A CHEQUERED CAREER.
REMINISCENCES OF A PIONEER. No. II
[By J. B. Hack.]
Port Adelaide in 1837— Merchant and Shipowner—. Naming streets, &c., of Adelaide— An Arbitration Case— Little Para Dairy—Overland from Victoria — Cattle Runs at Mount Barker— Residences— Jack
Foley, the Convict—Govemor Gawler— Hard Times— The Sorrowing Cavalcade— Disaster. Hearing that the Sobah. had arrived (in her the remainder of our goods had been shipped) I went to the Port, and was much gratified to see so noble a sheet of water at so moderate a distance from Adelaide. At the landing-place there was a swamp of one or two hundred yards, but a boat canal I saw would enable the longboats to discharge their loads close to the firm ground. Subsequently I undertook, at Colonel Light's request, to have the canal dug, This was found a great convenience. A little later I found that the port was not for- mally proclaimed by the Governor on account of some misunderstanding between him and Mr. Fisher. Captains had to enter under protest, and that had a very injurious effect on our trade. On May 20 Captain Hart left us for Sydney. I determined to invest £1,500 in the purchase of a schooner (of which Captain Hart would take the command) to trade with Sydney, and an agreement was drawn up by Mr. C. Mann, the Attorney-General, relative to his conduct in the affair. I purchased goods out of the William and Regia for sale in the colony. As I was unable to commence as a settler I entered into business as a merchant, but that was not at all in accordance with my wishes. Captain Hart had a cargo ready for him in Sydney at 40s. per ton. On the 23rd I was invited, with Messrs. Morphett, Brown, and others, to attend a meeting of the Council to give names to the streets, squares, and terraces of Adelaide. Most of those who had taken any part in the formation of the colony were remembered by name. Some time after the loss of the Isabella I received notice from Mr. Jones that he held me responsible for the cargo lost in her, and demanded to be recouped for the outlay he alleged had been made on my account by himself and Captain Hart as my agents. I could not see any just claim. I, however, consented to refer the matter to arbitration, the result of which was that I was adjudged to pay for the cargo and not for the stock. Captain Hart, however, refused to receive his moiety, as he considered the claim unjust. My Ioss amounted to about £700. Special surveys having been allowed of a block of 15,000 acres, by a deposit with the Treasurer of £4,000, out of which the appli- cant was allowed to select 4,000 acres, I joined with Mr. Williams and Colonel Gawler in an application for a survey on the Little Para, fourteen miles from Adelaide. Mr. Williams took 2,000 acres, and 1,000 each fell to the Colonel and myself. On the choice allotted to me I put up a dairy, and began sending butter into Adelaide. Captain Hart and my brother, who had joined him in Sydney, purchased on Manaroo Plains about 800 head of cattle, to be delivered at Portland Bay.. They were the first cattle that had crossed by Major Mitchell's track through Victoria. Captain Hart chartered the barque Hope to bring the cattle round from Portland Bay, no overland passage then being known. After bringing about 400 we determined to try and bring the remainder overland, and sent over one or two stock keepers with Captain Hart on one of his return voyages. The cattle were brought round by the Murray without difficulty or loss to a station we had prepared on the present site of Mount Barker township, where we commenced a large dairy. In order to secure the run on which our cattle were placed I determined to take out a special survey, including the fine valleys about the Mount Barker township. I wanted for myself 3,000 acres, and for a Cattle Com- pany, of which I was a Director, 1,000 acres. I was, however, forestalled by some Sydney men, and lost the country by only a few hours. It was a grievous disappointment. We then made an application for a block im- mediately south of the Mount Barker Survey, and obtained it under the arrangement pre- viously made. The Echunga property soon became valu- able by means of the erection of buildings and fencing. Two dairies were formed, milk ing 150 cows. We had also a garden of twelve acres, to establish which I procured a large number of fruit-trees and vines early in 1840. A house was built of wood, of two stories, and the family removed to it from my house in Hindley-street. A cattle station for fattening and breeding was also formed at Yankalilla. To this were forwarded the dry cattle and calves from the dairies. I had in 1838 finished a house and store in Hindley street, in which we lived until the removal to Echunga. The Government took posses- sion of a portion of our first erection on North-terrace for a Police Station when we vacated it. While Captain Hart was engaged in shipping the cattle referred to from Portland Bay I had a valuable mare taken from the Park Lands, and had some reason to believe that some runaway convicts from Sydney had stolen her. One evening a meeting was held at the
S.A. Bank on North-terrace to consider the state of the police force. Inspector Inman was present. Mr. McLaren, the Manager of the South Australian Company, was called out to see a man who had brought a letter from the fishery at Encounter Bay. Inman called me out, and said he thought my missing horse was in the yard. In this he proved to be mistaken ; but while we were looking at the horses the man, who had ridden him came out, and some words passed be tween him and Inman. The man tried to force the horse out of his hold, and presented a pistol, which Inman caught hold of, and in the struggle the lock was wrenched off. The man was taken into custody, and he proved to be a convict from Sydney named Jack Foley, who had been camped for some time in the vicinity of Encounter Bay. No charge was brought against Jack Foley, and, seeing him occasionally in the prison, I became interested in his case, and offered the Government to take him into our service and send him to Portland Bay to assist in bring ing the cattle overland. He proved a very useful hand, and continued in our service and accompanied my brother to England in 1840. He was always wildly suspicious of strangers, and seemed to live in constant dread of being sent back to Sydney. One day, when I rode with him over the range— October, 1839— to join Captain Hart at Encounter Bay, where the Hope was anchored, the ship with Colonel Gawler came up the Gulf. Governor Hindmarsh left fifteen months before, and Mr. M. Stephens had acted meanwhile. The arrival of the Colonel— who was Resident Commissioner as well as Commander-in-Chief— was soon followed by a large influx of immi-. grants, with very scanty means of finding employment for them. Flour some time after rose to £10 a bag, and other neces- saries went up in proportion. A few of the leading men formed themselves into an Asso- ciation for importing flour, and the first arrival brought down the price to £6 a bag. This was no small relief. The Government also purchased and stored a cargo of rice, which was much used for bread. Meetings were held and representations were made to Colonel Gawler (who was a truly disinterested and upright man) respecting the absolute need of finding employment for the numerous immigrants who were arriving. He said he had no authority to draw on England, and feared the necessity for the Government employing labour would not be understood by the authorities at home, and that although he had come out with full powers he believed the course he was asked to pursue would damage him exceedingly. However, he de- termined to run the risk ; but his words came true, and he sacrificed himself. His drafts were returned dishonoured, and he was recalled, to make room for Captain Grey, now Sir George Grey, who when he came informed us his instructions were to reduce every department to the lowest limit, and to incur no further expense. The colony had on the whole become con- solidated and settled by the assistance afforded by Colonel Gawler's expenditure, and it was now able to bear the change. On Colonel Gawler's leaving for England he was accompanied to the Port by a large cavalcade of the leading colonists, who felt that we were losing a man more single-minded, honest, and energetic than we could hope to see again. In parting with the Colonel I felt that I had lost a valuable friend. He set an example of Christian life which was of incalculable benefit to the colony in its first struggles for existence. In 1840 my brother left for England, and remained away for two years. During this interval the cloud came over the colony, and difficulties began to accumulate. Banks refused accommodation and demanded the payment of overdrafts, and in the two years ending February, 1843, we had been compelled to fight with monetary difficulties which terminated in the loss of all our property. In 1840 the balance-sheet showed a credit of nearly £30,000. One of the chief causes of failure was the whale fisheries of Encounter Bay, in which we became interested in consequence of purchas- ing Blenkensop's station and plant. He and Sir John Jeffcott had attempted in 1839 to enter the Murray-mouth in a whaleboat. Very unfortunately for them a head of whale bone, which was valuable, was discovered on the beach before they arrived at the mouth. They took a considerable quantity on board, and in consequence the boat was unable to rise to the breakers and sunk. Both Sir J. Jeffcott and Mr. Blenkensop were drowned. The acquisition of this fishery led to my taking a share in the S. A. Company's stations, and we formed a united fishery, with Captain
Hart as manager. He was to receive £500 per annum, the business being done by our house in Adelaide. The S.A. Company had large whaling stores at Kingscote. Their account for supplies and the low price of oil caused the Company to be carried on at a great loss. Another loss was a charter of the Katherine Stewart Forbes, which stipulated for her arrival at Encounter Bay on October 1, the end of the season, whicn was delayed until January 1. The oil had to be buried in the sand, and a large quantity of oil was wasted by leakage. An attempt to make the ship liable was defeated by a legal error in suing the captain instead of the owner, and law costs. were added to the loss. (To be continued.)