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Week 32 - Visions of the future

[ 1836 to 1836 ]
[ View related 'school content': Week 45: Proclamation and Celebration ]
[ View related 'school content': Week 43: Kangaroo Island ]
[ View related 'school content': Week 40 - Finally! The harbour is found ]
[ View related 'school content': Week 37: Building a Home ]
[ View related 'school content': Week 36: Family Life ]
[ View related 'school content': Week 35: Pastimes ]
[ View related 'school content': Week 34 - a tempest ]
[ View related 'school content': Week 26: Whose story? ]
[ View related 'school content': Week 25 - The demon drink ]
[ View related 'school content': Week 22: In Good Time ]
[ View related 'school content': Week 20 - infectious disease ]
[ View related 'school content': Week 18 - the port of Rio ]
[ View related 'school content': Week 16: Crossing the Line ]
[ View related 'school content': Week 16 - towards Australia ]
[ View related 'school content': Week 15 - high drama on the John Pirie ]
[ View related 'school content': Week 08: Employment ]
[ View related 'school content': Week 06 : Weathering the Storm ]
[ View related 'school content': Week 05: Ship Shape ]

In South Australia

In Kingscote Samuel Stephens takes advantage of the John Pirie sailing to Hobart to write to George Fife Angas, enclosing a copy of his private journal. The tone of this letter is somewhat defensive.  Stephens stresses that he has ‘had a great deal to contend with’, and admits that he may well have ‘erred in some things’, but assures Angas that he is mindful of the need to pay a company dividend as soon as possible. This seems somewhat ambitious, even fanciful in the circumstances, but Stephens has plans for an ‘Agricultural Establishment’ at Yankalilla and recommends that a Bay Whale Fishery should also be established. ‘Fishing and Sheep Farming will be our two grand sources of Profit’, he writes, ‘Merchandise (trade and commerce) the next.  He is also aware that the time for the sale of the 563 ‘spare Acres of town land’ is near, but worries that he may well run out of cash in the interim.  Unfortunately this is the last we hear of Samuel Stephens directly.  If he continued to keep a private journal, it does not seem to have survived. 


Colonel Light, Woodforde and Pullen meanwhile, spend a frustrating week scouring the coast for the safe harbour a certain Captain Jones had described previously. In increasing anxiety they investigate every likely inlet from Holdfast Bay to the top of the gulf, but cannot find anything that seems to correspond to the description they have.   Light alternates ‘between hope and fear’, but finds some consolation in his first glimpses of the Adelaide Plains.  ‘I was enchanted with the extent of the plain to the northward of the Mount Lofty range’, he writes and stays glued to the looking glass as they sail slowly down the coast.


The maritime portion of South Australia from surveys of Captn. Flinders and Col. Light, Survr Genl.

The maritime portion of South Australia from surveys of Captn. Flinders and Col. Light, Survr Genl.

At sea

After some rough sailing conditions the weather abates enough for the Africaine to speak to a schooner on its way to the Swan River Colony. Robert Gouger learns that the main cargo on board is ‘spirits of various kinds’ – 100 puncheons to be precise, or one puncheon for every person at the Colony.  Since a puncheon could hold anything from 72 to 120 gallons, Gouger is not surprised to learn that the main problem at this colony is drunkenness!

On the Buffalo resentment mounts at the Governor’s many changes of course.  They are short of water and Stevenson is convinced that they have no choice but to call in to Rio, but Hindmarsh vacillates, and for several days alters course to steer in another direction.  Stevenson despairs. ‘The misfortune is that many may suffer bitterly for one man’s indiscretion’, he writes.

Language warning: Please note that some of these sources contain language which is today considered offensive. It has been retained as it is part of the historical record and evidence of past attitudes.

Journals from passengers at sea:

Week 42: Numeracy Onboard

Over the past eight months we have read many journal entries, diaries and letters describing the experiences, thoughts, ideas and feelings of those onboard the nine ships. We have followed the authors…

[ Read the full journal extract ]

Week 25 – The demon drink

[ | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | , on board the | | | | | | | | wrote.]

On land It is one week into the grand experiment of colonisation and things are not going well at Nepean Bay. Samuel Stephens and Captains Morgan and Ross have their hands full, with both the company …

[ Read the full journal extract ]

Week 20 – infectious disease

[ | | | | | | | | | | , on board the | | | | | | wrote.]

The Duke of York is now in the Southern Ocean, making good progress. It is Captain Morgan’s wife’s birthday and he reflects endearingly on his love for her and his happiness in the married state….

[ Read the full journal extract ]

Week 14 – steady progress

[ | | | | | | | | | , on board the | | | | | wrote.]

All six ships are making steady progress, sailing south in the Atlantic. The weather is fine and conditions pleasant, but relations on board the John Pirie and the Cygnet are tense. On the John Pirie …

[ Read the full journal extract ]

Week 13 – tensions reach breaking point

[ | | | | | | | , on board the | | | | | wrote.]

This week we catch up with the Cygnet as it approaches the Equator. A bout of bad weather has seen many of the passengers sick and conditions below deck are foul. Boyle Travers Finniss is impatient with…

[ Read the full journal extract ]

Week 06 – a ‘perfect Hurricane’

[ | | | | , on board the | | | wrote.]

On 26 March the John Pirie seemed to be making progress, as it finally cleared the English Channel and struck out for the Atlantic Ocean. But just west of the Bay of Biscay the weather worsened…

[ Read the full journal extract ]