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Week 23 - Landfall

[ 24th of July 1836 to 30th of July 1836 ]
[ View related 'school content': Week 23: Weddings ]
[ View related 'school content': Week 23 - Landfall ]

At last the first two ships, the Duke of York and the Lady Mary Pelham are within sight of land. The Duke of York is the first to arrive, reaching the coast of Kangaroo Island on 26 July and sailing safely into Nepean Bay mid-morning on 27th. A beautiful rainbow greets them on arrival, a sign to the ever-faithful Captain Morgan that God continues to smile on their enterprise. He gives thanks that they have been delivered safely from their travels on the ‘tempestious ocean’. There is some consternation shortly afterwards as they realise that they have sailed into harbour on a flood tide, which promptly recedes leaving them aground.  But luckily the sea is calm and they are able to float free safely.

Of course they are keen to explore the Island and a small party promptly sets off for the shore. Samuel Stephens claims the honour of being the ‘first who ever set foot on the shore as a settler in the Colony of South A.’  Over the next few days they set about exploring and searching for fresh water. They find a river, which Stephens names the Morgan in honour of the captain. It will later be re-named the Cygnet, by which name it is known today. Although the distances are not great, the little party also discovers one of the hazards of Kangaroo Island almost immediately, when the party becomes lost in thick scrub around the river.  It will be late on the next day before they reach the ship in safety, after many anxious hours without food or water. The Duke of York is a very welcome sight. Doubly so, since they find that the Lady Mary Pelham has also arrived in the interim and is anchored alongside. The little settlement seems set to begin in earnest.

The remaining vessels are spaced at intervals over the long sea route. High seas and storms continue to afflict the John Pirie and the poor animals are suffering badly.  There is a fair chance that they will not survive much longer, unless the weather improves.  The Africaine also runs into rough weather, and Captain Duff calls all able bodied men on deck in the middle of the night, to help haul in the sails. The Buffalo meanwhile is still tacking in English waters waiting for favourable conditions to set sail.  The enforced delay does allow for an unusual ceremony on board however, as Governor Hindmarsh exercises his new-found authority to issue licenses enabling three couples to be married before the entire ship’s company. They all troupe to the Governor’s cabin afterwards where they are ‘regaled’ with refreshments, then continue the celebrations on deck with wine, singing and dancing.  It is an optimistic start to their journey south.

map: Kangaroo Island 1831

1831 map of Kangaroo Island by S M Mowle

Next week:

From now on we have two quite different threads to our story – the first following the emigrants who have reached Kangaroo Island and the second following those still on the ocean. The beginning on Kangaroo Island is far from auspicious, with a good deal of quarrelling and a threatened strike amongst the crews of both vessels.  On the Buffalo the Misses Hindmarsh exercise their creative talents, to some discouraging reviews from George Stevenson.

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Chart of Kangaroo Island with features noted by George Sutherland when he explored the region. Created by S.M Mowle.  Published in 1831. Image courtesy of National Library of Australia, F 488

Comments or Questions:

4 Responses to “Week 23 – Landfall”

  1. Diane Cummings August 4, 2011 at 11:49 am #

    Greeting all. Week23-landfall includes a statement which may not be correct:
    “Samuel Stephens claims the honour of being the ‘first who ever set foot on the shore as a settler in the Colony of South A.”

    Please see the following Newspaper report which offers a more plausible suggestion – a decision reportedly made by Captain Morgan himself – that the infant daughter of Mrs Beare should be the favoured individual [to be the first to set foot on the virgin soil].
    http://www.slsa.sa.gov.au/fh/passengerlists/1836DukeYork SA report.jpg

    I also refer you to Page 6, Column D of The South Australian REGISTER newspaper July 27th 1886 [titled - The Old Salt] for further information.

    “Most of the passengers wished to be the first to land in the new colony, but Captain Morgan settled the dispute very cleverly. He instructed the second mate Robert Russell to have some sailors row the youngest, two and a half year old Elizabeth Beare, daughter of the Company’s Deputy Manager, Thomas Hudson Beare as close as possible to the shore. Then Russell was to carry her through the shallow water and place her feet on the beach while the adults were at dinner. In doing so she was the first white female to set foot on that strand. When this happened the crew began to cheer and the passengers soon realised that a landing had been made without them knowing it.”

    • Margaret August 18, 2011 at 5:31 pm #

      Thanks for this comment Diane. We are aware of these later references and will put an expanded discussion note on the site soon.
      Margaret History SA

    • Allison September 2, 2011 at 11:33 am #

      Hello, again, Diane.

      We have created a more comprehensive disucssion about the first landing – see what you think.

      Allison – History SA

  2. Neil Miller July 31, 2011 at 12:30 pm #

    I am a direct descendant of Thomas Hudson Beare, (the second-in-command of the South Australian Company and the first family to arrive in our state ), and have just returned from the Settlement Day celebrations on Kangaroo Island. I am quite surprised that you did not state that 2 year old Elizabeth Beare was the FIRST of the settlers to set foot on KI, not Stephens ? There is a memorial plaque erected by the heritage volunteers on the site of the first landings and it specially states that ” The members of the crew of the Duke of York rowed Elizabeth Beare to the shore and the second mate Robert Russell carried her through the water and placed her on the sandy beach “, thus ensuring her place in our history as the first official settler to set foot on South Australian soil. This fact was heavily publicised during the 27th July 2011, 175th Anniversary Celebrations on the island. Could you please rectify this historical fact in your next edition of your wonderful ” Bound for South Australia ” website. Best regards to Mandy Paul, from Neil Miller.

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