EARLIEST WHITE SETTLEMENT IN STATE
------------ When Encounter Bay Nearly Ousted Adelaide OLD RESIDENT TELLS STORIES OF WHALING DAYS
Adelaide once had a serious rival as the capital of the State. Col. Light and Governor Hindmarsh differed so strongly that the matter was put to the vote of the whole of the landholders of the State.
Col. Light favored Adelaide and Governor Hindmarsh liked Encounter Bay. By 218 votes to 137 Adelaide won. That was in 1836, when there were about 400 people in South Australia. The first hotel built in the State— 'The Fountain'— is still standing at Encounter Bay, along with other old buildings rich in historic associations. The crumbling walls of the old whalers' shed lie in the shadow of The Bluff, beyond which is Petrel Cove, made famous by Simpson Newland, in 'Paving the Way.'
A fund of historical data has been gathered by Mr. Robert Thomas Sweet- man, one of the oldest living residents of Encounter Bay. Born at Oaklands, near Adelaide, he celebrated his eightieth birth day recently. He went to Encounter Bay when seven years old. Whaling was in full swing in those days, and Mr. Sweetman helped to supply the whalers with meat. 'There were 15 men in the first boat and 13 in what was called the pick up boat," he explained. "I cannot recall the names of every one, but among them were Bob Cleeve, Billy Honeyman, Jim and Tom Clark, Jack Jones, Jack Taylor, Jim Long, Alex. Ewen, Bill Harris, Jack Gan- gel, Peter Morgan, Jack Parsons, Jack McCarthy, Jim McDonald, Dan Budie, Frank Buckley, George Bennett, Jack Foster, Rube Earl, Tom Smith, Tom At- rill, Joshua Paterson (cooper), and Jack Hyde (boat builder). "The old song that relates how seamen used to 'drink their rum by the keg' was literally true of the whalers. There was no beer in those days, but there was always a keg of Jamaica rum on tap in the wha- lers' quarters, and they drank it like water. Hanging on nails alongside the keg were tin pannikins, and the visitor was promptly handed a pannikin of red raw rum when he paid a call. It must not be supposed that the whalers were all old lags. Some were certainly ticket of leave men from Tasmania, but many of them were seafaring men. "The largest whale caught at Encounter Bay measured 74 ft. 7 in. in length. An attempt was once made to catch a larger one, but it smashed the boat, which sank in 10 fathoms of water about half a mile from The Bluff, where it still lies. Several of the men were smashed up. That is the incident on which Mr. Simpson New- land based the smashing up of Dave Cleeve, the headman, in 'Paving the Way.' " The identity of Bob Cleeve, the original of "David Cleeve" in the book is thus thinly veiled. "Bob Cle(e)ve was for a time actually headman in the first whaleboat," stated Mr. Sweetman. "He was equally skilful with the harpoon or gun. On the boat was a queer old gun which the whalers used to fill with any old scraps of lead. This was charged into the side of the whale at the moment the harpoon was buried in its back. Billy Honeyman acted as harpoonman for years. Hobart, Tasmania, where the whalers came from in the first place, was always referred to as Hoba'town. For years Mrs. Malin Rum- below had the old gun, but I understand it is now in the Adelaide Museum. When the whaleboat was smashed up Cleeve,
Jones and Harris started a secondhand shop in Rosina street, Adelaide. First Hotel in State 'The manager of tne whaling station was Capt. Blenkinsop. He came to an untimely end in 1830. Declaring that there were no breakers round any part of the
South Australian coast he could not steer a boat through, he was challenged to take one through the rip at the Murray mouth. He essayed the task, taking four men in a whaleboat. When the craft was halfway through it capsized, and only one man escaped. Blenkinsop's body was after- ward recovered. Mr. Cave Jelif, who started the fishing industry with Mr. Malin Rumbelow, sen., was also drowned
between 30 and 40 years ago at the Mur- ray mouth.' Mr. Sweetman never had a day's school ing, his mother being killed when he was four years old. When nine years of age the young colonist decided to seek his for- tune in the world. "I could drive a bullock team when 10 years old,'' said the old man proudly, 'and could cart wheat, too, although I could not up-end the bags. There is nothing now that I cannot turn my hand to," he added, and his agility proves the truth of his assertion. Mr. Sweetman travelled to Encounter Bay in a bullock dray, the journey occu- pying four days. The party went through Willunga, which then consisted of a bush inn and one store. The South road was only just surveyed. "Encounter Bay was the first white settlement in the State," said Mr. Honey- man. "Portion of it known as Yilki, consisting of about 40 acres, was sur- veyed before Adelaide. Governor Hind- marsh came down from Adelaide, bringing with him a surveyor named George Moore, an Englishman, and Yilki was surveyed." Nowadays Mr. Sweetman owns a large portion of Yilki. The house he is at present living in was built of stringy bark and palings in 1837, and he proudly displayed the title deed, which is dated December 23, 1837. "It was built for the daughter of Mr. Robinson, the first publican in South Aus- tralia, who married one of the whalers," he explained. "It has been asserted that the first hotel in the State was 'The Kangaroo' on the South road, but that is not correct. There was really a race at Encounter Bay as to who should have the first hotel. Al- lotment 13, on which my house stands, was bought to build a hotel on, but an op- position party purchased a neighboring block and got their hotel up first, naming
it 'The Fountain. ' It was open day and night." The quaint old weatherboard building which was erected in 1837 is still in a good state of preservation, but is untenanted. Many a wild carousal the whalers had within its walls. For a time it was used by the Congregational denomination on Sundays. Surmounting what was once
Remains of old flour mill at Encounter Bay. Built in 1844
Remains of old flour mill at Encounter Bay. Built in 1844
the front gate are the ribs of a huge whale. Situated in the back yard of the resi- dence of Mr. Sweetman is a remarkable well. From it the natives secured water long before the advent of the white man. It is only 5 ft. deep, but always con- tains 2 ft. 6 in. of water. Though it is less than 100 yards from the sea, and is almost sandhills, the water is beau- tifully fresh. Mr. Sweetman states that even during the 1914 drought, supplies never diminished, and stock was brought from far and near to water there. Capital City Fight If Governor Hindmarsh had had his way, Encounter Bay would have been the capital of South Australia. "Col. Light and Governor Hindmarsh had a difference of opinion on the mat- ter," explained Mr. Sweetman, "so it was decided to let the landholders settle the issue. Col. Light wanted Adelaide to be the capital, and Governor Hindmarsh thought Encounter Bay was the right spot. Col. Light won the day. the voting being: — Adelaide .. .. .. 218 votes Encounter Bay .. .. .. 137 Majority .. .. .. 81 That was in 1836, and as there were only about 400 people in the State at the time the poll was a good one. Col. Light started the survey of Ade- laide on January 3, 1837 and completed it in 1839. This proves, as I have said, that Yilki was surveyed before the city." " 'Billy'' Honeyman was engaged on the survey of Adelaide, and once had a chance of securing the site on which the General Post Office now stands for a bottle of rum. It was owned by a bullock driver, and he would have bar- tered it for the rum. "My father was a member of the police force at that time, and there were only eight policemen in Adelaide. "Mr. Honeyman was afterwards ranger for the first district council formed at Encounter Bay, and in that capacity came into contact with Mr. John Hindmarsh, son of Governor Hindmarsh, on one occa- sion. Landholders had been instructed to destroy Scotch thistles, but Mr. Hind- marsh neglected to do so. Mr. Honeyman called his attention to the fact, and said that unless they were eradicated he would have to take action. 'Eat 'em; eat 'em.' replied Mr. Hindmarsh, who was an- noyed. ' " 'No, your ears are longer than mine; you eat 'em,' rejoined Mr. Honeyman." Mr. Sweetman retains many memories of the sea, as well as the land. Between the jetty at the foot of the Bluff and "Plum Pudding Rock," on Wright's Island, a comparatively short distance, he states that six vessels have been wrecked, mostly boats which were engaged lifting wheat. One of the largest was the South Aus- tralian, a three-masted schooner, which foundered in 1837, when Judge Jeffcott, the first judge to be appointed in the State, lost his life. Murders by Blacks Wright's Island was given its name in a peculiar manner. 'A man named Wright was supposed to have been lost off one of the vessels that went down in the early days, but he was subsequently found alive and well on the island, which was thereupon named after him. Of the doings of the Encounter Bay blacks Mr. Sweetman has a fund of remi- niscences also, and for the edification of the visitor he rendered a verse of their old war song in the dialect of the tribe. The funeral ceremonials were, he recalls, of an impressive and elaborate character, although such as to scarcely appeal to a fastidious white person. When a member of the tribe died his remains were propped on a platform some feet from the ground, and a fire was lighted beneath it. This was never allowed to blaze too high. The former compatriots of the departed warrior squatted round in a circle on their haunches and kept a blaze subdued with boughs of trees. As the fat exuded from the corpse it was caught up by the watching braves, who smeared it over their bodies. When the dear de- parted was properly 'done' his remains were sometimes kept in the wurley of his
relatives for six months and then placed high up on a platform in a neighboring tree, of which there were many in those days. The favorite assembling point for the ceremonies and for the subsequent burial was the mouth of the lnman River, which was then a stream of importance. Until a few yeas ago the last member of the tribe still had their wurlies in the vicinity, but they have now disappeared, as the modern descendants of the tribe have donned European clothes and find houses much more comfortable. One big black named Big Rodney, a member of the Adelaide tribe, was a notorious thief in those days. Several of the characters in Mr. Simp- son Newland's book, ''Paving the Way," were also well known to Mr. Sweetman, including, of course, Mrs. J. R. Cakebread, who was 'Petrel.' "No one ever swam the Murray Mouth, though," declared Mr. Sweetman, em- phatically. "One character in the book, was supposed to have done that. He was really an outlaw named 'Black Peter' or 'Yorkey,' whose right name was Peter Morgan. He was chased by Sgt. Alford for stealing Government property from Cape Jervis across country to Encounter Bay. He was the man who was supposed to have swum the Murray Mouth and was afterwards taken to Kangaroo Island by 'Petrel' in a fishing boat as related in the book. Of course, it was never done. It would never be possible for a woman to do such a thing in that sea. "A man named Meredith was murdered at Second Valley by a black boy. Meredith stole a lubra and two black boys and took them to Second Valley to help him in the fishing industry, but one of the boys split open his head with a tomahawk, and took the lubra, Sally, back to her tribe at Encounter Bay. He was not punished. Another unknown man was murdered by 'Black Billy,' and his lubra at Hindmarsh Valley; also through his own fault. 'Billy' did not escape so easily this time, as he was taken out to sea and drowned. Historical Facts "Victor Harbor did not exist in those days. Where the town now stands was known as Policeman's Point. The home
of the policeman, a one-roomed structure about 10 ft. by 12 ft., was the only house in the vicinity. The policeman had to tie his horse up and when he took a prisoner he chained him to a post." An interesting list of old identities who resided in the Encounter Bay district more than 60 years ago, has been compiled by Mr. Sweetman. Among these are Malin Rumbelow, William Honeyman, William Battye, William and Watts New- land, John and Tom Higgins, Matthew, Robert, and William Jagger, Eliza King,
James and John Cakebread, George Rad- ford, Charles Hodge (father of the late registrar of the Adelaide University), Chas. Bartram, Joshua Gibson, Tom Swaine, George and Jessie Mission, Israel Robert- son, David Johns, John Clark, William Dodson, John Parsons, James Nerton, John Harvey, William Trustlove, Richard Thomson, John Tickey, Capt. Prosser, Henry Woodard, John Spiller, Tom Voss, Robert Neighbour, Jas. Graham. Many interesting facts concerning the early days of the colony have also been collected by Mr. Sweetman. Included among these are the following interesting items: — The first emigrant ship reached South Australia on November 21, 1835. The first flour, imported in 1837, sold at £100 a ton. Flour and meat were each 1/ a lb. The first harbormaster at Victor Har- bor was Mr. Nation, a brother-in-law of the late Mr. Simpson Newland. Mrs. Newland opened the first Sabbath School at Encounter Bay in 1840. It re- mained open for one year, was then closed, but was reopened in 1846. It is generally thought that Rev. R. W. Newland was the first Congregational minister in the State. Capt. F. R. M. Crozier. of H.M.S Victor, from which Victor Harbor re- ceived its name, surveyed the coast from Encounter Bay to Port Elliot. The first mob of cattle arrived in South Australia in 1838. Joseph Hawdon brought over 335 from Sydney. The first butcher to kill and sell beef in the State was Billy Shepherd. Meat was sold at 1/ a lb. Prior to the arrival of the cattle, emigrants paid 1/ a lb. for kan- garoo meat. To celebrate the arrival of Hawdon, a bullock was roasted whole in bush style, and about 90 prominent residents sat down to dinner. Mr. Jas. Hurtle Fisher presiding over the feast. Hawdon was presented with a gold snuff box, a valu- able present in those days. Later in the same year Hawdon brought over a mob of horses from New South Wales. The brig Rapid, Col. Light comman- der, arrived at Nepean Bay,Kangaroo Island, on August 2, 1836. The officers were:— W. H. Hill, first officer; W. G. Field, second officer; F. G. Pullen. third
officer. There were 27 on board, all told. Native names of prominent places in the Encounter Bay and neighboring areas are delightfully euphonious. The follow- ing are a few of them: — Victor Harbor, Poltong; Granite Island, Nulcoowarra; Port Elliot, Kinjiman; Encounter Bay, Karraunda; Encounter Bay tribe, Ramin- jera; The Bluff, Kungkengguwar; 'The Fishery," Wirramulla; Hindmarsh River, Yalladoola; Inman River, Moocola; Gool- wa, Munoonpulla.
First Hotel built in South Australia. "The Fountain" at Encounter Bay.