Originally Published 01 March 2015:
East Along The Coast
Above: Cape Arid featuring Middle Island and the eastwards view toward Point Malcolm. This is the place where Aboriginal and Settler historical records along the South Coast began and where the story of one particular pioneer, Campbell Taylor, stands out. Photo courtesy Dirk Veltcamp, Panoramio 2008
There had been fleeting interaction, possibly as early as 1600, between the Aborigines and various seafaring parties, but from the commencement of permanent settlement late in 1826, the coast between Cape Arid and King George’s Sound began to entwine the lives of the Indigenous with the determined economic activities of the newcomers.
The first known act of the settlement era, the kidnap of the little native girl Major Lockyer named Fanny, bound the mainland off Middle Island with King George’s Sound. The association evolved, continuing into the early part of the 20th century, after which the abandonment of the coastal sheep stations signaled the end of the pioneer reign.
The south coast of Western Australia has a strict geographic spread reaching from Augusta all the way to Eucla at the South Australian border, a distance by road of over 1700 kilometers, but it is between Albany and the mainland off Middle Island where settlers and natives interacted most. Established history portrays the heroic endeavours of the South Coast’s pioneer settlers and of the towns and settlements which developed in their wake, but there remain many untold stories about the way those pioneers went about their business. It is these stories which reveal the hard truth about how the territory was won and the human cost it entailed.
Behind these stories lies the origin of today’s southern Noongar families. The ancient uninterrupted lifestyle of the traditional Aborigine came to an abrupt end with the arrival of the settlers and the new Southern Noongar age commenced, bringing into being the fifty-nine extended family groups of today. An Apical Ancestor List of these historic South Coast families can be found at the South West Aboriginal Land and Sea Council website under the banner Wagyl Kaip and Southern Noongar.
Now, one early settler whose memory is retained in a positive light by contemporary Aboriginal families is Campbell Taylor, whose parents these pages have devoted much time to. Campbell was second son of Mary Yates Bussell and Patrick Taylor of Candyup, on the Lower Kalgan River. At age 28, Campbell took up at Thomas River, a key location at Cape Arid, running sheep there for thirty years before his untimely death, aged 57.
For detailed background to the Taylor family of Candyup see my previous posts in the following order;
One of the mysteries of early settlement was the question of whether or not the Menang, or Albany Aborigines, knew of the bays and shelters east of King George’s Sound as far as Cape Arid, before the settlers came to occupy them. There is a belief some of the old Aborigines practiced a 400 mile walk along the coast in order to maintain relations by attending marriage and initiation ceremonies, but without written evidence conventional history doesn’t provide proof.
Between 1869 and 1870 Taylor’s pastoral opportunity opened up and he seized it by applying for a subsequently granted 100, 000 acre lease centered around the Thomas River and a small harbour set off its mouth. Was it plain exploration and a cheap land deal which brought him there, or the Albany Aborigines he grew up with at Candyup during the 1840’s and 1850’s?
Did Taylor know and avail of relationships which existed between certain Indigenous families of Albany and those who lived along the coast as far as Cape Arid, and was his decision to settle there influenced by them?
The question is interesting because no other settlers of the era seem to have formed cross-cultural alliances in the same way.
By design, the answers to these questions provide the foundation for the last four stories of the OUTDONE collection;
- William, John & Alfred
- What Happened to Bobby Roberts
- The Lost Love of Henrietta Gillam
These stories build toward the Cocanarup killings of the 1880’s, as explored though the Interlude sub-series (see tags) I’ve just concluded. What happened at Cocanarup came about because of the eastward graduation of the pioneering sheep men, of which Taylor was one, and that eastward graduation was initiated and effected almost entirely by way of coastal exploration.
As we have discovered, there was always a willingness on the part of some of the old Aborigines to engage with the newcomers. This, I believe, stemmed from a desire to explore the world of the white man as much as a desire to exploit it on economic grounds. Thus, from very first friendly contact there were Aborigines who aided settler ambitions and we know something about them because they were described by officials whose job it was to establish and develop the settlements.
The following explorations out of King George’s Sound took place between 1827 and 1837
|1827||Lockyer (with soldiers) – Exploration of French River (Kalgan)|
|1828||Wakefield/Mokare/Nakinah – Excursion to Mount Purrengorep (Porongurup, via Kalgan)|
|1829||Wilson/Baxter/Mokare – North and north east of King George’s Sound|
|1830||Barker/Mokare – Hay and Denmark Rivers to Lake Muir (or thereabouts)|
|1831||Collie/Mokare – Four excursions in the vicinity of King George Sound|
|1831||Roe/Nakinah/Wannewar – Northward and westward of King George Sound|
|1831||Collie/J. Henty/Manyat – North of King River (Porrongurps/Mnt Barker)|
|1831||Dale/ Nakinah – Stirling Ranges (Via Kalgan)|
|1833||Dale/Manyat/Gyallipert – Aboriginal Relations Excursion to Perth (Yagan at Lake Monger)|
|1834||on Hügel/Cheyne – Excursion to Kalgan River|
|1835||Roe/Cheyne/Ayennan/Mongowart – Moorilup (Kalgan), Hay and Sleeman Rivers|
|1835||Belches/Taylor/ – Kalgan and Hay Rivers|
|1835||Roe/Stirling/Manyat/Cheyne/S.Henty/Others – Cape Riche and Doubtful Island Bay by sea|
|1835||Roe/Tulicatwale/Wannewar – King George Sound northwards toward York|
|1837||Harris/Taylor/Kartrull – King George Sound via Warriup (Kojonup) and York to Perth|
However, there was a difference between the reconnaissence exercises of government officials and the explorations of private individuals. Government employees were obliged to report on their activities and much of that can be found in the archives, but knowledge of Aboriginal assistance gained from the private settler group is minimal. Private settlers wrote plenty of letters but they rarely recorded the names of the Aborigines who accompanied them, and if they did very often used English aliases. More so, they did not credit Aboriginal help in their writing for the finds they made, so it’s hard to make out how much the Aborigines knew of distant country and how much they may have influenced the settlers by way of strategic site selection.
From the above table, we can see that early local exploration around Albany was largely supported by Aboriginal help, and we also know that from the 1850’s certain Aborigines played a significant role manning the shore based whaling enterprises between Albany and Cape Arid, but it isn’t easily determined through these texts how much the Albany Aborigines knew of the hordes or families whose kallas lay more than 50 or 60 miles away.
Above: Western Australia’s South Coast stretches over 1700 km (1100 miles) from Augusta at Cape Leeuwin, to just beyond Eucla. Early coastal settlers moved eastwards from Albany, beginning at Cape Riche, extending to Bremer Bay and the Oldfield River, on to Stokes Inlet and Esperance Bay, then to Cape Arid and finally Eucla. Critically, in 1870 Campbell Taylor settled the mainland off Middle Island, a territory well known to the maritime industry which had been active there since the turn of the century.
This is where the life and times of Campbell Taylor becomes important.
Taylor was born at the Bussell family homestead, Cattle Chosen, on the Vasse River (now Bussleton) on December 28th, 1842. He was the fourth child of Patrick Taylor and Mary Bussell. In October 1843 the family returned to Albany where they took up residence on the harbour foreshore. They lived in one of two town cottages Patrick owned until around 1848 when they moved back to Candyup, Patrick’s purpose built homestead on Mount Boyle, 12 miles north of town. There was an Aboriginal camp near to the homestead where the Taylors were able to employ help. From the time he was five years old Campbell Taylor lived close to and spent much time with a group of Aborigines whose family connections ran eastwards along the coast.
We know that Campbell’s father Patrick was sympathetic toward the Aborigines and that this may have been influenced by his having two families, the first with an African slave woman known as Polly Graham with whom he had three sons and a daughter, the second with Patrick’s Scottish mother, Mary McCall. We also know that the Taylors lived at ‘Cattle Chosen‘ during the time of Campbell’s and his brother John’s birth, which was also a time when the Vasse River settlement was effectively at war with Gaywal and the Wardandi Aborigines of the region; and that this may have caused something of a rift between Patrick and Mary. In any case, we know from what remains of the diaries Campbell’s mother kept, that there was a constant and familiar Aboriginal presence at Candyup, both within the house and at the nearby camp.
Records from the 1870’s onwards show connections between some of the Candyup Aborigines and those at Taylor’s Thomas River station, Lynburn, and the question arose had they pre-existed or been forged by the to-and-fro of the whaling, sealing and general maritime traffic which had been in operation from about 1800 onwards? In my early reasoning it made sense that the maritime traffic was wholly responsible, but this is because all there was to work with was the written record. Conventional history only considers what is written and archeaology rarely reveals names. I didn’t contend there was no Aboriginal presence at Cape Arid before the whalers and sealers established there, it’s just there was no way of knowing if the Albany connections pre-existed the transport era.
That Campbell Taylor didn’t begin growing wool at Lynburn until 1870 meant there was almost forty years of continuous coastal activity between the two places and so plenty of time indeed for the Aborigines of both localities to forge relations. We know from Edward John Eyre’s journals that Wylie was able to speak the same language as the natives they met near to Cape Arid in 1841, but we don’t know if the Aborigines involved actually knew one another.
Some clues are given about this in John Septimus Roe’s 1848/9 Expedition South-Eastward of Perth where he says one of his engaged natives, Bob, joined the expedition at Cape Riche, where by that time the homestead and port business of the great South Coast trader George Cheyne was in full swing.
While at the camp, a Cape Riche native, known as “Bob”, who had engaged to form one of our party to the E., was visited by several of his friends from Doubtful Island Bay, and other parts, including two who had walked with him from what he represented to be the neighbourhood of Middle Island; but as I could gather nothing more as to the nature of the interior country than Bob himself was able to communicate, I did not regret my inability to engage the proffered services of one of the two who offered to accompany me also, and who had previously accompanied Mr. Bland and Dr. von Sommer to the neighbourhood of Mount Barren.
Von Sommer and Henry Bland had conducted a geological investigation of the South Coast as far as Doubtful Island Bay based on earlier maritime reports of potential coal deposits and Roe’s survey was conducted with the same interest in mind. Reading what Roe had to say about Bob and his friends is enlightening, especially as Bob was able to lead them to fresh water somewhere near the Phillips River on the return journey, but Bob wasn’t an Albany Aborigine. He was, by the looks of work soon to be released by Noongar lecturer, musician and writer Clint Bracknell, from Jarramungup, or the area between Cape Riche, Doubtful Island Bay and Jarramungup. Also, that Campbell Taylor’s report of a dialect shift between the Albany Aborigines and coastal Aborigines east of there occurred at Doubtful Island Bay, seems to suggest the area represents a significant tribal boundary.
Studying the Aboriginal genealogies of Laves, Tindale and Bates gives further clues too. Though this information wasn’t gathered until the 1900’s, there are many associations dating back to the late 1700’s between families all along the coast and inland for up to a hundred and fifty miles. Considering this alongside historical stories of Aboriginal escorts or guides not being prepared to cross certain geographic points, we can say that tribal boundaries clearly existed but that these boundaries were made permeable by family connections. This knowledge is well understood.
But first thing’s first. Let’s go back to the beginning of the settlement era and start there. I think it’s well beyond significant that Cape Arid and King George’s Sound are bound by the story of the kidnapping of the native girl Major Lockyer called Fanny. I wrote about this in The Major’s Butterflies Beat Him Down. Lockyer rescued Fanny along with another native woman taken captive at Albany before the Amity sailed in to the Sound on Christmas Eve, 1826.
That the history of permanent settlement on Western Australia’s South Coast commences with the liberation at Albany of a native girl stolen from Cape Arid, marks those points as the western and eastern boundaries of a littoral stretch between which almost everything else follows. It is as if Samuel Bailey’s act of kidnap represents both the physical and temporal starting point for the inclusive history of both peoples in this region. And symbolically, that the girl was both captured and liberated by the newcomers, the story represents the conflicting attitudes towards the Aborigines which existed within the settler group then, which persisted and may be said to have widened over the following hundred years, and which in some quarters still appears to exist today.
So, what exactly happened along the coast between 1826 and 1870, when Campbell Taylor first took up at Cape Arid, and over the entire century who among the Aborigines that we know about are linked with both places?
The period pre-1830 is characterised by the arrival of the navigators and roaming sealing parties. The navigators had an enlightening effect on the Aborigines but the sealing parties, limited though they were, will have created havoc among the coastal groups they came into contact with. Middle and Mondrain Islands (about 50 miles apart) were the most commonly used among the Recherche Archipelago during this time.
I talked in some detail about the navigators and sealing parties of this period in;
and elsewhere referred readers to
Two lesser known stories from this period are those of the Botanist William Baxter, who collected on behalf of private clients in Britain and France, and the wreck of the sealing ship Belinda which is worth drawing attention to.
Baxter came to Australia in the 1820’s, venturing westwards along the coast in 1822/3 at a time when there were no mainland European settlements, and later again in 1828/29 where he explored with T.B. Wilson out of King George’s Sound. Baxter collected samples at Cape Arid and possibly also from the Fitzgerald River area between Doubtful Island Bay and Culham Inlet. His presence however does not seem to have had any lasting effect.
The story of the Belinda, on the other hand, introduces someone who later had a profound influence on areas inland from Albany and Doubtful Island Bay. From P.M. Anderson’s generously provided work, The Early Shipping History of the South East Coast;
Above: Excavated ground on Middle Island revealing an early 19th Century sealers camp. From the 2006 Patterson and Souter Report held at the W.A. Museum.
. . . On the 17th May 1824, the “Belinda” under Captain Thomas Cloverdale sailed from Sydney for the sealing grounds off the Archipelago of the Recherche. The “Belinda” was wrecked at Middle Island in the Archipelago on the 19th July 1824.
All twenty-six crew of the “Belinda” survived the wreck. The crew salvaged two of the ship’s boats and a small supply of provisions. They set sail in the boats for Sydney, but after having proceeded about 200 miles, one of the boats swamped and was lost. It was decided that the crew should return to Middle Island to await rescue and one party walked along the shore whilst the other party kept abreast in the remaining boat. The survivors lived on Middle Island for five months until rescued on 8th December 1824 by the sealing brigantine “Nereus” under Captain Thomas Swindles. The “Nereus” continued sealing and in March 1825 returned to Sydney with the survivors from the “Belinda” and 3,500 sealskins collected from the Archipelago of the Recherche and from around Kangaroo Island.
What’s interesting about the 1824 story of the Belinda is that the ship’s First Mate was none other than 26 year old John Hassell. Hassell later married and returned to the South Coast as Captain of his own ship, the Dawson, setting up at Albany and together with his family becoming a major figure in the region’s early history.
That the crew of the Belinda returned to Middle Island after two hundred miles reflects their knowledge of the coast and their understanding that sooner or later they would be visited by another vessel, though it was winter and whaling rather than sealing season. It took five months from the time of the wreck to be rescued (including the approximate month-long own attempt) which gives some relativity to both the degree of activity around the Recherche Archipelago at that time, as much as the willingness and ability of any other ships to take the castaways aboard. Not every captain was willing to take on and feed a second crew, especially when most were regarded as lawless.
From an Aboriginal perspective, the sealing and more general maritime activity will have been observed, but the shore raids, of which we can only be certain one took place, will have impacted. In contrast to the number of sealers living on the islands of Bass Straight and Kangaroo Island, however, and the impact they had on the Aborigines of Northern Tasmania and the mainland areas of Port Phillip Bay, Portland Bay and Cape Jervis in South Australia, for example, hardly compares. In fact, the only known West Australian raids were those led by Samuel Bailey at Cape Arid and King George’s Sound. It isn’t to say others didn’t occur, just that relative to what took place on the eastern half of the two thousand mile littoral, the effect was not the same.
Now, as we know, Edmund Lockyer sailed into King George’s Sound on Christmas Day 1826. The Major’s tenure there lasted just three months, after which other military men commanded the outpost he established. During those years strong relations were built between the newcomers and Albany’s resident Aborigines, and a reasonable amount is known about them. In The Garrison Years and Shortly After I named the five families which made up the King Ya-nup, Dr Tiffany Shellam’s Albany Aborigines of the period who she discussed in her progressive work, Shaking Hands on the Fringe (SHOTF). These are they, together with omitted men from Dr Isaac Nind’s 1829 list, in alphabetical order;
Booralung: Brother of Burduwan, Uncle of Nebinyan
Burduwan: Father of Nebinyan
Coolbun: Close friend of Mokare. Custodian of Narinyup, near Bald Head (Barker)
Condalyan: (f) Mokare’s neice
Dr Uredale: Father of Tatan/Talwyn
Gyallipert/Tetalipert/Titchipert/Chalipert: Son of Maragnan
Ionen/Eyenan/Ayennan/Ionan: An Aborigine who guided Roe’s party to Moorilup, Hay and Sleeman rivers, near King George Sound, in early 1835.
Mangril: PP King’s Jack (see SHOTF) as well as Lockyer’s Jack
Manyat: With Collie and Henty, May 1832. Went Went with Gyallipert to Perth to meet Yagan in 1833. Also with Stirling and Roe, November 1835. Engaged by Rev Wollaston for a period in 1847.
Maraghnan: Father of Gyallipert, a knowledgeable, well travelled man.
Mirilyan: (f) Wannewar’s little sister from south side of King River. Possibly Mirinilich.
Mollian: aka Yallapoli
Mokare/Mawcurrie: Son of Patyet, brother to Nakinah
Mongheron: Father of Patyet, Grandfather of Mokare and Nakinah
Mongowort/Mongo-wort/Mongiore: An Aboriginal man from the vicinity of Kalgan River. He was encountered by Roe in February 1835 during an expedition north of King George Sound
Moopey/Mopey Mopie: An Aboriginal, possibly the man recorded as ‘Mo-pe’ by George Grey in 1839 and as ‘Mopy’ on the 1842 census. He accompanied Alfred Hillman on his July 1833 expedition to Nornalup
Mullet: (f) Sister to Mokare and Nakinah. Possibly Mirilinich
Nakinah/Naikennon: Brother to Mokare, Waiter. Yalapoli, Taragon, Mullet
Nebinyan: Son of Burduwan, nephew of Booralung. His mother, Nungilan
Nindaroli/Ninderowl: Child of Tulicatwale (possible connection to Isaac Nind)
Norngern/Norn/Wandinyil/Nyerjalan: Possible son of Mullet/Marilyan/Marinilich/
Nulloch: Husband of Mullet (possibly father of Norngern )
Nungilan: (f) Mother of Nebinyan, wife of Burduwan
Patyet/Parteit: Son of Mongheran, Father to Mokare, Waiter. Yalapoli, Taragon, Mullet
Talwyn/Tatan/Taaton: Son of Dr Uredale. Friend and frequent house guest of Barker’s.
Taragon/Tarragan: Youngest brother of Mokare and Nakinah, died from snakebite, March 1830
Tatan/Talwyn/Taaton: Son of the Mulgarradock, Dr Uredale
Talimamunde: Father to Nindaroli, husband of ? (Barker; from Mongalan country, north east, also White Cockatoo:
Tulicatwale/Toole-cut-wallee/Tulicatwali/Toolingat-Wally: An Aboriginal man of King George Sound, first recorded in 1829. He accompanied Roe on the initial stages of the December 1835 expedition from Albany to York
Trijolerriti: A young man of about 25 (Barker)
Wapere: Son of Nakinah
Wannewar/Wou-o-wor/Wannewar/Wannua/Winneawar: An Aboriginal man of King George Sound who accompanied Roe on the initial stages of the December 1835 expedition from Albany to York. His younger sister said to be Mirilyan.
Woorungoorit/Wungarit: (This name is also associated with Fanny’s Cove/Stokes Inlet but that Wungarit was born around 1865.)
Yallapoli/Mollian: Brother to Nakinah and Mokare Died at the garrison under Wakefield.
Youredill: Possibly Uredale (too old for Yunyirgyl/Dickey Bumble)
Now, using the genealogies and above mentioned Apical Ancestor List, by way of approximate analysis it is possible to establish the identities of key Aborigines who were associated with the coast between King George’s Sound and Cape Arid who were alive during this period. The below list is my own interpretation of the various unions that yielded relevant individuals and families. It is far from exhaustive, does not fully conform to the Apical List and only draws examples intended to serve the explorations of this post. Some of the couples here were not at the coast during the period but I’ve listed them because their descendants become relevant in later decades.
Burduwan (m) and Nungilan (f) Albany/Two Peoples Bay
Debunduk (m) and Mangapiak (f) Upper Phillps River/Ravensthorpe
Jerrymumup (m) and ? Cape Riche/Jarramongup
Jiri (m) and Watenan (f) Augusta/Blackwood River
Jirupwur (m) and Bindakan (f) Stirling Ranges/Borden
Kalingar (m) and Ngailbaitch (f) Saltlakes behind Ravensthorpe Range (not coastal)
Medinabart (m) and Ngurdjan (f) Fraser Range/Russell Range
Molgan (m) and Marinilch (f) Albany
Mulyabang (m) and Menar (f) Hopetoun area
Nailghan/Molgan/Melgan/Nilgan (m) and Barnangain (f) Cape Arid/Israelite Bay
Namelyuritch (m) and Buyenan (f) Two Peoples Bay area
Ngowilwur (m) and Windian (f) Cape Riche/Pallinup River/Bremer Bay
Nylerger (m) and Krindinyup (f) Katanning area
Tarapwirni (m) and Tondaitch (f) Lower Pallinup River/Bremer Bay
Waiabung (m) and Wijap (f) Esperance/Fanny Cove
Wunyeran/Wonyin/Winnery (m) and Marnit/Marnap (f) Esperance/Cape Arid
As we progress I’ll return to these lists and draw down the relevant partnerships and their descendants and try to apply them to the history.
George Cheyne and the quest for Cape Riche
The Military settlement at King George’s Sound, which Lockyer called Frederickstown, existed from Christmas 1826 until March 1831. During that time explorations were limited to the local vicinity. Post that period settlers began to arrive and overland transport routes began to be forged between the settlement and the new colony’s seat of power, the Swan River. Maritime traffic between the eastern colonies and Western Australia increased dramatically as did the arrival of supply and emigration ships directly from Britain.
The newly named town of Albany emerged as the friendly frontier as some of Albany’s Aborigines continued to aid exploration and two, Manyat and Gyalipert, even sailed to Perth on a mission to encourage cross-cultural relations there. James Stirling and John Roe, the colony’s leading officials of the time, made a series of summertime visits to Albany assessing the locality for future development while introducing newly arriving settlers. In November 1831 the pair sailed to Albany in the Sulphur bringing George and Grizel Cheyne with them. Stirling and Roe first scouted the South Coast as far as Doubtful Island Bay during the same trip (which Cheyne may have gone on as well) but nothing by way of settlement came from it.
As we know, the Cheynes decided to stay in Albany where George established his merchant store. Cheyne dealt with visiting ships and quickly learned of the trade in seal skins and of the region’s potential. Locally caught seal skins were Albany’s first export, but the town was way too late entering the market and the figures never amounted to much. By the time whaling mania began to take hold in 1835, sealing had declined, by virtue of the near extinction of the animal, to almost nil but there remained an aloof presence along the coast which drew the attention of the authorities before the end of the decade. Cheyne, in the meantime, had spent almost all he had on prospective land transactions. The investment rewarded him with a 15,000 acre grant at Moorilup (top end of the Kalgan River) given to him by the Colony’s administrators after Cheyne himself investigated.
As we know, 1834 saw the hugely influential arrival of the ship James Pattison which, amongst others, had on board various relations of George Cheyne, as well as Peter Belches, Patrick Taylor, Mary Bussell, Thomas Brooker Sherrat and James Dunn. (See The Supporting Cast) Within three years Sherratt and Cheyne had commenced competitive whaling enterprises at Doubtful Island Bay, a well known but nonetheless single and isolated location 100 miles eastwards along a stretch of coast housing a number of other suitable bays.
Above: Foreign whaling ships began to amass along Australia’s coast from the middle 1830’s, peaking in 1841. George Cheyne appears to have identified Cape Riche as a prime site late in 1835, a time when he was asset rich but cash poor. Five years later, in October 1840 and with a dwelling house and servant’s hut already built, he finally acquired legal ownership.
The reason for the competition, apparently, was the increasing frequency of American whaling ships, giving rise to Doubtful Island Bay establishing a promising reputation as a fishery and potential port. By 1835 Governor Stirling had seen enough American interest in the southern waters of Western Australia to view it as a strategic point along the coast where he might be able to gain an income and perhaps even establish further settlement. Interest in the quality of the land adjoining the bay was therefore high and the Surveyor General, J.S. Roe, scheduled an overland trip to explore the country in the latter stages of that year. Stirling also agreed to go, the initial plan being to rendezvous there, Stirling to arrive in the government’s temporarily commissioned schooner Sally Ann with a group of potential investors from King George’s Sound. In the end, Roe and Stirling overlanded to Albany together, rendezvousing with the Sally Ann there and sailing in her with the interested settlers, which included the wealthy Sherratt and cash-strapped Cheyne.
Another of those potential investors was Stephen Henty, a member of the Henty family who had invested heavily in the Swan River Colony and been granted extensive tracts of land in exchange, including 20, 000 acres at Leschenault. The Hentys had pulled out of the Swan River and could not see the Port Leschenault (Bunbury) settlement working either and by this time were in the late stages of extricating themselves from the struggling colony. In an attempt to stave off complete withdrawal James Stirling offered Stephen Henty the land around Doubtful Island Bay in exchange for that at Leschenault, but that land was sand and Stephen quickly declined. (Bassett, The Henty’s, Pg 362)
However, on foot of the excursion attention turned to another sheltered water a little closer to Albany. This was Cape Riche where the land in the immediate vicinity appeared far more attractive and better suited to farming. Henry Ommaney, who worked in Roe’s Survey Department (and had made it with Stirling at least as far as Albany at that time), very quickly made application for a grant of two and a half thousand acres there, but despite his appeals the application was refused. (Gibbs, The Shore Whalers of Western Australia, pg 139.) The reason for this may have come down to Ommaney’s absence, as he left the colony in 1836, returning in 1838 where upon he courted and soon after married Campbell Taylor’s maternal aunt, Elizabeth (Bessie) Bussell.
During 1836, 37 year old ex naval lieutenant Henry Bull, who had been exploring the upper reaches of the Swan River, took up as skipper of the now repaired colonial schooner Champion in order to gain an income while plying the coast in search of further opportunity.
That same year Thomas Brooker Sherratt of Albany formed a partnership with the Hobart Town whaler William Lovett and employed a team to spend the first of two winters at Doubtful Island Bay, whaling from the shore. This venture reflecting by that time both the profitability and level of competition associated with bay whaling in Australia’s south eastern quarter, particularly at Hobart. Notably, Sherratt’s interest in the joint venture was managed on the ground by Perth’s recent discard, the lucky not-to-be hung, John McKail (see The Supporting Cast).
Cheyne, being broke, could do nothing but stand and watch.
His luck changed the following year, however, when the American whaler Captain Francis Coffin, out of Salem, Massachussetts, arrived at Albany in his under-manned ship the Samuel Wright. Cheyne was running his merchant store in Albany and agreed to supply labour to Coffin who by accounts commenced the 1837 season at Doubtful Island Bay (although one newspaper reference says Two People’s Bay), pitching himself directly against Sherratt’s shore based endeavour. Of course Sherratt complained bitterly until Coffin offered to buy his oil, after which the Sherrat/Lovett partnership quit the area.
“. . . a man must be a fay idiot to fish with a land party if foreignors are allowed to come into this port, take our men, proceed to the bay…and blockade the land party.” (CSR 55/14; 5/5/1842)
Coffin spent another two seasons in West Australian water (at Two People’s Bay) as the Samuel Wright was observed entering King George’s Sound on September 28th 1838, by the colonial schooner Champion (W.N. Clarke aboard) as well as being reported there in a newspaper article of the day. There are no records of shore whaling at Doubtful Island Bay or Cape Riche during 1838/39 but an American whaler, the Gratitude, Captain Fisher (probably Alfred K.) out of New Bedford, worked there off-shore. In fact, it was the Gratitude which took Cheyne’s nephew John and his wife Ann and their children, away from Western Australia that very year. John and Ann Cheyne had settled at the Lower King property George had bought from the Henty’s around 1834 but found too little to sustain them there. (see George Cheyne and the South Coast Fishery)
The Samuel Wright returned to America in November 1839 , unloaded her crew and cargo, then quickly re-organised. Coffin set sail in her again, arriving in March 1840 once more at Albany and then early in July at Koombanah Bay, Port Leschenault, where Henry Bull had lately been appointed Resident Magistrate. Unfortunately, on the night of July 7th Coffin’s ship was caught in a severe gale, snapped an anchor cable and was washed upon the shore. No one was hurt but she never sailed again. The story of the Samuel Wright’s demise can be read at the West Australian Museum’s Shipwreck Database.
In the meantime, around March or April 1837, John Hassell, formerly of the wreck Belinda, called in to Albany on his way back to England. He stayed for five days during which time he met, amongst others, Cheyne. It is believed that Cheyne and John Morley offered their Moorilup (Upper Kalgan River) grants for sale at this time. Fully capitalised, Hassell returned twenty-two months later where he found Cheyne willing more than ever to trade those 15,000 acres. (Glover, R. Plantagenet: Rich and Beautiful, UWA Press 1979, p.109) Hassell agreed to buy and Cheyne was at last freed from his financial constraint.
What else Cheyne was doing during those two years becomes apparent through a letter written in August 1838 by Mary Yates Bussell (now Taylor) a year married and very close to delivering her first child at Patrick’s newly completed Candyup Homestead.
‘We had just finished our dinner and, for a wonder, had almost a clear larder, when the barking of the dogs announced an arrival. Looking through the windows we saw four persons coming up the valley. Who can it be ? I ran out to Mrs. Robinson to prepare her for guests, and returned in time to welcome Mr. Cheyne, Mr. Morley, Mr. Drake and the Doctor from the French whaler. They were all dreadfully tired and famished with hunger, having been lost in the bush since daylight, coming from Two People Bay, a distance of fourteen miles.” (Shann, Cattle Chosen , pg 124)
Cheyne was involved with the business of whaling, or servicing whaling crews east of Albany where in 1838 and 1839 French, American and Australian vessels took significant catches at Two People’s Bay. The French whaler Mary Taylor talks about would have been L’Harmonie, which came to Albany that year and returned again in 1840. Harmonie was one of a fleet of French whalers en-route to the whaling grounds off southern New Zealand, a location promoted by the captain of another French owned vessel, the Mississippi, who first went there in 1836. The Mississippi, leading a procession of around 15 French vessels, returned to New Zealand (passing off the coast of Western Australia and stopping in at Hobart) over the southern summer of 1837/8. In 1839 Rossiter captained the ship on its third voyage to the so-called Southern Fishery, this time working the waters off Port Lincoln, Sth Australia, on the way. So profitable was the whaling at this time, Rossiter returned for a fourth and final tour in 1841, this time locating near Cape Arid. It was during this voyage the Mississippi and Rossiter were met by Edward John Eyre and Wylie at what then became known as Rossiter Bay. L’Harmonie, in the meantime, did not proceed to New Zealand at all. Because she had stopped at Albany and whaled so successfully at Two People’s Bay, she sailed home full, quickly re-organised (ala Captain Coffin and the Samuel Wright) and arrived back again in 1840.
The business of whaling around the tiny settlement of Albany was burgeoning and over the following five years was set to boom if the area was considered by the voyagers as able to sustain them during the season. Much depended on the settlement’s ability to accommodate their need for provisions and surely it was during this period when Cheyne caught sight of the full potential Cape Riche had to offer. In fact, the afore mentioned Gratitude was said to have caught 12 whales at Cape Riche in two months during the same period, undoubtedly benefiting from Cheyne’s attentions.
From the first few arrivals in 1834 and 1835, the number of whaling ships visiting Western Australian waters soared to around 150 in 1841. The boom faded as quickly as it came and by the middle 1840’s the number of ships fell down to no more than ten or twenty, the French giving up altogether.
We know Cheyne worked hard at Cape Riche because in January 1840, he wrote to the new Governor of the Swan River Colony, John Hutt, requesting land he said he had bought there be surveyed. In the letter, which included a sketch of the area, Cheyne said he had bought the land from Henry Bull and had already built on it. (Bignell; The Fruit of the Country, Pg 36).
Curiously, it wasn’t until November of that year when the Perth Gazette reported that on 26 October 1840 1,200 acres of Crown Land at Cape Riche had been sold to Henry Bull for £300. Bull paid for the purchase by way of a remission certificate, a document entitling land purchase, the value of which was based on 18 pence per acre of granted land previously surrendered. Thus, Bull officially exchanged a grant of 1670 acres elsewhere (probably Leschenault) for 1200 at Cape Riche, but not until at least ten months after Cheyne claimed the land as his own.
Presumably, Bull passed his legal tenure over to Cheyne on receipt.
So Cheyne looks to have secured Cape Riche by first making some kind of deal late in 1835 with Roe to block Ommaney’s application and appeals. Then, by partnering with Captain Coffin and the Samuel Wright, he appears to have driven off the threat of Thomas Sherratt. Then, while he was cash-starved and unable to transact any new land purchses, he must have partnered with Henry Bull to hold Roe to the Cape Riche promise, which he was able to resolve with Bull when Hassell bought Moorilup in February/March 1839, but which Bull and Roe’s Department were not able to successfully negotiate for another eighteen months; the entire process taking pretty much exactly five years to complete.
Such is the stuff of anxious men in trying times. Cheyne’s request to Governor Hutt for the Cape Riche survey was finally met by Roe’s department in 1850.
Im including this information because it shows the methods by which the the most economically aggressive settlers of the period sought to exploit their relationships with Western Australia’s founding officials, particularly during periods when cash money was so tight.
Thus, in the end, the 1835 return trip to Doubtful Island Bay resulted in the development of Cape Riche instead, and the mainland off Doubtful Island Bay was barely considered, let alone explored.
It took another 13 years (1848) before Roe was able to find his way through the interior to Cheyne’s establishment, after which he discovered significant grasslands around Jarramongup while essentially searching for coal. One of Roe’s most physically taxing explorations, the Expedition South-Eastward of Perth, was to be his last.
As providence, or something else, would have it, Cheyne’s financial saviour funded another coastal excursion to Doubtful Island Bay just three days after Roe returned to Perth from that expedition early in February 1849. Certain members of the excursion journeyed inland to inspect the grass Roe spoke about while the attention of the others was turned toward the prospect of cutting for coal. The vessel which made the journey was named Undine and commanded by the old sealer Robert Gamble, reported 29/2/1849 in the Perth Inquirer. Captain John Hassell then took up 20, 000 acres at Jarramongup, so extending the eastward progression of the European pastoralist into territory we now know was influenced by hard-line desert culture Aborigines we have come to call the Bardoks. (See Interlude Series tag.) Robert Gamble, as a result, went about a significant change in lifestyle.
For further background on George Cheyne and his family, see my April 2014 post, George Cheyne and the South Coast Fishery
Above: A cut from the survey map of Cape Riche made from the feild notes of F.T. Gregory in 1850. From about 1837 Cheyne squatted on the western bank of what later became known as the Eyre River. He eventually obtained ownership of the land with capital freed from the sale of his Moorilup grant, holding on to it in the meantime through a series of complicated arrangements he made with J.S. Roe and Henry Bull.
Relics of the Sealing Trade
Now, in addition to this, there was an aloof band of sealers separate to the whaling crews who had come to make the South Coast their home. This detached, ungovernable presence were relics of the Bass Straight/Kangaroo Island pack (to which Samuel Bailey in particular belonged) who had graduated west of the cliffs and effectively remained. Essentially, they were comprised of three lots, each led by different men; John Black-Jack Anderson, Robert Gamble and James Andrews.
In 1839, newly installed Resident Magistrate at the Sound Captain George Grey came to know of them and wrote to the Colonial Secretary with a list of concerns. Grey was a born administrator, his thinking was macro, he theorised about the future and how to deal with the problems the colonisers faced. To his credit, he was sympathetic toward the unaltered Indigenous, but only so far as his ideas about their potential to conform permitted. They had to be civilised, he insisted, and as quicky and thoroughly as possible. As with Bates, however, he felt the mixing of native with the European convict and general underclass, such as the sealers and runaway whalers represented, was a recipe for disaster. His belief being that their offspring could only mean trouble.
In 2015 everyone should think about that. Everyone who reads this should think about the surviving Indigenous families of today and how they were branded from the outset as no more than trouble. Not just social inconvenience either, but a real legal and administrative problem.
Grey complained about the foreign whalers as much as the itinerant sealing presence which appeared to be living on islands located between Albany and the Recherche Archipelago. The author Sarah Drummond put forward an insightful commentary about the negative potential Grey sensed on her blog, A WineDark Sea, back in May 2011.
His (Grey’s) main concern was their lack of a ‘bond’ that domestic port visitors had to pay and find guarantors for, that bound them to behave in accordance to the colonial administration’s port regulations. The American whalers, he wrote, were enticing deserters away from the colony and creating opportunities for the sealers to smuggle in Yankee tobacco.
He also complained that the sealers brought their Aboriginal wives and workers into the settlement where the women mixed with the local Menang population and exercised a “most contaminating influence over their characters.”
Captain Grey backed up his bureaucratic grievances with allegations that some of the islanders were involved in piracy and wrecking – that old and bloody practice of misleading ships to crash into reefs and headlands in darkness so they could be plundered.
He warned the Colonial Secretary that the sealers were living with Aboriginal women who had been carried off from their families in the east of the continent. As a result, many children lived on the islands who had European fathers: Grey wrote,
“this half caste breed, reared under circumstances which must eventually render them the most lawless and worthless characters, stand a fair chance of inheriting in right of birth thereon, the various Archipelagos on this Coast.”
In 1846 an ordinance by the colony of western Australia was extended to regulate the temporary occupation of crown lands and offshore islands. By the 1880s police regularly visited the Recherche Archipelago islands as part of their beat that covered hundreds of kilometres. Some islands around Albany were closed to unauthorised landings, and still are to this day. This act which stopped people from living without government authorisation on crown land effectively circumvented the laws of proscription, or adverse possession.
Drummond’s interest in the story stems from her fundamental appreciation for the era of the sealing gangs and their off-shore existence, but also because;
His (Grey’s) letter shows that in the 1830s, individuals within the colonial administration of West Australia were already considering continued Aboriginal occupation as a legitimate legal obstacle to state ownership of the islands.
Without going off on a political tangent here, it’s worth pointing out that the Government of Australia has always viewed the Indigenous not as the Indigenous but as a social underclass derived from the dregs of European society. They did this of course because that’s how they best saw it, and once they saw it that way they planned against it. First, in terms of protection so that land did not fall under birthright to those they could not tax or rely upon to conform to the model new nation, and second, by planning to contain and use the underclass -as they had through history- as a source of cheap, if not free, labour. In less ambiguous terms, as slaves.
So, those island men, their native women and half-caste offspring, the ones Captain George Grey was so concerned about; who were they?
In August of 1835 tales of the Afro-American sealer John -Black Jack- Anderson began to emerge. Anderson forged a reputation as a pirate and wrecker. He was murdered in 1837 by his own men, reputedly on Mondrain Island. He is associated with the survival story of Jem Newell and James Manning who walked to Albany from the mainland opposite Middle Island after the ship Newell had sought to take him to the eastern colonies, the Mountaineer, was wrecked at Thistle Cove, closer to Esperance Bay.
The story of that walk ties in with the growing understanding that the South Coast Aborigines, despite the dangers posed by those rough men in small boats, were interested in, and sympathetic towards, the strange white presence appearing more frequently along their shores, as it is widely believed that the two men would not have survived without their help.
Newell and his sister were among the ship wrecked passengers who found their way to Middle Island, by then a well established shelter where Anderson had taken control up to eight years earlier. Anderson had Manning and Newell deposited on the mainland after negotiating their freedom sometime later, but Newell’s sister Dorothy was left behind.
Sarah Hay wrote her novel Skins based on the story of the relationship which developed between Anderson and Dorothy Newell; short as it was. Anderson was known to have had a Pallawah women from Van Diemen’s Land as another partner and that she was also murdered at around the same time. A newspaper account of that story can be found here.
James Andrews (aka, John William Andrews/ John Williams/John Bailey Pavey) and Bob Gamble were the other two sealers who had worried George Grey. In fact it was the children of these two that Grey was really concerned about. Also, it was Gamble who reported (and may even have been (partially) responsible for) the death of Anderson. He related the story to Patrick Taylor, who was Acting Resident Magistrate at Albany in 1837 while Richard Spencer was away, but nothing ever came of it. Both Andrews and Gamble appear to have been involved with Anderson during the 1830’s but both also forged reputations of their own by virtue of their notoriety, seamanship and, in the case of Andrews, ownership of the vessels Fanny and Vulcan. Their stories are more relevant to the 1840’s, however, and I’l pick up on them in that section. ( Postscript 27.5.16: See Campbell Taylor and Cape Arid Connection Part 3 – Bob Gamble. John bailey pavey and Black Jack Anderson for full detail.)
The Coastal Aborigines
With regard to the Indigenous people of the South Coast during the 1830’s, once again we have to look to the genealogies and work done by contemporary researchers over recent years. As it was George Cheyne’s taking up at Cape Riche which birthed the first of Albany’s so-called coastal outstations, we should refer to the Aboriginal families who are known to have lived about that area to see who Cheyne will have come into contact with and who, in all likelihood, helped and/or hindered him in establishing and running his homestead business.
I’ll preface this first though, by saying that early knowledge of Cheyne’s remote station at Cape Riche does not bring with it much record of Aboriginal association. It may have been 13 or 14 years before Hassell first brought sheep in any great number to the region when Cheyne first set up, and his presence may only have been seasonal and focussed on the sea, but almost from the moment Hassell arrived, reported conflict began. Cheyne’s relationship, on the other hand, until Roe’s report anyway, was close to silent.
As far as I can work out, among the Aborigines will have been the families of the following;
Above: Nebinyan, C 1910, from the Bates files at the University of Adelaide Ref: http://hdl.handle.net/2440/73176
By clicking on the above links you will see the family extensions and recognise they lead both east and west along the coast, as well as inland.
It’s hard to imagine the families of Tondaitch & Tarapwirni and Ngowilwur & Windian in particular not coming into contact with Cheyne and his establishment. In all likelihood some of them will have helped build the house. These families will have been closely associated with those based inland up the Eyre, Pallinup, Bremer and Gairdner Rivers and associated localities there.
Namelyuritch and Buyenan were from the Two People’s Bay area, perhaps closer to Mount Many Peaks and Cheyne’s Beach, but this family, as with that of Burduwan and Nungilan were closely connected to Albany.
Nebinyan, also known as Bonaparte or Boney, was son of Burduwan and Nungilan, born at Kattaburnup (Oyster Harbour) around 1825 and well known at Albany. Younger than Manyat, his father was said to have met with Matthew Flinders and the crew of Investigator at King George’s Sound in 1801. Nebinyan is prominent in the shore whaling records, though these only commence in the 1850’s and mostly feature the 1860’s and 1870’s. The photograph of him above depicts a powerful looking man in old age. Bates met him at Katanning where he related to her a song cycle he kept from his time whaling. Dr Martin Gibbs, the Archeaologist, also wrote about Nebinyan while he was researching the South Coast’s whaling history during the 1990’s and 2000’s. Nebinyan’s Songs, published in 2003, looks into the life of Western Australia’s most renown indigenous whaler. Nebinyan’s English aliases (Bonaparte or Boney, gleaned mostly from police reports) refers to Napolean Bonaparte, the French Emporer who warred with Britain, reigning in France for 10 of the first 15 years of the 19th Century. That Nebinyan drew this name from the English speaking world suggests an association with France, most probably through the country’s whaling presence.
Nebinyan’s family links position Albany at the heart of his coastal kalla but the family were known inland and at the Blackwood River (Augusta) too. That Nebinyan was located at Katanning in old age reflects the importance of those broader South West connections.
Norngern, whose name also features in the King Ya-nup list, was the son of Molgan and Marinilich, probably born around the same time as Nebinyan and also at Albany. Norngern became known as Tommy King and is perhaps Albany’s most recorded original inhabitant. Like Nebinyan, he too had a very long life, living through the entire settlement era and into the 1900’s. Tommy King’s mother, whose name he gave to Daisy Bates as Marinilich, may also have been Barker’s Mullet, sister to Mokare and Nakinah.
During the 1830’s both Norngern and Nebinyan were boys growing into young men. They will have witnessed the off- shore whaling boom and then the development of the local bay whaling establishments in the decades following.
Above: Norngern (Nyerjalan, Norn) or Wandinyilmernong (Wandinyil) or Tommy King b. c.1820
Continued in Part 2