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3 corrections, most recently by doug.butler - Show corrections


[By J. B. Hack.]

Emigration— Captain Hart of the Isabella— E. G. Wakefield— Sir John Jeffcott— Arrival at Van Diemen's land— News of the New Colony— Ship- ping Live Stock— Losses— The First Bullock Team

in South Australia— Opening up Trade— Balloting for Sections— North Adelaide Wheat in Mark-lane —The Colonial Chaplain— Loss of the Isabella— The First Grand Jury. The circumstances which led to my coming to South Australia were these :— Before the year 1836 my health had become feeble, and it was necessary for me that the next winter should be spent in a warmer climate. 'A few months a Madeira,' was the medical recommendation. I was then a married man with six children, and established in a con- siderable business in the South of England, and the prospect of making any change in residence seemed very formidable, even for a few months. In June, 1836, I and my wife, with one of the children, started from Ports- mouth on a voyage by steam to Cork and Liver- pool, and while at Portsmouth I went on   board the Buffalo, then fitting out for the transit of the Governor of the new colony of South Australia. I met with Captain Lipson on board. He was full of the prospects of the far-off country to which he was bound. I had met with Colonel Torrens's book on 'South Australian Colonization.' That had very much interested me, and I began to wish it were possible to try the milder climate of Australia. I returned from the sea voyage still more inclined to make the effort to break up my English home and try emigration. In August I paid a visit to London, and called several times at the South Australian Commissioner's Office, in Adelphi-terrace, where I had an interview with Edward Gibbon Wakefield and became acquainted with some of the intending colonists. At the offices I was recommended to see Captain Hart, who had purchased a vessel, the Isabella, for Mr. Griffiths, of Launceston, and was intending to sail in a few weeks for that place. Being very favourably impressed by Captain Hart's appearance and by what I heard of his character, I agreed to take the two stern cabins for my family and a berth for a younger brother, who, being nearly of age, was desirous of going out with us, and to embark at Portsmouth the first week in September. I had in London provided myself with two of Manning's cottages, panelled, of two rooms each, not wishing to depend on tents on first landing in the colony. The outfits which we thought it necessary to provide were much more than were needed, but the idea of an unsettled country was an excuse for the purchase of many things called indispensables. The end of August found us at Portsmouth with all our packages, and I saw on going on board that very little room had been re- served, and the greater part of the luggage had to be forwarded to London to come out by a later vessel. Our ship was lying at Spithead. Later in the evening, before sailing, a boat came off bringing a gentleman who evidently had not been expected, as all the berths were engaged. He was accom- modated on the sofa in the saloon for the night, and in the morning we were introduced to Sir John Jeffcott, the Judge appointed for the new colony. He seemed disposed to make the best of incon- veniences, and proved to be a pleasant and gentlemanly man. He was afterwards drowned at the Murray-mouth. Passing over the inevitable discomforts of the voyage, which the captain endeavoured to make as pleasant as possible, we sighted Van Diemen's Land on January 1, 1837, and the next day proceeded up the River Tamar to Launceston. We were of course very anxious to hear tidings of the colony we had come, so far to assist in establishing, and the John Pirie arriving reported having spoken the Buffalo beating up St. Vincent's Gulf, so that we had arrived in Australia almost as soon as the Government vessel bearing the official staff of our adopted country. The settlers who had arrived, it was said, were some located at Kingscote (Kangaroo Island) and at Rapid Bay, but the greater number were landed opposite Mount Lofty, on the beach. It was reported, too, that a river or inlet of the sea had been discovered, with 2½ fathoms on the bar, in the immediate lo- cality. The Isabella was at once laid on for South Australia by her owner. We spent a month at Launceston, making our purchases of everything necessary for our projected farming operations. Having se- cured three preliminary 134-acre sections, with three town acres belonging thereto, we shipped 350 ewes, 45 wethers, six heifers, one bull, and a team of ten red Devon bul- locks, large wagon and dray, plough, seed   wheat, poultry, goats, provisions, and sun- dries, besides our English packages, not for- getting the wooden houses. We had also on board three mares and a Timor pony. We were very kindly treated by many residents

in Launceston, and had many inducements held out to us to remain. The convict ele- ment, however, in the labouring class would have deterred us from settling in Van Diemen's Land, even if our arrangements had not been made absolutely for South Aus- tralia. We were ready for sea on February 1, but we had only time to get out of the Tamar when a westerly gale set in and caused great losses among the stock. Many sheep died, and some of the bullocks, We reached Backstairs Passage, however, on the morning of the 9th, and off Rapid Bay lowered a boat and some of us landed, but only found some rude huts without inhabitants. The captain then said he would run up the Gulf forty miles, when he expected to find the settlers and the Buffalo. About 2 o'clock in the morning he dropped anchor, but when day broke we were some miles south of the Buffalo and CoromandeL A hot north wind prevented the vessel moving. As the sheep were very weak, and were insured by me with the owner, the captain resolved to land them and the live stock opposite the ship, and promised to send ashore by the last boat a quantity of netting we had provided to make a fold. This was not done, and in consequence the sheep broke away in the night, and we irrecoverably lost most of those landed. The other stock was landed in fair order, and a heifer calving a day or two after I had the pleasure of milking the first cow. The settlers were camped on the sandhills, now Glenelg, and were busy rolling up their packages over the land to the plain beyond. I had brought two or three Van Diemen's Land bush hands, and they at once yoked a team of eight bullocks to bring our goods from the longboat over the land. This created quite a sensation in the encampment, as the people had never seen a regular colonial team before. On first landing I met Mr. John Hallett, and found that a pair of bullocks and a few sheep, with a mule and a donkey belonging to the Governor, were the only live stock in the colony. In a few days, how ever, a vessel arrived from the Cape with some fine fatherland cows and heifers. I became the purchaser of most of them sub-   sequently at £27 each. We found that the   colony had been proclaimed five or six weeks   before we landed, and that the survey of the new City of Adelaide was not then completed. I obtained permission from the' Resident Commissioner, Mr. J. H. Fisher, to put up one of my houses at Holdfast Bay and the other on North-terrace on the site of the present railway station. We used the first as a depot until we could collect our posses- sions at Adelaide. One of the houses was landed in the morning, and by night all the family slept under its roof, though we had only time to lay the rafters flat and cover them with the tarpaulins. The heat during the first few days was excessive. While the Isabella lay at Holdfast Bay Cap- tain Hart said he would like to return, if he could obtain a freight, with the Isabella. In conversation I offered to take over any invoices he might bring, with 10 per cent, added, and agreed that I would receive, if landed in good condition, sheep, horses, drays, and bullocks at a fixed rate ; and we parted, expecting, if Mr. Griffiths consented, to meet again before long. My house on North-terrace was completed in April, and the family removed thither, leaving my brother with the goods at the Bay. A meeting was called of all holders of the preliminary sections, absentee proprie- tors being mostly represented by agents, and at that meeting it was determined that the choice of sections should be by ballot. That ended in my three sections being located at Yankalilla, which for all practical purposes might as well have been in Van Diemen's Land. Two years elapsed before Yankalilla was surveyed, but by then our sections were sold, as useless to us. The town acres, after the preliminary acres had been selected, were offered by public auction on March 28; when we became the purchasers' of about sixty acres. One block of twelve acres in Lower North Adelaide I fenced for a garden, and grew some wheat the first season, a sample of which was sent to Mark-lane, London, as a specimen of what the colony could produce. We found ample employment for our bullock teams in carting goods from the Bay and Port for the settlers. I see by my record we made £15 a week, besides doing our own work. The William, brig, belonging to Mr. Griffiths, of Launceston, came in at the Bay an April 6, The Isabella had sailed the day before, and was daily expected. She had 100 sheep, 12 bullocks, and 4 cows for us; besides a large quantity of goods,. shipped by Captain Hart, we presumed, under offer to us. Sutor, a gardener sent out to me from England, commenced the garden at North Adelaide, and the seed and plants we pro- cured throve. On April 14 we were engaged supplying the Buffalo with water prior to her voyage to Sydney; and we began to fear for the Isabella, which ought to have arrived long since. We dined with Sir J. Jeffcott at Mr. Gouger's, the Secretary. There was also a grand party at the Governor's. Sir John rode with me to see some fine valleys, about ten miles from Adelaide, where we are making a sheepyard. The Rev. C. Howard and his wife called on us, and we were much pleased with him. The Church of England was very fortunate in securing so amiable and useful a clergy man. On April 29 we dined with a large party at Mr. Fisher's. There was a pleasant gathering. I was obliged to appear in slop clothes, our goods not having arrived. There was an allusion to the Governor's appoint- ment as being a most random one by the Home Government, which seemed to be the last to realize the possibility of forming a colony on self-supporting principles. In May we put up a stockyard, and com- menced a dairy as the heifers were calving, and as milk was urgently required by our neighbours. On the 13th I rode to the Bay, and met Captain Hart, with my brother, at our camp there. I was very sorry to find he had lost the Isabella on her voyage here. She ran on Cape Nelson on a fine night, owing to the carelessness of the mate, who came with us from England. She was loaded on account of Mr. Jones (a fellow-passenger) and Captain Hart, and was to have been consigned to me under our arrangement. The captain said he had lost everything, and his friends had turned their backs on him. Feeling very sorry for him, I invited him to remain with us while in South Australia. The first Grand Jury was empanelled in this month. It was   very gratifying to see so large a body of respectable men assembled in the first days of the colony. I was chosen foreman. On the 16th the Judge discharged the Grand Jury; and a presentment was handed in to His Honor respecting the conduct of the Marine corps, who were landed from the Buffalo to protect property, and whose behaviour had een very disgraceful. (To be continued. )