(28 March 1865
– 29 October 1896
) was a gold prospector
who discovered gold at Fly Flat, Western Australia
on 17 September 1892
, around which the town of Coolgardie
Bayley was born in Newbridge, Victoria
, son of John Bayley, a butcher, and his wife Rosanna.
When only 16 years of age he went to North Queensland
and did prospecting and mining work at Charters Towers, Hughenden, Normanton, Croydon and Palmer. He then went to Western Australia
and landed at Fremantle
with about thirty shillings in his pocket.
Prospecting in Western Australia
Bayley walked to Southern Cross
, and while working there a few months later heard that gold had been discovered about 130 miles to the east. Bayley kept this in mind and determined some day to prospect this country himself. In January 1889 he went to the Nullagine diggings and Roebourne in the north-west. He had some success, and after returning to Perth
worked again at Southern Cross. Hearing that gold had been found on the Ashburton he again returned to Perth, made to the north and found good gold at Ford's Creek. While prospecting the Murchison River
he found Bayley's Island in Lake Austin which also yielded good returns. He became associated with William Ford whom he had known in Queensland, who had heard of gold having been found to the east of Southern Cross, and in June 1892 the two men with five horses set out to find it. Soon after reaching the site of Coolgardie they found a nugget, and within a few days had picked up about 80 ounces of gold. More rich alluvial gold was found and the two men were then compelled to return to Southern Cross for supplies. On returning to the field a quartz outcrop with gold in it was found, which became the famous Bayley's Reward mine. The two men returned to Southern Cross with 554 ounces of gold (worth £2200 at the time — a sizable sum), which they showed to the warden J.M. Finnerty, on 17 September 1892
. A reward lease of 20 acres was granted to them, and on 20 September 1892
the Coolgardie field was declared open. There was a tremendous rush to the field from Southern Cross, much gold was found, and in a few years Coolgardie was a thriving town. Bayley's reward claim proved to be a very profitable one indeed, and was continually worked until 1963. During the 70 years of its existence this mining claim recovered over 500,000 ounces gold.
Bayley and Ford sold their claim to a company for £6000 and a sixth interest and Bayley, having returned to Victoria, took up land near Avenel, and lived in prosperous circumstances. Though a strong athletic man he fell into ill health, possibly on account of privations he had suffered while a prospector, and died at Avenel of congestion of the lungs on 29 October 1896
. He left a widow but no children.