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
Major Lockyer and the story of the Amity anchoring in the large harbour at King George’s Sound on Christmas Day 1826 holds nothing new. Everyone who lives at Albany knows of the replica vessel down by the shore in the so-called historical precinct, as does (practically) everyone who has ever come to play tourist.
I didn’t particularly want to add to Lockyer’s story as he only commanded the garrison for a little over three months, but it’s hard to escape his influence on the settlement he left behind. After-all, it was his judgement that prevented disaster. If Lockyer had not perceived something was wrong when the soldiers and crew were making their first shore excursions he could have retaliated at the spearing of his blacksmith and got the business of settlement off on a complete wrong footing. The garrison was outnumbered at the time, the Aborigines could have organised and set against them, there could have been a massacre.
Rough men in small boats. The trade in fur-seal pelts left an indelible mark on early European settlement along Australia’s Southern Ocean littoral. Albany was no different. Noongar men between Cape Arid and King George’s Sound were tricked, their women kidnapped and abused.
Originally Published 7 April 2014:
So, it was the great French and British maritime explorers who gave name to most of the coastal sites we are concerned with and recognise today. I’m going to stay with the foreign influence as the trade in fur-seal pelts is largely about that, but first want to establish a contrast which is and will remain consistent throughout this series of posts.
Consider the primary places of recognition along the South Coast in a macro sense; King George’s Sound, Cape Riche, Doubtful Island Bay and the Recherche Archipelago, including Cape Legrand, Cape Arid and Middle Island. There are just a handful of European names really and on any coastal map today they still make the primary points of bearing. There are more European names, of course, but these were applied during the settlement period from 1840 onwards. Most when E.J Eyre, J.S. Roe and J. Forrest made their explorations, others from more local pastoral endeavours over roughly the same time. On a micro level, however, along the same approximate 500 mile length of coast, the opposite occurs. On a micro level there are literally hundreds of Aboriginal place names. They range inland but we can draw points of delimitation for our own purposes running west to east at Kendenup/Eticup, Gnowangerup, Jerramungup, Cocanarup, Mandurbanup, Condingup and Balbinya. Many of these names are Anglicised to some degree or another; that is, they are no longer recognised in their original Aboriginal form, but they represent the native presence and were all in existence by way of living knowledge (memory) long before any map or chart was ever made.