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Week 35 - feasting on fish

[ 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

After several days of bad weather, Colonel Light is finally able to send the Rapid off to Kangaroo Island on 16 October to fetch supplies and bring over the surveyors from the Cygnet. For the rest of the week he must await its return and he spends the time in completing his surveys of the coast and writing reports. Dr Woodforde remains with him and from him this week we have some detailed reports of the hunting and fishing skills of the Aboriginal men who come to visit the camp. It is not clear whether these are the same men who he earlier called the ‘Encounter Bay tribe,’ or a different group. Woodforde calls them simply the ‘Cape Jervis tribe’, but he is very impressed with them, praising their skill in fishing and their general friendliness. Of course his perception of these men is entirely tempered by the attitudes he has brought with him and the language he uses reflects this. We would find it unacceptable today. On 16 October for example he writes: ‘Contrary to the opinion of most people I think that with kind treatment they may be as easily civilized as any other race of savages’. But at least he is prepared to learn as well as teach. Some days later he writes: ‘I have been engaged with one of the natives this evening learning the language and teaching him in return some words of English’. Nevertheless there is a warning in his earlier words. It seems that others hold different views.

Second Valley, c. 1838. (artist William Light) SLSA B7285.

At sea

The Africaine is making excellent progress  and Robert Gouger notes that they have travelled some 1221 miles in only six days – the fastest ‘run’ in Captain Duff’s experience. But all is not plain sailing aboard. Mary Thomas clashes with the second mate A merchant ship’s officer next in rank below the first mate; also known as a ‘second officer’. , whom she finds rude and unhelpful. After a series of confrontations Mary decides that enough is enough, and she writes a long, formal complaint to Captain Duff. We reproduce it here because it helps to show the kinds of silly personal feuds that developed so easily on these long voyages. Captain Duff seems to be a wise and experienced diplomat. He soothes Mary’s wounded pride and apparently finds a way to improve the second mate’s  A merchant ship’s officer next in rank below the first mate; also known as a ‘second officer’ manners too.

These are skills apparently lacking in Captain Hindmarsh, although this week we have no complaints from George Stevenson. Perhaps he is happy for once! Instead we must rely on Young Bingham Hutchinson, whose diligent diary keeping tells us that the Buffalo is making steady progress. By the end of the week it is sailing in fine conditions near the mid-Atlantic Ridge and the young people can once again indulge in some  quadrilles A dance performed by four couples. It became popular in England after 1813. and country dances on the deck.

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: The Rapid brings the deputy surveyors and their stores to the mainland and Light prepares to divide his team. The Africaine passes Cape Leeuwin and encounters whales in the Great Australian Bight. A baby is born on the Buffalo and Stevenson argues with the Governor about the extent of his executive powers.

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