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William (Bill) Paterick (1893–1972)

The tiny township of Kiandra, Kosciusko National Park (permanent population 41, but which once boasted 15,000 residents during the gold boom of the 1860s) is in mourning.

Big Bill Paterick is dead.

Gold miner, Australian ski champion, and Postmaster, Bill was one of the identities of the town, who enthralled locals and tourists alike with his tales of the gold rush days.

Born on New Chum Hill, Bill could remember the days when Kiandra’s hills and flats yielded a million dollars in gold.

After mining for 40 years, Bill became the town’s Post Master until his retirement in 1969.

He was Australian ski champion from 1923 and was picked to represent the country in the 1924 Norway Olympic Games.

He recalled in a newspaper interview three years ago that he did not make the Games as he could not afford the £80 fare on his miner’s pay of 48s per week.

During recent years Bill’s health was not the best and he spent most of his time with his married daughters who live in Canberra and Tumut.

Bill passed away on Monday (January 22), just two days before his 80th birthday.

The townsfolk and the tourists to Kiandra will never hear his lively stories of the good old days or feel the warmth of friendship in his rugged handshake, but anyone who met him will cherish the memory of a true Australian.

During a visit from the Cooma-Monaro Historical Society last year Bill told the visitors about the great Chinese feasts at the Kiandra Cemetery.

He said the members of the Chinese community were buried outside the confines of the actual cemetery and were interred in a standing position. The depression of the Chinese graves are still visible.

Once a year the Chinese community laid a feast at the graveside and spread some of the food on the grave while chanting.

The old post office where Bill lived, which was built around 1860 may be torn down by the Kosciusko National Park authorities.

Original publication

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Citation details

'Paterick, William (Bill) (1893–1972)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 21 April 2024.

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