During the gold rush of the late eighteen hundreds, my great, great grandfather Charles Benson (a worker from the Mount Morgan gold mine in Central Queensland) would commute on his days off down Razorback Range and into the township of Bouldercombe. Charles would fossick for alluvial gold that flowed into Crocodile Creek from the Bouldercombe Gorge. It was here during these fossicks in 1887, that Charles at age 27 met his future wife, Alice Glover.
Both Charles and Alice settled in Mount Morgan and Charles continued his employment at the mine, in which he would commonly walk along the railway tracks on his way to and from work. One early evening in 1912, Charles crossed the rail bridge over Dairy Creek and fell onto the rocks below. Charles was knocked unconscious and lay under the bridge until he was found the following morning. Charles eventually recovered from a head wound and went back to work, seemingly none the worse.
Over the following years, Charles began to suffer bouts of amnesia for periods of hours, then days. Laid-off as a miner, Alice became his carer. However, there was fear from the community that Charles might become violent and bring harm to Alice. Reports were persistently lodged to the local police concerning Charles’s unusual behaviour and regardless of all Alice could do, police called to their property at Cattle Creek and with a magistrate’s order in hand, Charles was taken into the local lock-up. Assessment of Charles’s mental state was made by the supervising officers during his month long custody. They found that Charles was “suffering counts of mental derangement – insanity” and subsequently, he was admitted into the Goodna Hospital for the Insane.
Early Friday morning on May 12, 1916, Charles escorted by police, boarded a train headed for Ipswich from Roma Street Station, Brisbane. Charles left the train at Wolston (Wacol) Station and made the walk along Wolston Park Road to the isolated site of the Goodna Hospital for the Insane. Charles would not make a return trip down this road, for he would be incarcerated within the hospital’s institutional grounds for the remaining 21 years, 2 months and 24 days of his life.