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Success Hill and Spring

Success Hill is a reserve in West Guildford (Bassendean) and is and always has been Nyoongar land. It was the basis for a successful application for native title. The Swan Valley Fringe Dwellers had a 'camp' - of conventionally constructed buildings - near there until recently when they were turned out for some spurious reason, the buildings demolished and the people dispersed.

Lieutenant William Preston was apparently not with Stirling on his navigation of the Swan River in 1827 (tho Belches, Clause, Frazer, Garling, Gilbert, and Heathcote were) when they arrived on the Success to ascertain whether Western New Holland was suitable for colonisation. He, Preston, was nevertheless later granted land in West Guildford adjacent to Success Hill, and it seems likely (according to Carter) that he gave the Hill its name (rather than Stirling himself, as Carter suggests he probably did not make landfall at that particular point, as he might have been vulnerable to attack). The creek running southwards into the Swan at the point was called Preston's Creek. (It is now Bennett's Brook.)

The Wikipedia page for Guildford makes this claim: 'During Captain Stirling's exploration for a suitable site to establish a colony on the western side of the Australian continent in the late 1820s, the exploration party of boats found a fresh water stream across the river from the site of Guildford which they called Success Hill.' The use of 'they' for the namers is remarkably imprecise, and not consistent with the fact that Stirling personally chose all of the placenames bestowed during the 1827 expedition.

There is little or no evidence for an 1827 naming. Paul Hasluck, writing in 1927, refers to 'local tradition' as being its only support: 'This spring marks the starting point of Guildford’s history. It is named Success Spring and, according to local tradition, handed down from men who took part in the scene, it was here that Captain Stirling (later Sir James) halted and replenished his water kegs on his journey of exploration up the Swan River in March, 1827.' But note that he, Hasluck, uses the present tense: 'It is named ...' not 'it was'.

Pamela Statham-Drew in her massive biography of Stirling, writes only this: 'Further upstream, on a rising left bank, his men also found a spring of fresh water at what is now "Success Park".' I take the 'is now' to imply that it was not so named at the time.

Jennie Carter goes into some detail about her supposition about the naming:

Stirling, being the good seaman he was, took no chances and usually landed or camped on flat land well away from cliffs or hills which would allow an attacking force an advantage over his small contingent. Thus, alas for local tradition, it is merely a pleasant myth that Stirling pulled into the narrow beach below Success Hill and explored the area or took on fresh water from the spring which runs from the side of the cliff. There is certainly no record of him either sighting or meeting with Aborigines on the west side of the river near that point, or of him or any of his party naming the spring ‘Success’ after his ship. The possibility that the spring was named on Stirling’s second survey trip in company with John Septimus Roe in 1829 still remains, but again, no proof of this has so far come to light and, it must be remembered, the ship he commanded on this occasion was not the Success but the Parmelia.
A more probable explanation is that the spring was named by Lieutenant William Preston who was granted the land adjoining the hill in 1829. (Carter 1986: 19)

I have pointed out the anomaly in the Wikipedia entry out to one of its editors, but was ignored.

The Lieutenant-Governor ... approved the suggested rate of ferry tolls, but stated that he ‘could not on any account consent to the Boat being at all appropriated for the conveyance of water for the use of the Town of Guildford’. Apparently the residents of Guildford at the time [1831] were using the Success Spring at West Guildford as their main water supply. This spring, which to the present day still pours out an abundant supply of fresh water, was the one which had been used by Captain Stirling in 1827 to replenish his water casks on his journey of exploration up the Swan River. [But see Carter, above, who believes this is a myth.] (Bourke 1987: 56)

References and Links

Bourke, Michael J. 1987, On the Swan: a History of Swan District, Western Australia, UWAP for the Swan Shire Council, ISBN 0-85564-258-0.

Carter, Jennie 1986, Bassendean: A Social History 1829-1979, Bassendean Town Council.

Hasluck, Paul 1927, 'Guildford: 1827-1842', Early Days, vol. 1, part 2: 1-19.

Statham-Drew, Pamela 2003, James Stirling: Admiral and Founding Governor of Western Australia, UWAP.

Guildford Association website.

Wikipedia page for Guildford, Western Australia - woefully indequate.

Success Hill Lodge, (Lockridge Hotel) Heritage Council website.

Garry Gillard | New: 17 July, 2019 | Now: 7 September, 2021