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