Pauline Downing and Jack Bolton, circa 1994
Pauline Downing and Jack Bolton, circa 1994
Article by Pauline Downing, pictured here with Jack, circa 1994.

Jack was born in a hotel in the main street of Cooma on Christmas Day, 1914. His parents Con and Grace Bolton, returned with him to their homestead at Diggers Creek on Snowy Plain, when he was only a few days old. He lived his younger life there, on Snowy Plain.

Jack Bolton was a dingo trapper, a stockman and a builder of huts. Mawsons and Cesjacks are amongst those he constructed.

I met Jack Bolton at one of Graham Scully's historic weekends at Daveys Hut in February 1991. I only knew him for 6 years. We corresponded, we yarned, we laughed together at his home in Berridale, when the "Snow Plain Mob" his nickname for us, the caretakers of Daveys Hut, called in after a workparty.

Jack spent a week with us at Daveys Hut in 1994 and told me many stories of his memories of life in the High Country. Many of those stories are in my Book "If I wake in the Middle of the Night". I have kept tapes of his yarns and copies of his poetry.

He taught us to make a fox whistle from a jam tin lid and he also instructed me in how to use my very new Furphy camp oven. He enriched us with stories of a life I'd never dreamed existed. My childhood was spent in the city, a stone's throw from Central Station in Sydney, while his life was spent droving, trapping and mustering in the High Country.

One of Jack's last wishes was to join his family to commemorate the centenary of the first winter ascent of Mt Kosciuszko and the achievement of a gold medal by his grandfather, John Bolton. He died two weeks before this event.

Before the church service, I said goodbye to Jack and tucked a piece of Yarrow (Woundwort) that was still growing where his Aunt's garden had been on Snowy Plain, into his pocket; from a part of the plain that he knew so well. At a small church outside Berridale on the 8th August 1997, I read the eulogy for my friend Jack Bolton.

The words I spoke that day were Jack's own words, the poetry of celebration of a life as a man of the mountains.

Vale Jack Bolton.

Jack's Poetry :

A Mountaineer's Wish

A Snowy Plains Miner

John Bolton on the Valentine river jan 1993
John Bolton on the Valentine river jan 1993

Updated 22nd September 2019