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Out of the legends that necessarily cluster about the early days of a country is history inevitably written; inevitably, since the pick and the plough are more to the hands of the pioneer than the pen. But calmer days have come to as here in Western Australia, and even though the stress and struggle for existence are still upon us, posterity demands that before it is too late we dip into that well of story dug by cur fathers and mothers in this new land, and tell and retell those
tales that make their names and their deeds live forever with us.
Sir George Grey. I
Dear "Cygnet,"-I wish to add my ap- preciation to the other letters regarding your account of Governor Stirling's career both before and after his tenure of office in Western Australia. I trust you will make a series of these, so that we will be able to say we know something of
Another figure not particularly West Australian, but one who explored a good slice of its territory in the earliest days, was Captain Grey, later Sir George Grey. I would like to have some first-hand in- formation regarding him. He appears to have been a very versatile individual and I have been interested in him ever since I heard a friend go into raptures over his own account of his North-west ex- plorations. Is he the same Grey who was in New Zealand?-C. R. McHenry, Gerald- ton.
Exploring the North West.
No one who is interested in the story of Australian Exploration can afford to leave Grey out of his reading; and cef tainly no one who wishes to acquaint himself of the history of Western Australia can ignore hün. His travels in the North- west in the late eighteen-thirties are published in two volumes, and for the most part are better than any exciting fiction. But, speaking for myself, the more I read them, or refer to them, the less Grey becomes to me, and I jsimply cannot understand the way in which everybody joins in booming him for his gifts as an explorer. That he was brave and unflinching no one can doubt, but I cannot give him more than that. He made mistake after mistake either due to his own stubbornness and obstinacy or to his lack of foresight, but those mis- takes have actualy become in course of time great qualities; As to his imagina- tion, it was colossal. One has merely to skin through the poems he put into the mouths of the blackfellows and. their gins to find that out, while the thoughts he puts into their minds are ludicrous in the extreme. Beside them, all the poets of romance are dumb. But read this volume and judge for yourself. They will well repay you.
Grey's career was spectacular from birth. He was born in Portugal a few months after his father had been killed in storming Badajos. He joined the army in the year of this Colony's birth (1829), but half a dozen years later decided to make a name for himself by exploring our North-west. The authorities gave him all the help he needed, but he an- noyed Stirling by going direct across to the North-west from the Cape of Good Hope, instead of first coming to Perth to fit himself out and presumably to get Stirling's viewpoint as to what he should do. Then tlie story moves quickly, for almost at once the expedition was in grave danger of being wiped out, and he himself was wounded nearly to death. After his first expedition he came to Perth to refit'for another, _but while wait- ing about he accomplished other work in the South-west. When he did set out on his second trip it was disaster from first to last, and for my part the hero of the expedition (as he was also the
hero of the first expedition) was Surgeon ; Walker. It maybe, of course, that Grey modestly refrained from saying too much about himself, but what he did say hardly accords with that supposition. However, the fact remains that had it not been for Surgeon Walker's prompt action and professional skill from the moment the party landed, the first expedition would have only lasted a matter of days, and then have terminated fatally.
An Albany Wife.
The second expedition was a fiasco. Grey Staggered into Guildford in a shocking state; Walker suddenly appeared in the streets of Perth a dreadful figure in rags, a human skeleton in delirium; Smith (the young Englishman who accompanied them for adventure) left his bones in the bush. But for all that, Grey made the North-West known. His expedition put it on the map, and the names he gave to rivers and mountains are nowadays every- day words with us. Incidentally, my Correspondent, who writes from Gerald
ton, should really be writing from Port Grey, for that is the name given to Cham- pion Bay, or to part of it, in honour of Grey-but not I think by Grey himself.
This was in 1837, and in 1841 Captain Grey suddenly appeared at Adelaide with a letter of recall for Colonel Gawler the Governor of South Australia, and another appointing him the Governor in Gawler's stead. Gawler seemed to have failed in
Ins job but events have proved this otherwise, and his name is justly hailed today as one of South Australia's great figures. Prom South Australia Grey went to New Zealand as Governor, after that he was sent as Governor to Cape Colony. From Africa he went back to New Zealand as Governor, and when his term of office had expired we had the spectacle of the ex-Governor of a Colony entering politics, becoming Premier, and as such the adviser to his successor at Government House. The nearest ap- proach to such a situation sinee has been the appointment of our ex-Premier Sir James Mitchel to the Lieutenant-Gover- norship of the State of which he was once the political head.
Grey married the daughter of Sir Richard Spencer, Government Resident of Albany in the earliest days. It was a touching romance for some years, then for the next twenty years a tragedy. For Grey, obstinate and pigheaded in his do- mestic affairs as in his first expeditions, accused his wife unjustly of flirting with an official at Cape Town and sent her away from him to live a life of misery until old age brought sense to him (at least one hopes it was sense) and they were reunited.
The Fremantle Monument.
Dear "Cygnet,"-Can you give me some !
information re the Monument on Buck- land Hill. What does it commemorate? I have asked all sorts of people but no one seems to know.-R. Harris, Fre- mantle.
Neither do I know. It has always been a matter of debate, but surely it could be settled. There are some tell us that it was used by ships as a beacon to guide them to an anchorage-they took their bearings from it-but though this may have been so, it certainly could not have been the reason for its erection. However, there are some who think other- wise. It is just another case where we must distinguish between fact and fiction. I will consult the authorities on the question and see if anything definite has come to light in recent times.
Dear "Cygnet,"-The new hotel in Mill-street, the foundations of which are being now laid, has reminded me of Kingsford's Mill. It is said that Kings- ford drained the swamp where the rail- way station is to get the power for his mill. Is this so? If so it was no small undertaking. Also is this why it was called Lake Kingsford?-L. Stacey, East Perth.
On the earliest maps Lake Kingsford is shown, and under that name. Presum- ably it got its name from Kingsford's offer to drain it, or perhaps we should say his application to drain it. It is shown as stretching from Wellington-street to well beyond Roe-street, and from east of Beaufort-street to well beyond Wil- liam-street. It is exaggerating to say that Kingsford drained the swamp; he drained the lake and left a swamp in its place, and the swamp remained there until the late Seventies when it was further drained to make way for the railway station and railway lines. Even then it was not done thoroughly we are told, and the swampy foundations will effectively prevent any large building, at any rate any skyscraper, going up on the site.
I have an inquiry as to Greenmount, who named it, etc. I cannot find out. It seems to have crept on to the earliest maps because it was a green mount. I came across a mention of it once in the Perth Gazette as early as 1834 in a re- port sent in to the Governor by a Mr. Smith. He wrote that, having received a grant of land some distance from York "distinguished by the name of Northam, ' he set out for it from Greenmount, and proceeded via York. But it was called Greenmount before 1834.