Tuesday, 26 June 2018


Ever wanted to circumnavigate Australia? Well, for the next few weeks, that's what we'll be doing, at least virtually, and clockwise. So as to make sure all states and territories are covered, we'll be starting in Western Australia and exploring the early history of a small part of this massive state via TROVE...

Last week we explored a little of Rottnest Island, now we're much further up the west coast of Australia to Broome. Many of you may know Broome as a place where cyclones hit, where life is casual, where there has been a great number of Japanese people come to live and some will know it as a place that is inexorably linked with the pearling industry.

Wikipedia has quite a lot of information re the pearling industry, starting with the original pearlers, the aborigine people. It didn't take long for the Europeans to appreciate the treasures beneath the ocean... as we can see by an early 
TROVE mention...

Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW / 1803 - 1842), Saturday 21 October 1820
Mother of pearl buttons

The shells as well as the pearls were in high demand...

The Perth Gazette & Western Australia Times 4th June 1869

The town of Broome was prospering and growing.. and the wealth was spreading throughout the state. I couldn't reist the article about a very fancy wedding in Geraldton*... note the emphasis on pearls...

Victorian Express (Geraldton, WA / 1878 - 1894), (Marriage Geraldton)Wednesday 26 November 1884  (click to enlarge)

* Geraldton is a coastal city in the Mid West region of Western Australia, 424 kilometres north of Perth. At the 2016 Census, Geraldton had an urban population of 37,432.Wikipedia

I wonder if the pearls were as splendid as these                
Mother of Pearl earrings
 all three images courtesy of Pixabay

Pearls weren't the only reason for wealth in WA
The Telegraph, Brisbane 22 April 1892

nla.news-article44123204.3 Barrier Miner Pearlers donation 1894

There were both Chinese and Japanese pearlers (divers) in Broome and all up the top third of the west coast where the best pearls were being found. However, in their home lands in 1894, there was a war happening.. This didn't stop the divers getting on with their jobs, however both communities contributed to the war effort in their homelands.

Pearling luggers  TROVE

State Library of South Australia... found in TROVE

Broome has hit the headlnes for other reasosn also... this time for being a pivotal destination for long distance telegraphy..

Transcript: All the colonies on the mainland combined yesterday in making further experiments to see how far direct  communication could be maintained. Commencing with Brisbane and Sydney the circuit was eventually increased until it reached from Townsville (Queensland) to Israelite Bay (West Australia), and those two stations worked duplex with one another as successfully as though only a hundred, instead of 4,139 miles separated them. In this lengthy circuit were included repeaters at Bowen, Rockhampton, Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Port Lincoln, Streaky Bay and Eucla, all of which stations could join in the conversation. Shortly after 1 o'clock, Perth was put on direct, additional repeaters having been inserted at Israleite Bay and Albany. Townsville and Bowen having previously succumbed to the pangs of hunger, Rockhampton became the terminal station in Queensland, and that station and Perth worked direct a distance of 4,300 miles. After a further space of time in arranging additional repeating stations, Broome (Roebuck Bay, West Australia) was put on direct, and exchanged fraternal greetings with Rockhampton, the signals not withstanding the unfavourable weather along the line, being very satisfactory. The distance Broome (West Australia) to Rockhampton (Queensland) by wire amounts to 5, 782 miles, and this is supposed to be the second longest direct circuit ever worked in the world. It is intended to make a further trial shortly, when it is hoped direct communication between Broome (West Australia) and Cape York (Queensland) will be successfully accomplished.

Broome hit the headlines again in 1899...once more to do with distance .. this is another incredible feat.

It was successful...

The Armidale Express & New England Advertiser ship towed from Broome to Sydney 
via Torres Strait Aug 1899

During lay up (off season), prior to 1930 courtesy of TROVE

Another headline, of a different nature... not easy times.

Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), Wednesday 18 November 1903, page 10

There are said to be about 40 men who have gone up in the new luggers to Broome, Western Australia and not having enough money to pay their passages back, and not being able to obtain work, are stranded. Captain Smith, the shipping master at Fremantle, as being seen on the matter, said that he had applications from some of them by letter, but was unable to do anything for them. A letter had reached him from the shipping master at Sydney, in connection with three men who had gone round to the pearling grounds from Brisbane, in the belief that work would be easily found there, but as the pearling boats were all manned by Malays, Japanese, Manilamen, and such, they were left absolutely penniless. They had shipped on the boat from Brisbane at £5 for the trip, and could not get a passage down to Fremantle for less the £7 10s, and as some time had to be spent at the place before a steamer arrived their money was all gone before there was a chance of getting away. Two of the men in question, Captain Smith said, had been given a passage down in a schooner, and had since obtained berths on local steamers at Fremantle. "My position," he added, "Is that the men going from Fremantle do not come before me on engaging for the trip, as the boats are under the 80 tons register required to enable me to take a hand in the contract. Some of the lugger masters pay the men a little less than others, but engage to pay their passages back to the port.
Others pay a fixed sum, generally about £5, and are done with their crews as soon as Broome is reached.

I have applied to the Seamen's Union to help the men, but as they do not belong to the union there was nothing forthcoming in that direction. Their position is certainly an unfortunate one, and it should be a warning to others to provide beforehand for means to return. The work at Broome is mostly done by the coloured people, and there is little for white men to hope for without money or friends."

In 1930, pearls were still a very big part of the conversation and the actual industry of Broome...

nla.news-article160457003.3 Broome pearls 1938     click to enlarge...

The second World War came to Broome also.... quite ironic that it was attacked by the Japanese, when pre war, it had been described as the "only Japanese town in Australia". Wyndham was attacked also.

nla.news-article205286295.3 History Broome 1942

Broome, known for so many things including pearling...

                                  Images courtesy of Pixabay.

A little extra reading for you.... from yesterday and today...

and a short video to watch...

Some images of the Japanese and Chinese cemetery in Broome

Image above courtesy of
Tony Bowden flickr

Images below courtesy of  
details via above link

Tuesday, 19 June 2018


Ever wanted to circumnavigate Australia? Well, for the next few weeks, that's what we'll be doing, at least virtually, and clockwise. So as to make sure all states and territories are covered, we'll be starting in Western Australia and exploring the early history of a small part of this massive state via TROVE...

Rottnest Island
Courtesy of Pixabay

A place with an interesting history is Rottnest Island, which Wikipedia describes as follows...

Rottnest Island
Western Australia
Rottnest Island.jpg
Rottnest Island from space
Population334 (2016 census; up to 15,000 visitors at peak holiday periods)[1][2]
 • Density17.6/km2 (45.5/sq mi)
Elevation46 m (151 ft)
Area19 km2 (7.3 sq mi)
Time zoneAWST (UTC+8)
Location19 km (12 mi) W of Fremantle
LGA(s)A-class reserve administered by the Rottnest Island Authority
State electorate(s)Fremantle
Federal Division(s)Fremantle
Mean max tempMean min tempAnnual rainfall
21.5 °C
71 °F
14.9 °C
59 °F
702.3 mm
27.6 in

Location of Rottnest Island, Western Australia
Rottnest Island (known as Wadjemup to the local Noongar people, and otherwise colloquially known as Rotto) is an island off the coast of Western Australia, located 18 kilometres (11 mi) west of Fremantle. A sandy, low-lying island formed on a base of aeolianite limestone, Rottnest is an A-class reserve, the highest level of protection afforded to public land. Together with Garden Island, Rottnest Island is a remnant of Pleistocene dune ridges.[3]
The island covers 19 square kilometres (7.3 sq mi) and is administered by the Rottnest Island Authority under a separate act of parliament. Rottnest is a popular holiday destination, and there are daily ferry services to Perth, the state's capital and largest city. It has a permanent population of around 300 people, with around 500,000 annual visitors (and up to 15,000 visitors at a time during peak periods).

You can read the rest of the article here

Rottnest Island
Courtesy of Pixabay

The following comprise a little of the history of Rottnest Island.

Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1803 - 1842), Saturday 10 January 1829, page 2   
National Library of Australia http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article2191607

IN our Journal of Saturday last, we inserted an extract from the Courier newspaper on the proposed new settlement at Swan River, of the discovery of which we erroneously gave the credit to Captain Stirling, of His Majesty's ship Success, who visited that estuary on our West coast in the summer of 1827.
Since the notice of this river appeared, in our Paper, we have been obligingly favored with some little history of it; and as its banks may, ere long, be the site of a Western Colony, should Captain H. W. Montague (who, it appears, has been despatched to it in the ship Crocodile) report favorably of it, on a more minute and deliberate exploration of the river itself, and adjacent Country, than it should seem Captain Stirling had effected in 1827, we are happy to give insertion to the communication for the information of our Readers.
In the year 1696, the ship Geelvink, commanded by Cornelius de Vlaming, sailed from the Texel, in quest of a Dutch East Indiaman, supposed to have been lost on the coast of New Holland during her voyage from the Cape to Batavia. In December of that year, Vlaming made the West coast, in about lat. 32 ° South, and landing on a densely-wooded island in the offing, in company with the pilots of a dogger and small galley, likewise under his orders, found the soil, which was exceedingly sterile, perforated in every direction, forming horizontal burrows, the operations of what he considered a kind of rat ; and hence was suggested the name the island has ever since borne, viz. Rottnest. These burrows, however, have since been fully ascertained to be the retreats of a non-descript animal, having the habits of a brush kangaroo, but nevertheless (accord-ing to M. Peron, the able French Naturalist) forming a genus distinct in itself, of remarkable character.
From the Western side of Rottnest Island, the shores of the neighbouring main (named Edel's Land), and the estuary of a River) were descried by these early Navi-gators. In this river, which was explored to some distance from its mouth, Vlaming and his companions disturbed many swans, who instantly on their approach took to the wing ; and as numbers of these birds were met with as they ascended the stream, of which the sketch of Van Keulen, who was of the party, is still extant, the name of " Black Swan River," then given it, was suggested.
It does not appear that any further notice was taken by Navigators of Swan River during the succeeding century; in 1801, however, the French national ships of discovery, La Geographe and La Naturaliste, under the command of Commodore Baudin, touched on our opposite shores, and surveying this river, explored its channel considerably further than the point to which the Dutch Navigators had examined it.
Captain de Freycinet, who published an account of Baudin's Voyage, gives us the results of the boat-survey in the following words. (Voyage aux Terres Australes, p. 175, et seq) : -
" The mouth of Swan River is in latitude 32°. 4' 31" S.* and longitude East of Greenwich 115°. 46' 43". The channel is obstructed by a bar of rocks, which it is very difficult to pass over, and indeed 
impracticable, if the wind blows from the sea. On entering, the passage is on the starboard side : it is narrow and shoal, and divided into two channels, in each of which there is from five to six feet of water ; after passing this, there is seven and eight feet : the course must then be towards the West, to avoid two shoals, which are on the right bank : after half a mile, the navigation is free, and in mid-channel the depth is not less than seven, eight, and nine feet. The river then trends in a northerly direction for seven miles, without any sinuosity of consequence. On the eastern bank are two
shoals ; the passage is then on the opposite side of the river, the depth of which is eight feet : beyond these banks the course of the river trends to the Eastward towards a low point, upon which there is a solitary tree: an extensive bank fronts this point, and the channel continues on the western shore ten feet deep. Here the river is a mile broad; it then increases its width, and forms spacious bays on either side, that were not examined.
* This parallel of latitude cuts the estate of J. P. Macqueen, Esq M. P. called Segenhoe, on one side of the continent, and our coast line a few miles North from Cape Hawke ; the climate of Swan River
may therefore be inferred.

" To the S. E. is an opening which may probably be an arm of the river: it was named Moreau Inlet : it was not examined.
" Opposite to it is a sharp point, fronted by a shoal, and the channel is on the Eastern side of the river, with 13 feet water.
" Here the river widens, and forms a basin two miles and a half wide : a little above this the river is blocked up by shoals and islets (Heirisson Isles) between which the depth is not more than two or three feet, but afterwards deeper gradually from five to fifteen feet : the banks of the river are then not more than one-third of a mile wide, and then-continued in a serpentine course, with a channel from seven to ten feet deep, and free from shoals, as far as the boats examined it. The stream of the river ran very slowly, and winds through a valley, one side of which is abrupt and precipitous, and when it ceases to be so on one side, the heights immediately appear on the other."
So much for the French account of Swan River, which was again visited, in 1827, by Captain Stirling, of the Royal Navy, whose observations on the fertility of the soil, and general capabilities of the circum-jacent country, coupled with those of Mr. Frazer, the Colonial Botanist, who accompanied that Officer in the Success, proved, on their return, of the most flattering description. Should these, therefore, be fully confirmed (of which we entertain not the shadow of a doubt,) by Captain Montague, a colony will doubtless be planted, to which the views of Emigrants may be the rather directed than to our side of the continent, inasmuch as the voyage outward will be at least one month shorter, and the communication with India, the Cape, and Mauritius more readily effected.

Perth Gazette and Western Australian Journal (WA : 1833 - 1847), Saturday 23 May 1840, page 2
National Library of Australia http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article638693

South Australian (Adelaide, SA : 1844 - 1851), Tuesday 28 January 1845, page 3
National Library of Australia http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article71600486
Excerpt.. please click to enlarge

Inquirer (Perth, WA : 1840 - 1855), Wednesday 25 March 1846, page 2 
National Library of Australia http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article65770187


Courtesy of Pixabay

For further information re Western Australia, here are a few sites that may be of interest...

Tuesday, 12 June 2018


Courtesy of Pixabay


Though many of the convicts sent to Australia were sent here for sometimes what we would consider trivial offences, and worked hard to be considered for a pardon, there were quite a number who would never reform.

These are just a small selection of some of those.

McIvor Times and Rodney Advertiser (Heathcote, Vic. : 1863 - 1918), Friday 27 June 1884, page 2
National Library of Australia http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article90147302

Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1957), Thursday 31 January 1895, page 5
National Library of Australia


If you wish to read more on this story, you might like to read this book...

SLNSW c004090010 detail
courtesy of Sydney Dictionary

It wasn't only male convicts who had no intentions of leading a lawful life... take the case of the notorious Helen McDougall also known as Glassford...

Singleton Argus (NSW : 1880 - 1954), Saturday 10 May 1924, page 3
National Library of Australia

Sandstone court complex in Darlinghurst Road opened in 1842 and still in legal use. 

Then there was John Lynch, alias John Dunleavy, born 1813, whose story is one of the vilest you can imagine... Lynch left from  Cavan, Ireland.. transported to Sydney by the Dunvegan Castle.. He was a "mild looking man of two and twenty, short and stocky.." who would have guessed that his story (below) would be so horrific.


Daily Standard (Brisbane, Qld. : 1912 - 1936), Saturday 2 June 1934, page 5
National Library of Australia

Please click to enlarge

and on a lighter note...

Express and Telegraph (Adelaide, SA : 1867 - 1922), Tuesday 27 January 1920, page 2
National Library of Australia