by Sarah Drummond
(a book review)
(abbreviated version here)
Good writing is every bit as instant as good music. The measure of both as much about how quickly and how far the work sends me off into my thoughts as it is appreciating the sheer quality of the composition. Just as a few bars of the right music can trigger an explosion of emotionally charged insight, a single paragraph can transport me to places it may take minutes to come back from.
I’m a slow reader of good books because of it.
Bob Gamble, John Bailey Pavey & Black Jack Anderson
Above: The story of Truganini, perhaps Australia’s best known female Aboriginal ancestor, extends through her sisters and other women like her, via Kangaroo Island, all the way to King George’s Sound. Cartoon image by Chris Grosz, taken from the politics, society and culture magazine The Monthly, May, 2012.
While the populace and commercial appetite of wider New South Wales, provided by their fifty year head start, roused the envy of the ambitious who had decided to settle in the paralysed West, Governor Stirling’s prized convict-free idyll also caught the flotsam of the social and economic tumult fermenting across the Bight. Continue reading
The Sealers of the Schooner’s Hunter and Governor Brisbane 1825-26
Above: Part of a sealing gang captured in full flight. Probably American, the gang are thought to be clubbing Cape Fur Seals off Namibia sometime in the early 1800’s. Image uncredited and taken from The Seals of Nam website.
King George’s Sound was settled some years before Robert Gamble became known there, so we should go first to the story of the sealers who Captain D’Urville of the Astrolabe came to know in October 1826, and who Major Lockyer encountered when he arrived in the Colonial Brig Amity a few months later. These were the sealers who stole the seven year old from Cape Arid, the little Aboriginal girl Lockyer named Fanny (see The Major’s Butterflies Beat Him Down); the same men Lockyer labelled ‘a complete set of pirates.’ Continue reading
From New Zealand and Bass Strait to Kangaroo Island, Middle Island and King George’s Sound
Above: The business of hunting fur seals boomed in the 1790s, arriving in Australian waters around 1798. At the time seal rookeries were crowded and hundreds of thousands of the animals were slaughtered in the opening years. Australian sealers graduated westwards from New Zealand and Bass Strait, impacting the South Coast between Albany and Esperance during the 1820s. Photo courtesy SV-Take it Easy website.
I had intended to complete Part 2 of this subseries with a look at a couple of rogue mariners from the east who had come to make Albany their home during the 1830s and 40s. These were the sealers John Bailey Pavey and Robert Gamble. However, the more I looked into it the more story I saw needing to be told, not least the incredible feats of journey made in small open boats but also with regard to those who came to live on the poor and criminal edge of white society at Albany. While the conflicting interests of the moneyed settlers and the colony’s officials tells one story, the contrast between those powerful land owners and the working classes is quite another. Thus, we temporarily set aside our main subject while we seek insight into the less known, less discussed, less regarded individuals of the day, those who influenced the town and coast peripheral to the Taylors of Candyup. Continue reading