggers to this desert region, where many more major discoveries were made. The area became known as The Golden Mile, and Kalgoorlie famously became one of the top gold mining towns in the world.
What Happened to Paddy Hannan?
It was Paddy Hannan and his mates who made that first big find in Kalgoorlie, but despite Hannan continuing to dig over the following years – in Western Australia as well as Victoria and beyond – his 1893 discovery would remain his biggest. Other prospectors in Kalgoorlie uncovered incredible amounts of gold across various sites, hence The Golden Mile, but Hannan was not involved in these lucrative leases. However, his story does have a happy ending.
Hannan, said to have been a well-liked and humble man, moved back over east to live with family in Melbourne and was rewarded with a significant pension. The Western Australian government paid him an annual £100, and later £150, in recognition of his early discovery because it had brought the state major riches. In fact, within just five years of Hannan’s find in Kalgoorlie, the region had reportedly yielded £100m worth of gold, so the pension was the government’s way of acknowledging Hannan’s part in the process.
Our Nod to Paddy Hannan at Brown Hill Estate
At Brown Hill Estate, we have strong ties to our home region of Kalgoorlie and continue honouring those connections through the names of our wines and our winery. Brown Hill is the gold claim that made the Golden Mile famous, and many other mines have been established on the famous stretch. This includes the Hannan’s mine, named after Paddy Hannan.
The Brown Hill Hannan’s Cabernet Sauvignon is our special nod to Paddy; this wine is also our most popular Cabernet Sauvignon. A fine example of this flagship Margaret River varietal, those who’ve discovered it often think they’ve stumbled across their own golden discovery.