EARLY SETTLEMENT IN SOUTH AUSTRALIA. — No 4.
EXPERIENCES OF A PIONEER. _
[BY J.B. HACK.]
Site of City Disputed — Rival Dairies — The Oyster- shell Story Again — Ferrying the Torrens — A Big Loss — A Large Speculation — The Wimmera Route — Whale-fishing Venture and Difficulties -
Wholesale Flogging — Manslaughter — The Kathe- rine Stewart Forbes — S. A. School Society — A Cattle Company — Rough Journey for a Lady — Full Occupation. On April 24 we brought up the goods from the Schah, which were in good order, except- ing the library, whereof the pine case was spoiled through the ship leaking. But the schooner is a beautiful craft;, exciting one's envy to possess her. It is understood that Governor Hindmarsh and his clique disapprove of Adelaide as the site of the capital, while Mr. Fisher, Colonel Light, and Mr. Gouger, with the bulk of the colonists, are fully satisfied with Colonel Light's decision. Captain Hindmarsh has set his mind on Encounter Bay as the preferable situation. This division of the parties com- posing the Government makes everything very uncertain, and stops improvements in Adelaide. As no one else can be found to un- dertake the work, I have contracted with the surveyor-General, Mr. Fisher, to dig the cut across the mud flat at the Port for £700. The Government imported from the Cape about May, 1837, some very fine Fatherland heifers, blue-and-white in colour. The Com- nissioner, Mr. Fisher, bought two when they were sold, and I the remainder — about six in number — with one exception, in poor condi- tion — for an average of £27. The rejected one was sold some months after, and after a warm competition with Mr. Gilles I was the pur chaser at £37. This addition to my stock enabled me to begin a dairy and establish a milkwalk in Adelaide, having the South Aus- tralian Company as our rivals, H. Alford, who afterwards left me to join the Police force, was my first milkman. My further business affairs with Mr. H. Jones ended very unprofitably. He chartered the Ade- laide, Captain Devlin, to load sheep at Georgetown,Van Diemen's Land, for South Australia. The sheep were shipped in good order, but unfortunately in leaving the Tamar the brig grounded on a shoal. She was soon got off, but the delay of course occasioned some mortality among the sheep beyond the customary risk of a sea voyage. Captain Devlin was obliged to remain in Van Diemen's Land respecting insurance matters, and sent the Adelaide on t0 me with a new captain. She arrived on a Sunday, and before I knew of her arrival the sheep were discharged and in Jones's pos- session. The freight was, I think, about £200, and in reply to the demand for payment I received a counter-claim for a similar amount for damages sustained through the grounding of the brig. After a considerable time the case was tried in Court, and we obtained a verdict for the freight, and Mr. Jones the same for damages. The lawyer therefore had the oyster, and a shell each for myself and Jones. While engaged in the contract at the Port the very wet weather in June raised the Torrens bank-higb, cutting off all communica- tion with the Port and the settlers, who were all on the south bank of the river. I was much wanted by my overseer at the Port, who was short of provisions for the men working on the canal, and was obliged to send for my boat from Glenelg by the dray. I launched it opposite the site of Govern- ment House, rigged a rope across as a ferry, and than walked across to the Port and back. We had much difficulty during the winter in crossing the river with the dray. Tom Davis, the driver, used to walk in along with the bullocks instead of sitting on the dray, and always brought them safely over without damage to the load. I was obliged to put up a rough bridge over the worst place in the crossing opposite my stockyard. Mr. Jones made a claim on me for the cargo lost in the Isabella, but I declined to entertain it, though I afterwards very un- wisely allowed the dispute to be settled by arbitration. The result was that I was freed as respects the stock on board, but was made the principal in the purchase of the goods, on which finding I paid Mr. Jones a large amount. Captain Hart withdrew from the suit, saying the claim was unjust. I received a letter from Captain Hart at Sydney informing me he had, in connection with Captain Devlin, taken a share for me in the brig Adelaide, which was then loading for Adelaide. He had also been with Stephen to look at a lot of cattle — the DTN herd — running at Manoora Plains, belonging to Fred. Dutton. There were 800, which were purchased at £8 8s., to be delivered at Portland Bay, as no overland route was then known to South Australia. The terms were short-dated bills on myself at Adelaide. Hart had chartered the barque Hope, to be commanded by himself. The cattle were to be shipped from Portland to South Australia. This transaction being so much more serious in amount than I had at all anticipated, or should have thought it right to undertake, was a very anxious one for me. Three or four voyages were made, but the cattle were landed in very bad con- dition and many lost. Just then a lot of cattle were brought down the Murray by Mr. Hawdon from New South Wales, and we determined to bring the remaining 400 head by way of the Wimmera, and following Hawdon's tracks down the Murray we suc- ceeded. At the time of the accident at the Murray mouth, when Sir John Jeffcott and Mr. Blenkinsop were drowned, Captain Devlin in the Adelaide, and Captain Hart in the Hope, were both in the colony. They advised the purchase of Blenkinsop's plant and his whaling station at Port Victor, Captain Devlin taking a share. This would be about July, 1837. The whales were this season plentiful. A French whaler anchored in Victor Harbour, and in self-defence we had to make arrangements with her. I bought the cutter Hero, of 40 tons, and employed her cutting in at a new station at Freeman's Nob, now Port Elliot. We found the Port Victor station on the beach to be inconvenient, and with great labour made a wharf on Granite Island. Blasting the high granite boulders was no easy task, having no forge nearer than Adelaide. When worn by use the boring tools were carried to Mount Terrible, overlooking Willunga Plains, and met by a cart from Adelaide. An incident occurred showing the risk of conducting whale-fishing without adequate protection from the law. A very capable and clever headsman had charge of the party
on Granite Island, but once during was season he drank too much grog, and the men being insubordinate (I presume from the same cause) he stretched a boat-chain from one hut to the other, and tied the mens' wrists one by one to the chain, and then flogged them. One man got his hands free and ran for the reef which connects the island with the mainland, which was not very dangerous to cross when the tide was low. He, however, slipped into a hole and was drowned. When the news of the accident was reported to the Government, Mr. Milner Stephen, who was Acting Governor after Captain Hindmarsh left for England, dis- patched Mr. Nichols, as Coroner, to hold an inquest on the body at Encounter Bay. Nichols lost himself on his way to the Bay, and was in some danger of perishing. How- ever, he at length arrived, and got a Jury together, who, there is no doubt, had often cause for annoyance from the conduct of the whalers; they were generally a bad lot. The verdict was manslaughter against the chief headsman, who was sent up to Adelaide in custody. I rode over to endeavour to keep the men together, and give the best of the headsmen charge. When within a few miles of the Bay I met numbers of the men, who were on their way to Adelaide, and who would listen to no reason. When I arrived at the Bay there were three whales towed in, worth if cut-in £150 each, but a great deal of them was lost for want of hands to do the cutting- in work. I attempted to punish two, or three of the ringleaders in the mutiny by a summons before the Police Magistrate (Mr. Wigley) at Adelaide, but he discharged the men because he had no jurisdiction. The chief headsman was eventually liberated, there being no case against him, but the fishery at Granite Island was broken up for the season. The Katherine Stewart Forbes arrived in 1838 with the new Judge (Hon. Charles Cooper), who was warmly welcomed, and with some of my wife's relations. The S.A. Company were very desirous of promoting the welfare of the colony they
had been instrumental in founding, and a Society was formed entitled the S.A. School Society, who sent out as prospective master Mr. J. B. Shepherdson. In the first year of the colony the Company undertook to erect a school and master's residence. A contract was made between the Company and a builder, Mr. Herbert, and a house with a school-room on each side was erected on North-terrace and roofed in. Unfortunately the builder was allowed to overdraw on the work, and, being unable to finish the building without a furtner advance, the work was stopped and the property resumed by the Company, who afterwards made their offices in one of the schoolrooms, while the house was occupied for some time by their Manager, Mr. Giles. The school project was in consequence abandoned. Not long after the arrival in South Aus- tralia of the first mob of cattle from New South Wales by the Murray route, the high price of dairy produce in Adelaide caused the formation in shares of a Cattle Company for dairy purposes, of which I was one of the promoters. Mr. Shepherdson was appointed Secretary and Mr. and Mrs. Rankine Station Managers; a location was made on the Onka- paringa, near Balhannah, and afterwards, to the extent of 1,000 acres on a portion of the new Echunga survey. Mr. T. N.
Mitchell was later on the Manager, but the Company was wound up in 1844. Mrs. Hack was desirous of. seeing the new country we had taken out; and after we had removed our Adelaide dairy to the Little Para survey, I drove her in a phaeton I had purchased, up the Teatree Gully and over the survey, coming out on the Adelaide plains near the Little Para. I had a man on horse- back with tandem traces to help up the hills. Soon after we projected a similar excursion to our new garden at Echunga. The only way from Adelaide was up the face of Gleeson's Hill. Two of our men from Echunga met us at Crafers, and assisted us by removing the timber from the track. In crossing the bed of the Onkaparinga (near Warland's) one of the shafts broke off, but we arrived at our station in about six hours from Adelaide. The carriage was so far damaged that it was for the time useless. However, the attractions of a baby in Adelaide could not be overcome, and my wife had a side-saddle put on one of the stockhorses and we rode into town, though long after dark. It was a serious matter for Mrs. Hack to descend Gleeson's Hill in the dark. While resident at Echunga I was fully occupied. I left the station at 6 a.m. on Mondays, arrived in town before 10 am., attended to business all day and bookkeeping till late at night. On Tuesdays left town at any time between 4 and 9 p.m.; station business employed Wednesdays. On Thursday mornings, as on Mondays, I went to town, returning on Friday evenings. Saturdays I spent at the farm. When driving to Adelaide I carried an axe and chain, and, cutting down a small sheaoak, attached it to the axle of the phaeton. The present system of drags which was first used by my brother was not then in general use.