Iron Man Ernie they called him.
Never married, no kids.
Lived in a shack in Trial Harbour. He was a miner searching for the tin node he could retire off.
Never drove. Never got a license. But he ran.
He’d win marathons from Zeehan to Strahan. Before the race, he’d run in from Trial Harbour. An extra 30 clicks on what was, back then, a real beater of a track. Every weekend he’s do the 60 mile round trip to visit his mother.
In the summer when he ran, he’d carry a shotgun to blow away Tiger snakes that crossed the track. His personal best was 13 snakes from 14 shells on a single trip from Trial Harbour to Zeehan.
Iron Man Ernie. Searching for Ore, legging it around the bush, living in solitude in his rusty tin shack with its crooked chimney at the end of the world.
Those that knew him claimed that if he was any tougher, he’d rust.
It had more pubs per capita than anywhere else in Australia. Tin and Zinc shipping faster than they could pull it from the ground. Donga’s were brought in on road trains to house the workers. The town swelled. Everyone was having a blast.
Hand over fist happy days. Until they were not.
An old story.