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A Brief History of Western Australia: from its earliest settlement

by Edmund Stirling

vol. 1

Perth: Sands & McDougall Limited, Printers.


IT is the duty of the faithful chronicler to set out in due order and no over varnished language the events which make up history. If he can commence at the very beginning of the State so much the better, and this is what I shall do, and shall lightly and briefly pass in review events which marked the commencement of the colonisation of this portion of the Australian continent, events often fraught with much romantic interest, even when regarded through a long vista of years. In December of the year 1826 King George’s Sound, the first settlement made in any part of the territory, was formed into a dependency of New South Wales. A party of fifty-two persons was sent there from Sydney under the command of Major Lockyer, the party including both soldiers and convicts. They established themselves on a piece of land which now borders on the Brunswick Road, and there they built a gaol, or at any rate a place of safe housing for the prisoners and a barrack for the soldiers. It is interesting in these days, when we have all come to regard King George’s Sound as an important strategic point, to indulge in military parlance, and when we have strongly fortified it, and are about to garrison it with paid soldiers, to know that the military eye of Major Lockyer was at once struck by the necessity of at once strengthening the position, and that he caused a rude kind of fortification to be erected. This was mounted with two cannons, but there is reason to think that these munitions of war would have been of very little use had the emergency arisen for putting them to the test. Truly they were very little more than toys, and were more for ornament than use. The gaol and buildings, venerable historical relics of a “system” best forgotten, have been long since pulled down, and only a cairn of stones marks the place where the first settlers were housed. The old cannon, cast in 1816, still remains, choked with dust and cankered with rust, and considering the historical interest that attaches to them they should find a comfortable resting place at the new fort, where they can be pointed out to the interested visitor with a taste for antiquities. There is little to be learned in regard to the lives of these first settlers, which must have been sadly monotonous and void of incident, save when they were attacked by natives, which was sometimes the case, the sons of the soil apparently resenting the intrusion of the white man, and making it as uncomfortable for him as possible. It is, however, reasonable to assume that as the settlement was partly a military one, and consequently well armed, the natives came off second best whenever it came to open fighting.

In the year 1827 Sir James [then Captain] Stirling arrived off the mouth of the Swan River  in one of His Majesty’s ships, and effected a landing. A survey of the country about the localities where Fremantle and Perth now stand was effected, and upon Captain Stirling’s report the Home Government determined on forming a settlement at Swan River. During the latter part of the year Captain Stirling returned to England, and during 1828 preparations were made to settle the new territory, which was publicly advertised in glowing terms. Highly encouraging promises were held out by the authorities at the Colonial Office—promises which, it is fair to say, were acted upon, and which led to the wholesale giving away of large and at the present time

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exceedingly valuable pieces of land. Officers of the Army and Navy, by virtue of their service, were amongst those who received large blocks, and to others who were termed pioneers, and who in some, if not all, cases well deserved this honourable title, one acre of land was granted for every one shilling and sixpence expended in introducing servants into the new colony, or who purchased and took out with them live stock, provisions, guns, pistols, swords and ammunition for the purpose of protecting themselves from the aggression of the natives, who were reported by Captain Stirling and his officers to be hostile to strangers. The exceedingly liberal concessions made by the Home Government had the effect of inducing what has been well termed a fit of “earth-hunger” in England, and a large number of persons, many of them of excellent families and holding high positions, determined to proceed to Swan River, or to send their sons there. On the 1st of June, 1828, Captain Fremantle, who had arrived in H.M.S. Challenger, landed at the port which has since borne his name, hoisted the British flag on a point near the mouth of the Swan, and took formal possession of the new settlement. On June 1st, 1829, the Parmelia transport arrived with Captain Stirling, who had been appointed Governor of the Colony, and several Government officers, and the foundation of the colony dates from that day. Closely following the Parmelia, H.M.S. Sulphur arrived with a detachment of the 63rd Regiment, under Captain P. C. Irwin, who subsequently acted as Lieutenant-Governor of the colony, and from whom the Irwin River takes its name.

In 1829 New South Wales was the only settlement in what was then known as New Holland without any defined limits. Such, however, was not the case with Western Australia (then better and generally known as Swan River), whose boundaries were defined by His Majesty’s Commission to include all that portion of New Holland situated to the westward of 129 degrees of longitude. Its greatest length is therefore 1280 miles from north to south, and 800 miles from east to west, the City of Perth being in latitude 32 degrees south. This extensive territory embraces nearly 4000 miles of sea-board. The most striking natural features of Western Australia are its mineral wealth. Besides large deposits of copper, lead, tin and coal, her gold area extends from Dundas and Parker’s Ranges to Southern Cross, thence to Coolgardie, thence to the Murchison, and thence to Kimberley, while her sea-board and rivers abound with a greater abundance and variety of fish than is found in any other portion of Australia. The pearlshell fishery is still a remunerative source of industry.

On June 17th the first public proclamation was issued by the Governor, and appointments were made of certain public officers. The site of the City of Perth was decided upon on August 12th, and towards the end of September of the same year the first assignment of lands on the Swan was made, and the real work of settlement and of subduing the soil commenced. Immense estates were given away, and the month of December was rendered notable by the arrival of Mr. Thomas Peel, a cousin of the renowned Sir Robert Peel, at that time Premier of Great Britain. Mr. Peel brought out with him a number of immigrants, in fact his party came in three ships, which were also laden with valuable stores. For the large expenditure incurred in bringing out a number of new settlers and valuable stores and equipments, Mr. Peel received from the Home Government a grant of land equal to a principality, namely about 1,000,000 acres, between the Swan and Murray Rivers, perhaps better known as the Pinjarrah District, the prospects of which fruitful portion of the colony have been recently rendered so bright by the commencement of the South-Western Railway. A few months after Mr. Peel’s arrival, owing to bad management, and lack of proper food and clothing, his servants, for such these immigrants virtually were, deserted him, and struck out for themselves. For thirty years the leader of the expedition resided in solitary grandeur on his magnificent but unimproved estate, making little or no use of it, and the relative of one of England’s greatest statesmen and the owner of one of the

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largest estates in the world, died in comparatively indigent circumstances. It is perhaps better not to dwell on a painful and regrettable chapter in the history of the early settlement of the colony, but it may be said that Mr. Peel was by no means the kind of man to undertake the difficult and trying task of pioneering a new and unknown country, and that he was not cut out for “a leader of men.” Twenty ships, bringing numbers of settlers and valuable stores, arrived during the year 1829, and considerable and satisfactory progress was made at the new settlement. At the same time cases of individual hardship were numerous, and there were many who wished that they had never embarked on the venturesome task of colonisation. The names of the ships which arrived in the year of the colony’s foundation were as follows:—H.M.S. Sulphur, Challenger, Parmelia, and the clipper ships Calista, St. Leonard, Orelia, Caroline, Cumberland, Atwick, Governor Phillip, Admiral Gifford, Marquis of Anglesea, Thompson, Amity, Georgiana, Lotus, Lion, Gilmore, Euphoria, and the Success. The exact population of the colony on the 31st is not known, but it must have been quite a thousand souls, and Perth and Fremantle had commenced to assume the appearance of settlements, whilst several more venturesome spirits were scattered about the country.


January of this year brought eight ships, and up to the end of the year ninety-three ships in all arrived, bringing 1125 passengers and leaving cargo to the amount of £144,277. In May the immigrant ship Rockingham was wrecked near Rockingham, whence the present townsite takes its name. The ship was driven ashore in a severe storm, one life being lost. This year was important for the assignment of lands on the Helena and Canning Rivers, and settlements were formed at Port Leschenault, at Augusta and on the Blackwood, in Flinders Bay. The Darling Range was crossed, and the Avon River and York District were discovered by Ensign Dale, of the 63rd Regiment. Ensign Dale had many hardships to fight against, and the exploration was fraught with perils. The Swan River rose to such a height this year as to flood the tents and buildings (such as they were) erected on its banks, and did a great deal of damage to the goods and stock of the dwellers. The natives became troublesome, and they shed the first blood by the unprovoked murder of Mr. McKenzie, on the Murray River. Two natives, Yagan and Midgegoroo, were the ringleaders. They led the others on to plunder and the slaughter of breeding stock. A man named Entwhistle was barbarously murdered by Yagan and Midgegoroo, the cause of the murder being Entwhistle’s familiarity with the gins. Yagan, who was a most celebrated native chief, stood 6ft. Sin. in height, and was a noble specimen of a savage. He was outlawed for the murder of Entwhistle. The Government offered a reward for his capture. Two lads, tempted with the reward, encountered him, but Yagan was too powerful for them; he killed one of the lads, while the other narrowly escaped with his life by swimming across the Swan River. Midgegoroo was also another notorious chief, and worked in conjunction with Yagan. These two natives were the terror of the district, and to their pillage and murderous propensities there was no end, until the avenging hand of death cut short their careers. About this time a Mr. Phillips and Ensign Dale were wounded, and a great deal of breeding stock was destroyed by the natives. These were indeed troublous times for the settlers, but they were only the commencement, for afterwards the natives got almost beyond control, and their attacks were frequent.


This year, King George’s Sound having been given up as a penal settlement, that place was included within the jurisdiction of the colony. The first agricultural society dates from this year, it having been established at Guildford. One hundred and sixty acres of wheat were reaped, and there

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 were two hundred acres of land under cultivation, this being mostly done by spade labour. On September 5th the first body of settlers, under Ensign Dale, went over the hills and founded York, and after a more extended survey of that district the Toodyay Valley and Dale, Brockman, and Norcott Rivers, as well as Lennard’s Brook, were discovered. Captain Bannister and party accomplished an overland journey to King George’s Sound, after overcoming many dangers and difficulties. At one part of the journey the Captain was forced to kill his horse, as there was no feed, and after proceeding on their journey about one hundred miles, they had to retrace their steps to where the horse was buried, disinter it and eat of its putrid flesh—their provisions having given out. They had much to contend against, and carried their lives in their hands. This was a great undertaking, and the good it did for King George’s Sound and the Capital was soon manifest. To the memory of Captain Bannister the greatest encomiums should be extended, and he deserved greater distinction than he received at the hands of the authorities.


The first sittings of the Legislative Council were opened in January of the year 1832. The Council consisted of the members of the Executive, and during the next month the first court was established for civil trials. There was a great scarcity of provisions and money felt at this time. To give some idea of the paucity of provisions the price of the following articles are quoted : —Salt pork, £10 per barrel; wheat, 35s. to 40s. per bushel; and fresh meat. 1s. 10d. per pound; fresh butter (which was indeed a luxury) costing 7s. per pound. At this period, through the high prices and other deplorable circumstances, most transactions were done by promissory notes, which were issued or made out from 2s. 6d. to 5s. each. An inventive genius named Woods devised a scheme and temporarily came to the rescue. Woods bought up as many German silver spoons, teapots, etc., as he could obtain, and forged a coin what was then known as “Indian dump,” varying from 1s. 6d. to 1s. 8d. Dumps were then the common currency of India, prior to the introduction of the rupee. These coins were neither round nor square, rather resembling a pentagon in shape. Probably these coins resembled old, English coins which were minted centuries ago. Western Australia may therefore be rightly complimented as having established the first mint in Australia, though of a primitive kind. The coins were found to be very useful, and partly superseded the promissory note. Woods, after rendering so much assistance in a financial point of view for about six months, was charged with issuing spurious coin, and was transported to Van Diemen’s Land for seven years, the then only bank in the colony having discovered, greatly to its loss and detriment, the spurious coinage. A public meeting was held at Perth to pass a resolution calling on Captain Stirling to proceed to England and explain the position of the colony to the Home Government. About two months afterwards Captain Stirling sailed for England in H.M.S. Sulphur, and Captain Irwin was sworn in as acting Governor. The natives were very troublesome at this period, Yagan and others having recommenced their depredations. They murdered a settler named Gaze on the Canning, and did a lot of mischief to stock, upwards of two hundred pigs being killed and driven away on the Swan by the natives, who also speared a soldier’s wife on the Swan, and after doing further mischief they, together with Yagan, were captured and sent to Carnac Island, from whence they ingeniously managed to effect an escape in a short time. During this year about 440 acres of land were reaped. In May of this year a manuscript newspaper was published, and sold at 3s. 6d. per copy. About December the first printing press arrived from Van Diemen’s Land; and a small newspaper, printed on letter paper, called the Fremantle Observer, was printed by Messrs. Macfaull and Shenton, and issued in Fremantle. In a shed belonging to Colonel Latour the first newspaper was printed, at one end, and at the other end of the structure the operation of grinding the first bushel of wheat grown in this colony was carried on. Thus there was food for the mind at one end of the building and food for the body at the other. As there was a great

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dearth of news in those days, and it was difficult to get anything startling or new, the publishers enlisted the sympathy of a Mr. Lamb as a contributor. This gentleman's effusions caused much consternation and excitement, especially in Fremantle, his literary efforts being more like the roarings of a lion than the soft and gentle bleatings of a lamb. This writing caused such a furore that it necessitated a speedy dissolution of partnership between Macfaull and Shenton. Mr. Macfaull continued the production, but in order to do so with some amount of security he was compelled to go three miles in the bush, where he took the type and printing press, and settled at a place called Hamilton Hill. At Hamilton Hill Mr. Macfaull started the first vineyard in the colony, the soil here being peculiarly suited to viticulture. These vines were planted and reared by the writer of these pages. They were obtained from the Cape of Good Hope in June, 1830, and about two years afterwards were removed to a garden under Mount Eliza, where the cuttings were sold at 5s. each. These were the only vines in the colony for about twenty years, and being mostly of the Sweet Water variety, may be attributed the present abundant supply of that description of fruit. The reign of the Observer was of short duration, as it became defunct in twelve months, the cause being the inability of the proprietor to pay the weekly charge of £2 per week for the hire of the plant; the old type and press being worth say little more than £20. The owner of the press, a Mr. Weasel, soon after established a paper called the Inquisitor, whose contributors were Captain Graham (formerly Governor of Sierra Leone), Mr. Yule (afterwards Police Magistrate), Mr. Johnstone (a merchant), and Mr. Clarke (a Scotch lawyer). A disagreement arose amongst the staff, and a serious quarrel took place between Clarke and Johnstone. High words were indulged in, and, in the heat of passion, Johnstone said that Clarke was “no gentleman.” At this Clarke called Johnstone out, and a duel was fought between the antagonists, in which Clarke fired the fatal shot, which resulted in the death of Johnstone about twelve hours afterwards. All those mixed up in the affaire de honore were punished, but to a great extent the unfortunate episode was hushed up. Such is the history of the first year’s publication in the colony—a disgraceful termination to an organ which should have been the first to put down dissensions, quarrels, and, above all things, murder.


On the 1st of this month the Perth Gazette made its first appearance, under the proprietorship of Mr. Macfaull, which, unlike its predecessors, the Fremantle Observer and Inquisitor, had a fairly successful career until 1835, when the first severe blow to the freedom of the Press took place in a most dishonest, legal action. It arose from the publication of a letter written by Dr. Waylen’s father, detailing the cause of a vessel named the Skerne, striking on a rock between Carnac and Garden Island, bound for California and accusing the Captain and crew of drunkenness. The damages were laid at £500, the solicitor for the plaintiff being Mr. Nairn Clark—the same gentleman who killed Mr. Johnstone in a duel—who pleaded that as the Captain only required to protect his character, any damages the jury might assess, would be handed over to the poor of Perth. The trial occupied two days, and on the evening of the first day Clark had a private interview with the foreman, and promised that £5 should be given to the jury for, what he termed, a spree, at Mrs. Mason’s Hotel—then a wattle and dab shanty at the corner of Hay Street east. The result was a verdict for £70 damages which, at that time, from the scarcity of money, was equal to £500 at the present time. The spree came off, but poor Mr. Macfaull never recovered the financial difficulties in which this memorable and unjust trial placed him. This year opened by the blacks being very troublesome; numerous murders and oases of spearing cattle, and sheep being driven off were reported. A body of natives were detected breaking into a store at Fremantle, and were captured and severely dealt with. Two brothers named Yelvick were murdered near Bull’s Creek by Yagan and a large body of natives, the notorious Yagan and Midgegoroo being

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the leaders of this expedition. A squad of soldiers were sent in pursuit of these natives, and to check their depredations. Midgegoroo was captured and shot by the soldiers. Though Midgegoroo’s both eyes were shot out he showed fearful malice towards the soldiers, evincing that bitter hatred and the brutal passion were strong in death, by struggling hard to grapple with his captors and wreak vengeance upon them before he died. Yagan was soon after this taken, and his skull was sent Home to the British Museum. The first barracks was built at Perth, and in August the foundation of the officer’s quarters was laid. The place was getting somewhat civilized by this time, various sports were indulged in, and in October the first Fremantle races were held. Numbers of gallinule suddenly appeared and did great damage to the crops about this time. The gallinule, a species of wild fowl, which flocked in thousands, did incalculable harm to the crops. These fowl did so much harm that only 600 acres could be put under grain crop on account of the quantity of seed taken, and the great difficulty experienced in obtaining seed at seed time. Twenty-one ships arrived during this year, bringing seventy-three passengers, and having estimated cargo of the value of £48,000. There was not a great influx of population during this year, though inducements were held out to settlers to come here.


In January of this year ferries were established at Fremantle, Preston Point, Mount Eliza, and Guildford, and one pound notes were issued from the Commissariat Office, in consequence of the scarcity of specie. Tenders were accepted for building the Commissariat Store (the present Supreme Court) for £2930, and in April Captain Daniell laid the foundation stone of the building. A number of natives broke into the Mill at Point Belcher [Belches] (Mill Point), and about 1000 pounds of flour was taken. Captain Ellis succeeded in capturing four of the plunderers, and three of them were severely flogged, which taught them a wholesome lesson, and gave them some idea of what they might expect should their depredations be repeated. About this time a quantity of wheat was also stolen by the natives from Mr. Burges’ farm on the Swan. A soldier named Larkin was attacked in the barracks on the Upper Swan by the natives and killed. Throughout the colony the natives were very troublesome. News came in from all quarters of murders and plunder committed; sheep and shepherds being speared on the Canning by the natives. Mr. Bland’s cart was attacked by natives on the York road, near Greenmount, where Mr. Souper was wounded severely in the arm. An attack near the same place had been previously made on another cart, when Mr. Beecham was killed, and the late Mr. John Chipper, senr. (father of Cr. Chipper) was severely wounded. Mr. Chipper narrowly escaped with his life. He made a dash for freedom and life in running away, but not before the natives succeeded in putting two spears into his back, following him in hot pursuit. Fortunately, however, Mr. Chipper managed to out-do his pursuers, and leaped from a rock twenty feet high, which is now known as “ Chipper’s Rock.” Being a heavy man, Mr. Chipper came to the ground below with such force that he burst the toes of his boots, which were a pair of water-tights, nearly new. Mr. Chipper had to go seven miles with the barbs of the spears remaining in his back, he having succeeded in breaking off the long wood. Messrs. Bridge and Morrell were attacked by the natives of the Murray District this year. Bridge was killed and Morrell was wounded. The natives were so fierce here that the soldiers were obliged to change their station to one of greater security, and many of the settlers contemplated the abandonment of that part of the settlement. Messrs. Nesbit and Barron were treacherously attacked, Nesbit being put to a most shocking death, while Barron barely escaped with his life, having three spears sticking in his body. His Excellency Sir James Stirling returned from England in August. The Legislative Council was opened to the public during its sittings this year. The month of October saw the foundation stone of the new Government House laid by Lady Stirling. Sir James Stirling, with a few gentleman and five policemen, proceeded on an exploring expedition to the Murray District, where the police fell in with a party of natives, whom they

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recognised as notorious offenders. A fight commenced, in which the police were worsted, three out of the five being unhorsed by the first flight of spears, the remainder of the party being rescued by Sir James and his party, who came up and opened an immediate fire upon the natives. It is believed that ten natives were shot during the affray. The police did not come out of the encounter scathless. Captain Ellis receiving a spear wound in the temple, from which he died a fortnight afterwards, while Private Hefferon, who died in the Mount Eliza Depot only a few years ago, was badly wounded in the arm. This treacherous tribe received such a lesson on this occasion that they became particularly civil and friendly thereafter. The Murray River tribe were the most formidable in the colony. They were fine stalwart fellows, standing from 5ft. 10in. to 6ft. 3 or 4in. Their great size and build might be attributed to the abundant supply of flesh food in the district; the Murray Estuary supplying any quantity of fish when other food failed. Very little trouble was experienced from these natives after the salutary lesson they received from Sir James Stirling and his party. A short time after this an institution was commenced by the Government, under the superintendence of Mr. F. F. Armstrong, for civilising the natives. A petition to the Home Government was got up at King George’s Sound for the introduction of convicts, but was objected to by the rest of the colony. The entire amount of Government expenditure for civil services this year was £12,175 13s. 10d., out of which only the sum of £5292 19s. 6d. was furnished by the Parliamentary grant, the balance being provided from colonial resources. Just on 1000 acres were under crop this year, and the increase in stock something considerable. One hundred and fifty passengers arrived during this year, and the estimated value of the cargo brought by eighteen ships to the colony was £26,942.


This year opened very badly, by the wreck of the cutter Cumberland, which was entirely due to careless navigation. This disaster happened between Garden Island and Point Peron. The wreck was plundered, the depredators being arrested and sentenced to seven years’ transportation each. There were seven persons concerned in the pillaging. A public meeting was held in Perth to memorialize the Home Government touching various grievances. The chief amongst them was for a proper definition of the land granted by the Crown. It appears that when the land was granted there were no surveys made, and when the purchasers wanted the quantity of acres specified it was found that many of the grants ran half a mile into the sea. This was afterwards rectified by allowing persons whose land went into the sea to choose land anywhere they liked, of a quantity equal in value to the original area. This year was notable for a valuation of the land, houses, and stock having been taken, the amount of available security being found to be £219,739. Land was worth very little at this time. The insignificant value of it can easily be imagined when it was sold at 4 1/2d. per acre, and a little later in the year 1360 acres on the York Road were sold for 6d. per acre. The blacks were not as troublesome during this year, though they made several raids on the settlers’ property and speared two men named Morphy and Twine at the half-way house, between Perth and Fremantle. Morphy died of his wounds, but Twine recovered. In those days if one of the tribe was killed by the whites the natives could easily be pacified and made to accept some trivial compensation. In the case of Gogali, a native lad who was accidentally shot in Perth, the relatives of the boy accepted some slight compensation. This year commemorates the arrival of the first vessel sent by America to the colony. There were 1579 acres of land under crop this year, and fifty bales of wool were shorn and exported to the United Kingdom. The total number of ships that arrived in the colony up to this date, from the year 1829, was 163, their tonnage being 32,000 tons, the total imports being valued at £394,095, and the number of passengers landed 2281.


In January of this year a committee was appointed at a public meeting,

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held at Perth, to collect and forward home communications and particularly respecting the colony as a settlement, etc. Later in the month the first brewery was established in Perth. A sign of improvement was perceptible this year, contracts being issued to supply 1200 bushels of wheat to the Government at an average price of 7s. per bushel. A court-house was built at a cost of £698. The Lady Stirling, the first vessel built of colonial timber, was launched at Perth. The Moore River, considered to be a splendid pastoral country, was discovered this year. A whale-fishing company was established at Fremantle. Contracts for building public offices at Perth were taken by several artisans, and a Trepang Fishing Company was projected. All these things were done, and many more of minor importance, by a handful of people, who had only the commodity of wheat as their principal medium of barter and purchase. They were of the right sort, hard and tough old pioneers, determined to make a settlement, a home in the far-off land, where the kangaroo and emu were wont to roam at pleasure. [These were troublous days, as well as days of toil and hardship, and when we look back and see the way poor old Western Australia has been kept under by the Downing Street Government we cannot wonder that she is not upon all fours in the march of progress with her favored eastern sisters. However, now that Western Australia has her due rights, viz., self-government, she will go ahead, and, though slowly at first, she must, ere long too, move by leaps and bounds. To this end she has everything in her favor. But I am digressing. At the proper time and in the proper place we shall deal with Western Australia’s future. Let us return to her past history once more.] Colonial grown crops were first exhibited in March of this year. The people were not unmindful of their religious teaching, for in the month of April a public meeting was held at Guildford by the inhabitants of the Swan and of the former place, and a committee was appointed to address the Archbishop of Canterbury on the subject of clergymen being sent to the colony; and in July following a missionary from the Western Australian Mission Society (now the Colonial Church Society) arrived. During that month the foundation stone of a church at Guildford was laid by Sir James Stirling. The wonderful nutritive powers of the colony’s indigenous gum were exampled this month in the case of a child, seven years of age, being lost in the bush for twenty-eight days and afterwards recovered alive, having subsisted the whole of that time entirely on what is now known as manna gum. Eight cwt. of gum was brought in by the natives for the Government and exchanged for flour this month. The natives were again troublesome. Two were shot whilst in the act of stealing from a store at York, and later on they made a raid on the house of a settler named Knott, whom they murdered, and afterwards burned his house down. After the natives murdered Knott they cut off his legs. They did this by reason of a superstitious tribal idea that the dead travel after them if they leave them in their entirety. In October a second newspaper. The Guardian, was started, being published by Mr. Nairn Clark, who formerly fought and killed Johnstone in a duel, of which mention has been made. It had only a brief existence of one year, a complete file of the sheet being now in my possession. An annual fare was started at Guildford, while ploughing matches and races with thoroughbred horses were held. There were 2000 acres of land under crop this year. The price of ewes ranged from £2 to £4 per head. Horses were very dear then. In fact there were but few in the colony.


This year saw the establishment of the first bank in the colony, with a capital of £10,000, and in June the Bank of Western Australia was opened for public business. The price of £5 and £2 respectively was fixed for town allotments in the colony, according to their situation. [From the compiler’s own knowledge many town allotments went cheaper than that; they were even exchanged for a pint or two of rum.] In March direct communication with King George’s Sound was opened by road. On Good Friday, this year, the new Courthouse at Perth was opened for public worship, In the early part of this

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year the natives were very troublesome. They barbarously murdered a soldier named Green at York, and wounded Mr. Sewell, a settler near Beverley, as well as carried their depredations still further to Northam, where they speared another much respected settler—Mr. Heale. The natives generally at this period, especially those in the York District, were very dangerous and ferocious. They murdered in a most horrible, ghastly way two farmers, named Jones and Chidlow. The tunnel at Fremantle was commenced in August of this year. In coming down High Street a new arrival of the present day doubtless wonders what it can be, and is at a loss to understand its import. This tunnel was excavated by native prisoners. Colonel Irwin was appointed Permanent Commandant this year, during which remission tickets for the purchase of land were first introduced. It is important to know what these “ Remission Tickets ” were for. They were issued to occupiers of land, and they permitted them to render back to the Government two-thirds of their grants, and to choose one-third of the number of the acres in other portions of the colony. This arose out of hasty settlement and the want of proper surveys. As showing the inconsistency of a new colony being occupied without survey much of the land then taken up was found to run half a mile into the sea. Fresh meat was now sold at 1s. 2d. per pound. At the Quarter Sessions, held in October, there were no Europeans for trial, consequently the old custom of presenting the presiding Judge with a pair of new white kid gloves was followed, one of the gloves being of white silk, knitted by Miss Wittenoom from cones of the silk-worm reared at the Perth Parsonage by the Chaplain (the Rev. Mr. Wittenoom), where he planted the first mulberry trees, twelve of which were presented by him to the Chairman of the Perth Town Trust, who planted them opposite the Perth Cathedral. These were termed the Twelve Apostles. Only about seven now remain of the number, the first being cut down for the erection of the Deanery, and was called Judas Iscariot. There was a great scarcity of imported articles at this time, particularly soap, which varied in price from 2s. 6d. to 7s. 6d. per pound. About November a small parcel was brought from King George’s Sound, costing half a guinea per pound. This led to the hackneyed saying of, “How are you off for soap?” in all parts of the colony. The natives were very troublesome on the Canning River during this year, and two shepherd boys, named Charles Hokin and Clulow, were desperately wounded by them. The number of acres under crop this year totalled 11,924 1/2, and the number of European residents were computed at only 1820 souls in the whole colony. The colonial revenue amounted to £4586 2s. 3d., and the expenditure to £4121 12s. 7d.; the commissariat and military expenditure was £11,544 13s. 7d.; Parliamentary, £6945 17s. 11d. The value of the exports was as follow.—Wool, £2900 ; oil, £300; whalebone, £520; sealskins, £500; miscellaneous, £1000. Total value, £6720.


We are now coming into times when things were more settled and new discoveries were made. The importance of the colony began to assert itself, and the old pioneers began to take heart and hope that they would be able to do something with Western Australia after all, and that all their attempts at colonization would not be futile. H.M.S. Beagle, which had arrived at the latter end of the last year on a survey expedition, sailed from Fremantle on a voyage of discovery of the Northern and North-West coasts of Australia. The vessel returned in June following, having discovered the Adelaide and Fitzroy Rivers. A Temperance Society and the Sons of Australia Benefit Society were established at Perth this year, and both of which did a great deal of good. The passengers and stock in connection with the Bengal Australian Association arrived in that institution’s ship, the Guillardan. Wheat was 9s. per bushel this year, and fresh meat sold at 1s. 4d. per pound. Merinos sold by public auction at £4 10s. per head. A native woman was speared to death by natives in the streets of Perth, owing to tribal custom. It appeared that if a member of one tribe was killed or died, the survivors of the deceased’s tribe looked out for a victim in another tribe, and the first

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opportunity they got they killed him or her, as the case might be. This was done in order that the other tribe should not have more than they in case of warfare. The natives were exceedingly troublesome at this time, numberless outrages being committed by the Canning tribe. Natives came voluntarily from King George’s Sound to Perth with letters and despatches, their great object being, however, to revenge the murder of a native of their district on Garden Island by two other natives, who were left there by the Champion, schooner. A native named Wyaput was shot in the act of plundering a mill on the Swan. A native was also shot on the Murray while attempting to wrench a musket from a soldier, who was doing duty as guard. Five native prisoners made their escape from Rottnest Island in the only boat which was there, one of them being drowned; the sons of the deceased attacked his companions and killed one in revenge; the others, however, were subsequently recaptured. The remains of the French mariner Yasse supposed to be discovered near the Yasse River, so named by the French in commemoration of the event. Geographe Bay was discovered by a French man-of-war. While the crew were engaged in taking soundings in a storm the boat got capsized, and three of the crew escaped by clinging to the bottom of the boat, but Yasse was missing, and was supposed to have been drowned. It appeared, however, that he reached the shore, where he lived with the natives for three or four years, and who were very kind to him, and after anxiously and longingly awaiting the sight of a ship, which never appeared, he died on the beach, where his bones were afterwards discovered. The first half-yearly dividend of 14 1/2 per cent. was declared in June by the Bank of Western Australia. Up to this period there were granted in Perth 422 town allotments and 15 suburban lots. The value of the improvements in Perth was estimated at .£50,000, and at Fremantle £28,000. In August 80 ewes, with lambs at foot, were sold by auction at £5 each, while 100 imported ewes realised £4 per head. Vaccine matter was first introduced into this colony in September of this year. The October Quarter Sessions were adjourned, there being no cases of any sort for trial. This was the same as the corresponding period last year, hence the judge again got his white gloves. A public meeting was held at Perth to get up a testimonial to Sir James Stirling prior to his returning home, the term of his Governorship having expired. The American and French whalers in the neighbourhood of King George’s Sound took 10,000 barrels of oil, which was estimated to be worth £28,000; and there were no English or colonial whalers at that port to share in the gains. There were now about 2000 settlers in the colony, and the number of acres under crop was 2457.


This year brought with it a new Governor, in the person of Mr. John Hutt, who arrived on the 2nd January, and was sworn in the next day. There were four non-official members added to the Legislative Council. These four non-official members gave their equal votes with the four official members, who held office by virtue of their appointment, with the Governor as President, who had the power of vetoing or approving measures in open council. In February of this year Lieutenant (now Sir George) Grey, with a party of ten, sailed for Shark’s Bay on an exploring expedition. He returned, however, in April overland from Gautheaume Bay, where his boat was wrecked under very unfortunate circumstances. Lieutenant Grey proceeded to the Mauritius after the wreck to reorganise his party. During February the first public clock was set up on the Government Offices, Perth. The price of Crown lands was raised to 12s. per acre; 15,000 acres were sold, however, in different parts of the colony by private individuals at 2s. 6d. per acre. A most blood-thirsty, cruel, and horrible murder of a woman and her infant child, and the house burned over their bodies, was committed by the natives in the Beverley District, and a proclamation was published in the native language, as well as in English, calling upon all persons to aid in discovering the perpetrators of the diabolical deed. A meeting was called by the inhabitants of Perth to propose an assessment for the improvement of the town. Sheep sold by

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auction at the rate of £6 9s, per ewe and lamb. Even in these early days of settlement the Perthites indulged in the histrionic art, and amateur performances were given. Cashmere goats were imported during this year. The first steam mill commenced working in July. An allotment of land in Perth, partly cultivated as a garden, was sold for £400. There was open warfare in the streets of Perth between two parties of natives who were hostile to each other, and the greatest difficulty was encountered in quelling the disturbance. In October a land tax was proposed for the maintenance of a police force. Tenders were accepted for 1000 bushels of wheat, at an average of 11s. 8d. per bushel. The number of acres under cultivation was 2726, and the population was 2150 souls.


The ship Shepherd sailed in January direct for London, laden wholly with colonial produce. Champion Bay was discovered during January of this year. In February H.M.S. Beagle paid her second visit to Fremantle, after discovering, on the northern coast, the Victoria and Adelaide Rivers. In March some stock from Van Diemen’s Land was sold. Cows realised £21; heifers, £1s; sheep, £2 2s.; stallions, £50 to £60; mares, £70 to £100. Imported stock to the value of £8000 arrived in the colony this year. The first issue of the Inquirer newspaper was published on the 5th of August this year. In September of this year the foundation stone of the Wesleyan Chapel was laid at Fremantle by Governor Hutt. Beacons were placed on Rottnest Island by the aid of the officers of the H.M.S. Beagle. The first pile was driven of the bridge across the Perth Causeway in September, and 2700 acres of land on the Swan were sold for £1100, and 1280 acres at Northam for £250, by the Sheriff. A church was opened at Guildford. Tenders were accepted for 2000 bushels of wheat by the Commissariat Department at an average of 11s. 7d. per bushel, and for grinding the same 2s. 5d. per bushel was paid. The population of the colony was 2345, and the number of acres under cultivation was 3299. There were 80,061 sheep in the colony; horned stock numbered 2318; goats, 4604; horses, 500; swine, 1595; and asses 16. The colonial revenue, from temporary sources, amounted to £8376 95., and the expenditure to £5729 13s. 8d.; Imperial grant, £5373 10s. 6d.; and Commissariat ditto, £14,440 12s. 8d. At this time there were 522 grants, of the extent of 1,413,129 acres, owned by colonists, and 207 town allotments. The value of property, movable and immovable, in the colony this year was estimated at £1,415,682.


First stone of Perth Church laid. Upset price of 100 acre allotments on the Preston River advanced from 10s. to 10s. an acre. The Commissariat Store broken into, and the cash chest stolen; it was, with its contents, however, recovered ; the persons tried for the robbery were acquitted. Tenders called for the erection of a church on the Murray. Requisition by a number of settlers for the colonial vessel to be sent to India for labourers. Extensive tracts of fine pastoral land examined between Toodyay and the Moore River. Land tax of threepence an acre recommended by the Emigration Commissioners. Townsite of Bunbury opened for selection; upset price of allotments £25. Memorial against a proposed land tax. Proposition to transfer the business of the West Australian Bank to the Bank of Australasia carried by a majority of six votes. A weekly mail established between Guildford and York, and overland monthly to King George’s Sound. Bank of Australasia opened; rate of discount reduced to 10 per cent. Prospectus issued for present W.A. Bank. Tenders to erect a church at King George’s Sound for the sum of £675. Road between the Murray River and the Leschenault completed. Crown lands raised to a minimum price of £1 per acre, and the minimum quantity to be sold in one lot fixed at ten acres, with a right of commonage over ten miles of frontage. Tenders for fresh meat at 1s. 3d. per pound rejected, and fresh tenders at tenpence accepted. W.A. Bank commences operations, The James Matthews driven ashore at Woodman’s

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Point during a heavy gale. Mr. Eyre succeeds in the bold attempt of crossing overland from Fowler’s Bay to King George’s Sound; he was accompanied by a native lad named Wayli, who remained faithful to him when he was deserted by two South Australian natives, who murdered his servant and plundered his provisions. The River Avon runs through its whole length from the Dale to the Swan. Three jetties projected and commenced in Perth; one by the Town Trust, another by a company, and the third by a private individual. The price of allotments on the south side of Princess Royal Harbour and on the Preston advanced to £1 10s. per acre. Arrival of the Ganges with 100 labourers and private servants. Execution of Mendita, a native, for the murder of a white boy on the Canning. Swan steamboat company projected. H.M.S. Beagle sailed to examine Port Grey and the coast opposite Moresby’s Flat-topped Range, when it was discovered that the harbour must be Champion Bay. Further reduction in the price of fresh meat. Commissariat contracts being taken at 8 1/2d. per pound. The number of settlers was estimated at only 2760; acres under cultivation, 3328, of which 1899 were wheat; horses, 858; horned cattle, 2197 ; sheep, 44,521; goats, 5647; swine, 8161. Ninety-one ships arrived in the course of the year. Colonial revenue, £11,646 11s. 10d.; Parliamentary grant, £6819 10s. 4d.; total, £18,466 2s. 2d.; expenditure, £17,919 9s. 10d.


Tenders called for mails to be conveyed throughout the colony on a more extensive plan. New route traversed from King George’s Sound to the Vasse. First appeal to the Council, in the case of Austin r. Clifton, and in which the judgment of the Court below was affirmed. Sixteen allotments of 50 acres each, in the reserve in the Town-site of York opened for selection at a fixed price of 1s. 10d. per acre, and the whole purchased. Foundation stone of Fremantle Church laid by the Governor. The Diadem arrived at Koombanah Bay, with 170 passengers for the Australind Settlement. First appropriation of allotments in the town of Australind. Perth much improved by the formation of footpaths. The ship Transit wrecked off the north of Rottnest. The Mill Street Jetty opened to the public. Western Australian Society established. Thirteenth anniversary of the colony. Mandurah Church opened for service. Vineyard Society established. Arrival of the Simon Taylor from London, with 219 emigrants sent by the Emigration Commissioners. Opening of new church at Picton. A Guardian of Juvenile Emigrants appointed. Tenders to supply fresh meat to the Commissariat at 6d. per pound. New line of road opened and cleared between Australind and Fremantle. Sawyers and others prohibited from felling timber on Crown lands without license. Arrival of the Trusty at Australind, with 173 cabin passengers and emigrants. Wethers exported to Isle of France per Trusty. Number of settlers estimated at 3649; acres under crop, 3047; horses, 1066; horned cattle, 4122 ; sheep, 6080 ; goats, 4913; swine, 1712; arrival of ships, 16; revenue, £17,831 14s. 8d.; expenditure, £16,178 8s. 4d.

The writer has to acknowledge the indebtedness to the Government in supplying the accompanying map.

[Volume 11. will shortly be published.]

Obtained from Trove.

Garry Gillard | New: 11 January, 2020 | Now: 20 April, 2024