In Search of Ngurabirding-Part 4(b)

This post is continued from Part 4 (a) previous:
John McKail and George Cheyne: Town, Sea or Land?

 

albany-to-cape-riche-von-summer-1848Above: John McKail arrived at Albany immediately prior to the 19th Century’s great off-shore whaling boom (1836-1842), a phenomena which should have resulted in much greater migration of moneyed settlers to the area despite world-wide economic recession. But King George’s Sound was already a hard-sell being neither farming country nor flush with Colonial resources and it’s chances were halved again as it was left to languish in the shadow of Sir James Stirling’s beloved but deeply troubled Swan River settlement, Perth. Image:  King Georges Sound to Cape Riche  Survey by F. Von-Summer, 1848.

 

At Albany, George Cheyne escaped the self-serving clutches of Richard Spencer’s local governance by removing himself eastwards up the coast in order to take advantage of the shipping traffic, but the ex-garrison’s tiny population still improved by way of labouring class and small-time investment level immigrants. After Cheyne, Spencer, Sherratt and Symers, only one other man was persuaded to take a big-time investment plunge at Albany. Captain John Hassell did so from 1839 with the most Machiavellian of land-based assaults, thereby commencing the highly competitive South Coast pastoralist era, subject of the In Search of Ngurabirding sub-series. In the meantime, McKail’s sea-based heritage, modest means and exploitative trader mentality, along with his sizable persona and penchant for social discourse (pub-going), kept him focused on the settlement’s immediate facilities and short to medium-term prospects, the result of which came to serve him well.

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In Search of Ngurabirding-Part 4 (a)

John McKail and George Cheyne: From the Swan River to The Ship Inn, Cape Riche and Eticup

 

Flinders chart -cut

 

In the continuing search for Ngurabirding we complete the background to John Maher’s 1854 arrival at Albany with a look at the activities, enterprises and connections of the disputatious pair John McKail and George Cheyne. These two figures headed-up influential family groups which ran maritime related businesses in the town while seeking to exploit land-based potential outside it and through their stories we gain a deeper understanding of how things were at Albany during this time.

I’ve covered much of George Cheyne’s background already so will only include what’s relevant here. Go to George Cheyne and the South Coast Fishery for information on the Cheyne family presence at Albany, including both George’s direct relatives as well as his wife Grizzel (Grace) Melville’s. For more on how the cash-starved Cheyne managed to claim Cape Riche from under the nose of the surveyor Henry Ommaney read George Cheyne and the Quest for Cape Riche.

In this post we also explore the working class elements of Albany society in the years leading up to the establishment of the Convict Hiring Depot in 1851. This element comprised sealers, whalers and town labourers, including a handful of well-known Menang men who interacted with the moneyed settlers by way of employment and by frequenting some of their more notorious drinking establishments. Continue reading

In Search of Ngurabirding – Part 3

Moorilup

 

In our search for Ngurabirding we are building  background to the arrival of his father, Ticket-of-leave man John Maher, in the Albany area during 1854. Maher took up work as a farm labourer or shepherd on one of the Spencer sheep runs closer to Mount Barker, north of the main settlement. Last post we looked at settlement along the Hay River, which runs west and north of the town, by the family of Sir Richard and Lady Spencer. This post we keep one eye on the Spencer family while looking at the uptake of land on the other river which has its source close to Mount Barker, but which empties into the sea just east of the Sound. The Kalgan.

 

Moorilup Banner

 

Attracted by the hills that lay about its general path, there were various forays and excursions up the old French River from the outset. Major Lockyer even attempted to overland  to the Swan River following its northward course during his three month stay into the new year of 1827. But it wasn’t until four years later when the Kalgan‘s source was located about 40 miles upstream, near to the historic location of Kendenup.

Moorilup  was first set eyes upon in a European context by the settlement’s original non-military leader, Dr Alexander Collie, late in April 1831. Collie, who was only 18 months at the Sound, was led on this particular expedition by Mokare, charismatic front-man of the King Ya-nup.  Mokare and his brothers were very closely associated with each of the key European figures at the Albany settlement as they came and went, transferring their allegiance and friendship in an apparently seamless fashion until death took them over.

Collie was the last European leader Mokare would know.

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In Search of Ngurabirding – Part 2

The Hay River Brigade

 

Before we go on with the story of John Maher after the issuing of his Ticket-of-Leave, it’s important to look into what had already taken place at Albany relative to his arrival. This applies to the earliest period of free settlement and the story of the Spencer family, in particular, who first lived at the Old Farm – Strawberry Hill, within Albany, as well as at another farm close to the Hay River about twenty miles away.

 

Strawberry Hill Farm 001Above: Panoramic view of the Gardens at the Old Farm -Strawberry Hill as it is today. Note the Norfolk Pine standing tall in the rear to the right. Image courtesy federation-house.wikispaces.com Continue reading

In Search of Ngurabirding – Part 1

 

Resolving the identity of a man known as John Jack Maher helps tell the story of early European/Aboriginal integration inland from Albany. By following the threads we learn how Albany’s pioneer pastoralists merged with those from York in and around what later became the railway town of Katanning; most notably at a place called Eticup. Many shepherds and labourers employed by the pastoralists fathered children to Aboriginal women, angering their men, causing incidences of cross-cultural recrimination and violence. But what of those European men who engaged in this; mostly the convicts and Ticket-of-Leave men of the 1850’s and 1860’s? The story of their lives reveals backgrounds of deprivation and misery. What hope did they bring to their new opportunity and what chance of a fulfilling life did they and the result of their Indigenous unions really have?

 

Jack Maher, Bordenan and NgalanganAbove: The controversial photograph of John Jack Maher. The man here is either Johnny Maher the cricketer with his Aboriginal-descent wife Emily Maggs and daughter Maria Louisa, or he is Ngurabirding,  also known as John Jack Maher, husband to Waiman and father to Rachel as shown in the Bates genealogies. If the former, the photograph will have been taken around 1910 (as Maria Louisa was born 1901) putting Maher in his mid-40s. If the latter, the photo was probably taken in the 1890s when Maher was about thirty. Continue reading

Campbell Taylor and the Cape Arid Connection – Part 1

Originally Published 01 March 2015:

East Along The Coast

 

Cape Arid Aerial Dirkus49 CopyrightAbove: 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.

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The Gun

Originally Posted 4 July 2014:

 

Double Barrel Shot Gun 1841

Above: A double-barrel, break action, breech loading shotgun with innovative Pinfire mechanism first patented in France during 1846. Probably the type of gun Edward John Eyre sent Wylie two years later to commemorate their famous walk of 1841. Unattributed photograph from the public domain.

During the winter of 1848, a week after Reverened Wollaston arrived at Albany to find the roof of the church still not on, the ship Arpentuer arrived into Princess Royal Harbour bearing a parcel for the local native, Wylie.  Though the package was wrapped, its contents were easily recognisable.
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Taking Advantage

Originally Published  5 May 2014:

” The Cleveland was making its way across the Great Australian Bight, a bleating hulk reeking of sheep shit and urea, butting against the waves like an angry Highland Ram. “

 

East - west across the Great Australian Bight runs counter to the prevailing wind. In 1840, it took the full month of February for the heavily laden Cleveland to sail from Adelaide to King George's Sound. The sailing foreshadows a later overland journey between the two places made by Edward John Eyre, the owner of the Cleveland's cargo on that voyage.

East – west across the Great Australian Bight runs counter to the prevailing wind. In 1840, it took the full month of February for the heavily laden Cleveland to sail from Adelaide to King George’s Sound.

The Cleveland was a transport ship hired by an icon of early Australian exploration, Edward John Eyre. He was 24 when he made the crossing from South Australia and familiarised himself with the far south-west corner of the continent for the first time. During that trip Eyre met a young Noongar boy whose name he recorded as WYLIE. Wylie went to Adelaide with Eyre when Eyre returned to South Australia six or seven weeks later, afterwards making the journey back to  Menang Noongar country by foot; a walk which made both of them famous.

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