Fremantle Stuff > Early Days: Journal and Proceedings of the Royal Western Australian Historical Society

Early Days: Volume 6, 1962-1969

Possessory Lien—The First European Settlement, King George’s Sound, New Holland (1826-1831)

Robert Stephens

Stephens, Robert , 'Possessory Lien—the First European Settlement, King George’s Sound, New Holland (1826-1831)', Early Days, vol. 6, part 6: 23-59.



As its title implies, this Monograph's theme is the story of the first European Settlement established at King George's Sound late in 1826, by which a Possessory Lien was established to the whole of New Holland, west of 129° east longitude, by the British Crown by right of actual occupation.

Of this first occupation, on page 61 of the "History of Western Australia," its author. Dr. J. S. Battye, records:—

"The exact spot where the British flag was hoisted from which the whole of Western Australia was claimed as belonging to the Crown, is unfortunately not precisely known. It was somewhere at the base of either Mount Clarence or Mount Melville ... very little information concerning the little colony is available beyond the Diary kept by Major Lockyer during the first four months of its existence ... From the condition of the Settlement in 1831 when the convicts were withdrawn and the establishment placed under the Swan River Colony, it is apparent that very little progress was made during the four years of its existence.”

What follows will define from Official Records, Firstly: the precise spot where the British flag was hoisted on the Northern Shore of Princess Royal Harbour; and Secondly: the story of the New South Wales Outpost during the four and a quarter years of its existence in such detail as the time factor will allow.

The germination of this grain of mustard seed of European Settlement, its precarious growth until it was grafted on to Governor Stirling’s younger but larger and more vigorous seedling may be, perhaps, of little importance in the history of Western Australia's vast domain.

It is, however, of some importance in Albany's history as the record of the nativity of the site upon which it has grown. The town's twin Mounts Melville and Clarence sheltered the seed bed of the State's first European population from whence sprouted all the Firsts of many British Institutions.

Unless otherwise mentioned, the source materials concerning the Settlement's site and the regimes of its first three Commandants are contained in Volume 6, Third Series, Historical Records of Australia published in 1923; in the unpublished Official Records of Western Australia, preserved in the W.A. State Archives, and


those in the Mitchell Library, Sydney. Hereafter these sources will be noted ns (H.R.A.), (W.A.S.A.) and (M.L.) respectively. Finally, in justice to Dr. Battye it must be recorded that it was his misfortune and not his fault, that when he wrote his History the relevant data were not easily accessible. The Preface to his History (which was published at Oxford in 1924) is dated 1921. The source Volume (H.R.A.) the last of a long series edited by Dr. Watson was not published until two years later. As to W.A.’s Official Records. Dr. Battye in his Preface already mentioned referred to "Original Records of the Colonial Secretary’s Office up to 1816” as being at his disposal.

The writer as a Record Clerk in the C.S.O. remembers the Records prior to their transfer to the Public Library, remembers them well as unindexed bundles of Mss. literally tied up with red tape, the bundles labelled under general headings which down the years had often become inapplicable to much of their contents, veiled as they were, in dust and darkness in their cupboards, reminiscent of the gentle Elia’s South Sea House. On transfer to the Publie library they lost both their dust and red tape when bound into foolscap volumes arranged, under the general names of their origins in chronological order, but generally remained unindexed and unused except for the few delvers for whom time stood still. Thus they remained until the creation, in March, 1945, of a State Archives and the appointment of a full time Archivist.



Early in 1826 the third Earl of Bathurst, Secretary for the Colonies, directed New South Wales Governor Ralph Darling to establish two outposts at the eastern and western ends of Australia’s southern coastline, located at Western Port and King George’s Sound respectively. Governor Darling gave the matter immediate attention. Transports were commissioned, the brig Dragon for the former and the sturdy brig Amity (148 tons) for the latter, with the warship, H.M.S. Fly as an escort. The concern of this Monograph is the Amity on its maiden voyage to King George’s Sound, New Holland, where the first settlement was to begin with her landfall in Princess Royal Harbour.

The officer chosen to establish the Western Outpost was Major Edmund Lockyer of the 57th Regiment (the Diehards) then quartered in New South Wales. He had already made his debut on a somewhat similar task on the Brisbane River. His instructions from the Colonial Secretary for the King George’s Sound Settlement were dated 4th November, 1826 (H.R.A.). Four days later the Commandant elect boarded the Amity. Already aboard were a detachment of the 39th Regiment and a work force of 23 Crown


prisoners. The troops comprised Captain Joseph Wakefield in command of 18 rank and file of the Regiment mentioned; in addition he found assistant Surgeon Isaac Scott Nind, a subaltern in the person of his son Edmund Lockyer, Junr., a storekeeper, and the wife and family of one of the troops. Five days later, the stowage of arms, equipment, stores and livestock completed. Amity cast off and with the Dragon, accompanied by their escort H.M.S. Fly, left Sydney Cove with a favourable wind. A lieutenant of the latter, Colson Festing, R.N., was aboard Amity as Sailing Master. Next day, at sea, he was joined by a marine (his personal servant) a midshipman together with a quartermaster, all of H.M.S. Fly. Generally, on the southward run the weather was bad until the 15th, when for several days it cleared to enable good progress toward Bass Strait. Towards the end of this run. Captain Wetherall, of H.M.S. Fly boarded Amity to advise Lt. Festing to head westward in an endeavour to clear Bass Strait whilst the fair weather held. Soon after, contact was lost with both the Dragon and the escort Fly. Off the northern coast of Tasmania a call was made at George Town, to renew Amity’s water supply, undrinkable through shipment in dirty casks. In addition, 186 lb. of fresh beef was taken aboard. Port bound by gale force winds, a hunting party from Amity added thirty good sized kangaroos to her larder.

At dawn on the 23rd advantage was taken of a light breeze to continue the voyage. During the night the wind increased to hurricane force from the N.W. and continued for three days. Placed in a dangerous position off a lee shore her sailing master made course eastward to clear Bass Strait, and reach Tasmania’s east coast. This achieved, advantage was taken of a moderate northerly to run southward. On the 29th November, when off Storm Bay, Lockyer’s Journal records:—

“Towards evening the breeze shifted to the N.W. and blew a perfect storm with a very great sea, which broke on the vessel during the night, and poured down the cabin and also carried away the main boom and stove in part of the bulwarks.”

The damage necessitated a call at Hobart for repairs, and whilst these were being effected the depleted stores were replenished and a supply of bricks taken aboard.

The voyage continued on the 6th December, 1826, with boisterous and generally unfavourable weather which continued for 10 days. Still sailing westward, between the 16th and Christmas day, wind and weather remained generally favourable. On Christmas Day, at noon, Bald Island was passed, followed In succession by Mounts Manypeak and Gardner, and a little later by Michaelmas and Breaksea Islands, twin guardians of the eastern entrance to King George’s Sound. At 5.30 p.m. Amity dropped anchor in Princess Royal Harbour, about a mile off its northern shore, 44 days after leaving Sydney Cove. Her safe landfall must indeed have


proved a welcome Christmas present to the brig’s cramped travel-weary passengers and crew. Of this Major Lockyer’s Journal is silent before it concludes that Christmas Day narrative with:—

"On Michaelmas Island, as we passed, a great fire was made." (Not as a worthy tribute to the stout Amity and her gallant crew.l "As if by persons requiring assistance.”

They undoubtedly did as will appear later.

And what a voyage! Six weeks of it. Small wonder the journal chronicles the Amity’s damage and the heavy livestock losses, but baulked at finding words adequate to relate the sufferings of the women and children or of the male passengers—bond or free.


At 4 am. on Boxing Day 1826, Major Lockyer, accompanied by Lt. Festing, Amity’s sailing master, commenced a three day examination of the country within a triangle formed by Mounts Melville and Clarence (both later so named by Lockyer) and the entrance to Oyster Harbour, now named Emu Point. Its completion decided the Commandant that it was impossible to fix on a more suitable site for the settlement than the piece of rising ground comprising the foothill of Mount Melville, off which Amity lay at anchor. It terminated on a sandy-beached point in Princess Royal Harbour, then christened Point Frederick, today generally known as Residency Point.

Of the selected site the Commandant, in a report dated 16th April, 1821 (after his return to Sydney), referring to the outpost, wrote:—

“On examining the shores of both harbours (Oyster and Princess Royal) as also the Sound we could not find a more favourable spot than that which was immediately opposite the vessel (Amity) on the North Shore in a pretty situation having the advantages of good water and fuel, being close to the shores of the harbour (Princess Royal) and no impediment to communication with the interior, on a rising spot of ground about five hundred yards square: at this place is the Settlement, which in honour of His Royal Highness the Duke of York I named Fredericks Town; and on a projecting point below on the beach a Flag Staff is placed with a platform with two 18 pounders mounted, which is easily seen by a ship crossing the Sound and opening Princess Royal Harbour.” (Today on this point a monument marks the site of the landing from Amity, of granite quarried appropriately high on Mount Melville. It was erected by the W.A. Historical Society, and unveiled by Governor Sir James Mitchell on 12th March, 1936.)

The site determined, the convict work force concentrated on the erection of temporary shelters to house the stores, arms and other gear as landed. In addition, tents for the soldiers and Crown prisoners, together with enclosures for the livestock, were taken in hand. With these operations under way, surveys of nearby timber


groves suitable for milling were made and sawyers set to work. A few weeks later dissatisfied apparently with the site of the Flag Staff and 18 pounders, they were moved to higher ground near the settlement site. This move, the journal records under date 17th January:—

"Had the two guns taken from the beach to the point over (sic) the landing place, where they are to be mounted and the Flag Staff put up.”

As will appear later this second site adjoined the settlement’s parade ground. Four days later, on Sunday, 21st January, 1827, the same source records—

“This day at sunrise the colours were displayed on the Flag Staff; at twelve o’clock a Royal Salute was fired from the battery and a Feu de Joie by the troops, and an extra allowance of flour with raisins, and suet was ordered on the occasion to be issued to the troops and convicts; a number of natives having come to the settlement in the morning the seine was hauled on purpose to give them a feast; about three hundred weight was taken of capital fish. The day proved fine, and the whole went off well."

Although not mentioned, it is hardly likely that such a ceremony failed to honour royal toasts to “H.M. King George IV", “The Royal Family” and “Success to the New Colony", usual at such Annexation Ceremonies. Save the Toasts (if not in fact honoured), the ceremony was somewhat similar in form, if not in magnitude to a ceremony at Sydney Cove, Port Jackson, New South Wales. There, on the 26th January, 1788, with a Flag Staff as a datum peg of a Sydney to be, Governor Arthur Phillip, in the presence of Naval and Military and a general assembly including Crown prisoners and aborigines, marked the end of a voyage round the world and the beginning of a great experiment in Colonisation, on the portion of Australia east of 135° East Longitude.

During the intervening thirty-eight years, by a creeping slow motion process of many similar, if smaller ceremonies, the claim of the British Crown to the whole of the Australian Continent was consummated by the Annexation Ceremony at King George’s Sound, New Holland.


Following the brief accounts of the voyage westward, the selection of the site and the Annexation Ceremony, the matter of the “precise spot” of its location will now be examined and determined. Had Dr. Battye merely recorded that the flag was hoisted “somewhere at the base of either Mount Clarence or Mount Melville” it could have passed. This because the bases of both the Mounts mentioned actually meet near the site of the present Hordern Monument at the north end of York Street. This street, on its direct route southward to Hanover Bay, Princess Royal


Harbour, in a general way links the Western and Eastern bases respectively of the Mounts mentioned. What follows from original Official Records (W.A.S.A.) tells precisely the “exact spot where the British Flag was hoisted from which the whole of the Western Australia was claimed as belonging to the Crown".

Local Albany tradition has always located the site of the first Settlement as centred on its Parade Street. This originated from the fact that all the buildings erected on the New South Wales Cantonment were in existence, habitable or otherwise, on its transfer to the control of the then Swan River Colony on 7th March, 1831. It follows therefore, that all the settlers during the first few years saw them and during the earliest period a few of them occupied some of the original buildings.

It would be pointless, even if time were available, to consider tradition, when it is possible, precisely, and concisely to identify the site of both the Flag Staff and Cantonment of the New South Wales regime, from Official Records of the Swan River Settlement preserved in W.A.S.A.

In volume four of the Colonial Secretary’s Correspondence outward, a letter dated 22nd March, 1831, signed by Peter Brown (later Broun) and addressed to Dr. Alexander Collie, Albany Government Resident elect, after mention that Surveyor General Roe had appointed Mr. Raphael Clint as Assistant Surveyor at the Southern outport, directed that first consideration should be given to the survey of town allotments. These were to be confined within certain limits which were defined as—

“From the present Flag Staff due N. 20 chains. Due E. 10 chains. Due W. 13 3/4 chains.” (W.A.S.A.)

(The S. boundary was not mentioned being apparently obvious, as it comprised the beach of Hanover Bay between the E. and W. boundaries as defined.)

In a letter dated 1st April, 1831, from Government Resident Collie (W.A.S.A.) to the Colonial Secretary, he sought further particulars concerning the proposed survey. His letter contained a rough sketch of the lay-out of some of the streets. In this the datum peg for the survey is shown as the Flag Staff on the southern end of the 39th Regiment’s Parade ground. Further it shows a road running south from the Flag Staff (indicated by a dot in the centre of the proposed road) which below the Bluff of the Flag Staff site turns south-east to the landing place on Point Frederick, (The Residency Point of today). The site of the Annexation Flag Staff appears on the top of the Bluff before it commences its gradual slope to the beach at the Point mentioned. Apparently Dr. Collie's query was resolved, as Assistant Surveyor Clint completed the Survey in 1832. A copy of it is now preserved in the Colonial Office Archives in London. This shows the various streets, as at present, extending from Hanover Bay, northward to Grey


Street, with the Parade ground of the N.S.W. period extended N. and S. to form Parade Street, a name still in use. This could indicate that Surveyor General Roe so named it to record for posterity the fact that the new townsite had, like the Phoenix, arisen on the site of the first Cantonment.

Additional proof, if necessary, of the precise location of the site is shown on a tracing of an Albany Townsite Plan in the Author’s possession, made from the original preserved in the Land and Surveys Office, dated 1836. This was drawn by Assistant Surveyor Alfred Hillman, Raphael Clint’s successor in Albany. This shows clearly the site of the N.S.W. Cantonment on Mount Melville’s southern foothill terminating at Point Frederick. The Cantonment buildings at the date of its drawing are identified on their respective numbered townsite allotments. In addition the plan provides a key to the names of the buildings and the purpose for which they were being used when it was drawn. Fortunately, the northern portion of the original Settlement site is a Public Recreation Reserve, most fittingly named by Albany Municipality, Foundation Park.



The precise location of the Flag Staff and the site of the New South Wales Settlement having been determined, a documented record of the settlement’s history prior to its absorption into the Swan River Colony, long overdue, will now be told. Its source records are those listed in the Preface with several additions to be noted in their appropriate places. It will tell the progress made during the four and a quarter years of its existence, arranged under headings designed to show the nature and extent of that progress. So arranged, it may prove helpful to list here the names of the four successful Commandants appointed by Governor Darling, together with the periods of their Respective Commands—They were:—

Major Edmund Lockyer; 57th Regiment: 25/12/1826-3/4/1827; 3 months.

Cpt. Joseph Wakefield; 39th Regiment; 3/4/1827-6/12/1828; 20 months.

Lt. George Sleeman; 39th Regiment; 6/12/1828-3/12/1829; 12 months.

Cpt. Collet Barker: 39th Regiment; 3/12/1829-27/3/1831; 16 months.

Still mindful of the time factor an endeavour has been made to cameo the facts without dulling their picture.


The 12th January, 1827 saw the completion of the temporary huts, and a store, the stores safely housed therein, "with all convenient expedition” in terms of the Colonial Secretary's Directive.


Between the date mentioned and the 3rd April following, very little progress was made with the erection of any buildings of a substantial nature.

Aboard Success, a member of her complement, Gilbert, a clerk or writer, penned a record of the Cantonment as he saw it:

“They have erected several little cottages or rather huts made of wood and plastered with mud. and even in the Commandant's house, the wild blows through every part.” (W.A.S.A. Explorers’ Diaries. Vol. 1, p. 2.)

Major Lockyer sailed for Sydney on the latter date aboard H.M.S. Success, commanded by Captain James Stirling en route to Sydney, following the latter's examination of the Swan River’s esturial mouth and near watershed.

Lockyer's understudy, Captain Joseph Wakefield, of the 39th Regiment became the second Commandant, on Lockyer’s return to Sydney. His first report to Headquarters, on 27th May, stated, inter alia—

"The stores first elected were so exceedingly temporary that they were unfit to be occupied.” and that he was giving particular attention to replacing both the stores, and of providing a new Barrack 45 x 22 feet, the latter to be provided with a six foot mud wall, a bonded floor, provision for sleeping hammocks, windows and a fireplace (this probably with the bricks from Hobart). It, Wakefield noted, was to be “like the Barrack in Sydney.” His building programme included also, a Tool Shed 28 x 18 feet, a house for the Storekeeper, and confirmatory of Gilbert's eye witness account of his own quarters, naively added he "was having the Commandant’s house made fit to occupy." In Returns forwarded to Headquarters on the 10th July, No. five covered the Cantonment buildings. It was accompanied by a rough plan showing the sites of the buildings, (not produced in the H.R.A.). Its place is taken by the Editor’s (Dr. Watson’s) footnote

“The plan shows the buildings erected on a hill between two marshes, the hill extended in a north and south direction and the buildings, all thatched with rushes, were erected on the eastern and western slopes from south to north. Those on the western slope were:

“Three houses for married soldiers, each 21 x 12, a five feet mud wall, a glass window with four panes in front and a glassless window in the rear.”

"Store with door at the end opposite Barrack door. One window in front and rear with bars across. At the south end, an Engineer’s Store with a door to the front. Size, together 30 x 18 feet, mud walls, could contain 12 months provisions, etc.”

“Barrack 45 x 20 feet, 6 feet mud wall. 2 glass windows in front: one in centre, and 2 in rear without glass at south. Door at north end. Hammock posts, etc., inside. Similar to the Barrack at Sydney."


The buildings on the eastern slope comprised—

“Pour houses commenced by Major Lockyer, and completed by Captain Wakefield—very comfortable, sufficiently substantial to last for several years.”

The 6th December, 1828, found Captain Wakefield relieved by Lt. George Sleeman, also of the 39th Regiment. Like his predecessor he also expressed his concern about the condition of the buildings. On the 25th March 1829 in a letter to Headquarters (H.R.A.) he wrote of

“The feeble and insecure state of the Commissariat and Engineer Stores, the walls of which are of wickerwork covered outside with blackish clay.”

and continued—

“I have kept the only two sawyers on the Settlement employed, before one of them was taken ill, in preparing scantling and weatherboards to build others more safe and substantial, the frames of which are already put together, and only require weatherboards to complete. They will be larger and stronger than the present buildings.”

A Return (M.L.) dated the day before the letter mentioned, gives the size of the proposed new stores as 39 x 19 feet.

Reverting to the letter, it continued—

“the small hospital is much needed as the sick are obliged to remain in the Barrack with the well, as there are only two each of sawyers, and carpenters, and as one of each has been sick for a long time I have been prevented from beginning the hospital which might easily be erected with the brick and wood procurable in the neighbourhood.”

A Report to Headquarters dated 14th May advised

“I have begun a convenient sized hospital which with the bricks I have had made and the wood I have collected I hope soon to have completed.”

A postscript to this letter added—

“I regret to State that the only two sawyers on the Settlement will return to Sydney by this opportunity, the one being ill and the other Free”.

That the hoped-for hospital eventuated appears in another Return (M.L.). Dated 7th October 1829, and numbered “Three" it reveals that somehow despite sick sawyers and carpenters, but apparently with the aid of brickmakers and masons the hospital had been completed. The Return states its size as—

"35 x 20 feet, 10 feet walls, two rooms in front on ground floor and two back rooms, the four under one roof, substantial walls of stone and brick materials procured in the Settlement”.

The unmentioned roof, was, presumably of rushes similar to the other Settlement buildings. This Hospital, if in light of what follows it was ever used as such, was the first brick and stone building erected in the Cantonment.


On the 9th July 1829 Lt. Sleeman Reported, Inter alia—

“Since I had the honour of forwarding my last despatch I have nearly completed a substantial and convenient house having two good rooms in front, a kitchen and office immediately behind them all under one roof. The back part and gable ends are built of stone and the front of brick having a verandah. It is 35 x 20 feet with walls 10 feet high, having four windows in front and two behind with a door front and back."

There appears an element of mystery about this “Substantial and convenent house.’’ as no record of it appeared in the two Returns of buildings furnished by Commandant Sleeman. These preserved in (M.L.) are dated 9th July, and 7th October. In both of these a building of identical specification is described as a Hospital. Maybe, Fairy Storylike, it was subject to metamorphosis, as in the Report in which the house was notified, reference is made by Sleeman to the provision of furnishings. These comprised a rough chest of drawers, a washstand and a course book and shell case. These, Headquarters was advised, were made from his own materials for convenience during his stay. If in fact there was only one building, its convenience to its builder was short, as he was succeeded by Captain Collet Barker on the 3rd December, 1829.

The latter—the final Commandant of the Settlement prior to its transfer to the control of the Swan River Colony—arrived aboard the brig Governor Phillip which reached King George’s Sound on the 29th November 1829 from Raffles Bay which had been abandoned. En route, on the 17th October a stay was made at Fremantle for the purpose of landing stores, plant and livestock from the abandoned northern settlement. Whilst there, doubtless, Captain Barker learned that he would hold his new post mainly in a caretaker capacity as it was to be absorbed by the Swan River Colony.

Under these circumstances Captain Barker would have little occassion to correspond with Colonial Secretary Macleay in Sydney. Be this as it may, letters between the new Commandant and Swan River’s Colonial Secretary Peter Brown (later Broun) were frequent, as those preserved in the (W.A.S.A.) show.

This could have been the reason (i.e. lack of material) that caused Dr. Watson, capable Editor of the voluminous H.R.A. to omit any mention of Captain Barker’s regime as Commandant at King George's Sound. With the imminent transfer of the settlement to the control of the recently formed Swan River settlement it is understandable that no new buildings were erected. Indeed they were not even kept in repair as will appear later. Fortunately, from the pen of a contemporary eye witness, it has been possible to etch, in clearer detail, some portions of Captain Barker's command. Unfortunately in spite of this, concerning this capable


Officer’s regime there is a blind spot, “A door" as it were "to which I found no key, a veil past which I could not see”, notwithstanding a personal Journal kept by the officer mentioned.

This Journal, during 1934, was obtained by the Mitchell Library, Sydney, from the Chief Secretary’s Department, New South Wales The Chief Librarian of that world-famous Storehouse of Australiana, referring to the Journal mentioned, wrote—

"It consists of several hundred quarto pages, closely written on both sides in a small hand which makes it extremely difficult to read—in fact it would take someone who knew the history weeks to decipher sufficient to even arrange the pages in order, of which, as stated there are several hundred” and continued "the Journal has never been copied or published to date” (28/6/1960). "There does not appear any immediate prospect of this being done.”

A Proclamation, by which the Settlement passed to the control of the Swan River Colony, was published in Perth on 7th March, 1831 (W.A.S.A.). From the same source, it is possible to throw some light on the Cantonment buildings shortly after the New South Wales personnel had returned to Sydney. Soon after Dr. Collie had assumed his Office, as Albany’s first Government Resident he was called upon to submit a report upon the condition of the buildings left by Captain Barker. This was to cover any repairs necessary, an estimate of their cost, and his (Dr. Collie’s) opinion of their probable life, when repaired. In his reply dated 21st December, 1831, Dr. Collie listed the following buildings, viz:—

"Barrack for Soldiers, House for Officer Commanding, Store House, Storekeeper's House, Assistant Surveyor's House.’’

Referring to each of these buildings he detailed the repairs and renovations he thought necessary, together with their estimated costs, the total of which amounted to £56. Subject to the repairs being effected Collie estimated their subsequent useful life as ten years, with the exception of the Storekeeper’s and Assistant Surveyor’s houses which was four and three years respectively. Apart from other achievements during the New South Wales period mentioned subsequently, the Cantonment buildings listed were surely evidence of some little progress. Be this as it may, they provided ready-made accommodation for the detachment of the 63rd Regiment, which had relieved that of the 39th Regiment, homes for the Government Resident, the Officer in charge of the Military, and other civilian officials whom Governor James Stirling had appointed to his newly acquired Southern Outpost, not to mention some of the small band of pioneer settlers. All these housed at a cost of £56.


Because of their role in this story the eighteen rank and file of the 39th Regiment, must, of necessity, form one of the cameos in


this record of beginnings, by which they became the first British Army Regulars, to be domiciled in what is now Western Australia.

To them was entrusted the dual duty of defending the settlement from external attack and ensuring discipline amongst the work force of Crown prisoners, who had been their enforced shipmates aboard Amity.

The 39th Regiment (the Dorsetshires) of which they were members, was first raised in Ireland, under Royal Warrant, dated 13th February, 1702, during the Reign of King William the Fourth, and today is still in existence under that name. During the intervening years it has seen service in almost every part of the world. A record of its history for the first 130 years entitled "Historical Record of the 39th Regiment" was published by Her Majesty’s Stationery Office, London, 1853. This tells that the Regiment was stationed in New South Wales during the period 1825-1832 with headquarters in Sydney under the command of Colonel Llndesay. Governor Ralph Darling found this officer a most efficient and very useful collaborator in providing small detachments of his regiment for service both in and outside New South Wales, of which the outpost that is the subject of this monograph is but one example.

If this isolated detachment’s efficiency and thoroughness in execution of its duty, together with the high standard Officers successively in command, was typical of those used elsewhere then Governor Darling had little cause for complaint.

For four years there were no escapees from the Convict work force. Table 11 of the Appendix lists the Inward and Outward shipping at King George’s Sound during the Outpost’s existence.

That special vigilance was exercised whilst vessels were in port appears from the Commandants’ "Settlement Orders" preserved in the Mitchell Library, an example or two of which follows:—


"During the stay of the Maderia Packet in this Harbour Crown prisoners will be mustered twice a day in the morning at 8 o’clock by the Corporal of the Guard (L/C William Dickens) and in the evening at 6 by Sergeant John Hoop. The N.C.O. in charge of the Guard will go to the beach when any boat either comes from or goes to the Maderia Packet to prevent anything being landed on or taken aboard, from the Settlement without permission."

On the 12th April, 1829, a "Settlement Order" in similar form referred to the visiting American brig Rob Roy whilst in Port. Settlement Orders 2500 miles from Headquarters! 50 odd Europeans, token occupiers of 1,000,000 square miles. Posted Orders, Parade read orders—Visible evidence of the Rule of Law—and the efficiency of Britain’s Sea Power.



Colonial Secretary Macleay’s Directive to Major Lockyer, dated 4th November 1826 (H.R.A.) covering the creation of the settlement advised the provision of a military detachment and a party of convicts and continued

“the soldiers and convicts are to be employed in putting up huts for their accommodation and for the reception of stores with all convenient expedition"

an order promptly given effect to as already mentioned.

No evidence has appeared in any of the records that soldiers were ever employed on the buildings or in any occupations other than those associated with their duty as guards. Indeed it is difficult to see how it could have been otherwise, outnumbered as they were by their convict charges (Appendix Table IID. Crown prisoners employed in milling timber, livestock attendants, or the procuration of the basic materials for the creation of the Cantonment perforce worked in localities at some distance from the Settlement. Although unmentioned in any of the authorities there seems reason to believe that the Crown prisoners sent to King George’s Sound were volunteers, similar to those utilised in the outposts earlier established in Northern Australia. All transportees beginning with those aboard Governor Phillip’s First Fleet were committed to serve within the territory of New South Wales by Orders-in-Council.

It was to meet this situation that Governor Darling’s Commission of Appointment extended the western boundary of New South Wales 6 degrees westward, from 135° to 129° east longitude. This still left that portion of New Holland west of the latter, a no man’s land, outside the Governor’s jurisdiction, a position a little later taken advantage of by Captain James Stirling. That the Crown prisoners at King George’s Sound were volunteers could possibly account for the indulgences granted by successive Commandants at that settlement for meritorious service. The following examples are from the “Settlement Orders" (M.L.) already mentioned:

"17th February, 1829”.

“In consequence of good conduct and laborious habits of acting Overseer (Crown Prisoner) Thomas Heegan he will receive credit for a salary of 10d. per day from 24/2/1829 subject to approval and confirmation of H. E. Governor."

This approval was received on the 6th October following and a further “Settlement Order" dated 24/11/1829 noted Heegan’s confirmation as Overseer at 10d. per day Vice Overseer (Crown Prisoner) John Scott, returned to Sydney.

“27th August. 1829.”

“Mr. Pritchett (the Storekeeper) will be pleased to issue from Commissariat Stores one pair each of slop shoes to Crown prisoners James Lowery (Storeman) and Thomas Woodward (Flagellator) as a gratuity for good conduct."


A further reference to Thomas Woodward will appear later. And finally—

“10th October, 1829.”

“In consequence of the general good conduct of the Crown prisoners public labour will cease in future on Saturdays at 11 o'clock a.m.“

On the whole the evidence of this survey shows that very little trouble occurred with the Crown prisoners during the settlement's existence, with the following two exceptions. The first soon after Amity's landfall, on Sunday, 28th January, 1827, a week after the annexation Ceremony. On that morning prisoners refused to rise at 6 a m. as prescribed in “Settlement Orders.” What follows from Major Lockyer's Draft Journal preserved in the Mitchell Library, the relevant portion of which does not appear in that Officer's Official Journal (M.L.) forwarded to Colonial Secretary Macleay. The Draft Journal notes that a defiant attitude had manifested itself on many occasions from the idea that in the absence of a scourger, they could not be punished. On the occasion mentioned, the beef ration issue at the store was refused by some of the prisoners owing, they claimed, to short weight, and persisted in despite the Commandant’s direct order for those concerned to do so. One of them. John Ryan, again ordered to remove his beef ration refused, in an insolent manner and was placed under arrest. The sequel, still from the Commandant’s Draft Journal, says:

“As it was now absolutely necessary to make an immediate example of John Ryan, I ordered him to be punished on the spot, and after he was tied up I ordered the Overseers to inflict the punishment, which they both refused to do; and then a prisoner who said he could not that I saw not the slightest chance of enforcing my authority but by the most summary act. I determined to inflict the punishment on him myself rather than submit to allow a ruffian to get the upper hand, and after he had received 16 lashes, he promised to remove the beef. I then ordered him to be released and this appeared to have the effect of putting down this spirit.”

It apparently did as no evidence of any serious trouble appeared until towards the end of Captain Barker’s regime, prior to the settlement's transfer to the control of the Swan River settlement. Evidence of the working hours of the convict work force is preserved in “Settlement Orders” still preserved in the Mitchell Library, copies of which follow:—

“16th December, 1828”

“Assemble near Guard Post to receive the Commandant’s Orders of work for the day Breakfast 8 to 9 a.m. Dinner 12 noon to 2 p.m. Hours of Labour 9-12 noon, 2-6 p.m.”

“25th April, 1829.”

“Hours of Public Labour—8 a.m. to 5 p.m. with a Dinner break between Noon and 1 p.m."


Other evidence in the sources quoted reveals that it was the practice to employ Crown prisoners in minor posts of some responsibility. One such example is the case of Crown prisoner Thomas Woodward to whom Captain Wakefield granted an indulgence of an extra half a pound of flour daily—

“For his good conduct and the very satisfactory manner he performed the several duties of Cook to the prisoners. Constable at the prisoners’ Barrack, attendance upon the sick, and Flogger,” and continued “that he hoped that the Colonial Secretary would sanction its continuance.” (H.R.A.)

His hope was not realised as the indulgence was terminated by his successor, Lt. Sleeman, on 24th December, 1829 on instructions from Headquarters.

Perhaps it is a tribute to all four Commandants and to the rank and file of the 39th Regiment that having regard to the isolation and many other disabilities at the settlement, they were able to inspire the Broad-arrowed work force to accomplish so much with so little, and with the lack of any major troubles within the ranks. Ample evidence of this has already been told and will continue to appear etched in the cameos which follow:—

Referring to the flogging incident mentioned earlier, the second exception mentioned occurs during Captain Barker’s regime. This was the escape of a number of the Crown prisoners from the settlement. On the 10th February, 1830, that officer wrote to Governor Stirling. (W.A.S.A.)

“I transmit herewith list of 5 convicts who absconded from this Settlement on the 3rd instant to make their way to the Swan River, Overland."

The Governor acknowledged it on the 3rd of the following month and intimated that “he would use his best endeavours to apprehend the escapees.”

He did, as correspondence still preserved (W.A.S.A.) tells in some detail. In all some eight prisoners absconded from Captain Barker’s Crown prisoner work force; of these seven were recaptured in Swan River settlement’s territory and ultimately shipped to Hobart aboard the Schooner Eagle on 12th May, 1831.

The one uncaptured escapee was Crown prisoner Thomas Woodward, the same as previously mentioned, the subject of Captain Wakefield’s recommendation for an indulgence for good conduct, which, it will be remembered, was rejected by Headquarters. As an escapee Woodward's age is given by Captain Barker as 24. From this, at the time of Captain Wakefield's recommendation, he was little more than 21. Apparently he arrived aboard the brig Amity on her maiden voyage with Major Lockyer.

He held various posts during the terms of both Captain Wakefield and Lt. Sleeman and possibly Captain Barker's also, until he treated himself to the indulgence of regaining his freedom. As he alone was not recaptured, more than likely he made his escape by sea as a stowaway.



"To those high hearts that could not fear.—
To those weak hands that could not fail,—
To feeble feet that dared assail
The pathway of the pioneer." (Anon.)

Hitherto and subsequently this record tells only of men, bond or free, and of their pioneer labours in a virgin field. As will later appear, the King George’s Sound tribe of aborigines were most particular in secluding their women from any contact with their male European visitors. For some reason, not apparent, all official and other data the basis of this Monograph are similarly reticent concerning the European women resident in the Cantonment.

The fact that they were resident from its beginning until its absorption into the Swan River settlement, is confirmed by the summary prepared from official records shown in Table III of the Appendix.

In this they appear only as nameless cyphers, and are never mentioned by name, neither they nor their children, in any of the sources referred to herein. As cyphers the women’s numbers varied from one to three but at no time has either the method of arrival or departure, obtruded. That their arrival was expected and their residence officially recognised would appear to be confirmed by the fact that three cottages for their use were erected by Captain Wakefield, who disclosed in his Official Returns that they were for the use of married soldiers. So nameless they still remain, which is a pity.

What a story these pioneer European women, the first ever, domiciled in Western New Holland, either they or perhaps their children, if old enough, could have left on record, had they felt the urge, of the new strange antipodean scene, including their dusky neighbours, the tribal women, unless they too were excluded from their primitive camps.


Last year the writer was privileged to read before members of this Society a monograph entitled "Three Black Brothers". Its theme was to record some details of the association of the tribe with Europeans following Captain Vancouver’s discovery and naming of the triune harbour system which bordered its tribal domain and became known as the King George's Sound Tribe.

These covered the visits to the harbours of both British and French ships prior to the Amity’s arrival in 1826 but more particularly during the period of the New South Wales outpost from its beginning in the closing days of 1826 until its transfer to the Swan River settlement on 7th March, 1831.


Because of this it is unnecessary to repeat in detail the facts then presented more particularly as the monograph has been published in our Society’s Journal of Proceedings, Vol. V, Part VII, 1961, pp. 65-82.


Prior to the foundation of the New South Wales outpost very little had been learned of the nature of the country outside the immediate environs of King George’s Sound, and its two adjacent harbours, by either its French or English visitors. The first definite knowledge of the great inland plateau, separated as it was from the coast by coastal plains and by chains of eroded, age-old ranges, was first gained during the New South Wales period of occupation of the site of Captain Vancouver’s discovery in 1791. In the van was Major Lockyer, who like Joshua, was the first European to view, closely, the inland plateau. This in obedience to his instructions that, after making provision for the comfort of the personnel and the security of the stores: (H.R.A.)

“You will proceed to explore the neighbouring country so as to ascertain whether there are any rivers or other objects of importance, to examine the nature and quality of the soils, its fertility and the purposes to which it may appear more immediately applicable with reference to the views of Settlers.’’ The beginning, surely of a long search, a search still in progress the end of which is not yet.

In the course of his three day search for a suitable site for the settlement, already mentioned, Major Lockyer, after viewing the heights of the distant ranges from the summit of Mount Clarence through his spy glass chronicled (H.R.A.)—

“About thirty miles directly north inland is a ridge of moderately elevated hills (the Porongorup Range of today) covered with timber to the very summit, and, from the darker foliage and verdure about these hills, I should presume the soil there is very different from what it is in the immediate neighbourhood of the sea shore. Shall therefore avail myself of the first leisure to examine that part.’’

Busy with the details of planning the Cantonment, not to mention the troubles with the aborigines, his first leisure apparently did not occur until the 12th February. On that day, accompanied by a detail of soldiers, the Commandant left the settlement at 5 a.m. en route by boat for the French River (the Kalgan) via Oyster Harbour. After breakfast on Green Island, the boat entered the esturial mouth of the river to proceed northward until further progress was prevented by a ridge of rocks across the river, about six miles from Oyster Harbour. Lockyer’s Journal noted that the ridge of rocks also prevented the intrusion of the ocean’s tides into


the river's upper reaches, "above which" the narration then continued—“the river is fresh and runs in deep lagoons with still water at the end which overflows and runs into the one below".

Before the party continued northward along the western bank of the river the boat was anchored in the river, below the ridge of rocks first mentioned. Here it was safe from interference by the aborigines who could not swim. In passing it may be noted that the anchorage can be identified as the very fine pool below the present day Upper Kalgan Bridge.

On the day following Lockyer and his party, continuing on foot, reached a point estimated as about twenty-five miles north of the settlement. From this spot the Commandant’s Journal chronicled

“a range of mountains, which extend E. and W, about forty miles, of which I have a most excellent view . . . Returned to the boat at 5 p.m. I intend tomorrow—(14th February) to set out to reach the ridge of the mountains mentioned" and on the morrow the narrative continued—“Set out early with four days provisions on the same route as yesterday until noon." When “a violent thunderstorm, during which, whilst making the provisions and arms safe in a hollow tree, the party became wet to the skin. The rain continued all day and until 9 a.m. the following morning."

As the result of the drenching one of the soldiers was so badly stricken with a violent attack of ague as to necessitate a return of the party to the settlement. There is no record of any further exploratory excursions by Lockyer prior to his return to Sydney. There, on his arrival he provided the Colonial Secretary with a full account of both the Amity’s long and stormy voyage westward and of proceedings at the settlement during the short time it was under his command. (H.R.A.) In this, of his exploratory trip northward, he reported—

“Having penetrated nearly forty miles into the interior direct north of the Settlement, the country passed through became better as I proceeded inland. Not being able to carry more than four or five days provisions prevented my proceeding further, which could have easily been done, the country being all open through large forest trees. A ridge of mountains similar to the Blue Mountains in the East and about the same distance inland run E. and W. Having been within fifteen-twenty miles of them (today’s Stirling Range of course) with a spy-glass I could plainly discern that the trees were covered with most luxuriant green foliage, from which I am confident that the land there must be good."

Major Lockyer’s mantle having fallen on his understudy, Captain Joseph Wakefield the Engineer, he too found his duties at the settlement left little leisure for exploring. Aware, no doubt of the Colonial Secretary’s directive mentioned earlier, old soldier-like, he aborted a possible query from Headquarters, when, on 19th August. 1827 he wrote (H.RA.)


“It has been mentioned to me by sealers that there is a large river about fifty miles to the eastward of us. If it is the case I should imagine that it takes its rise amongst some very high hills bearing N. by E. from this Settlement. Should H.E. permit me I shall be happy to endeavour to ascertain the fact.”

The high hills were those viewed by Lockyer through his spy glass, and the river, of course, the Pallinup or Salt River. No directive from Headquarters in reply to the one mentioned has obtruded although the Commandant must have received a request for soil samples as on the 14th June, 1828 (H.R.A.) he advised the Colonial Secretary—

“I have forwarded, according to your direction four small boxes of soil, numbered 1 to 4 with lead coloured paint—viz.—

No. 1.—Soil from the Settlement.

No. 2.—Soil from the banks of the French (Kalgan) River about 14 miles from the Settlement.

No. 3.—Soil from Mount Purringorep about 30 miles N. by E. of the Settlement, and

No. 4.—Soil from Mount Wolurope”.

These soil samples had been obtained during the previous March, as had been reported to Headquarters on the 30th June (H.R.A.). This told that on the 17th of that month a party left the settlement on an exploratory excursion. It comprised, in addition to Commandant Wakefield and Storekeeper Tallemarch, a soldier, four Crown prisoners and three aborigines. The first leg of the excursion was made from the settlement by boat, provisioned for five days. The route by boat was identical with that already mentioned followed by Major Lockyer from the settlement, via the Sound, Oyster harbour, and the Kalgan River as far as the first dyke formed by the ridge of rocks across the river. The boat was anchored in the same deep pool below the dyke. Camp was made for the night four miles further on in a N. by E. direction. On the following day a bearing due N. was followed until camp was made for the night about seven miles S. by E. Mount Purringorep (the Porongorup of today). The base of this range was reached at 11 a.m. on the following day, when it was scaled and its summit reached by Wakefield and Tallemarch with a native guide, most likely Mokare. The range further north, about which Lockyer had enthused during his earlier excursion, was seen about ten miles to the north. Wakefield left no record of his opinion other than that the valley between the two ranges was extremely barren. On the return journey camp was made for the night close to Mount "Woolgongup” (today’s Willyung) about nine miles north of the settlement. Of this journey Wakefield noted that the soil on Mount Purringorep was very rich, the timber remarkably fine and lofty, and that most of the country along the excursion’s route was extremely barren, the soil sandy and similar to that adjacent to the settlement.


Captain Wakefield (as he had asked some six months earlier) was succeeded as Commandant by Lt. George Sleeman, of the 39th Regiment, on the 6th December, 1828. Both here and elsewhere In the course of this survey will have been noted the capable efficiency of Captain Wakefield during the twenty months he held the post of Commandant (the longest period of any of the four who held it) during, undoubtedly, the most difficult phase, occasioned by circumstances entirely beyond his control. Both significant and most fitting is the tribute paid to his labours by a contemporary eye-witness of their results. This is preserved in a “Settlement Order” (M.L.) publicised on the day of his relief by his successor Lt. Sleeman. The Order recorded—

“On succeeding Captain Wakefield in the charge and command of this Settlement Lt. Sleeman cannot help expressing his sincere participation in the feeling of regret which must be experienced by every person on it at the approaching departure of the Officer under whose judicious management it has attained its present advanced and prosperous State.”

Presumably, Commandant Sleeman found his duties in the settlement precluded little, if any, personal participation in exploration. There is evidence, however, that he gave a more detailed examination to land which had earlier attracted the attention of his predecessors on the eastern banks of the esturial mouth of the French (Kalgan) River, between its Oyster Harbour entrance and the dyke some six miles north, already mentioned. Impressed by the richness of its soils he commissioned a Mr. Baxter, a botanical collector then operating from the settlement, to report on the area mentioned. This confirmed his own view.

Lt. Sleeman was succeeded by Captain Collet Barker on 3rd December, 1829. Before the latter actually assumed control he made amends for the paucity of his own exploratory efforts by facilitating an exploration of country not previously examined, to the N.N. West of the Settlement.

He made available the guide, gear, provisions and personnel to enable a visitor in the person of Dr. J. B. Wilson R.N., to undertake the task. Dr. Wilson had arrived aboard the ship Governor Phillip which had brought Captain Barker to the settlement. In addition to the Doctor, as leader, his party comprised Commissary General John Kent, Private Gough (39th Regiment), two Crown prisoners and the native guide, Mokare. This exploratory expedition occupied some twelve days. A detailed account is preserved in Doctor Wilson's book, “A voyage round the world," previously mentioned.

It reveals that a large area west of that previously seen by both Lockyer and Wakefield, extending westward as far as the Denmark River was examined for the first time. Its extent is shown by the place names along the route traversed, place names in use today, as is apparent from the following summary set in sequence along the party's route from the Cantonment, viz.:—Albany Highway to


Willyung Creek, Narrikup, Crystal Brook, Hay River, Mount Barker, Ongerup Creek, West Kendenup, Loch Katherine, Kent River. Sleeman River, Rocky Gully, Denmark River and the adjacent Mounts Lindesay, Hollowell and Shadforth, and many others. From the Denmark River the return route followed the coastal sandhills, past Torbay Inlet and the Grassmere lakes, the majority, if not all, were applied by Dr. Wilson as his Journal records, a copy of which he forwarded to Governor Stirling, whom he had met in Perth during the stay of the Governor Phillip at Fremantle, whilst en route to King George’s Sound. Governor Stirling reciprocated his appreciation for the gift by the perpetuation of the names applied by Wilson in the first map of the area prepared by his Surveyor General—a nice gesture, surely, which must have gladdened Dr. Wilson’s heart.

The Departure of Lt. Sleeman for Sydney on the 20th December, 1829, aboard the brig Governor Phillip left Captain Barker in control of the settlement and wrote Finis to its records in the (H.R.A.). Like Lockyer the first Commandant, Barker, the last, kept a diary. Less fortunate than Major Lockyer his diary was lost for a century or more until it was secured by the Trustees of the Mitchell Library. Unfortunately because of its microscopic script it has not been transcribed nor edited. The absence of any data from either of the sources mentioned, has left Captain Barker’s regime under a dark cloud of obscurity. Fortunately it can be illuminated with a few flashes of light from other sources. One of these is his friend Dr. Wilson’s book already mentioned. In it the Author records, from a letter he received after his return to England that Captain Barker had, between the 3rd and 8th February, 1830, conducted an examination of the north of the coastal sandhills traversed by Dr. Wilson on his return from the Denmark River to the settlement. In addition, Captain Barker confirmed the accuracy of the bearings taken and recorded by Wilson during his own excursion and mentioned that the members of his party were, with the exception of himself (Barker) the same as Wilson’s.

The final contribution made by the personnel of the New South Wales settlement to the exploration of its hinterland was one of succour. A month before its absorption by the Swan River colony, on the 4th February, 1831, four weary, hungry and exhausted men trudged into the Cantonment out of the West. They were Captain Bannister and his three white companions. (Cross’s Journal, London). The party had left Fremantle seven weeks earlier, on the 14th December, 1830 with pack horses fully provisioned for a month. The party’s purpose was to examine the nature of the country between Swan River and King George’s Sound.

The southern coast was reached on the 16th January following, not at King George's Sound, but. through some directional error en route, about nine miles west of Nornalup. with provisions, men


and packhorses exhausted. Their journey eastward from Nornalup, now without horses, occupied nineteen days, during which their only food consisted of shell fish gathered from the beaches below the low sandhills along their route. In the light of Captain Bannister's journey, the explorations herein recorded made from the New South Wales settlement, without horse transport, during the four years of its existence, were surely evidence of some small merit.


The beginning of the cultivation of edible plants of European orign in what is now the State of Western Australia, a State noted for its primary production, took place in the New South Wales Outpost at King George’s Sound in 1827. It arose from one of the directives to its First Commandant (H.R.A.) viz:—

"A collection of garden seeds and plants has been shipped under the care of a gardener John Brown, and the Governor trusts that no time will be lost in preparing some ground for gardens, as well as planting maize, of which you will observe an ample supply is provided."

It seems strange that Crown prisoner John Brown’s mission, although entrusted with the seeds, was not, according to the directive mentioned to garden but to make a collection of the indigenous vegetable productions at King George’s Sound and its environs and convey them personally by the brig “Amity” on her return voyage to Sydney. On that voyage the brig carried a letter from the Commandant which explained that John Brown’s return had been prevented owing to trouble with the aborigines having prevented the completion of his task. It was, apparently never completed, as Crown prisoner John Brown, the gardener, left his body at King George’s Sound where he died on the 29th May, 1827, from inflammation of the liver, to become the settlement’s first European death.

The Commandant’s journal (H.R.A.) records that within a fortnight of landing a garden was in course of preparation by the Crown prisoners. This garden, by the 20th January, on its area of a quarter of an acre, had been sown with potatoes, turnips, cabbages, peas and beans. These germinated and by the 7th February were all up, but, owing to the fine weather required moisture. Two days later rain came, but accompanied by weather so cold as to retard the seedlings' growth. The report quoted then continued

"whether from the season being unfavourable or the soil too sour from the lack of working, most likely both, which time will show.”

It did. a week before his return to Sydney, aboard H.M.S. Success, when his Journal recorded—

“The garden does (sic) answer our expectations as everything sown has come up at first well and afterwards dies off."


Of this garden, an eye witness, clerk or writer Gilbert, aboard H.M.S. Success, when she called to pick up the departing Commandant, Major Lockyer recorded,—

“The soil is wretched, with the utmost care and attention they have not hitherto been able to bring anything a few inches from the ground.” (W.A.S.A. “Explorers’ Diaries. Vol. 1. PP 2).

The departing Commandant’s understudy and successor, Captain Joseph Wakefield, from the beginning of his regime displayed keen interest in the settlement’s pioneer gardens. One of his first reports to Headquarters confirms the failure of the first plot mentioned earlier, and advised that a new plot had been cleared on the south side of the harbour, opposite the settlement (the Little Grove of today) and had been sown with turnip seed which showed promise.

In all his reports concerning the gardens Wakefield consistently displayed a cheery optimism of ultimate success. During August he advised using every endeavour to raise vegetables and expected success in three months. Later, still persevering with the gardens, he noted that a hundred holes had been prepared for pumpkins. The holes had been filled with a blend of rich top soil brought from Oyster Harbour’s Green Island. This island was the site of the Commandant’s next garden venture. Its rich guano-impregnated top soil, after cultivation, was sown with cabbage and lettuce seed; the resultant seedlings, like all his previous endeavours, promised well. In addition to the guano. Green Island, as its name implied, was immune from the depredations of animals, either indigenous or imported. Yet another site selected by the garden-conscious Wakefield was a marsh on the western side of the Cantonment, of which he again commented it promised well, after he had it trenched and thoroughly drained. This latter with the proviso that the Crown prisoner work force was insufficient to bring it into immediate cultivation. (May be this is the place to comment that after a thorough study of the authorities upon which this succession of cameos is based the wonder has been not of the—“very little progress made during the Settlement’s existence” —but rather that so few had accomplished so much. Later, referring to this western garden site. Wakefield recorded that after draining and whilst in use as a livestock paddock, it had been dressed with burnt lime and manured with the plentiful surplus of the fish seined from Princess Royal Harbour. Still persistent in his trial and error endeavour to master the intricacies of the strange antipodean soil the Commandant reported at the end of October that an acre of garden was anticipated to provide a speedy and permanent supply of good vegetables, and that an additional acre had been sown with maize.

The Records reveal one doubter of the Commandant’s high hopes of success. This a few days after his October report, when


storekeeper Qeorge Tallemarch, perturbed, possibly, by the diminishing supplies on his Commissary shelves, advised his Chief in Sydney—

"The land in the immediate vicinity of the Settlement, is of the very worst description and it is a general opinion that it will never grow grain of any kind, about one acre has been planted with vegetables, the soil obtained from the islands and it is very doubtful if it can ever produce a crop, the acre of Indian corn (maize), looks very unpromising.’’

Nearly three months later, conscious or not of his storekeeper’s doleful comments, Wakefield’s head was still unbowed when, in the middle of January, 1828, he reported—

"Our garden will turn out well. A quantity of pumpkin seed planted (in the hundred holes previously mentioned) is likely to produce a most speedy supply, they thrive tolerably well and appear to grow very large. Green Island (Oyster Harbour) is coming to be of great service to us. * The maize crop. I fear, will fail. Potatoes do remarkably well, and are of excellent quality.”

Captain Wakefield, some four months before he was relieved by Lt. George Sleeman, in a postscript to his report dated 4th August. 1828, wrote—

"The Settlement is remarkably healthy and we are tolerably well supplied with vegetables, chiefly from Green Island.” Lt. Sleeman, also of the 39th Regiment, succeeded Captain Wakefield as Commandant, on 6th December, 1828, following his arrival three days earlier aboard the Governor Phillip from Raffles Bay, Northern Australia. Three months later, on the 25th March, 1829, he advised Sydney Headquarters that the land immediately surrounding the settlement, because of its sandy and rocky nature produced but scant crops and was capable of little improvement. In the last-mentioned Sleeman reported that he had cleared an area of three acres on the slopes of a small hill about a mile and a half from the settlement. He identified it as the spot where the sheep and the cattle were usually kept where his predecessor had erected two small weatherboard huts for their keepers. This “sité” had been noted by Major Lockyer, during his site finding survey mentioned earlier, as carrying a small grove of timber suitable for milling. Lt Sleeman justified the clearing of this site in spite of the plentiful supply of vegetables then being produced on the Green Island garden on the ground that he wished to conserve the labour of the Crown prisoners a large amount of whose time was spent on the transport boat serving the island.

Another reason might well have been that logs of the timber cleared provided the scantling and weatherboards for his building programme referred to earlier. This three acre clearing later became the site of what is now known as the "Old Farm” at Strawberry Hill.

On the 14th May, 1829, Sleeman advised Sydney Headquarters that his new garden site had been linked to the settlement by a road


six feet wide and that it contained 3,000 cabbage and broccoli plants of good size in addition to an abundance of turnips, potatoes, carrots, onions, radishes, parsley, etc., rapidly coming forward. Some six months later, on 7th October, 1829—the Commandant was able to report, this be it noted, about five months after the foundation of the Swan River settlement, that his new garden had been able to supply his settlement with vegetables distributed twice weekly. After occupying his post for twelve months Lt. Sleeman was relieved by another officer of his Regiment, Captain Collet Barker. This officer, en route from the disbanded outpost at Fort Wellington, Northern Australia, of which he had been Commandant, called at Fremantle to land the plant, livestock and stores from the abandoned outpost in accord with Governor Darling’s instructions. Whilst there, no doubt he learned that his new post at King George’s Sound was already marked for absorption by the Swan River settlement.

Because of this, Captain Barker, the fourth Commandant, of the New South Wales Outpost, held the post for fourteen months, mainly in a caretaker capacity, until its transfer to the Swan River settlement on the 7th March, 1831. Few, if any, records of this period are available in H.R.A. and as already mentioned Captain Barker’s Journal is not available.

Fortunately, in spite of this it has been possible to continue this cameo of the first gardens from other sources.

The first of these. Dr. J. B. Wilson’s travel book mentioned elsewhere herein, concerns the Green Island garden established by the optimistic second Commandant. Of it, the Doctor Author, who visited it in December 1829, en route to the French (Kalgan) River enthused when—

“he found turnips, carrots, peas, potatoes and cabbages together with other culinary vegetable under the control of the convict gardener’’

resident on it. Landing again on the return journey the Doctor continued—

“when the boat was loaded to capacity with vegetables for use aboard the Governor Phillip on her return voyage to Sydney.”

The other source, (W.A.S.A.) correspondence some sixteen months later, from Surgeon Alexander Collie, R.N., the first Government Resident whom Governor Stirling had placed in charge of his then newly acquired, ready made southern Outpost. The correspondence tells that the garden at the Farm (Lt. Sleeman’s creation) was “almost wholly vacant.” This applied also, more or less, to all the gardens created during Captain Wakefield’s regime. Having regard to the circumstances in which Captain Barker was placed, lt is very doubtful if, at the end of the summer, as it was, the vegetable gardens could have been other than bare. As regards a work force Government Resident Collie, bereft of the


labour of any Crown prisoners, was in an even worse position than Captain Barker to do much about the gardens. It is therefore, not surprising, that a "Public Notice", over his signature, dated 31st December 1831, intimated that on the following day Tenders would be received for leasing the Government Gardens and for the purchase of their growing crops. So far as Sleeman’s "Farm" or Collie’s “Government Farm" (later named by Collie "Strawberry Hill") is concerned its cultivation had been carried out by Collie himself. The Public Notice mentioned listed the gardens open for Tender as:—

(1) The Government farm (site of the "Old Farm” Strawberry Hill).

(2) The Eastern Settlement Garden. (Situated on a cleared marsh on the east side of the Cantonment, that is between today’s Parade and York Streets, South of Vancouver Street. This "Public Notice’’ can be regarded as a vindication of Captain Wakefield's optimistic endeavours in the matter of the settlement’s gardens during his regime as Commandant, and makes apparent some of the progress made during the initial four years of the Settlement’s existence.

(3) The Western Settlement Garden. (Situated on the cleared marsh on the Western side of the Cantonment. Today’s Albany Bowling Green and Club House occupies portion of its site.)

LIVING OFF THE LAND This cameo description of food shortages during the first years of the settlement, unless otherwise mentioned is based on records in the H.R.A. Elsewhere herein has been noted some of the indigenous products used in the erection of the buildings of the Cantonment These comprised timber, stone, bricks, lime, and reeds or rushes for thatching. In the main the members of this pioneer band had to rely upon the supplies which accompanied them aboard the Amity, replenished, from time to time, from their Sydney base.

With reference to the indigenous vegetable products upon which the local tribe of aborigines relied, these were either unattractive if not repulsive to European tastes, as the pains taken with the vegetable gardens, as earlier recounted, bear testimony.

In the matter flesh, fish and fowl, the local species were both more acceptable as food and more readily available in the appropriate season. On the 2nd April, 1827, on the eve of his return to Sydney. Major Lockyer, in a Report wrote:—

"Fish to be had in almost any quantity and variety, very good with exceeding fine oysters. Kangaroos, are not scarce and some very large. Black swans, wild geese, ducks, musk ducks, and teal” of the oysters in a later report he enthused:—

“The oysters are very large and fine and are very like those taken in Torical Bay on the French coast opposite Jersey.’’


Even as Lockyer sailed away in H.M.S. Success, a shortage in the Settlement’s food stocks already loomed. The “Year Book of W.A. 1902-4” quotes one Gilbert, a clerk or writer aboard H.M.S. Success, as recording:—

“The people had only thirty days’ provisions at half allowance, at the time we arrived, and it was thus fortunate that we touched there, for we found to our surprise that the Cutter had not reached there”—(with stores)—“The Captain (James Stirling) halved the Success stores which would provide sufficient stores for the Settlement’s people for two months at half rations."

This gesture by Captain Stirling, while without doubt made from a sense of duty, could, possibly, have been tinged with some small measure of remorse. The Cutter referred to by Gilbert, the Currency Lass, transporting stores to the settlement, had been escorted from Sydney by H.M.S. Success. At sea, owing to her slower sailing qualities, caused Stirling, with scant time in which to pursue his examination of the Swan River, to push ahead without her. Later, striking bad weather, Currency Lass had the misfortune to lose her rudder, and had to limp back to Sydney.

Now, Commandant, Captain Wakefield, in his first Report, made in May, wrote, inter alia—

“There is a great quantity of wild celery, to gather and pound it, the convalescent are frequently employed, the juice is administered by the Surgeon (Isaac Scott Nind) in symptoms of scurvy, and has proved beneficial to the few who have occasion to use it.”

In a later Report, following his comment that with the approach of winter both kangaroos and fish had become extremely scarce, the Commandant continued:—

“In order to obtain fresh provisions, I occasionally send to an Island about four leagues to the Eastward for Mutton Birds.”

(These were sooty petrels and the Island, now named “Coffin” east of Captain Vancouver’s Mount Gardener.) To continue the quotation—

“the boat generally returns with two days’ supply for the whole of the Settlement”—(generally about fifty persons)— “They are exceedingly numerous, easily caught, and average about a pound each. Having been so long on salt provisions we find them very acceptable. If we should be in want of meat, it is my intention to send the empty (Salt beef) casks (to the Island) and have them filled with these birds salted. From the innumerable quantity of sufficient supply of them and their eggs may easily be taken so subsist the whole of us for a considerable time.”

This was fortunate as instructions had been received from Sydney to conserve the settlement's meagre livestock for breeding. A later report by the Commandant told:—

“We are beginning to suffer much from scurvy but the eating freely of mallows which grow on some of the islands, all are now fast recovering.”


The effect of the non-arrival of the Currency Lass can be gathered, from a Return sent to Sydney during July. This showed in detail the number of days certain food stuffs in Store were estimated to last—viz:—

"Biscuit (4) Salt beef and pork (19) Flour (11) oatmeal (31), rice (24)."

Fortunately, the arrival of the brig Amity the following month averted any serious shortage.

Reporting Amity's safe arrival the ever optimistic, though sometimes harassed Wakefield wrote:—

"I consider it my duty to state that we have neither lime Juice, vinegar or preserved meat in store, so essentially necessary for scurvy. Our chief dependence as a preventative and cure is mallows which will cease should be have very much hot weather.”

The report quoted in a Postscript added—

"No clothing having arrived for the prisoners, I am fearful they will be in a state of perfect nudity before a supply is received.”

Again, at the end of October. 1827, on the arrival of the schooner Isabella earlier in the month, another Report, referring to this vessel's manifest stated:—

"The following things listed have not arrived, two bales of slops (clothing) one bundle of harness and two each of harrows and scythes.”

Apparently even Captain Wakefield’s urbanity of temper and professional zeal had its limits as his application to be relieved of his post soon followed the letters quoted.

About six months later his relief came when another officer of his regiment, Lt. George Sleeman, suceeded him and he returned to Sydney aboard the Governor Phillip. The third Commandant was more fortunate than his predecessor, as during his regime there were no shortages of stores. Although there were no shortages, no trouble with the aborigines or the Crown prisoners, the third Commandant finds a niche in this cameo because of certain indigenous products he gathered and used, products which, later, following the absorption of the Settlement into the Swan River colony, made a substantial contribution to its early economy. He employed the settlement’s boat, not mutton birding, but sealing.

The result, reported to Headquarters, told of the bag—

“Ten gallons of seal oil. twelve furred skins, eleven haired skins, and twenty-three pup skins" and of their disposal—

“The oil used in the Settlement’s lamps, the haired skins provided caps for some of the Crown prisoners, the usable pup skins (the balance were rotten) provided Mokare, the native guide, with jacket and trousers, while the dozen furred skins were retained by Sleeman for his own personal use."

On the 3rd December 1828, Lt. Sleeman was relieved by Captain


Collet Barker who had arrived towards the end of the previous month. As told elsewhere, he held the post until the 7th March 1830, when it become part of the Swan River settlement, and Captain Barker together with all the New South Wales personnel, soldiers and Crown prisoners, sailed for Sydney.


Earlier it has been mentioned that the Stone Age tribe in whose territory the settlement had been established had no knowledge of even the rudiments of agriculture. This applied equally to animal husbandry, with one minor exception. The adult native dog or dingo, was valued as an article of diet. However, any pups taken following their mother's death were retained, nurtured and trained to aid their owners on their hunting excursions. There is evidence that from its inception in the Settlement the use of European livestock was envisaged. The Amity on her pioneer westward voyage, as already noted, carried cattle, sheep and pigs, while the account of her stormy passage of six weeks told of the considerable losses of the livestock she carried. At the beginning, the survivors, after landing failed to thrive, save a little later the pigs and the cattle as will appear—but the sheep remained a problem. This livestock provided very little in the way of meat for the settlement as the Commandant’s directive prescribed their conservation for breeding purposes. In most cases their use as food arose from their accidental deaths. From the prevelance of unsuitable grasses in the vicinity of the Settlement, coupled with the ravages of the dingoes the sheep made the worst showing in the fight for survival.

Later additional livestock from Sydney failed to reach the settlement because of the fact that on their arrival at Western Port, en route, they were found to be totally unfit to continue the voyage to King George’s Sound.

Three years after the settlement’s foundation, a livestock return (M.L.) dated 3rd December 1829, signed by Lt. Sleeman listed only twenty sheep and one goat. The absence of cattle could be, and most likely was, accounted for by the fact of their escape from the settlement. After its absorption by the Swan River settlement (7/3/1831) Government Resident Collie found evidence of the bovine escapees, on the grassy banks of the upper reaches of the Kalgan and Hay Rivers where they had thriven and multiplied.


As will have been gathered from earlier cameos depicting western New Holland’s first European Settlement, its pioneer occupants must have failed to find any justification for regarding it as a Garden of Eden. If there was an exception, he, perforce would have been a botanist. The rare beauty of our Austral land’s


rare Age Old flora had been recognised long before Major Lockyer's Annexation ceremony In Its South western corner. William Dampier was in the van but it really began following the visit of Sir Joseph Banks aboard the Endeavour when Captain Cook first discovered its eastern seaboard. It was Banks’ ever-growing interest that inspired the appointment of Archibald Menzies as botanist aboard Captain Vancouver's H.M.S. Discovery on world cruise. It was during this voyage that King George’s Sound was first discovered, charted and named. Likewise it was the first occasion when Menzies collected specimens of its hitherto unknown flora. Almost a decade later, while the British Admiralty arranged the appointment of Captain Flinders and despatched the Endeavour on her Australian Coastal survey, it was the voice of Banks that nominated her botanist Robert Brown who continued the work of Menzies in the area of Captain Vancouver’s King George’s Sound. In the intervening quarter of a century prior to Major Lockyer’s arrival, French and English botanists continued to add to the knowledge gained by Menzies and Brown. In view of this it can occasion no surprise that under Colonial Secretary Macleay’s direction gardener Crown prisoner John Brown’s urgent mission as a member of Amity's pioneer party was the collection of the indigenous flora of the locality rather than the cultivation and acclimatisation of the European vegetable seeds and plants of which he was the custodian. That John Brown’s death did not allay the Colonial Secretary’s urge appeared with the arrival at the Settlement of the supply vessel Lucy Ann on the 22nd December 1828 from Sydney. She brought a passenger, William Baxter, a botanical collector, representing English patrons, including, no doubt. Sir Joseph Banks and Robert Brown, and a strong backing from Colonial Secretary Macleay in Sydney as appeared in “Settlement Orders” on the day following Lucy Ann’s arrival (M.L.)

Dated 23rd December. This announced:—

“Mr. Baxter (Botanist) having arrived by the barque Lucy Ann to collect plants and seeds for the Colonial Government will take possession of the Hut now occupied by crown prisoner Henry Magee and will receive a Military Ration from 24th December, 1828.”

The Lucy Ann on her next visit sailed for Sydney on the 20th May when she carried two cases of seeds of Baxter’s collecting consigned to Charles Frazer, Government Botanist, of Sydney.

Botanist Baxter returned to Sydney on the 19th July 1829, aboard a visiting sealer, the Prince of Denmark, J. Forbes, Master, who had granted him a free passage both for himself, and his botanical collections. The acknowledgment of the latter, by the Sealer’s Master. J. Forbes, testifies by its details that William Baxter had had a fruitful stay. That some at least of the items listed ultimately reached the English patrons seems clear. Others, successfully cultivated in the Kew Gardens, were later described


and illustrated in colour in Sweet's Flora Australiana. In the preparation of this Cameo the use of C. A. Gardner's The History of Botanical Investigation in W.A. is gratefully acknowledged.


(H.R.A.) The absence of any wrecks in King George’s Sound and its adjacent harbours for nearly forty years prior to Major Lockyer’s arrival had justified Captain Vancouver's opinion of it being "a very good port”—vide Table 1 in the Appendix.

The day before his return to Sydney aboard H.M.S. Success, following a conference with the sailing Master of the Amity Lt. Festing R.N., Lockyer determined upon the creation of a Pilot Service for the Port. The first two appointees to make history in this department were two volunteers, then members of the Amity's crew, who had volunteered for the posts. They were John Hobson, and George Thomas who had accepted appointment at a rate of payment equal to that which they had received aboard the Amity. John Hobson, prior to signing on aboard Amity had been one of the party of destitute sealers attached to the sealing schooner Brisbane who had sought succour from Major Lockyer. Before he returned to Sydney aboard Amity Lt. Festing acquainted both the seamen, now Pilots, with the proper entrance channels for vessels in and out of King George’s Sound, while Major Lockyer had advised Headquarters in Sydney of the need for the provision of local Port Regulations.

Unlike his fellow Pilot, George Thomas, who confined his services strictly to pilotage, which of course, in view of the circumstances, were of necessity rare, Hobson, much more co-operative, won the approval of Commandant Wakefield who informed Headquarters—

“The Pilot Hobson is always ready, willing and perfectly sufficient for any duty that is required of him.”

Apparently a man after Captain Wakefield’s own heart. Twelve months’ experience could have convinced the Commandant that the approaches to the harbour were safe enough for use without a pilot, a view apparently shared at Headquarters, as the local Port Regulations suggested by Lockyer never eventuated. Be this as it may the Pilot Service terminated soon after the brig Mermaid limped into port on 9th January, 1828, in distress. On her voyage from Melville Island down the Western coast, her master and crew, save two, were stricken with illness. Of her arrival and condition Commandant Wakefield advised Headquarters (H.R.A.)

“In a most deplorable state, her Master, Samuel Dowsett and almost all on board very sick, bowsprit damaged. Settlement carpenters repaired her, prisoners procured wood and water. Only two sailors on Mermaid free from disease. Acting Pilot John Hobson to accompany vessel to Sydney.”


The last on the suggestion of Mermaid’s Master, the only qualified navigator aboard, owing to the state of his health. The departure of John Hobson aboard Mermaid ended the Port’s first Pilot Service. However her repair and the relief of her crew in King George’s Sound, although the first, was not the last occasion upon which vessels in dire distress sought succour and salvation for their sailors.


(H.R.A.) The deaths of Europeans recorded at the Outpost during the period it was controlled from Sydney numbered two, although the Crown prisoner, very badly injured in the affray with the aborigines mentioned earlier had a very near escape of making a third, transfixed as he was by many spears.

The first death was that of a soldier. “Private William Banks of H.M. 39th Regiment” whom Commandant Lockyer reported

“departed this life on Thursday 8th March 1827. He had been a long time ill” and continued on the following Sunday

"This morning Private William Banks was interred.” Although not recorded it must be assumed that his burial was associated with the usual Military honours accorded a deceased soldier.

A little less than three months later, on 29th May, the soldier was joined, on the long last journey whence no traveller returns, by the Crown Prisoner, John Brown, the gardener, also a member of the Amity’s pioneer band, mentioned earlier. Of this death Commandant Wakefield, in advising Headquarters, wrote—

"I am sorry to report the loss of John Brown, the gardener, who died on the 29th May.”

In a return of deaths (ML) the cause of John Brown’s death is stated as:—

"Inflammation of the liver.”

As in the case of Private Banks no mention is made of a Burial Service nor does any record appear in either case of the site of their burial.

From another source (W.A.S.A.) it is possible to identify, without fear of contradiction, this European Cemetery. This from Assistant Surveyor Raphael Clint’s plan of his first survey of the Albany Townsite of 1832, together with a copy of it prepared by his immediate successor Assistant Surveyor Alfred Hillman dated 1836, mentioned earlier.

The latter specifically identifies Albany Town lot No. 115 as the Burial Ground of the New South Wales Settlement. It was probably chosen not only because of its proximity to the Cantonment but for other reasons which made it particularly suitable for its purpose.

In its virgin state, it formed part of a high foothill of Mount


Melville, in the form of a deep bank with a low-water table. Many years later, the lot’s eastern boundary abutting York Street, during that Street's construction, was impounded by a high and very substantial granite wall to prevent the hill’s sand from engulfing the Street. This wall, which today still performs its designed function, runs between the Commonwealth Bank, on the North and the Albany Advertiser’s building on the South. The granite wall was built by Imperial Crown prisoners of a much later vintage than John Brown’s contemporaries, although they too made a substantial contribution to the development of what is now the State of Western Australia.

Today the remains of Private William Banks and Gardener John Brown, more fortunate than many of their pioneering fellows, who rest in unknown graves from Wyndham to Eucla, repose in a well kept and attractive garden.


The preceding Story of New South Wales’ most western outpost, compressed as it is, cannot fail to convince the unbiased of the unreality of the picture presented in the extract quoted in its preface.

As to its location, in Part One, the exact spot has been established beyond any reasonable doubt, of the site upon which the British Flag was hoisted by Major Edmund Lockyer; in Part Two, a series of cameos record the progress made during the period of four and a quarter years whilst controlled from Sydney.

These latter, it is felt, without detracting in any way from the value of the very capable services rendered by Major Lockyer during the Settlement’s first four formative months, place in proper perspective the services of his three successors who held their posts for much longer periods. Of these, the second Commandant, Captain Joseph Wakefield, held his the longest and on the evidence presented, during the most difficult period. Acknowledgment has been made in the Text and Appendix of the sources and their Authors upon which it is based. For any hurt caused by the unintentional omission from these, accident rather than deliberate design, is pleaded and due apology hereby tendered.

The Author's thanks, it is felt, are more particularly due to the Trustees and Staffs of the Mitchell Library, Sydney, and the Western Australian State Archives. To the former for the valuable and helpful information always so promptly given over a period of a quarter of a century. To the latter likewise for similar service since its creation in 1946. This, because, without the data obtained from both these sources this Monograph must, of necessity, have held many a blind spot, now fortunately, with their assistance, made crystal clear.



Compiled by Robert Stephens


List of ships known to have visited King George's Sound, New Holland and from the time of its discovery and charting by Captain George Vancouver in 1791, until its first permanent occupation by Europeans late in December, 1826. (Click/tap to enlarge.)

Garry Gillard | New: 5 April, 2021 | Now: 27 September, 2022