In the era of partitions, many Poles were seduced by dreams of establishing "New Poland" in remote corners of the globe. There were projects to create a national team in Africa, Oceania and Brazil. One daredevil also pushed the idea to settle the uninhabited areas of Western Australia. What came out of it?
A mining engineer from Greater Poland, Modest Maryański, after many years of traveling around Europe and the United States, in 1896 reached Perth. He was attracted to a distant continent by the golden fever - shortly after landing, he set out to search for traces of the precious metal near Kalgoorlie.
Luck was on his side - in the dump next to the mine shaft, he found some pure gold and a lot of gold nuggets mixed with tellurium. Encouraged by his first successes, in the following years he bought three 24-acre plots of land for his company.
"Project of Polish colonization"
Soon, however, Maryański began to develop much more far-reaching plans. As Mateusz Będkowski reports in the book "Polish gold prospectors":
This Pole, being positively impressed by the local climate and soil quality (...), as well as the law in force in British colonies, planned to conduct a settlement action there > .
At the end of the 19th century, Australia became the destination of many travelers, attracted by the vision of finding gold, among other things.
The traveler tried to promote his idea in the Polish press. In "Goniec Wielkopolski" he published a text entitled "Project of Polish colonization in Western Australia". In it he encouraged mass emigration of Poles, especially farmers, from the Prussian and Austrian Partitions .
This concept met with a cold reception from the elite. All because at that time there was a chance to build a strong colony in the Brazilian Parana. As the editors of "Gazeta Handlowo-Geograficzna" wrote:
[…] all the factors genuinely concerned with emigration, considered Parana to be the most suitable area for Polish colonization and are directing unstoppable emigration there […]. Therefore, in view of this rare unanimity in this field, in the face of the fact that in Parana we already have 70,000 Polish agricultural population living in compact masses and constituting 50-90 percent. General population - all forces should be used to organize the already settled population and to supply it with fresh forces.
No wonder that Maryański's project has been subjected to devastating criticism. In the same newspaper it was argued:
(...) that Western Australia is largely a desert, that transportation costs are considerable, and that neither the UK Government nor the West Australian Provincial Government is he would support some mass and systematic Polish emigration .
Moreover, there were accusations that the engineer was actually sabotaging the Polish case. "The very project itself, although not feasible on a larger scale, can only contribute to obscuring the entire emigration issue" - argued the ruthless editors. They also added that:
creating new emigration centers - requiring insane efforts - and no guarantee of success in advance - it would only be a reckless waste and waste of national forces .
Critical remarks did not discourage the Polish explorer. Convinced of his point, he proceeded to further action. As Mateusz Będkowski writes in the book "Polish gold prospectors" :
In 1898 Maryański, probably in connection with his own colonization project, leased 200 acres of arable land on the Hay River in the Albany district of Western Australia for a bank loan of 450 pounds. at the end of the next year, he employed 16 immigrants, mainly Polish […].
Then, in the Donnybrook area, the Pole established a mine called Maryanski Syndicate. He obtained the necessary capital in London. Donnybrook Goldfields Ltd. was established there and transferred its shares to the venture. Instead, he became the chief engineer of the project. In the period from 1898 to 1900 he supervised the exploitation of the deposit. Later he went to Europe. He intended to return to Australia yet, but he did not. Until his death in 1914, he was already outside his dream new homeland.
Maryański founded a gold mine, but his project did not survive the test of time. Illustrative illustration.
Due to financial difficulties, the Maryanski Syndicate mine was closed in August 1903, and the total extraction was estimated at 24 kilograms of gold. The concepts of building a New Poland in Western Australia crumbled just as quickly.
Poles who believed Maryański and reached the Antipodes. because they did not have enough capital and support to build lasting foundations for the Polish colony. In an unfavorable geopolitical situation, when Great Britain looked favorably on Russia, it was also difficult to expect that the authorities in London would accept the concept of Polish settlement . And so for Poles, Australia remained a distant land, where only a few compatriots set foot ...