A Tribute to Dan Moye from Donald Howard

Dan Moye was a highly professional geologist of the “hands on” type. His early days on the Snowy were spent in rugged mountain camps under canvas which most people today would regard as primitive. (Men in construction camps would use ladies’ hair dryers to warm their beds before sleep. The ground soil was covered with aluminium roof insulation material.) Our initial acquaintance was on a personal level. His brother Dave and I were contemporaries at Hawkesbury Agricultural College and in my five years as editor of the local paper we often met on social occasions or for an occasional story.

Soon after I established a life assurance agency he approached me with the idea of forming a historical society. Dan was the instigator and kept the ball rolling. He was never the type to put forward an idea and leave matters there. He was an indefatigable strategist with the determination to achieve the end of whatever was planned.

His first aim for the society was to arrange a book to mark the Kiandra goldfields centenary. Although I used my newspaper experience in its compilation, it was his doggedness (a feature of every task he undertook) which saw it through. That the book is selling after half-a-century is testimony to his ability.

Once we were underway, Dan outlined his idea for the actual celebrations. He was very keen on “historic markers” which he had seen in the US. Along with the marker he sought to interest the then DMR in introducing signs advising that a marker lay so many miles ahead. He even arranged for the details to be burnt into the signboard.

Another of his ideas was to hold a goldpanning competition. It was not easy to obtain nuggets under government regulations, but as usual Dan had a “friend in high places”. Through a member of the Commonwealth Bank Board (I think) we obtained 100 nuggets of varying sizes. He then obtained some heavy black soil and lighter loam which were placed in 100 bags, along with a nugget in each. Thus we were able to guarantee that no one would pan in vain1 The purpose of the black sand was that it would sink to the bottom of the pan and the nuggets would be easier to discern. The day was an outstanding success. Old Kiandra pioneers were among those who attended.

Another successful enterprise was an idea he asked me to put before the then local MLA, Jack Seiffert. We held a function on top of “Kosciusko” one bleak Anniversary Day (I think it was still known as that) when Dan read a paper in the parking area. He said it was not proper that motor traffic could ascend to the top; the final ascent should be on foot. When I put this to Jack Seiffert, the present site plan went straight ahead.

Our only failure was in the campaign to preserve the township of Kiandra which hard remained virtually unspoiled since early days. When the Park Trust made noises about it being “out of place” in the park, we sought Jack Seiffert’s support to preserve it. Unfortunately Jack was only lukewarm but we felt that our case was solid enough to stand. Some years after leaving Cooma I returned and was dismayed to find the vandalism which park authorities had perpetrated. It was our only failure.

Dan Moye was a gentleman. He at no time paraded his outstanding ability or sought the limelight. On the several occasions I was in the home with him, Mrs.Moye and children, I thought that this was the sort of family life which I hoped to enjoy when my own four children reached their teens. I am grateful for the privilege of being part of this venture.

David, Hope this is OK. Feel free to make alterations or suggestions. Best wishes with your project. Donald

1. An interesting sidelight came through the skill of a local businessman, Ted Henderson, who had been brought up on the Kalgoorlie goldfields. On the next day (a Sunday) I read the lesson at a commemorative church service in the Church of England. Afterwards Ted showed me about a dozen nuggets in the palm of his hand. He had noted the site where the panning took place and next morning went and washed through the bed of the shallow creek. “I knew a lot of them would be too green to find a specimen,” he said with a grin.