The History of Portland ---x---- [By Frank Whitcombe, in the "Weekly Times."] (Continued.) Mrs. S. G. Henty, the first white woman in Victoria, was born at Stokesby, Yorkshire, on February 8th, 1817, and married S.J.H. at Fremantle, W.A., on April 14th, '36. When Captain Fyans took charge of the Portland district in 1837 he estimated the number of aborigines at 3,000, and held that some of the inns were kept by landlords whose sole object was to take down the wayfarer. His picture, no doubt highly colored, was that of an ill- looking ruffian surrounded by half a dozen idle, drunken men - the stable- keeper always sticking close to his master to swear by him right or wrong for a nobbler. Fights were the order of the day, and mine host generally sported a black eye. The company in the hut doing service as a hostelry would be singing or riot- ing in the intervals of horse-racing for saddles and bridles, and betting on cock-fights. These inns (the house built for £30) would change hands for their goodwill at £800 to £1500 in cash, to be recovered by the ingoing shanty owner from the shepherd with his cheque for two years' wages in consideration of board, lodging and entertainment lasting over, say, five days, until his final stirrup cup of a bottle of rum to help him along, the road home again. Edward Henty's anecdote of his mishap, when ploughing his first fur- row at Portland, is characteristic : "I stuck a plough into the ground, struck a she-oak root, and broke the point ; cleaned my gun, shot a kan- garoo, mended the bellows, blew the forge fire, straightened the plough, and turned the first sod in Victoria." John G. Robertson, Wando Vale, was the fourth settler, being pre- ceded by Henty, Winter and Pilleau, and took up the country adjoining the Henty's, boundary. Others over- landed and settled down on the land wherever they took a fancy, and thought they had the ability to hold it. When disputes arose amongst them, Captain Fyans would arrive to keep the peace and adjust the bound- aries ; and his decision was final. Sheep runs were eagerly scrambled for, but great expectations were il- lusory, and many were taken up by young colonists fresh from England, with no experience, solely on the hope that the sheep would grow suf- ficient wool to make their owners rich in a year or two. The first years of the forties were disillusion- ing. Nangeela run was sold at a sheriff's sale in Melbourne for £230 ; and station property deteriorated to one-tenth of its original value. Many squatters were forced out of their stations by the usury they were charged in those lean years. Champagne for the Horses. There came to Portland from Som- ersetshire in the early days one called Cornish, who essayed to make bricks at Portland, but moved to Murndal, where more suitable clay was obtainable, and while there wit- nessed many onslaughts by the blacks, who would assemble in force and attack, the shepherds, driving off the sheep, and in return would re- ceive retribution, short, sharp and incisive, as many as a dozen being shot down in a day. According to this authority, the natives not only killed sheep, but also the shepherds, and were themselves shot down as vermin. The gins never washed their children. They threw them into the river, when only two days old, and would plunge in after them. When the shepherd came to town, or rather when he straggled through on his way thereto, until he could stand it no longer and met his Water- loo it some intermediate shanty, he and the host and his abettors made the pace very hot. Our old friend the brick-maker tells of a man from a back station on one occasion rein- ing up outside the bar and ordering a bucket of champagne for his horse ; had seven bottles poured into the pail at 15/- a bottle. The horse refused to drink until he was given water, and every man present dipped his pannikin into the wine and cele- brated the advent of the back coun- try band, who reigned as king for three days until deposed and shoved out, and told to go home and earn some more. It was the custom of the time and open hospitality was the habit of the country ; and free drinks and be merry the slogan. On February 10th, 1835, the build- ing of Richmond Cottage, a weather- board construction, was begun. It had a shingle roof and was fit for oc- cupation on April 23rd. It later was supplanted by a substantial stone structure, which, with some necessary alterations, has been con- verted into the Richmond Hotel. From files of the "Guardian" of the years 1848-49, it appears that the aboriginal chief Koort Kirrup, was indulging his vengeance against the Smoky River mob of natives. It was caused by the latter having pur- loined a lubra and killing one of Koort's subjects. In reprisal Koort attacked and carried off a Smoky River damsel, killing two of her rela- tives on sight and leaving another tribesman dying. Settler McDon- ald, of Snowy River (sic), presumably for having protested against Koort Kir- rup's lawlessness, was twice threat- ened with death by this lawless chief. G. P. Winter, who arrived in 1837, had a station called "Merino," a few miles from the Hentys on the beach, and usually spent the week-end with them. Hon. Winter Cook was a nephew. The Old Stations. C. J. Latrobe, by command of His Excellency the Governor of New South Wales, advertised in the "Guardian" regarding claims for leases of Crown lands, made by the following : Alfred Henry and Edward John Bates in respect of the Rokeby or Kaladbro Estate, a property hav- ing an estimated area of 28,000 acres and a grazing capacity of 4,000 sheep. Other runs applied for were - December, 1848, No. 79, John Hawdon, junr., for Coruline or Haw- don's upper run, area estimated at 57,600 acres, carrying capacity 1000 cattle and 5000 sheep ; No. 81, Mar- garet Hutchinson (per A. Dunn), name if run ; Ganoo Ganoo, area 19, 200 acres, capacity 200 cattle and 4,000 sheep ; No. 83 , Derwas Owen Jones, name of run Tallageera, 37, 120 acres, grazing capacity, 350 cattle. January, 1849 : Run No. 39, by Neil Black and Co., name of run, Warreeranga, area 16,640 acres, 3000 sheep ; Run No. 40, Neil Black and Co., name of run, The Sisters. In March : Edward Duncan McCallum, Ardno run, 32,000 acres, capacity 8,000 p sheep. In September : John McLellan, Tulloch run, 20,000 acres, 4000 sheep. John Pearson, the Re- fuge, 96,000 acres, 46,000 sheep. Wrecks around Portland include the names of the barque Isabella, 380 tons, from Launceston, at Cape Nelson ; total wreck, April 1838. A French whaler, 400 tons, name un- known, wrecked in the winter of 1840, with all hands, off the back coast of Portland. Schooner Cap- tain Cook, 74 tons, at Cape Grant ;
total wreck. Barque Marie, 450 tons, Cape Bridgewater ; total wreck, August, 1851. Barque Merope, 311 tons, March 1858, 15 miles east of Portland ; total wreck. Schooner Elizabeth, 58 tons, November, 1844 ; total wreck. Sally Ann, 52 tons, November, 1844 ; total wreck. The brig Elizabeth. 250 tons, laden with whale oil and wool ; total wreck, No- vember, 1846. Schooner Mary Jane, 84 tons, May, 1852 ; total wreck. Schooner Margaret and Ag- nes, 103 tons, July, 1852 ; total wreck. Schooner Henry, 53 tons, September, 1853 ; total wreck. Ship New Zealander, 1300 tons, De- cember, 1853 ; burnt at anchor. The barque Nestor, 485 tons, total wreck, October, 1854 ; sprang a leak. The barque Australasia, 485 tons, laden with wool from London ; total wreck, March, 1855. Ship Constance, 525 tons, March, 1855 ; total wreck. At a meeting of the Portland His- torical Committee, held in June, of last year, it was stated that Cronin's public house was in existence in No- vember, 1840. John Cronin had the Golden Fleece, corner Gawler & Percy streets : Donald Cameron, Portland Bay Hotel, June 1841, at Yankee Doodle corner; Commer- cial Inn, Bentinck street, George Dale, August, 1842 ; London Inn, Gawler street, John Wiggins, 1843 (transferred to corner'of Julia and Bentinck streets, 1847) ; Steam Pac- ket Inn, Bentinck street, Sam Hutch- inson (became Mrs. Edkin's Temper- ance Hotel on Christmas Day, 1848) ; Union Inn, Julia street, Robert Her- bertson, 1842 (sold after his death in My, 1843, by auction : he died on January 24th, 1843 ; Lamb Inn, Henty street, Thomas Field, 1847 (transferred to corner Tyers and Percy streets, September, 1850) ; Duke of Richmond Inn and Tasmania Inn (the same), Percy and Gawler streets, William Jones, 1818 ; Build- ers' Inn, Gawler street, John Leahy, 1849 (called the Builders' Arms in 1850) ; Shepherds' Arms, Percy street, Robert Taylor, 1849. The Convincing Ground. The name of the Convincing Ground, marked on some old survey maps, is said to have been given to a stretch of beach whereon rival whale- boat crews adjourned to settle which boat's harpoon had first entered the body of the whale that several boats were attempting to capture, with the object of establishing ownership. Another explanation attributes the origin of the name to its being the arena in which aboriginal tribes sel- ected their chiefs ; requiring the candidates to fight duels with stone axes. The decision arrived at in each case was, no doubt, by similar methods of procedure. From an- other source (the late Jerome Min- ogue) the Convincing Ground was east of the present Maretimo House, not far from where a party of blacks was ambushed and the leader of the firing party cried out, "That ought to convince them we are not killing whales for them." According to Mr. Noel Learmonth, secretary of the Portland Historical Committee, Captain William Dutton was not the first white man to visit Portland Bay, but was preceded by Wishart and the Frenchman, Bau- din. Be that as it may, he was a skilled navigator, a successful sealer and whaler, and in middle age re- tired to his farm with- in sight of the sea, a married man. It would appear that he and his wife held opposing views on the subject of strong drink, and he resorted to smuggling tricks to get it up to the house. On one occasion, when his good woman suspected the grocery delivery cart concealed contraband, she advanced to supervise the un- loading ; but by prearrangement, the driver, in great excitement, an- nounced something wrong with a cow down in the paddock. Mrs. Dutton, before going to investigate, placed the keg of rum in the fork of a tree, out of reach of the captain, knowing that as he was crippled with rheu- matism he would be unequal to the task of reaching it. But he, not to be over-reached, hobbled out with a gun and a bucket, which he well and truly laid underneath, and, shooting a hole in the keg, cried, "There she spouts !" caught the contents, and hobbled home with the liquor, while his better half led home a calf. The Museum. In the absence of a museum in a district so well suited to supply ma- terial for the purpose, Mr. L. M. Kurtze has stepped into the breach with a heterogenous collection of shells from the seashore, harpoons used in the 10's in the Bay, the fig- urehead of the "Constance" wrecked in 1855 ; a 300-year-old German bible with wood-cuts by Martin Lu- ther and other dignitaries of the time ; aboriginal weapons, the ship's gun of Henty's "Thistle" ; and many other things, interesting but "too numerous to mention." One curio which may not be passed over, meas- uring 18ft. x 12ft., is the original inn occupying the site of the present Gordon Hotel. It was secured by Mr. Kurtze and removed in sections and re-erected in his garden as a storeroom. Planed Tasmanian pal- ings were used for the walls, and cedar for the doors, five in number, at every nine feet along the veran- dah ; and the whole length of the building was utilised for a bar, the number of doors facilitating eject- ment by making use of the "exit" nearest to the particular "undesir- able." Oh, for the good old days ! Newsreaders have seen ten journ- alistic ventures of which two remain, the first being the "Guardian" (1842) and the "Observer" (1890). of the rest the "Chronicle" (after- wards "Western Times") had the longest run. It passed out in 1872. The "Observer" was started by H. Goldsmith and E. Davis. The first named died in 1920, and the paper has since been carried on by Mr. E. Davis. The late T. A. Pettit, a well-known Gippsland journalist, purchased the "Guardian" over 30 years ago, sold to J. R. Keane, and after a leng- thy term of proprietorship by that gentleman, again assumed control, passing his interests on to his young- est son (Mr. O. G. Pettit) in 1919, who still retains possession. The Portland "Chronicle" was started by the late Mr. E. F. Hughes in January, 1855 ; and in later years was leased to Gurney, brother of Coventry Patmore, and later to Rob- ert Patterson ere passing out. Be- fore leaving England Mr. Hughes had gained some fame as a hymn writer, his first work being "The Benighted Traveller and Other Poems." In this occurred "How Kind is the Sav- iour, How Great is His Love," a hymn found in American, English and Australian collections, viz., Burn- ham's Choral Treasury and in Austral Gems by F. J. Rowlands. It is also set to music. "Bernard," a drama, was published in England ; and af- ter settling in Portland, he composed "Lays for Thoughtful Workers," "Efforts to be Heard," and his mag- num opus. "The Millenium," an epic poem in ten books and 200 pages ; besides numerous other works that since his death at Caxton Park have E. F. Hughes, his son, was one of the first six directors of the Co-operative Country Press of Victoria, and was formerly proprietor of the Casterton "News."
Another paper, which does not ap- pear to have outlived May, 1845, ended up with an authority given to George Claridge to receive all mon- ies due to the Portland Bay Exam- iner. Signed David Hargrave, with Edmd. (sic) C. Dunn as witness. The Portland "Gazette"' is men- tioned by W. G. Osbourne, as having been started by Youngman, who sold to Captain Osbourne.