Tuesday, 13 March 2018

Sunday, 11th February, 1838

After last week's hi-jinks, what with burglaries, harassed Germans and everyone treating everyone else as a suspect in the crime of the century, it was clear that something needed to be done. We can't go on together with suspicious minds.

In Council this week Gilles made the surprisingly sensible suggestion of organising a police troop. Of course the last time we tried something of this sort, about a year ago, it ended badly; seeing themselves as slighted, the Marines turned on the police in fury and beat them to a pulp. [See diary entry for Sunday, 2nd April, 1837 - editor's note]

But since then many, if not most of the Marines have left the Colony and if we can find a dozen or so strong and fit young lads to volunteer they would certainly prove a match for the Marines that remain. More than a match if we can find a dozen who are sober.

I have written to London asking permission to form a Police Force and shall proceed forthwith. Gilbert has produced from his Aladdin's Cave of a store a dozen blue shirts, so we can at least have uniforms. And Robert Cock tells me "he knows a man who knows someone in Sydney" who can procure a selection of sabres at only double the price of what we might pay in London. Still, a sabre would not only afford an air of military authority, but would provide some protection against inebriated Marines.

There was some suggestion of forming a troop of Mounted Police, but with the shortage of horses available in the place this seems to be something for the future. In the meantime I shall prepare (or, which amounts to the same thing, get Strangways to prepare) a flyer, advertising the need for some volunteers.

I heard Fisher mumbling about the need to pay for all this and where was the money coming from? I can see trouble ahead if the foul excrescence sees a chance to twit me over this matter.

In the meantime Sam Smart has received what we believe to be a threat upon his life. I was surprised that he had only received one, given the manner in which he has been carrying on. If he keeps it up he might yet receive one from me. He had been following the trail of the Vandemonian thieves and told me that he believed them to be hiding in a hut down by the river, but "was getting too close".

I asked him why the inhabitants of the area had said nothing.

Smart snorted derisively.

"It is a low neighborhood, full of rumpots, your Excellency," he said. "They are used to curious sights, which they attribute to alcoholic delusions."  

I have no truck with drinking to excess and I have made it a rule in life to avoid it. I said as much now: "Drink is certainly a filthy thing, isn't it? I'd rather be dead than unable to trust my own eyes!"  

Smart was rather more forgiving, it seemed. "They may be drinkers, your Excellency but they're still human beings."

I reminded him that several firearms had been stolen from the Government Store and that drink and armed thieves were an explosive combination.

Once again he showed his derision. "I trust you do not believe that I shall allow myself to be influenced by the guns these desperadoes may be waving around. I have taken guns from boys before; so we'll have no trouble there."

I wish I shared his confidence.

Charlie Howard is doing the rounds cap in hand. He decided to build his church in stone and not wood but possibly did so before he had sat down with the ledger and worked out how much it would cost. Having finally done so he has sunk into a blind panic, realising with a shock that he needs to raise yet more money so that he can pay for the thing. What with raising money for the building and raising money for the hymn book he might yet be reduced to the status of Mendicant Priest.

Wyatt has also taken it into his head to start building, having decided to build a school for the Native Children. What the Native Children think of this idea is yet to be determined.

Since we seem to have more settler's children than school places, the idea of diverting money to building a school for the Natives will be a hard sell to those colonists who want to get their brats off their hands for a few hours a day.

I made the mistake of suggesting to Wyatt that as well as teaching the native Children about our ways we could also ask them to teach us some of theirs. They are, after all, expert at living in the land we hope to prosper in and it struck me that they might offer us a few pointers on how to succeed.

Wyatt looked at me as though I was a madman and assured me that "the sole purpose of the school would be to teach the Natives about Salvation through Christ Jesus and loyalty to the Queen." I replied that I was unaware that we did gain Salvation through Christ Jesus and loyalty to the Queen and he went away shocked at my irreligious levity.

Thursday, 20 July 2017

Sunday, 4th February 1838

I had occasion to speak with Charlie Howard during the week and it seems he is to take on the mantle of author once again.

"An author, Reverend?" I said. "What, a three volume novel?"

He looked at me severely.

"Do not speak slightingly of the three volume novel, Your Excellency. I read one myself in younger, more frivolous days."

I was unaware that Charlie had ever had any younger, more frivolous days and said so.

"I put both the days and the novels behind me once I found religion. One must choose in life, Your Excellency, choose to be good or bad. The good end happily, the bad unhappily. That is what religion means."

These pleasantries aside, Charlie told me what he had come for. He was, it seems, concerned with the lack of quality in the hymn singing at Sunday services. It was, he said, "dreary". Well, I could have told him the reason for its dreariness. His insistence that the hymn be sung immediately after the sermon meant that the choir and the people were expected to sing lustfully when they had only just woken up.

Charlie, however, seems to be of the opinion that the hymns are the problem. He proposes to collect a selection of hymns and publish them "for the benefit of the people". I let that slide.

He reminded me that his collection of sermons entitled, if memory serves, "Climbing the Wooden Hill to Bedfordshire", was published as a result of public subscription by a grateful parish, a story to which I have always found it difficult give aught credence.

And then it dawned on me what he was edging around. He was after some money. He wanted the public purse to foot the bills. "Printed by Vice-Regal Patronage" was his dream. Well, sod that for a game of soldiers! If Charlie thinks I'm taking the blame for inflicting what will, no doubt, be a collection of threnodies and dirges on an unsuspecting public then he can think again.

I nodded sympathetically, wished him well, gave him five pounds and hustled him out the door.

The next to stroll in was Sammy Smart with news of his investigations. He has, it seems several new lines of enquiry to follow. His current thinking is that the culprits are recent arrivals from Van Dieman's land - Vandemoniuns, as they are known around the town.

He became pensive and then spoke. "It seems to be a series of quite clever crimes," he said. "But every clever crime is founded ultimately on some one quite simple fact—some fact that may seem in itself mysterious. But the mystification comes in the attempts to discover what the fact is, when men's thoughts look everywhere but directly at it."

I admit I had no idea what he was talking about, but in all fairness I do not think he did either.

He stood and walked thoughtfully about the room. "Some cases are simple and some are complicated," he said. "But all are of interest because all, you understand, rest solely on what you have heard about town regarding the character of the participant."

"And what have you heard?" I asked.

A sad, sly smile played about his lips.

"This is just a dirty little village in the middle of nowhere. Nothing that happens here is really important. But one does see so much evil in a village,' murmured Mr Smart in an explanatory voice.

"And what is your plan from here Mr Smart?" I asked.

"I shall retire to consider the facts I have gathered," he said. "I shall sieve, I shall discard. And when I have eliminated the laughable, whatever remains, however impossible, must be the truth."

And with that he left. I was grateful for small mercies.

Of course, it was the work of moments for word to get about that there were convicts from other colonies loose in the town creating havoc. By Friday we had what I can describe as Vandemoniun Pandemonium. People clearly decided that any person they saw in the streets who was not immediately recognisable must be held in suspicion of being criminal. Now, in a town with as small a population as ours you would think it difficult not to know every blessed soul in the place, but in fact all that we seem to have proven is that most people barely even glance at their fellows until they need to and then, when they do, they are mystified.

Two German settlers, over from the island for a short while on business, found themselves the brunt of much disdain. Since absolutely no-one had ever laid eyes on them ever before, poor Christian and Maria Wallschlager (for such were their names) found themselves surrounded by a crowd of people all accusing them of being thieves and had to be rescued by Morphett, who happened to be passing. To mollify them, I had them up to Government House and offered them tea and scones and (since they were German) a glass of my beer and sent them back to Kingscote with, I imagine, many stories to tell about the insanity of the English.

Susan and Mary have been helping at Howard's Sunday School and have heard of the Rev's plans for his hymn book. They presented me with some hymns that they have written with the plea to use my influence to have them included in Howard's collection.

I append them here without comment, but in the certain knowledge that they are destined only for the fireplace.

Hymns by Susan and Mary Hindmarsh

I'll ride my pony for Jesus
I'll sit straight in the saddle for Him.
Let the Lord hold the reins
And I'll jump Satan's chains
And clear all the fences of sin.


Pretty little dapple pony
Who made you so dear?
Jesus made you lovely
To remind me he is near.

Pretty little chestnut pony
Who made you run free?
Jesus made you beautiful
To tell me He loves me.

Pretty little light bay pony
Who made you run and win?
Jesus made you gallop
To keep me far from sin

I'll ride my pony on the highway of life
Through thickets, over hedges, through swards
And when I die
I shall ride him on high
And Jesus will present me with my Heav'nly reward

Give me my heavenly trophy dear Jesus
Give me your ribbon of blue
Engrave my name on your heavenly honour board
Let me ride in God's Pony Club
Riding with You

Saturday, 15 July 2017

Sunday 28th January, 1838

I have discovered that there was a most distressing mix up that has had the gravest of consequences.

In December Mrs Hindmarsh was pressing me to move the township to Encounter Bay as it " had greater picturesque possibilities". I thought it a damn silly idea. We've gone to all the trouble of setting up shop here on the banks of the Torrens and the trouble and expense of packing everything up and decamping to the Bluff seems more effort that it is worth. 

However, I had the excellent idea of establishing a new settlement there while keeping the Capital here in Adelaide. A triangle with Kingscote, Adelaide and the Bluff at its corners seemed like a jolly decent bit of planning. 

However, Mrs Hindmarsh insisted that I move the town and for a while it looked as if there might be trouble at home until I decided on a plan that might manage to keep the peace. 

I drafted two letters to Lord Glenelg, one outlining my plan for the triangle arrangement and asking permission to establish a new Encounter Bay settlement an the other asking for permission to move the Capital in line with Mrs Hindmarsh's wishes. I intended to instruct Strangways to post the first letter to London and I would show the second to Mrs Hindmarsh before I quietly placed it in the rubbish. Mrs Hindmash would be appeased and when Glenelg wrote back the matter would be closed and domestic peace would reign.

The inevitable happened of course. 

I discovered this week that Strangways, like the incompetent he is, sent the wrong letter to London. Glenelg will believe that I want to move the Capital, Mrs Hindmarsh will feel she has scored a victory and worst of all, Light has heard the rumour that I have decided to usurp his authority and now, in high dudgeon, he has threatened to resign. The fool Strangways is a great liability to me and the thought of him marrying into the family - as he seems to think he is about to - does not fill me with unbridled pleasure. 

And even worse still there is wild talk around the town that I will be playing Moses and leading an Exodus into the Wildness to a new Southern Promised Land by the sea.

Encounter Bay

Lord knows I have suffered as many plagues as Moses had. A plague of Fishers. A plague of Marines. A plague of bad cooking. A plague of Browns and Lights and dancing and whalers. A few frogs and some locusts and I think I might even outdo him.

Well, at least if I do have to lead the chosen to Encounter Bay there'll be a well worn path for me to follow. With Morphett, Hutchinson and Strangways all heading there, along with Light, FIsher and Samuel Stephens a week or so ago it seems like the road from Adelaide to Encounter Bay is as busy as Pall Mall.

If we were to move to Encounter Bay the question would arise, "What are we to do with the current inhabitants?" And but that I mean, not the Natives, who would, I think, be right as a trivet if we dealt with them with understanding and careful attention, but the whalers. And, to be more particular, those whalers at Blenkinsop's fishery. Well, what used to be Blenkinsop's since he drowned with Judge Jeffcott.

If Encounter Bay is the Promised Land then the Whalers are the Canaanites in the ointment. Many of them were here before our Colony was established. which at least means that they are none of our responsibility. 

Low scum all of them, mostly old convicts who may (or, indeed, may not) have served their time and been pardoned in New South Wales, they lack morals, decency and humanity. Riddled with pox  and pickled with cheap grog, their only concern is the pursuit of whale oil and money.  Detested by the natives - whose wives and daughters they steal for their sordid purposes and infect with disease - they are unfit for common society.

And so, now a plague of whalers to add to the list. 

And if that was not enough I have had the annoying presence of the Reverend Howard darkening my door.

He had finally managed to cobble together enough money to get work started on his Church Building. It had been sent out in pieces from England by some who, it seems, wished to encourage the man. The Society for Propagating Christian Boredom, perhaps.

So a few weeks ago Charlie had some men try and finally put the thing together and then it was discovered that some parts of the assembly had warped from sun and rain, some had been eaten by insects and some were not of much quality to start with. 

At that point he decided to take the bull by the horns and build in stone, not wood. Reasoning that he had a goodly sum of money from donations in his purse he decided to make a start and trust to the good Lord for the rest.

Well, all I can say is that the Good Lord had best cough up the cash soon, because on Friday I was called upon to step on down to North Terrace and lay the foundation stone for the new building. I made a short speech, hoping that Charlie would follow my  example, and gave them a few uplifting words about the benefits of religion and the blessings of the Almighty. Nothing special, but good enough for the occasion. Everyone clapped politely and I slopped a bit of mortar about and we all thought we were done.

Except that we heard a hemming and a hawing and then Charlie burst into action. A hour or thereabouts on Nehemiah chapter 2, verse 20 "The Lord of Heaven he will prosper us, therefore we his servants will arise and build.

And just when we thought we might had got off lightly.

Tuesday, 11 July 2017

Sunday 21st January, 1838

Samuel Smart has taken to the role of investigating criminal actions with alacrity. He has developed the habit of accosting people in the street like a crazed fortune teller and telling them what he has observed about them. One person told me that he sat down next to them and told them that:

Beyond the obvious facts that you are a left handed blacksmith, a drunkard, that you smoke shag tobacco in a meerschaum pipe carved in the shape of a Turk's head, that you are recently widowed and that you are lately returned from India I can deduce nothing else.

That he was speaking thusly to the Reverend Howard might have caused some men to be down hearted and question their abilities, but not Smart, who seems to believe that in these matters close enough is good enough. "My method," he said to me, " is founded upon the observation of trifles."

I had to speak with him when a number of people he had "observed" according to his "method" complained that he was a positive nuisance and a menace to the populace. He was contrite and admitted that perhaps his skills needed some refinement. "I fear I possess but two out of the three qualities necessary for the ideal detective. I have the power of observation and that of deduction. I am only wanting in knowledge." Knowledge, intelligence and good manners I might have thought, but there we are.

But by the end of the week any sign of contrition had vanished and he was seen clomping about the vegetable patch of a house that had been burgled with a large magnifying glass offering the sage statement that "In the solving of crime there is nothing so important for the officer of the law as the art of tracing footsteps."

I fear the whole thing has gone to his head.

In the meantime we have had the Company store entered and food taken, two more houses broken in to with jewellery and money stolen and two more pick pocketting incidents.

It occurs to me that we have a very busy thief and I mentioned this to Smart.

"There seems to be a great deal of crime", I said, "for just the one thief to be doing. A thought strikes me... So dreadful I scarcely dare give it utterance... "

Smart stopped me, shaking his head ruefully. "You seek to form a theory," he said. "It is a capital mistake to theorize before one has facts. Without facts one begins to use prejudices to build theories. With facts one may select those that bring theories and prejudice together."

"But what if there is more than one thief?" I said. "What if we are dealing, not with an individual, but with a gang?" 

"Well," said Sam Sart, calmly and firmly, nonchalantly adjusting the brim of his hat. "I do not mind a reasonable amount of trouble."

Nothing compared to the amount of trouble he seems set to afford me.

I have been given notice that Mrs Hillier, wife of John Hillier, intends to open a School for Young Ladies. In her prospectus and also in her Newspaper Notice she says

MRS. HILLIER begs to inform her Friends and the Public of Adelaide that she has opened a SCHOOL for a select and limited number of YOUNG LADIES, and from a long experience in the arduous task of Education, Mrs. HILLIER flatters herself that her system of instruction and unremitting attention to her pupils cannot fail to be approved by the Parents of those young ladies entrusted to her care. Pavilion Cottage, near the Gilles Arcade, Currie Street.

I cannot help but think that she does indeed flatter herself if she thinks her select school is to be conducted in Pavilion Cottage. I know that the room at the Western End of the Cottage is empty and this, I assume, is where Mrs Hillier intends to instruct her select and limited ladies. But the Eastern End of the cottage is filled with Phillip Lee's Coffee House. I cannot feel convinced that the louche young men and women of the town lolling about drinking coffee and nibbling biscuits whilst discussing contemporary art ( a cove by name of J. M. W. Turner is, I believe, their current idol) will be any great influence on the virginal blossoms of girlhood that Mrs Hillier will attract. And Mrs Hillier will most certainly need to give her unremitting attention to her pupils, since Pavilion Cottage is next door to the Southern Cross Hotel. The drunken antics of the denizens of that establishment may give the girls an education, or at the very least, a vocabulary that is not entirely to be desired. Still, it is our first school and is to be encouraged. Though perhaps Mrs Hindmarsh could be given the delicate task of counselling Mrs Hillier regarding location. 

I informed Widow Harvey that we had called for tenders for the new kitchen at Government House. "Ooh yer Rexcellency!" she giggled, disconcertingly, "They won't be as tender as the concoctions that come out of that new oven! You'll be calling for more tenders once I get going!"  

Sunday, 9 July 2017

Sunday, 14th January 1838

It seems that we are indeed in the middle of an outbreak of crime here in the colony. At the Race Meeting at the beginning of the year there was a degree of thievery. A watch, a lady's purse, a wallet containing one man's winnings from the betting ring were all stolen, while a gold bangle set with topaz and coral was removed by Mrs Stevenson from her wrist and placed on a table. She turned away for barely a few seconds before turning back and discovered it gone.

This week three houses were broken into. In point of fact it is a nice legal point whether houses made largely of canvas, sticks and clay can actually be broken into when they are fairly well broken already, but for the sake of argument we will agree that they can be. Having so easily gained access the thief had plenty of energy left to rifle through the contents of the dwellings, throwing them about and stealing any valuables they found.

Naturally, in a town so lawful and lacking in incident as Adelaide has been for the past year an outbreak of crime has sent a shock through the place. I have heard people on the street speaking of being afraid that they might be the next victim and the general opinion is that precautions need to be taken and doors need to be locked. This is made difficult by the unfortunately circumstance that most of the houses in the town do not have locks on their doors. Some really don't have doors and canvas curtains are difficult to secure.

As a result I have decided to set Samuel Smart loose on the town. As Sheriff he is, Heaven help us, the closest thing we have to a Guardian of the Law and he might as well start earning his keep. 

I interviewed him in my office during the week. I placed what was known before him and charged him with discovering and apprehending the criminal. He immediately warmed to the task. 

"Well now", he said "This is a problem that will agitate my little grey cells quite adequately."

I asked him if he thought it possible that he might solve the problem of the culprit's identity and bring him to justice.

He laughed and assured me: "Once all the facts are placed before me, a solution becomes inevitable. Whether it is true is not for me to say."

I assured him that I had given him all the facts in the matter I possessed and he nodded. "They will be adequate for me to start with. But I shall need to delve deep in the murky underbelly of the colony and bring the hidden to the light."

"Do you have any inkling of where you might being your search?"

A slow smile played about his lips. "Everyone has something to conceal. At present I rule out no-one."

He stood. "I shall take my leave of you, Your Excellency. There's game afoot!"

He walked slowly to the door, obvious hoping to strike an impressive figure, an ambition that was, sadly, punctured as Mrs Hindmarsh entered the room to inform me that lunch was ready. She peered at Mr Smart in the way she might have peered at a cockroach and then tried an unexpected conversational gambit

"Who are you sir? You're not very tall are you?"

Poor Sam mustered as much dignity as he could and answered:  "Well, I, uh, I try to be." and then slunk out the door as quickly as possible.

By Gad, Samuel Smart is a character. There is never any telling what he will say or do next, except that it's bound to be something astonishing.

Last Monday I received the report from Bingham Hutchinson and Strangways regarding their explorations at the Murray Lakes. I did ask them to ensure that I had it by the end of December, but the eighth of January is probably about as much as I could hope for. I noticed that they dated it "Jan 1st, 1838", the cheeky monkeys, so as to give the impression that they were only a day late placing it on my desk.

They did not know, it seems, that Johnny had already written to me with his report and I know which of the two I will more readily believe.

There are a number of points about their report I notice.

They say in the report
We succeeded in bringing a bullock cart, although, drawn but by two bullocks, the whole way; but the hills were so rugged and precipitous and the ravines so deep at the southern extremity of the Mount Lofty range that we were sometimes obliged to unload the cart, and all of us by a tether rope fastened to the pole to assist the bullocks in dragging up the empty cart, which we only effected by a few yards at a time, and then afterwards carry up our provisions, &c., ourselves. This explanation of the bullock cart we deem necessary to show your Excellency the difficulty of passing that range. 
I happen to know from Strangways that the only reason they took the bullock cart was because Morphett does not like sleeping on the ground and had a feather mattress on the floor of the cart and was a comfortable at night as if he were at home. All this talk of heroically struggling up "precipitous ravines" and manfully carrying their equipment is hogwash. They could have left the cart home if it hadn't been for Morphett's exquisite ways.

They write:
Captain Blenkinsop had promised us the loan of a whale boat, which we intended to transport over-land in the cart ... A frame had been constructed on the cart on which the boat was to be laid
What nonsense! A frame constructed on the cart to carry the boat? The boat never got near the cart! The frame was there to put a tarpaulin over so that Morphett would not suffer from the morning dew as he lay on his feather mattress!

They write
We had not proceeded more than five minutes down the creek when the boat was stove by running against a sunken tree and filled so rapidly that had she been one hundred yards from the shore she could not have reached it. However we banked her up, stopped up the holes with pieces of flannel besmeared with the grease of two tallow candles, and, having covered the whole with a piece of kangaroo skin, nailed on with brass studs which formed the initials on a box in the boat, in forty minutes she was again proceeding on her voyage. 
What sort of damned incompetent fools do not think of placing a man at the bow to watch out for obstructions and take constant soundings in difficult and uncertain waters? And having struck this sunken tree they are there with their bits of flannel and kangaroo skin and their candles bodging up a repair. These are men who should not be allowed within a hundred yards of a child's Noah's Ark let alone a whale boat.

They have the nerve to "beg your Excellency's permission to name the island, which appeared to be about fifteen miles long and six wide, " Hindmarsh Island." " as though they discovered and named it, when Johnny has already told me that Blenkinsop did so, and as though they are naming it after me, when Johnny has already told me that Blenkinsop named it after him. But of course, Blenkinsop is drowned and these three hop o' my thumbs are trying to make themselves look grand at his expense.

They skate pretty lightly over the drowning of Blenkinsop and the Judge and then have the nerve to say: It appeared afterwards that the boat's crew had concealed from Captain Blenkinsop the danger and difficulty they met with on entering, a knowledge of which might have prevented this melancholy catastrophe.

Did it just? Johnny made it pretty clear that the boat's crew had told them all about the "danger and difficulty" and that they chose to ignore it, with disastrous consequences. But "Oh, no! No-one told us anything. If only we'd known!" Do they think I came down in the last shower to be fooled by this blatherskite? If they do then they will discover that they are to be greatly disappointed!

Papers found between the pages Hindmarsh's Diary

A Report to His Excellency the Governor

John Hindmarsh

Regarding the Expedition of Discovery to the South coast and Lakes

by Young Bingham Hutchinson, Thomas Bewes Strangways and John Morphett

To His Excellency.
Adelaide, January 1, 1838.

We have the honor to inform your Excellency that, in pursuance of our intention to ascertain if there were any other outlet from Lake Alexandrina than the one discovered by Captain Sturt (for which object your Excellency was pleased to grant us leave of absence), we arrived at Captain Blenkinsop's fishery, opposite Granite Island in Encounter Bay, on the afternoon of December 1. We succeeded in bringing a bullock cart, although, drawn but by two bullocks, the whole way; but the hills were so rugged and precipitous and the ravines so deep at the southern extremity of the Mount Lofty range that we were sometimes obliged to unload the cart, and all of us by a tether rope fastened to the pole to assist the bullocks in dragging up the empty cart, which we only effected by a few yards at a time, and then afterwards carry up our provisions, &c., ourselves. This explanation of the bullock cart we deem necessary to show your Excellency the difficulty of passing that range. 

Previously to our departure from Adelaide, Captain Blenkinsop had promised us the loan of a whale boat, which we intended to transport over-land in the cart, for which purpose alone the cart was taken. We cannot omit to mention how much the colony, and particularly ourselves, are indebted to Captain Blenkinsop for the great assistance he afforded us in furnishing a boat and six men for the purpose of our expedition, and for the zeal he manifested and the willingness he evinced to forward our views; and also by his own exertions to increase our means of obtaining the fullest information respecting all that came under our notice. He was not at the fishery on our arrival there, so that we did not leave it until the morning of December 4. 

A frame had been constructed on the cart on which the boat was to be laid, which was first to try the entrance, and if unable to effect a passage was to return to the nearest place where she could land, and then be carried on the cart over to the channel between the lake and the sea. Accordingly the boat started some hours before us ; and we, being ten in number, including two natives, set off with the cart to the nearest part of the channel between the lake and the sea. The distance was from eight to ten miles over a gently undulating country lightly wooded and covered in many places with very fine grass. At noon we landed by the side of a well about seven feet deep, formed by the natives at the foot of a very low hill about a mile distant from the sea, 280 yards from the channel, and about six miles from its mouth, which bore about S.E. 

We then, leaving the cart set out on horseback and on foot towards the channel and on our arrival ascertained, by a flag erected inside the bar on the western point, that the boat had entered. The channel appears to be about 400 yards wide, and the current was running out from five to six knots an hour—the water being so fresh that within the influence of the swell from the sea we found it quite palatable. The length of this narrow part of the entrance is about a quarter of a mile in northerly direction, when there are two channels, one stretching away to the eastward and appearing to run a considerable distance at the back of the sandhills; but the chief body of water came from the N. W. channel, on the banks of which we had left the bullock cart. It runs for about five miles parallel to the coast, from which it was separated by an unbroken range of sandhills, about 400 yards wide, which were backed in many places by a ridge of stone. 

The soundings from the mouth of the channel up to where they left the cart (six miles) were from three to four fathoms, and the body of water varied in width from half a mile to a mile. We left this place early the next morning, the boat sounding all the way and being from three to four fathoms, and the bullock cart tracing the channel along its banks. From our last halting place its course gradually curved round to the N., N.N.E., and N.E., when, after proceeding about four miles, the progress of the cart along the banks of the main channel was stopped by a creek of very variable width, and about two fathoms deep, which runs for about four miles W.N.W. This last reach was only fifty feet wide but as deep as before and with banks so steep and so little raised above the water that we stepped from the boat while afloat into a rich grassy meadow presenting no indication of being subject to overflow. The creek, which received the name of "Currency Creek" from the name of perhaps the first boat which ever entered it, terminated abruptly at the foot of a hill, where it received a mountain stream. 

On arriving at this fertile, well watered, and sheltered spot, which in a straight line we should not think more than twelve miles from the fishery, we determined to leave the cart and horses back in charge of a party and the rest of us to proceed in the boat to the lake.

December 6.

Started at six, there being twelve of us, including a native , besides two dogs. We had not proceeded more than five minutes down the creek when the boat was stove by running against a sunken tree and filled so rapidly that had she been one hundred yards from the shore she could not have reached it. However we banked her up, stopped up the holes with pieces of flannel besmeared with the grease of two tallow candles, and, having covered the whole with a piece of kangaroo skin, nailed on with brass studs which formed the initials on a box in the boat, in forty minutes she was again proceeding on her voyage. 

We had in the boat two men who told us that they and another had recently arrived in Captain Blenkinsop's fishery by walking along the coast from a fishery at Port Farey having carried their only provision, which was flour on a horse, and that their journey occupied about six weeks. They met very few natives and did not fill in with any stream running into the sea which was deeper than their knees until they arrived at the passage by which the boat entered. Not being able to cross it, from its width, depth, and the strength of the current they turned up to trace its banks until they should find a more reliable place to pass it. They endeavoured to cross the channel which was seen to the eastward on entering from the sea, but found it also too deep and too wide; not knowing at the time that on reaching to the other side they would have been on an island. They then continued to trace the shores of the lake for two days and a half, when they crossed a narrow part of it on a raft made of pine tress tied together with the tether rope of the horse which they were obliged to abandon. They pushed the raft across with a pole about fifteen feet long and, the raft being entirely submerged with their weight, they were the whole day in gaining the opposite shore. For at least a mile on each side of the lake the water was not six feet deep, but in the middle they could not reach the bottom.

On entering the channel from the creek, the mouth of which is about ten miles from the bar, we continued to row for about three hours, our course being E.N.E., E, and E. S. E., and the water from two to three miles wide. On arriving abreast of a beautiful little bay on the northern shore the channel was suddenly reduced in width to about 400 yands, and we became sensible of a strong current setting against us. Our course now lay to the S.E., and having rowed about four miles, we landed on a small, low, stony island, when we found we had entered the lake, which seemed to be about twenty miles across in every direction and of a very irregular figure. The northern shore was extremely picturesque, its appearance presenting a succession of bays and rocky precipitous points about thirty or forty feet high ; but the southern shore appeared low and covered with reeds, and the sandhills which intervene between the lake and the sea were visible over it.

The men having rowed about seven hours, we halted an hour and dined here. We were now assured by the two men, of whom mention has been made, that the land to the westward was an island; and we were confirmed in that opinion by observing between it and the sandhills an opening, which we conceived led to the eastern channel on entering from the sea, and by which we supposed that Captain Sturt passed, as it was the nearest direction towards the sea, and all view of the channel by which we entered the lake was shut out by the island on which we dined.

We there-fore beg your Excellency's permission to name the island, which appeared to be about fifteen miles long and six wide, " Hindmarsh Island."

At half past three p.m. we again embarked and rowed for some time along the north shore to the eastward, when the wind becoming fair we made sail and proceeded rapidly. About five we opened a strait about six miles wide formed by two points which project suddenly into the middle of the lake from its opposite shores. Having arrived a little before sunset abreast of the one on the northern shore, we hauled in under the lee of it to pass the night. On ascending the point, which was about forty feet high, we discovered in the upper part of the lake a wide bay running back very far to the N.W. Land was visible to the N.N.E., but from that to E. N.E. the lake was our horizon. The opposite point of the strait bore E. & S., and we named it " Point McLeay"; the point on which we stood " Point Sturt "; and the peninsula of which it formed a part " Sturt's Peninsula."

About half a mile from this spot and about a quarter of a mile from the water side we discovered a salt pan about four acres in extent, the figure of which was so regular an oval, and its floor so level and smooth, as to appear the work of art. As we had had a good deal of rain lately, the salt had probably become incorporated with the clay as we found but little of it. It came on to rain during the night and continued so in the morning which induced us to wait a little in hopes of fine weather. 

About a quarter of a mile from the point we found the raft used by the men some weeks before to cross the lake, exactly as they described it: it was just of sufficient buoyancy to support three of us, and the pole which they used to push it across about fifteen feet long we erected on Point Sturt, having carved on it " December 6, 1837."

In the afternoon it blew hard from the S.W. accompanied by heavy rain which rendered it impossible to go on the lake. The gale continued all night and all next day, the wind in the after-noon drawing round to the S.E. and the rain easing. It rained again throughout the night.

December 8.

The wind had moderated but it was still showery. On examining our provisions we found we had only sufficient left for the day, and we were at least thirty miles from our depot and the wind against us. The boat had been so crowded with people that little room remained for provisions, and these were soon exhausted; we therefore were obliged to return without proceeding any further up. We started at six and rowed towards Point MacLeay: for the first mile we had less than six feet of water; it then gradually deepened to fifteen feet in the middle when it as gradually shoaled again: the water was here so pure that we filled our kegs.

Having arrived within two miles of the opposite shore we altered our course to the N.W. homeward. About noon we landed on Hindmarsh Island just after entering the narrow part of the channel. While here six natives appeared on the opposite cliff waving and shouting to us, and as two of them had articles of English clothing on no doubt they had visited the fishery.

After waiting about an hour we started again and arrived at the head of Currency Creek about six P. M., the men having rowed eleven hours during the day. Our biscuit and salt meat were all expended and we found none left here, but there were no less than three kangaroos weighing about 300lb hanging up in the trees. 

Captain Blenkinsop having ridden over to the fishery to procure a supply of provisions, the next day our party was increased by the arrival of Sir John Jeffcott and your Excellency's son who having been wrecked in the South Australian, in the same gale which we experienced on the eighth, had joined us in the hope of being in time to see the lake. The next day we returned to our old halting place six miles from the bar.

December 12.

Captain Blenkinsop having returned to us from the fishery started in the whale boat, accompanied by Sir John Jeffcott, to recross the bar. Having arrived at the narrowest part of the channel they proceeded two miles up the eastern channel where, on Hindmarsh Island, they found a pole erected, apparently a studding sail boom; this they took down, and having put a flag on it erected it again. Soon after they found some hundreds weight of whale-bone, which was put forward in the boat. The water at the entrance runs obliquely from the western to the opposite point, escaping to the S.E. They had nearly passed all the breakers when the boat filled, and Sir John Jeffcott, Captain Blenkinsop, and two of the boat's crew were drowned.

It appeared afterwards that the boat's crew had concealed from Captain Blenkinsop the danger and difficulty they met with on entering, a knowledge of which might have prevented this melancholy catastrophe. The survivors were assisted by the natives who waded into the water and dragged them nearly exhausted on shore. On arriving among the breakers the necessity of providing for their safety caused the sounding to be neglected so that nothing is known of the depth of water there. 

It is probable that during the rains and while the lake pours its overflowing waters with such impetuosity into the sea that the flood tide causes no perceptible difference in the velocity of the current; that a channel of considerable depth may exist between the lake and the sea, although not so deep as in the entrance, as the water on escaping from its confinement expands over a very flat beach. But in the fall of the year after the drought of summer, when the lake falls to the level of the sea, as Captain Sturt at that time of year found its water brackish so many miles up, the cause which operated to keep the channel open having subsided, the sea then would act without any opposing power and block up the entrance, as found by Captain Sturt. Even when the channel is open the constant surf which rolls in over a very flat beach for several miles on each side of the entrance, breaking at least a quarter of a mile from the beach, and continuing to break all the way, appeared to us to render the entrance generally impassable for open boats; and the strength of the current, the narrowness of the channel, and the eddies make it impassable for any thing else except, perhaps, steam boats not drawing much water. 

It therefore appears to us that there is no practicable communication between the Murray and the sea by this entrance , and it remains to be shown what are the easiest means of establishing an intercourse between the sea and the great and important high road to the most fertile district of Australia.

About ten miles from a deep and wide channel communicating with the Murray, over a gently undulating country, is an anchorage at Granite Island, in Encounter Bay. The land in the immediate neighbourhood is extremely rich, and the site most picturesque and well calculated for a town. Fresh water is found by digging twelve feet, only ninety yards from high water mark. The soil by the water side is a sandy loam, but so deep and moist that it produces the finest vegetables. This spot is bounded on the east and west by two rivers, about from fifty to one hundred feet wide, which in winter bring down a considerable body of fresh water, but in summer they are brackish, and their mouths become blocked up by the sea. They abound in ducks and fish, and are navigable for boats two or three miles up.

Owing to the unfortunate loss of Captain Blenkinsop and the boat we had not an opportunity of surveying the anchorage, but he told us that good sized merchant ships might be close to the island sheltered from all winds, except those between E. and S.E. ; and that men of war might anchor in five and six fathoms, open only from east to south. The island is about half a mile long and 300 yards wide, and about half a mile distant from the shore. From a point about midway between the two rivers a reef, with only three feet on it at high water, extends to the western end of the island; on which reef a causeway might easily be constructed as it would be protected from the south west winds by the land to the westward, and the material (granite) is on the spot, the removal of which would serve to level part of the island and form quays of the solid rock. 

We consider this site the most eligible that we have yet seen in the colony for the first town, as it combines at least six out of the seven points recommended by the Commissioners for the site of the first town in their published instructions to the Surveyor General, viz . —
  1. A commodious harbour, safe and accessible at all seasons of the year.
  2. An abundant supply of fresh water.
  3. A considerable tract of fertile land immediately adjoining,
  4. Facilities for internal communication.
  5. Facilities for external communication.
  6. The neighbourhood of extensive sheep walks.
By laying down strong moorings the anchorage may be made to hold three times as many ships as at present, and the greatest facilities exist for a long line of quays and warehouses. We are therefore of opinion that although the seat of government be elsewhere the commercial advantages of this spot will render it the centre of population and wealth, as the exports of the interior must necessarily flow towards this the only outlet from the Murray and the energy of man will in a great degree supply the few desired objects which nature has withheld.

We have the honour to be, Sir, Your Excellency's most obedient and very humble Servants T. BEWES STRANGWAYS. Y. B. HUTCHINSON.

Thursday, 6 July 2017

Sunday, 7th January 1838

I am not a vindictive man and not one to bear a grudge, but I must admit to a twinge of disappointment on hearing that Mr Fisher's race day was a complete success. 

As I say, not a vindictive man, but I was rather hoping that no-one would attend, the course would be reminiscent of a mountain goat track and the only horses that could be found were old nags that couldn't raise a canter and were in danger of keeling over dead after the first furlong. 

Instead I am told that more than eight hundred people attended for the two days, races were run, prizes were won, there was dancing and tasty refreshments to be had and all who were present seemed to think it was a delightful time and a credit to the organisers.

Which is quite annoying.

Most annoying of all is that Mrs Hindmarsh and the girls - ignoring my express wishes - attended on both days and are now full of how splendid a time it was.

"Oh Father! If only you could have seen how magnificent the horses were!"

"Oh Father! How clever Mr Fisher must be to have organised such a wonderful time!"

"Oh Father! If only you were able to do something as excellent as Mr Fisher has!"

Damnation! And against my express wishes!

But perhaps most annoying was the way Mrs Hindmarsh enjoyed the dancing and told me that "Mr Fisher presents a fine figure on the dance floor and appears so much more graceful than you do." 

So am I now to be judged according to the terpsichorean standards set by twinkle-toes Fisher, the dancing dandy? Be buggered!

One fly in the ointment that I have heard are the reports that there was a certain amount of petty crime at the race day. There were people who complained of pickpockets and items from the booths mysteriously disappeared into someone's pockets.

This comes as a surprise. The colony in the last year has been remarkably free of crime. When you considered that the combined and ramshackle forces of the Marines, William Williams and Bobby Hill and Sammy Smart the Sheriff have been sufficient to stop any crime wave you begin to realise that we do not seem to have any criminals that wish to try hard.

And truth to tell, most of the notable crimes we have had in the past year have either been caused by the Marines themselves (including one occasion when they were fighting amongst themselves and then attacked the police when they arrived) or by Members of the South Australian Company. We've had Sam Stephens' attempted murder trial - a place where Sammy lives will never be entirely free of crime - and Gilles and Gouger beating the tripe out of each other in the streets. Fisher threatened any number of people with legal action, usually for libel and slander, but other than that the courts have been kept busy (and the town entertained) mainly with petty arguments over livestock wandering onto other people's land and trees cut down when they were meant to be left.

So to suddenly hear of of a spate of robberies seems as surprising as it is disappointing. I expect that no more will come of it, but I will ask Sammy Smart to look into it.

Widow Harvey has been insufferable of late- even more insufferable than usual. Ever since I mentioned that we were building a new kitchen here at the Vice-Regal Palace I have heard nothing but the woman telling me what she will do in the new facility. As though a new oven was going to improve her skills! 

There is, however, a light on the horizon. It has been suggested by Mrs Hindmarsh (no less) that we could use another servant about the house to deal with odds and ends. If I could manage to find someone with a smattering of cooking skills then I might yet have a chance at food that is edible. We shall see.

I have had yet another letter from Mr George Milner Stephen.It appears that he is in fact the late Solicitor General's brother and also, it seems, cousin to the Under-Secretary for the Colonies. With such family I had high hopes of Mr Stephen. But his letter, which seems to spend a deal of term talking of Astrology leaves me doubtful. And Johnny has sent me clippings Hobart newspapers. One of which praises Mr Stephen as a man who "writes a fine hand and made good figures" but wonders how "a raw, inexperienced young man with neither educational qualifications or pretensions can advise a government on points of law. The other states:
It is not generally known that Mr. G. M. Stephen, although receiving salary as Clerk of the Supreme Court of Van Dieman's Land, has for a length of time been residing at Sydney, articled to his brother the late Mr Francis Stephen. The following motion, before the Supreme Court at Sydney, will astonish our readers not a little, and will tend to shew how convenient it is to draw a salary from the Government of one Colony, in order to be enabled to follow articles of clerkship in another!This job demands immediate investigation.
and then goes on to decribe how Mr Stephen, despite not meeting the Courts requirement of five year's service as a Clerk, applied to be articled as an attorney and tried to argue that there were "special circumstances" allowing him to take a shorter route, because he felt that he was "capable". 
I hope that we have not appointed the black sheep of the Stephen family.