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Ex-local brings Rasp to life

Friday, 23rd May, 2014

Former local Greg Parker has written a novel about Charles Rasp. Former local Greg Parker has written a novel about Charles Rasp.

By Nick Gibbs

Ex-local and producer of the Broken Hill based 2004 film ‘The Big Red’, Greg Parker, has again found inspiration in the region.

The former 2BH employee and Channel Nine producer said his connection to the city was critical as he explored the life of early prospector Charles Rasp in the historical novel ‘The Black Rock’.

“If I wasn’t from Broken Hill, I couldn’t have written the book,” he said, recalling his childhood spent exploring the city’s outer reaches and getting a feel for the landscape.

“I always had the book in the back of my head.”

Rasp is credited as the first man to gauge the area’s mining potential after he emigrated from Germany in 1869.

Mr Parker said he researched extensively before attempting to write the novel, relying on historical fact for the general outline and his own creativity to bring the characters to life.

“I know the story, but not the dialogue, you have to take it with a grain of salt,”  he said, detailing his aim was to write a novel, not a history book.

“I wanted to really make Charles Rasp come alive.”

While, the feel of the novel identifies strongly with the harsh beauty of the local landscape, the writing process began a world away when Mr Parker was filming tourism commercials for a local airline in the tropical Cook Islands. 

The first 100 pages were penned in the capital of Rarotonga before a computer glitch meant both his work and a bit of his motivation were lost. 

“I was quite proud of myself, then I lost the lot,” he said.

After the setback and since returning to live in Adelaide the process was completed in a little over three months.

“Once I got going again, it just flew.

“Some days you write like crazy and some days you sit back and do nothing.” 

Editing involved between 20 and 30 drafts as the content was refined, and now Mr Parker is looking for external input as he continues to move toward getting the novel published.

“I’ve re-written it and re-written it and re-written it but it’s not set in stone at this stage,” he said, adding that he would welcome information on the the mining techniques of the era.

Mr Parker also encouraged anybody interested in investing in the book to get in touch.

Local investors helped finance ‘The Big Red’ in a mutually beneficial partnership to help promote Broken Hill.

Below is an extract from the ‘The Black Rock’.

Any further enquiries or feedback is welcomed and Mr Parker can be contacted on 04 2424 8344 or via email at gravyparker@gmail.com.

* Extract from The Black Rock by Greg Parker.

When Charles entered the room he knew straight away something was wrong. George told Charles he had a change of heart, and was not sure mining was a good for the property.  

“My responsibility is to the owners of the property. I own an eight share of Mouth Gipps Station. I was hired to run a sheep station - I have no idea how to mine for lead.”

Charles was shocked. Silence consumed the room.

“I’m sorry old mate - I’ve made up my mind,” said George ending the conversation.

Charles walked across the yard severely disappointed. Why could George not see the money to be made by mining?” he asked.

Charles considered the situation for several days, weighing up the opportunities of making money against his friendship with George. Finally he decided to go ahead with the mining despite George’s objections.

Before pegging the claim, Charles talked to his friends Big Dave James and Jimmy Poole and asked them if they wanted to form a syndicate. Dave and James jumped at the chance. Together the “syndicate of three” raised two hundred and ten pounds for working capital.

The three friends rode out to Broken Hill and measured the first forty-acre claim.

Two days later on 5th September 1883, Charles Rasp registered his mining lease. Application No 2355.

He registered his lease for Lead, Silver, and Tin just in case. Charles was pleased and guilty at the same time. He genuinely wanted his good friend George to share in the spoils of the black rock.

Charles spent many sleepless nights tossing and turning heavy with guilt. Finally he walked directly into George’s office without knocking on the door.

George could tell Charles had something important to say.

“I have to tell you - I have registered a forty acre mining lease for Broken Hill!”

George looked at Charles disappointed.

“Why didn’t you tell me you were going to do this?”

“I was afraid you would object and stop me going ahead,” admitted Charles.

Silence. Finally George spoke. “Well I can’t stop you, it’s Crown land!” 

“No you can’t, but I don’t want it to be that way.”

“Well which way do you want it?”

“I want you to be a part of it!”

“But I have a moral and ethical responsibility to the owners of the Station - I can’t play both sides of the fence!”

“I understand this,” said Charles softly.

“So how can I join you?”

“It’s easy - resign as Manager of Mt Gipps Station.”

“Resign!” shouted George.

“Yes resign - do you want to spend the rest of your life earning ten pounds a week running this place, or join me and become a rich and well respected man?”

George did not know what to say.

“How do you respond to a good friend offering to make you rich?”

“And what if we go broke?” asked George.

“And what if we die tomorrow?” countered Charles.

“Ah don’t give me that philosophical bullshit Charles!”

“I agree it’s a gamble - at least we would go broke together,” joked Charles.

George laughed.

“That’s very reassuring Mr Rasp - the pair of us on the bones of our arse - that’s not a nice thought.”

Charles laughed; feeling much better now his little scheme was out in the open. 

George had to make decision; either way Charles would respect his wishes.

“Give me some time to think about it - it’s a big decision you know!

“I know,”  agreed Charles. “I will await your answer,” said Charles turning to leave.

“Charles!” called George. “Thanks mate - I appreciate what you’re saying.”

Charles was walking quietly across the yard when he heard George yell.

“All bloody right. I’m all yours!”

Charles rushed back into the office. The men hugged and George starting dancing. Big Dave was walking past the window and peered in astonished.

“Goodness me - they’re dancing again!”

A week later a jackeroo by the named of George Lind and Sheep Overseer George Urquant joined Charles to become the Syndicate of Seven, or as Charles called it, the “Syndicate of Georges”.

They each contributed seventy pounds to the working capital. Charles took out six more mining leases and Broken Hill was theirs! More men joined the syndicate as the word got out that Charles Rasp’s claims were a good investment. 

William Jamieson, a Geologist and Government Surveyor, and C.R Wilson, the Director of the Barrier Ranges Silver Mining Association, and owner of the rich “Day Dream” and “Apollyon Valley” mines joined the new syndicate.

Jamieson and Wilson were the only two in the new company with any experience in mining.

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