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The history of South Australia from its foundation to the year of its jubilee (Volume 1) online

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before he finally fixed upon a locality, although, as he
said, he felt assured he should only be losing time, he
proceeded on the 25th of November down the gulf, and
after touching at Eapid and Nepean Bays, sailed for Port
Lincoln. In a report to the Commissioners, he wrote

" I am decidedly of opinion that Port Lincoln is no
harbour for merchant-ships ; looking at it as a port for
men-of-war, well manned, plenty of boats, etc., it is
very well. It is capacious, and there is excellent hold-
ing ground, but the strong gusts of wind shifting all
round the compass render the entrance not altogether
so safe as the plan of it on paper would indicate."
Later on he added

" I have been considering much of this gulf
(Spencer's), and I think it best to give it up entirely
for the present, for should there be a good harbour, and
good soil higher up, yet the dangers that surround the
entrance are too many for a new colony."

* From relying on the exaggerated report of Captain Jones,
Colonel Light twice turned his back upon what was ultimately
adopted as Port Adelaide.


These were wise and sagacious words, and, as we
shall see, it would have been well had they been
accepted without question. On the 17th of December,
Colonel Light returned from his visit to Port Lincoln
and the western side of Spencer's Gulf. He wrote

" The time now lost in much extra labour, and the
arrival of many people from England, makes me anxious
to find some place to locate the land purchasers and
others, and from every answer to my inquiries of the
sealers, as well as the practical view of the coast I had
to the westward, I felt convinced I should not find
anything more eligible than the neighbourhood of
Holdfast Bay." And so, on the 24th of December, the
colonel returned to Holdfast Bay, and went on shore
for the purpose of examining the river, and, if possible,
of fixing the actual site of the capital.

The crowning moments of excitement in the life of
the settlers were when tidings came of a sail in sight,
or the arrival of an English vessel, and many were the
visits paid to the highest sandhill in the hope of
descrying a visitor. Especially was this the case when
the arrival of the Governor was anticipated, and his
non-arrival at the expected date greatly increased the

It is reported that, one Sunday morning, when Mr.
Kingston was reading prayers with Mr. T. Gilbert for
his clerk, a whisper went round that an English vessel
was in sight. Those nearest the door began to quietly
move out, followed by others, until at last the officiating
minister was left alone with his assistant, when the
former threw down the book, saying, " Come, Gilbert,
it's no use our staying here," and the two went forth
to join the throng.

On the same day that Colonel Light returned to
Holdfast Bay, H.M.S. Buffalo, with the Governor,
Captain Hindmarsh, and the Eesident Commissioner,
Mr. J. Hurtle Fisher, on board, entered the magnificent
harbour of Port Lincoln, and found the Cygnet at anchor
in Spalding Cove. Here Captain Lipson, RK, the
harbour-master, came on board, and presented a letter


from Colonel Light, announcing that the most desirable
site for the capital was to be found on the eastern side
of Gulf St. Vincent.

The Governor landed at the head of Spalding Cove,
and was greatly impressed with the scenery and general
aspect of Port Lincoln. As, however, it was known
that the officers of the Government who had preceded
him were anxiously awaiting his arrival on the plains
near Mount Lofty, he could not linger in that earthly
paradise, and set sail without delay.

Early in the morning of the 28th the little band of
pioneers at Holdfast Bay were gladdened by the sight
of the Buffalo and the Cygnet standing across the gulf,
and coming to anchor in the roadstead. At two o'clock
the excitement culminated, when Captain Hindmarsh
and his family, attended by Mr. J. H. Fisher, Mr.
Stevenson, Mr. Osmond Gilles, and the Rev. C. B.
Howard, with their families, proceeded to the shore in
three boats, escorted by a party of marines from the

They were received and cordially welcomed by the
settlers on the Glenelg plains, headed by Messrs. Gouger
(colonial secretary), Brown (emigration agent), Gilbert
(storekeeper), Kingston (deputy-surveyor), John Mor-
phett, and Eobert Thomas, men who were destined to
have their names indelibly associated with the annals
of the colony.

The Company, or at least all the officials, assembled
in Mr. Gouger's hut, when the Governor read aloud the
Orders in Council erecting South Australia into a British
province, and appointing the colonial officers. The
commission of Captain Hindmarsh as Governor and
Commander-in-Chief was then read, and the customary
oaths were administered to the Governor, members of
council, and other officers present.

But Mr. Gouger's tent was only constructed to hold
about a dozen persons, and at least two hundred, nearly
the entire population, were present. Therefore, as only
a very few had heard what was passing in the tent,
Mr. George Stevenson, the Governor's private secretary,


clerk of the council, and embryo editor of the South
Australian Gazette, assembled the people under the
shade of an old gum tree, which still remains, though
in a state of decay, and read aloud the proclamation
establishing South Australia the only free British pro-
vince of New Holland. The official account of the
proceedings, as given in the South Australian Gazette
and Colonial Register of June 3, 1837, was as follows :
" The commission was afterwards read to the settlers, of
whom about two hundred were present. The British
flag was displayed under a royal salute. The marines
fired a feu de joie, and the Buffalo saluted the Governor
with fifteen guns. A cold collation, provided for the
occasion, was laid out in the open air, of which the
party partook."

In less stately language, by the same writer, the
scene is thus described : " A dozen or so of drunken
marines of H.M.S. Buffalo discharged several muskets
in honour of the occasion ; a table manufactured
impromptu out of boards supported on barrels, salt
beef, salt pork, and an indifferent ham, a few bottles
of porter and ale, and about the same quantity of
port and sherry from the crypts of the Buffalo, com-
pleted the official banquet which graced the advent of
British rule to the shores of South Australia. In the
evening kind and hospitable hands alas ! now no more
prepared the grateful herb. . . . " *

* The following is from the diary of Mrs. Robert Thomas :
"December 28th, 1836. This was a proud and I hope will
prove a happy day for South Australia. Early in the morning it
was announced that the Buffalo had arrived from Port Lincoln,
accompanied by the Cygnet, which had gone thither to escort the
Governor to Holdfast Bay. This made us all alive ; and soon after
Mr. Thomas received notice to attend at the tent of Mr. Gouger,
the colonial secretary, where his Excellency the Governor was
expected to be at three o'clock to read his commission and pro-
claim the colony. Mr. Thomas then went to the Company's store,
and soon returned with a request that he would procure a ham, as
Mr. Gilbert was not provided with one, which was done, and a fine
Hampshire ham was dressed for the occasion. It was also requested
that we should prepare ourselves to meet the procession, as all who
could were expected to attend. We went accordingly, and found


So ended an ever-memorable day in the history of
the colony. It was the day of small things, although
no one would have so regarded it on reading the enthu-
siastic literature of the time. The South Australian
Record, a monthly journal published in London, broke

the largest company assembled we had yet seen in the colony
perhaps two hundred persons. The Governor's private secretary
read the proclamation under a large gum tree, and a party of
marines from the Buffalo fired a feu de joie, and loud hurrahs
succeeded. A cold collation followed in the open air, of which we
partook. The Governor was very affable, shaking hands with the
colonists, and congratulating them on having such a fine country.
After the repast he mounted on a chair, and gave the first toast,
' The King,' which was received with three times three, and followed
by the National Anthem, led by Mr. Gilles; but the old royal
appellation of George is so natural to Englishmen after four succes-
sive reigns of kings of that name, that it was forgotten at the
moment we have now a William on the throne, and the first line
was sung as formerly

' God save great George, our king,'

which excited a smile, and yet I believe that William IV. has not
more loyal subjects throughout his wide dominions than those who
were there assembled to welcome the arrival of the first Governor of
South Australia. The health of his Excellency was then proposed
and drunk with loud and universal cheering, followed by 'Rule
Britannia.' Then ' Mrs. Hindmarsh and the ladies,' proposed by
Mr. Gilbert, which also received great applause, as did several
other toasts. The Governor then gave the following : ' May the
present unanimity continue as long as South Australia exists,'
which made the plain ring with acclamations ; and at about five
o'clock his Excellency and lady departed to the ship, and some
officers and others followed in another boat. They all seemed
highly delighted with our village, as I may call it, consisting now of
about forty tents and huts, though scattered about without any
regularity, as every family fixed their present abode wherever they
pleased, knowing it would not be of long duration. We took coffee
in Mr. Kingston's hut, and returned home about seven. The
evening, as well as the day and the preceding one, was very hot,
and the night continued so, insomuch that it was impossible to
sleep, the thermometer having been sometimes upwards of 100 in
the tent, and it seemed that some of the colonists did not even go
to bed, for we heard singing and shouting from different parties at
intervals till long after daylight. And here I may remark that,
from the exceeding stillness of the night, except when the wind
disturbs the trees near us, we can distinctly hear almost every
sound that occurs, though at a considerable distance."


forth into singing the praises of the event in these
amusing terms

" The landing of the little band in their new country
recalls the awful emigration of Noah, and the promise
that painted his horizon, and that of Moses. It reminds
us of the Tyrians at Carthage; of Mueas and the
dominion of the West, which tradition tells us was
founded by him ; of the stout-hearted Britons who
built up the great, though still young, nations of
America, and, nearer to the present scene, the colonies
of Australia, whose errors of constitutions have served
as an impressive lesson, while their unexampled
prosperity points to the commercial fortune of the
newer settlement."

Apart from all bathos, it was a day long to be
remembered. A band of brave-hearted men and women
had staked their fortunes, left home and friends and
country, and journeyed to the antipodes to settle in
a land almost uninhabited, unsurveyed, with no town
laid out, nor even the site of the intended capital
selected.* And amongst the number assembled that
day on the Glenelg plains were men who were to be
the " Makers " of the new colony men who were to
bear the burden and heat of the day, and by their toil,
judgment, and persistence lay the foundations of
healthy, political, social, and religious life in one of the
finest lands on which the sun ever shone.

It is no wonder that to the present day thousands of
people go forth on the 28th of December to the old
gum tree at Glenelg to celebrate Foundation Day, or,
as it is generally termed, " Proclamation Day."

* During the year 1836 fifteen vessels arrived from England,
bringing nearly a thousand men, women, and children, a large
number of whom settled in the first instance at Kangaroo Island.



DECEMBER 28, 1836 JULY 14, 1838.

The Governor and the Eesident Commissioner. Site of the Capital.
Discussions thereon. Appeal to the Board of Commissioners.
Selections of Land. First Land Boom. Kemoval of Settlers
from Kangaroo Island. Hard Work and Poor Pay. Delay in
the Surveys. Too Rapid Immigration and its Consequences.
Harbour proclaimed a Free Pdrt. First Buildings in Adelaide.
Operations of the South Australian Company. The First
Bank. The Company's Land. Rise of Religious Institutions.
Schools and Schoolmasters. The Aborigines ; Origin, Manners,
and Customs. Protector of Aborigines. Early Pastoral Pur-
suits. Overland Arrivals of Stock. First General Gaol De-
livery. Newspapers. Recall of Captain Hindmarsh. Interim
Administration of Mr. G. M. Stephens. Tribute to the Pioneer

EXCELLENT as the speeches were on the day of pro-
clamation, and harmonious as everything seemed to be,
it was unfortunately the fact that the relations between
the Governor and the Eesident Commissioner were
strained, the difficulties between them being as to the
exercise of the powers entrusted to each. The breach,
commenced on shipboard, soon widened on shore, and
resulted in the formation of a Governor's party and a
Commissioner's party, greatly to the hindrance of the
general welfare.

Matters were further complicated by grievous dis-
sensions with Colonel Light, the surveyor-general,


regarding the proposed site of the principal settlement.
The selection was left solely to him, and this duty he
was not only authorized but required to discharge, the
Commissioners purposely avoiding all minute instruc-
tions, and desiring that he would consider himself at
liberty to deviate even from the more general instruc-
tions given, if, in the discharge of his duty, new facts
should arise which, in his opinion, justified so strong
a measure. Should, however, the Governor arrive suffi-
ciently early in the colony, Colonel Light was instructed
to confer with him on the subject, and pay due regard
to his opinions and suggestions, but he was warned
against yielding to any influence which could have
the effect of diverting him in any way from the sole
responsibility of the decision.

On the 30th of December the Governor went with
Colonel Light to inspect the proposed site for the capital,
and, in common with many others at that time, expressed
dissatisfaction, his ground of objection being that it was
too far from the harbour. The colonel, therefore, sought
a site not so far out ; but as there were evident marks
of the river overflowing its banks on the place fixed
upon by the Governor, Colonel Light resolved to go
back to the first site. "My instructions from the
Commissioners were peremptory as to the responsibility
of this choice devolving upon myself," he wrote ; "for
although I was allowed to pay respect to the Governor's
opinion, yet my own judgment on this point was to be
paramount and conclusive." *

* The following letter from Captain Hindmarsh to Mr. G. F. Angas
is not without interest :

" H.M.S. Buffalo, at anchor off Glenelg Plains,

" January 5, 1837.


" We reached Port Lincoln on the 24th ult., where,
according to my expectation, I found Captain Lipson waiting for
me with a letter from Colonel Light, informing me that he had
found a good harbour and plenty of excellent land on the eastern
side of Gulf St. Vincent. I immediately proceeded to join him, in
doing which I was two nights and two days in beating out of
Spencer's Gulf, which I entered without any fear. I should, how-


Having definitely made up his mind, he spent several
days in looking over the ground, and mentally laying-
it out according to the course of the river and the
nature of the surroundings.

The site selected is in latitude 34 57" south, and
comprises a southern and northern elevation, with a
small valley and river between them. The northern
rise is the spur of a low range of hills, of limestone
formation, and the southern elevation is a piece of
table-land which, at the time the first settlers arrived,
was tolerably well wooded.

The country all along that part of the coast presented
a most attractive aspect, resembling English park
scenery. The land required little clearing, and was fit
for immediate occupation for tillage or sheep-runs, well
watered, and covered with luxuriant grass. The ground
sloped backwards for several miles from the coast,
terminating in the Mount Lofty range, behind which
lay Lake Alexandrina and the country of the Murray.
So many combined advantages decided Colonel Light
in fixing upon this spot as the site of the principal
settlement, but it was hardly to be expected that it
should include every requisite, and still less that it
should answer all the expectations of the colonists.
One fancied drawback was that it was six miles from
the port, and some urged that the first settlement

ever, be very sorry to try the same navigation again until that very
dangerous gulf is surveyed. Flinders' survey is good as far as
it goes ; but his own track is the only thing to be depended upon.
Gulf St. Vincent, on the contrary, appears to be perfectly clear,
with regular soundings and good anchorage all over it, not one
danger having yet been discovered. Each sandy beach, however,
seems to have a small reef running off it, according to Colonel
Light's report. I am now at anchor off the Mount Lofty of
Flinders, about three miles from the shore, in seven fathom. Most
of the people who preceded me are located temporarily on the
plains abreast of the ship, which I have named after Lord Glenelg,
and which for quality and beauty are well worthy to bear his lord-
ship's name.

"Adelaide is to be on the bank of a beautiful stream, with
thousands of acres of the richest land I ever saw. Altogether a
more beautiful spot can hardly be imagined. . . ."


should be close to it. But at the port there was no
fresh water, and Colonel Light had no hesitation in
deciding that it was better to be obliged to carry all
necessary commodities from the port to the town, than
to convey all the water required for culinary and other
purposes from the town to the port ; and his wisdom
and sagacity were soon justified.

There were others who still clamoured for the first
town to be located in the neighbourhood of Encounter
Bay, one of the chief advocates of this situation being
the judge, Sir John Jeffcott. But Colonel Light would
not yield to this suggestion for a moment ; he was
satisfied that even if a good harbour could be found,
the tremendous rollers at the entrance of the bay would
render it comparatively useless. And a tragic con-
firmation of his wisdom was soon to be given ; one or
two wrecks occurred in the dangerous neighbourhood,
and Sir John Jeffcott and Captain Blinkinsopp, in
attempting to prove that they were justified in their
opposition, lost their lives by the upsetting of their
boat in the turbulent waters.

Having selected the site, Colonel Light was instructed
in laying it out to make the streets of ample width,
arranging them with a due regard to convenience,
salubrity, and beauty, and to make the necessary
reserves for squares, public walks, and open spaces.
Ten acres were to be reserved as a Government domain,
and two hundred acres to be appropriated for a public
park and gardens. He was also directed to reserve as
a public road all land on the coast within a hundred
feet of high-water mark, and a road sixty-six feet wide
on each side of every navigable river.

No sooner had he commenced his task than he was
subjected to a series of interferences from the Governor,
his private secretary, and others in different spheres of
authority ; and, being of a sensitive nature, he was
hurt that reflections were made in high quarters on his
judgment and ability. Nor were matters much mended
when a public meeting of the landowners and others
concerned was called by the colonial secretary, at the


command of the Governor, to discuss the proposed site
of the capital, a wish having been expressed by many
to stay any definite action being taken until all the
coast had been surveyed.

At the meeting a resolution was submitted, " That it
is the opinion of this meeting that the site at present
selected for the chief town of the colony, being at a
considerable distance from navigable waters, is not such
as they were led to expect would be chosen." Con-
siderable discussion followed, but happily an amend-
ment was proposed : " That this meeting considers that
in the site selected by the surveyor-general for the first
town, he has secured in a most satisfactory manner
those advantages which the Commissioners and the first
purchasers in England contemplated as essential, namely,
a central point in the province, in the neighbourhood
of a safe and improvable harbour, abundance of fresh
water on the spot, and of good land and pasturage in
its vicinity, with a probable easy communication with
the Murray, Lake Alexandrina, and the most fertile
parts of New South Wales, without fear of any injury
to the principles of the colony from too near an
approach to the confines of the convict settlement."
The voting was, for the amendment, 218 ; for the
original motion, 137 : giving a majority of 81 in favour
of the amendment.

Notwithstanding this, the Governor was not satisfied.
He had come to the colony with the impression that
the capital should be somewhere in the locality of
Encounter Bay, and he was injudicious enough to
appeal to the Commissioners for the removal of the
capital to that neighbourhood, and at the same time
to give strong expressions of complaint against Colonel
Light, who had only exercised the powers made binding
upon him.

The answer received by Captain Hindmarsh was,
that "when he applied for the office of Governor he
was distinctly informed that the right of selecting the
capital would be vested solely in the surveyor-general,"
and that when he pressed the Board to cede this right

VOL. i. F


to him, he was "seeking for an extension of power
inconsistent with the principle of the colony ; and that
a Governor of South Australia must be content to
receive and to hold his appointment subject to the
condition of non-interference with the officer appointed
to execute the surveys, and to dispose of the public
land." This was a judicious snub, but it had no
abiding effect.

The survey and staking off of the town acres was com-
menced by Colonel Light and his assistants on the llth
of January, and was completed on the 10th of March.

On the 23rd of March, the method of drawing by
lot having been fixed upon, and the plan of the town
mapped out and exhibited for public inspection, those
preliminary purchasers who had deposited money for
land in England to enable the colony to be founded,
made their selections. A few days afterwards the
remaining acres were sold by auction. Then came the
first land boom, when those acres which had cost from
2 2s. to 14 14s. each at auction, and those first
selected at 12s., were selling at from 80 to 100 each,
and for those considered to be well situated as much
as 250 was demanded, resulting, as most land booms
do, in disappointment to the majority, and in the
witnessing of the resale, some four or five years after-
wards, at prices not reaching more than one-fifth of
those rates.

On the 28th of March permission was given to the
public " to cut down and grub up trees in the public
streets, except those within sixteen feet of the frontage
of private property."

The naming of the streets and squares did not take
place until the 23rd of May, and it was the occasion
of a renewal of those bickerings and misunderstandings
that had gone on from the first. Divided authority
was the bane of every movement, and of course the
Governor and the Resident Commissioner both claimed
the right of naming localities and places as well as
Colonel Light, the surveyor-general. Eventually the
matter was settled by a combination of " authorities "


and landed proprietors, and the names of those connected

Online LibraryEdwin HodderThe history of South Australia from its foundation to the year of its jubilee (Volume 1) → online text (page 6 of 34)