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weeks passed
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Week 33 - seeking a site for settlement

[ 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

Colonel Light and his surveying party continue their slow progress up and down the coast, still searching for Jones’ harbour and for fresh water.  They find Sturt Creek and Light is encouraged by the many fresh water lagoons nearby. With some prescience he records : ‘The little river, too, was deep; and it struck me that much might hereafter be made of this little stream’.

Despite his anxiety to find an appropriate landfall Light is careful. He and his party trudge many weary miles through sand and undergrowth testing the water in streams and examining the soil as they go. It is exhausting work, but intensely interesting.  Young Pullen is thoroughly hooked on exploration, ‘as this sort of work, exploring was a source of great amusement and excited interest only felt by those engaged in it,’ he writes.

Adelaide & Mt Lofty, c. 1837 (artist William Light) Image courtesy of the State Library of South Australia B 2127

Inevitably they speculate as they go – about the fertility of the soil inland from the coast, about the prevalence of fresh water supplies, but there is more than a little irony in some of their observations. Light is obviously well aware that drought has been a frequent problem in eastern Australia, but he thinks that a settlement on the eastern side of the gulf should spare South Australia the same fate.  As it happens he could not have been more wrong, but it was a view that he seems to have formed even before he arrived.

‘My previous observations at sea, which I remarked often to Mr Field before I saw this country, were that all the vapours from the prevalent south-westerly winds would rest on the mountains here, and that we should, if we could locate this side of the gulf, be never in dread of those droughts so often experienced on the eastern coast of Australia. And I was now fully persuaded by the evidence here shown, as well as the repeated collection of clouds, and rain falling on the hills even at this season of the year.’

If only that had been the case!

At sea

The Africaine is making good progress before strong winds. Despite the gales and the water surging over the decks Mary Thomas steals out for a view of the ‘raging sea with its towering hills of water covered with foam’, and finds it ‘grand beyond description’. ‘ I could have stood for hours to look at it’, she writes. ‘Although it inspired me with awe, it filled me with wonder and admiration’.

The Buffalo meanwhile reaches Rio at last and George Stevenson hastens ashore to see his friends. ‘Our Colony has created great interest here’, he writes.

Young Bingham Hutchinson has a busy time overseeing the loading of water and stores, but still finds time to go shopping, and to visit the Museum and Botanical Gardens with ‘the Hindmarshes‘. The visit has a sad undertone though, as the baby from the Breaker family dies while on shore, ‘but was brought off’, he writes. We do not hear where it is buried.

Language warning: Please note that 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 ]


Next week

Light has just about given up on finding Captain Jones’ harbour, but is relieved to hear that the Cygnet has arrived. The Buffalo is chaotic after the visit to Rio, with half the crew drunk and yet more livestock to be accommodated.

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