Should any reader of the Courier have that paper before him some Sabbath morning as the "Koopa" is hastening Bribie-wards, and by any means that edition should contain this article, I would ask him to throw his eyes eastwards as the vessel leaves the mouth of the river. Looking in a direction on the north end of Mud Island he will observe away over on Moreton Island two well-defined hilly sand patches, running parallel towards the waters of the Bay. These two sandhills run right across the island to the ocean, the northern one being the easier to cross, although, from appearances, one would not think so.
On the ocean side, right against the lower hill, the German barque "Gerd Heye" was lost on 16th July 1889. A full account of this loss appeared in a book published by me in 1907, under the name of “Early Moreton Bay." These two sandhills have an unwritten history, both as regards the Bay itself and the River Brisbane; a history that for some time past I have been desirous of writing, but, not having received the required authentic data until recently, I have refrained from so doing. The hills and surrounding swamps, marshes, and lagoons were, in earlier days, a favourite resort of the Moreton blacks- the Nooghies- the hills themselves being called Geebellum -the “G" being pronounced soft and quickly). Now they are silent, and never again will be visited by their one-time sojourners, for not a single native lives at Moreton near those hills- that is, natives of the island itself- for all have gone aloft since the time I purpose referring to. True, there are a few natives working amongst the oyster banks north of the South Passage, but they are of a later generation, and come from Amity and Myora.
On many visits to Amity in my much younger days I had learnt from certain white friends there the names of Pamphlet, Parsons, and Finnegan, and, of their having been known to the blacks of Bribie more particularly. I had not then before me the information I now possess- in fact, it has taken me longer to collect it than I had imagined- but still I had heard these names before, and often questioned the older men and women regarding them. They could give me no information direct, for at the time these three men- or, to be more correct, two of them, Pamphlet and Finnegan- were found by Surveyor John Oxley in the “Mermaid," in 1823, those whom I questioned must have been too young to remember names or even events. So what I gleaned came from them as hearsay. Since then, however, I have gathered certain literature, which now enables me to write that which I think may be accepted as accurate and correct.
narration, even if of no historical moment, may prove interesting to the reader,
although I confess to me the writing has been a pleasure indeed, seeing the
affection I hold for Moreton Bay and its earlier history. I admit that the names
of the three lost and found sailors have been in print by earlier writers on a
few occasions- that is, of their leaving Sydney and eventually being found with
the blacks at Bribie; but their course of travel until they reached this island
has never before been defined. It is only owing to my intimate knowledge of the
island, the contour of the mainland, the various swamps, lagoons, and other
surroundings, that I have been enabled to pen a true descriptive course of the
men when their boat was driven ashore on the ocean side of the sand hills-
Geebellum- until Oxley took them back to Sydney.
21st March, 1823- 90 years ago-when Sir Thomas Brisbane was Governor
of New South Wales, four men, named respectively Richard Parsons, Thomas
Pamphlet, John Finnegan, and John Thompson, left Sydney in a large open boat of
29ft. 6in. overall, and a beam of 10ft., for the five islands south of Port
Jackson, now known as Illawarra, for the purpose of obtaining cedar. They were
fully equipped for the journey, the distance being some 50 miles or so, and
carried with them a considerable quantity of flour, pork, etc., with four
gallons of water, and, perhaps, strange to say, five gallons of rum. But rum was
a mighty factor in those days down Sydney way, as the reader of early Australian
When within some seven or eight miles of their destination a violent gale arose, compelling them to lower sail, and driving them out to sea. For eleven days in all they were at the mercy of wind and sea, had run short of water, were driven from sight of land, and for nineteen days suffered great agony, chiefly from thirst, before they again picked up the outline of the coast of New South Wales. The sails, having been lowered, had naturally become soaked with salt water, and, according to Pamphlet, it was the rum taken in small quantities from time to time that kept them alive. They were almost unable to speak, could with difficulty understand each other, whilst Thompson had become delirious, and was totally useless in the way of assistance as one of the crew. Eventually, and before land was again seen, the sails having been wet so often with rain water, provided sufficient water of not too salty a nature to cause certain nourishment, with or without the aid of the stronger fluid. Of food there was ample. Parsons and Pamphlet were in the better condition of the four occupants of the boat, though scarcely able to speak or move; Finnegan had gone quite deaf. These three kept watches of two hours each as they sailed in the direction of the setting sun, and the 12th April, at daylight, land was distinctly seen ahead.
Thompson, who for fear of his jumping overboard, had been tied as well as the others could do so, on hearing this news, revived, and on his feet being released, came aft, imagining the others had already been on shore, and craved for water. When he found they were unable to give him any, he became much worse, and died an hour after. The boat then stood in for the land until ten in the evening, sails were lowered, but morning found them drifting back to sea, land being barely visible. A fresh, favourable breeze arose, with a quiet sea, and by sunset they were within two or three miles from the shore, only a little more to the north. Natives were seen, so they kept on sailing in the night, their course being due north, the three castaways believing they were miles away southward of Port Jackson.
In the morning the wind was light and the sea smooth, and the boat was close inshore. Pamphlet wanted to overhaul the running gear, make it fast to a keg, then swim ashore with it, by which means they could haul it aboard filled with fresh water. Parsons, being half owner, objected, so they kept on their northerly course for the day. Parsons, towards evening, said he was done, and must have water, even if the boat was lost- he was dying. It was then getting too dark, so all that night they sailed on. Thompson's body was committed to the deep the following morning, as they could see no hope of burial ashore. First they searched his clothing, finding only his ticket-of-leave sewed up in his waistcoat pocket, then binding a handkerchief over his face, the body was dropped overboard.
For another day and night these mariners kept their northern course, seeing no possible chance of landing. On the 16th day of April, twenty-five days from leaving Sydney, at daybreak, Finnegan, who was at the tiller, said he saw a bight in which they could anchor, with a stream of fresh water running into it. They steered for it and dropped the anchor about a quarter of a mile from the shore, and paid out some 40 fathoms of rope to let her drift inshore. The running gear was then made fast to the keg. Pamphlet stripped, and eventually got safely ashore with it.
sooner had my feet touched the ground," these are his own words, “than I ran to
the fresh water, and, lying down by it, I drank like a horse. I then returned to
the beach for the keg, which I again left and ran back for another drink. This
happened three or four times, and when I attempted to fill the keg I was quite
unable to do it from weakness, and the quantity of water I had
During the time Pamphlet was on shore, the wind had changed to an easterly breeze, his companions calling for him to return and assist in placing the craft beyond the risk of danger. This he was unable to do on account of the heavy roll and break of waters. Eventually those on board were compelled to cut the anchor line and let the craft go ashore. In five minutes or so (so writes Pamphlet) the boat was stove in, and his companions were busily refreshing themselves at the fresh water. Parsons emptied a pint pot thirteen times in succession. Finnegan drank to such an excess that his stomach refused to retain it, and excessive vomiting followed. The beach on which they had landed was of low sand, surrounded by sand hills which did not even afford firewood, even had they the means of kindling a flame.
That night they ascended the hill, and, amidst heavy rain, camped as best they could in the sand. In the morning they found their boat smashed up completely, its contents drifted ashore, with two out of the three bags of flour destroyed hopelessly; the third, however, only being damaged some two or three inches or so on the outer crust. From this bag the castaways- for surely I can now call them so- took some 30lb. each of clean, sound flour, and, still imagining themselves south of Port Jackson, began their tramp northwards.
starting their first meal consisted of flour and fresh water mixed together in a
bucket saved from the wreck of the boat, and they walked until almost dark,
when, observing a native path striking off into the bush on the southern side of
a bluff headland, this they followed for some time until they reached a beach on
the other side opening out upon several large native huts, about which could be
seen a great number of native dogs. (This question of dogs has greatly puzzled
Pamphlet in his narrative states that one of the natives spoke to him in English, but this could scarcely have been so, for it was in 1799 that Flinders landed on Bribie, and did not stay long enough to impart the English language to those on the island, and, since his departure, history, so far as I can trace, only mentioned one other person coming to Moreton Bay, but not of his landing on the island.
From these natives they obtained a firestick, and were enabled to make some cakes, as they termed them, and roasted them on the coals. From the behaviour of the natives, they determined to still push on, until they reached more huts, whereat they camped for the night. After breakfast, composed of roasted cakes, they still pushed on, accompanied by some of the dark inhabitants. It would appear the three white men were wanted to camp and remain, but this they refused to do, not being certain of their intentions. On seeing that they could not prevail upon them to remain with them, the natives accompanied the three men to the top of a hill, and pointed out in the distance some low-lying land, which was looked upon as being the mainland.
For five days they kept going on along the beach, meeting other native huts, the occupants making no molestation; their only means of sustenance being the remaining flour, combined with cockles and other shellfish. On the fifth day they arrived at a sandy point, where they found their progress stopped by a channel about three miles wide, through which the tide appeared to be running very rapidly. Fires were observed on the opposite shore; canoes also being seen.
After conferring amongst themselves they were now compelled to the belief and understanding that they had been wrecked on an island and had almost walked its entire circumference. After a night's camp, they were apparently observed in the morning, for towards noon a party of fourteen or more natives in different canoes, and completely naked, encircled the castaways, evincing curiosity at their appearance and colour. Later on they pulled in their canoes across the passage, and once more the night was passed in dismay and fear of coming events. In the morning a canoe was found on the beach, Parsons and Finnegan taking possession and pulling over to the opposite shore, intending to return for Pamphlet later on. He writes that his comrades got across safely, but were met by a large number of natives, and were taken into the thick bush on shore, and for two nights the lonely comrade was in fear and doubting, lamenting his fate, being left alone on a desolate island, and with but little flour left.
the third day Finnegan, and one of the natives came across. Finnegan informed
his mate of the kindness of these natives, that is, those on the other side of
the channel. Then Pamphlet and Finnegan entered the canoe with the tide running
out, the latter refusing to pull up the beach before the journey was commenced,
the consequence naturally being that they were unable to cope with the tide,
were drifted out over the breakers, being only able to return with the change of
the tide after five hours of danger, their landing being some eight miles from
the place where they had originally intended to go.
For ten days or more the three men lived amongst the blacks, recovering their lost energy and health, guarded carefully from the women-kind; young men sleeping nightly before their huts. The determination to reach Sydney was still strong in the bosoms of Pamphlet and Parsons, Finnegan apparently not being on too friendly terms with the remaining two, and being persuaded with great difficulty to continue the journey. He openly stated that he preferred remaining and living with the blacks. On the tenth day they set out again, their intention being (so writes Pamphlet) “to get round the large bay, of which the island that we had originally been thrown upon forms the eastern boundary." Of flour there still remained about forty pounds, the greater part being carried by Parsons, Finnegan carrying a firestick, Pamphlet an axe and tin-pot.
The natives had pointed out an inlet at a distance of twelve miles or so, where they said a canoe would be found, by which canoe they could cross to an island just visible at the southern end of the Bay. On the way a quarrel took place, Finnegan letting his firestick go out, Parsons threatening to kill him. Finnegan retraced his steps for more fire, but not returning, the other two also retraced their steps. Then the two faced themselves about for the island that had been pointed out, finding the canoe mentioned by the blacks. This canoe was unfortunately old and useless, so Pamphlet and Parsons, with heavy hearts, determined to return to their first starting point, and, if possible, find Finnegan. This they did, and after an absence of three days the three men became again united.
another three days they lived an idle life in the huts, consulting whether it
were better to steal away in the night with a native canoe, or fall a tree and
build one themselves. This latter they decided upon, and with nothing but the
axe they had recovered from the wrecked boat, they worked for three weeks
continuously, and at last the canoe was completed, Finnegan refusing to work the
whole of that time.
day after the completion of the canoe a quantity of food was received from the
natives, consisting of fish and fern root, and Parsons and Pamphlet proceeded on
their journey towards the island mentioned previously, Finnegan still refusing
fern root goes by the native name of Bungwall (although another name, that of
Dingowa, is mentioned). Bungwall is a species of fern root, found in swampy
places, and which, even up to the last few years, has been the aboriginal
substitute for bread. When the fern root is taken from the swamps it is washed
in clean water, then pounded between heavy stones, and when properly prepared
ready for eating somewhat resembles biscuit in flavour.
had not proceeded a quarter of a mile when the natives, perceiving that Finnegan
did not accompany his friends, obtained a canoe of their own, and forced the
deserter, if so we may call him, into it, and immediately pulled after the other
two white men. Not being able to overtake them, the natives rowed to a near
sandbank, placed Finnegan thereon, and returned to their huts ashore.
In the morning, after a light repast of fish and fern, they made for the opposite side of the island, and, then for, as they thought (and rightly too) the mainland, this being reached shortly after dark.
On landing several native huts were seen, but no inhabitants. In the morning they went to the top of rising ground, and, seeing other points far to the northward, drew up their canoe, and proceeded to walk round the shores of the bay. The mangroves were too thick to allow of their keeping the shore line, so they were compelled to take to the native tracks, and here again I use Pamphlet's words:
“On the third day we arrived ON THE BANKS OF A LARGE
RIVER" (the capitals are mine), "at a place where it was found the natives used
to cross over, but it was too wide for us to attempt to swim, and we could not
find a canoe. We therefore resolved to go up the river until we could find some
means of crossing it."
This, I am certain, was the actual discovery of the Brisbane River, named
by John Oxley some months later, and its discovery was made, not by Oxley, but
by Pamphlet, Parsons, and Finnegan. Calculating, as near as I possibly can from
the data in my possession, this discovery was made on 14th June 1823,
and the location somewhere near what is now known as Lytton Hill.
a month these three men, naked and famished, and nigh heartbroken, eager to
proceed northward for the refuge of Sydney, kept on their way. Salt creeks
impeded their progress, for, having no canoe, they were compelled to walk almost
to the heads of these tributaries before they could get across. Eventually
coming to a creek (which I feel sure must have been Oxley Creek) a canoe was
espied, and Pamphlet almost lost his life in swimming across for it, so weak and
emaciated was he. They then tried to move further along the bank of the river,
but, finding the wood was so thick and the country so rough, and naked and
shoeless as they were, it became impossible to travel. Then they resolved to
retrace their steps, finding nothing like the same difficulty in so doing as
compared with the upward journey.
Then on the other side of the river another canoe was seen, which, being taken, enabled the three wearied out and almost beaten souls to get once more to the fringe of Moreton Bay. Pamphlet says it was about the 101st day after leaving Sydney that they stood on the sandbanks at the mouth of the river. (I presume we can take it this was Luggage Point.) For several weeks the men had been living upon a fern root previously mentioned, named Dingowa, and as their residence amongst the native inhabitants had not been very lengthy, it can be readily understood their means of picking up knowledge of other foods, either root or tree, was not too advantageous for them to change their diet much.
We can now imagine them standing once more with the broad expanse of the Bay before them, worn out in body and heart, far south, as they thought, of Sydney, and with scarcely enough energy or life to carry them on their journey. It is not my purpose to deal at length with their toilsome walk around the foreshores of the various bays and inlets until Bribie is reached, but one can imagine three naked, wearied men wading through marsh and mire, continually meeting different and varied tribes of blacks, with little or no knowledge of their customs or habits; no terminal point ahead to tell of victory or success, no food, save that which out of their bare and limited knowledge they knew how and where to find; with hope almost gone from their minds, their companionship not being of too friendly a nature‑and perhaps, too, carrying with them the knowledge that even if Sydney were ever reached, their return to that place might be a return to prison or convict life.
On their journey ending at Pumice Stone Passage (called Pumice Stone River by Flinders) and camping at what is known as Toorbul Point (for this is where Oxley, I feel sure, discovered them) they met many blacks, living a while here with one tribe and there with another; their sojourn, where they found friendly receptions, being for the purpose of food and desire to restore their bodily vigour and health. Pamphlet insists that Jervis Bay is ahead, and calls upon them to hurry on. Finnegan appears to have again lost heart, or is afraid of receiving harm from his comrades, and will not proceed, preferring to remain behind with the natives and live a life of ease and indulgence, almost reminding one of the mutineering sailors of the “Bounty" in 1788, crying out as Bligh drifted astern, "Huzzah for Otaheite!" Pamphlet and Parsons started alone.
The following evening they returned, unable to procure food, and for another month they sojourned with the natives. The anxiety to get home is still strong in their minds, and once more they start on their weary journey, this time the three men travelling together. They kept steadily on, the blacks trying all means to stay them, but they are determined. Rivers and creeks have to be headed or forded, food has to be found; again and again they are compelled to idle away time in native camps or gunyahs, and Sydney still away in the dark depths of travel. Pamphlet, so far the leader of the party, and the most determined, now begins to be too footsore and weary to plod on much further, and finally gives in to urgent entreaties to return back to the first camp of blacks they had met on their return journey down the River Brisbane. With a chief he sets out first to see a fight between two strong men of different tribes, then seeks the relief and rest of camp.
and Finnegan continue their journey, with dull monotony, no variation, the
ever-recurring marshes and mangrove swamps and irritable foreshores still being
around and about. A quarrel took place between Parsons and Finnegan, Parsons
threatening to murder his companion with an open knife.
two parted, and after four days of
wandering, Finnegan found himself back at the original camp where Pamphlet was
left with the natives. Parsons was now alone, travelling still northwards, and
was not at Bribie when the “Mermaid" with John Oxley arrived.
to Pamphlet he and Finnegan lived on now quietly with the blacks, hope of
success in returning to Sydney having apparently died out; their mode of life
becoming more appreciable, seeing that those around them were kindly disposed
and were educating them to their manners and ways. Tribal fights and personal
encounters took place, in which the white men were purely spectators, and took
no active part. There is no word of Parsons, and, as the record of time kept on
their journey had been neglected, there is no knowledge of the number of days or
the time they resided with the natives until the day of their rescue. Their
rescue was purely one of accident.
John Oxley, Surveyor-General to the Government of New South Wales, had been asked to go north to survey Port Curtis, Moreton Bay, and Port Bowen, with a view to forming convict penal establishments there, and, after having been north, anchored off Skirmish Point on the 29th day of November 1823, and found the two men Pamphlet and Finnegan, living ashore with the natives.
alone was in the camp when the “Mermaid" arrived- Finnegan having gone
inland with some of the chiefs to witness some tribal battle- and on talking of
his trials and journeys with Oxley, mentioned having seen a large
Oxley, naturally being anxious to report all that he possibly could to the Governor of New South Wales stated his desire to see this river, and as Finnegan returned the following day, and being in better health than Pamphlet, Oxley, in his company, and others of the crew of the “Mermaid," set out on their journey of exploration, and were absent some five or six days.
From Oxley's account, it appears that the first day saw them making an examination of Red Cliff Point, and on 2nd December 1823, pursuing their examination of the foreshores, had the satisfaction of seeing the flood tide setting their boat towards what is termed as the “First Islands," or, rather, between these and the mainland. The muddiness of the water, and the abundance of fresh water molluscs, convinced them they were entering a large river, a few hours' pulling ending their anxiety on that point, for before sunset they had proceeded a distance of some 20 miles, the river being well defined.
day a further 30 miles was completed, very little diminution of the breadth
taking place, with the exception- so the writer says- that in one place to the
extent of about 30 yards a ridge of detached rocks stretches across, having not
more than 12ft. at high water. (Any person knowing the upper Brisbane can
readily understand these rocks were the Seventeen-Mile Rocks.)
description of his journey as far as Termination Hill is exceedingly
interesting. On the morning of the 4th December 1823, having made
portion of his return journey, and before leaving for Moreton Bay and Bribie, in
honour of the Governor of New South Wales, he named the river “Brisbane
This narration, I think, would be incomplete were an omission to be made of certain of Oxley's report, so I have taken the liberty of giving two extracts from it- one in reference to the river, the other in reference to the penal establishment.
the former he writes: “The nature of the country, and a consideration of all the
circumstances connected with the appearance of the river justify me in
entertaining a strong belief that the source of the river will not be found in
mountainous country, but rather that it flows from some lake, which will prove
to be the receptacle of those interior streams crossed by me during an
expedition of discovery in 1818, but whatever may be its origin it is by far the
largest fresh water river in New South Wales, and promises to be of the utmost
importance to the colony, as it affords communication with the sea to a vast
extent of country, a great portion of which appeared to me capable of raising
the richest productions of the tropics."
the penal establishment he writes:
a settlement be formed in Moreton Bay the country in the vicinity of Redcliffe
Point offers the best site for an establishment in the first instance. It has an
easy communication with the sea; there is not that difficulty experienced in
effecting a landing which other situations in the Bay present, and the country
to the west of the Point will communicate with the interior. It is about ten
miles to the north of the entrance into Brisbane River, and must be passed by
all vessels intending to enter it. Redcliffe Point must, however, be viewed more
in the light of a naval depot for stores than as being well adapted for a
principal settlement. The Brisbane River presents so many superior situations
that although a post at Redcliffe Point may, in the first instance, be
indispensable, yet the country on the west side at the termination of the sea
reach appears to me a much better site for a permanent establishment. The river
is not fresh there, but there is plenty of fresh water; the country is open and
no obstacles exist from swamps or hills to prevent a ready communication with
the interior, either by the banks of the river or at a distance from it. The
water is deep close to the shore and vessels of considerable burthen could load
or unload close to the bank."
This practically ends the story of the discovery of the Brisbane River. It is ever and always attributed to John Oxley, for in his narration- or rather report- not a single word is mentioned of the castaways, Pamphlet or Finnegan; nor, although the latter accompanied him and showed him the river's entrance from Moreton Bay, is one word written or his name mentioned.
Had it not been for John Uniacke, who was with Oxley in the “Mermaid," the probability is that the story of these men would never have been recorded. There may be little honour to dead men to have their names associated with any important event that may have happened during their lives, and with which event they may have had some immediate and enterprising connection.
and Finnegan returned to Sydney in the “Mermaid," probably once again to
take up a convict's life, although I can find nothing to admit that they were
convicts, ticket-of-leave men, or free men. Thompson undoubtedly was the second,
for his paper was taken from him prior to his body being committed to the deep.
Parsons, too, returned to Sydney at a later date. He had, as will be remembered,
left his friends, and gone “North”- north being always their cry for Sydney, and
meeting with other blacks lived with them for two years, and then returned south
to his old camp, that is the camp where he had left Pamphlet and
Before reverting to the sandhills again, a few remarks regarding the natives of the Bay may not be taken amiss. Stradbroke, Moreton, and Bribie owned distinctive tribes the two former being friendly and engaging often in warfare with the Nerang Creek dwellers, although it has been known that on more than one occasion these three have combined to attack the Tweed and Richmond blacks.
Porpoise Point, the extreme southern end of Stradbroke, is called Moondurraba, having a peculiar and significant meaning not generally known. The blacks of Bribie were a better built class of men as compared with the other island dwellers, differing in this, that they were cannibals and the others not.
John Uniacke, who accompanied Oxley, states that the Point Skirmish or Bribie blacks, were far superior in manners and disposition to those in the vicinity of Sydney, and yet the Bribie tribe were the first to entirely disappear.
the time of writing none of them exist, whilst on Moreton and Stradbroke a few
of the earlier tribes still remain.
When Pamphlet, and his comrades were compelled to take up their living at Toorbul, the natives had no more idea that water could be made hot than it could be made solid, and on his heating some in a tin-pot, which he had saved when wrecked, the whole tribe gathered round and watched the pot until the water began to boil, when they all took to their heels, shouting and screaming, nor could they be persuaded to return till they saw him pour the water out and clean the pot, when they slowly ventured back, and carefully covered the place where the water had been spilt with sand.
That Tom Pamphlet and his mates were wrecked upon Moreton Island is a well established fact. That they were wrecked on the ocean side of the sandhills is my firm, and true conviction, for I have read and re-read the accounts of their mishaps and wanderings with the closest of scrutiny. The upper sandhill, that is the one seen from the Bay itself, and nearest to Cape Moreton, runs as does its partner, direct from the water's edge right across the island, with the exception that the upper hill does not meet the ocean within half-a-mile or so, the lower one almost touching the waters of the Pacific, save for a few yards of salt, blady grass. Appearances point that in earlier years the breakers rolled right in to these sandhills. Then, inside the lower hill, and not far distant from the outer waters, a small lagoon can even yet be seen, a lagoon, changeable in its modes and fancies. Whether this lagoon was nearer the ocean when the men were wrecked than it is now may be hard to say, but I am under the impression that it was, for strong easterly and other winds have changed the contour and appearance of the islands more than once even in my own time.
So we accept the version of their having been wrecked here, and now comes the long, weary journey, the northward track as they considered it, the hope deferred, the lack of food, their meeting with natives, and their at last camping at Toorbul until they are found by Oxley. If the reader has a chart of Moreton Bay in his possession, he will the better observe if he has that by him now as he reads. I have purposely made portions of their journey, the better to convince me of the path they made, and having read their narrative so often, take upon me the self-assurance that the following description is correct and true.
Northern was their cry; so northward they go from the sandhills. They reached almost the end of the island, but observing a native path, struck off into the bush (which apparently cut off a bluff before them), they proceeded that way, and reached the beach on the other side of the head. This head can at once be identified as Cape Moreton, the spot they came out being, I should imagine, a little to the westward of the North Point. Proceeding along the island beach, they, in due course, reached Comboyuro Point, and here had pointed out to them the low-lying island of Bribie, which they took to be the mainland. And for days they walked, carrying with them fire-sticks, past Bulwer, Cowan Cowan, Tangalooma, or Doongaluma, as it is properly, named, away past the sandhills until Cloherty's Point is reached, and they became impressed that they had walked almost right round the island.
Then they see the South Passage Bar from the inside, for Pamphlet says, “On the fifth day we arrived at a high sandy point, where we found our further progress stopped by a channel about three miles wide, through which the tide appeared to run very rapidly," and looking across that passage, they must have looked upon what is now known as Amity Point.
After a few days they were carried across by the natives. Pamphlet, in his narrative, stated that he and Finnegan were taken out to and across the bar, returning only with the tide, and after five hours' paddling in their canoes. They must have landed some few miles south of Amity Point, according to Pamphlet's description. At Amity they stayed a few days, and on the first attempt of freedom must have reached Dunwich, but, on finding the canoe there useless, returned to Amity, where they built their own craft. Their second attempt was successful, and their landing on an island compels me to the belief that they landed on Peel Island, just in the vicinity of the present lazarette. From there they proceeded to the other side of Peel Island, and the same day landed to the north of Ormiston, in Raby Bay. From there they followed the fringe of the Bay, passing Wellington Point, Manly, Wynnum, and then crossed Lytton Hill, and, as stated, there discovered the Brisbane River. That was about the 14th June.
their course for the next month was upwards, on the south side of the Brisbane
River. Doughboy Creek and Norman Creek were obstacles, and their heads reached
before the weak and emaciated men could cross to resume their
following is an extract from Pamphlet's narration: “Accordingly we travelled for
nearly a month, being very much impeded by the number of salt creeks we were
obliged to walk round, as neither of my companions were able to swim
sufficiently well to attempt crossing them."
How far they reached in their travelling is hard to say, although I fancy they must have arrived not very far from where Goodna now stands before they resolved to return. Here they saw two native canoes on the opposite side of the creek, when Pamphlet swam across and secured one for their return journey. Then they crossed the Main River, but finding the brush too thick and the country rough for their naked bodies and shoeless feet, they returned, and whilst Parsons and Finnegan walked along the shores, their comrade paddled along in the canoe, and as creeks were reached now and again, this canoe enabled them to cross without, as previously, walking round to their respective heads.
Later on they secured another canoe, and on this occasion were nearly, for the first time, coming in conflict with the blacks. Within a week, not including days of rest, they reached the mouth of the river, where on a sandbank they were lucky in spearing five stingarees, these being welcome food after nothing else but dingowa. This sand flat, as boating men will readily perceive, could have been none other than the Luggage Point shallows, which, if not composed purely of sand, have in particles that composition.
From Luggage Point they traversed the Nudgee Beach, then across Cabbage-tree Creek, and probably the Pine River, although I am not certain of this, as there appears a doubt whether they did so; or from the Sandgate flats pulled across at low water to Woody Point. They were three days getting here from Luggage Point. Woody Point was mistaken for the spot pointed out by the blacks when they were at Comboyuro, but one can understand their error.
During the time dating from their departure from Sydney on the 21st March, daily reckoning had been kept, and as it is written they reached this point on the one hundred and first day from then, they must have had the sorrowful pleasure in looking across the waters of the Bay, and wondering at their wanderings on this the 30th day of June. From this time onwards complete loss of reckoning of days or time is recorded.
Woody Point they met some natives by whom, they were treated kindly, and with
them they lived for four or five days, living chiefly on fish. Still their
lamentable cry is “Northward, Northward," to Sydney. Pamphlet, who had been
out fishing, came back on the fifth day, stating that they must push on, as he
had seen the head of Jervis Bay at no considerable distance, and once again
At the end of a month they again grew anxious to get “home," and accordingly resolved to make one more effort, and collecting a quantity of fish and fern root, set out in the afternoon, and pushed their course northwards for about 10 miles. Resting for the evening, four of the blacks approached and tried to persuade them to return to the camp, but they refused. These blacks were driven away, and again walking on for a mile or so they camped for the night. Pursuing their journey in the early morning, they were, later on in the day, overtaken by a black man and woman of the tribe at Woody Point, who tried to prevail upon them to return, but were again met with refusal.
“Towards evening we came to a river," so runs Finnegan's narration. It is not conjecture, it becomes actual knowledge, that the three men had traversed the shores of Deception Bay, and had reached the Caboolture River. Then again onwards they go, filled with the determination to reach the head of “Jervis Bay" as they thought, filled with hope, wearied with despair and anxiety, bootless, naked, a-hungered, and far from the home they so desired to reach. The story is a pathetic one when we consider what they had undergone, the dangers they had passed. But now unconsciously they were nearing their journey’s end, for they had arrived at Toorbul Point, and over across the “river," as they termed it, lay the island of Bribie, on which island Flinders on the 16th day of July 1799, had landed so as to give time for the repairs of his vessel. Toorbul was to be their last resting place before rescue, which rescue came on the 29th day of November 1823.
There had been more quarrels between the three men. Pamphlet had departed with some of the blacks to witness a tribal fight, Parsons and Finnegan going on still further. Another squabble takes place between Finnegan and Parsons, the latter attacking Finnegan with an open knife. Then he (Finnegan) travelled up the bank of the river, which of a certainty was Pumice Stone Channel (called and named river by Flinders), but retraced his steps and arrived in four days at the spot from whence he had at first set out, and here he found Pamphlet, and was again received by the old chief with the greatest kindness, he seemingly being quite delighted with his return. Parsons had not come back.
this time onwards Finnegan and Pamphlet lived with the natives, the time
covering some four months or so, and nothing eventuated. One evening, a few days
after Finnegan had gone with the chief men to a tribal fight, as the lonely camp
dweller was sitting by the fire, and the blacks were roasting fish for the
evening meal, he heard natives shouting on the beach and calling for him, on
which he rose and walked slowly in their direction. What was his astonishment
and delight when he saw a cutter (the “Mermaid") under full sail standing
up the Bay about three miles from where he watched. The vessel came slowly on,
anchored, within a quarter of a mile of the shore, and rescue had come at
It seems and reads like a romance, does it not? From the 21st March until the 29th day of November what had they not endured and passed through, strong in the thought that Sydney and home were away to the north, and away towards the north they ever continued to journey. Their discovery did not take place on Bribie Island, but at Toorbul Point, for repeated applications to the blacks had never prevailed on their being taken across the river as they imagined it to be.
The story of Pamphlet and Finnegan was told in turn and in sections to John Uniacke as they rested on the deck of the “Mermaid" on her journey south to Sydney. They were frequently ill in its narration, and apparent errors no doubt crept in as they spoke of their travels around Moreton Bay, but allowance has to be made for all this- the fact, however, remaining that they had walked almost round Moreton Island and had traversed every foreshore of the Bay itself.
journey had been from the ocean side of the Island, up as far as Cape Moreton,
then back on the inside shore southward towards Cloherty's, thence across to
Amity Point, and then away to Peel Island. From Peel Island they reached the
mainland near Ormiston, away towards King Island and Manly and Wynnum. Then at
Lytton Hill they saw the Brisbane River. Weary and footsore they went on as far
as Goodna, and returned from there to Luggage Point, thence by the shores of
Nudgee and Sandgate across to Woody Point, away around that dismal, shallow, and
muddy Deception Bay; and last of all reached Toorbul, and there came the heart's
delight of rescue.
men were merely “convicts" in the eyes Of Oxley. So the thanks of those lovers
of the earlier history of Moreton Bay and the discovery of the Brisbane River
must be given without hesitation to Uniacke, for it was he who gleaned from the
men their pitiful tale, and it was he who heard from their lips the finding of
the river itself. That it was beauteous in those days cannot be denied, for its
banks were fringed with foliage trees, and the upper reaches were lined with
pine; the waters teemed with bird and fish, and the only inhabitants of its
banks and back country were the dark-skinned natives- now all gone. Recently an
attempt was made in one of the Southern States to erect a statue in memory of
the greatest writer and dramatist the world has even seen- William Shakespeare.
An attempt has been made in Melbourne to erect a statue to the memory of one
who, in truth, richly deserves it- Matthew Flinders; and these two so far have
met with no success. I make no comparison, for none is needed; yet I am
thankful, even after the lapse of ninety years, to know that I have been enabled
to write, what can be regarded as truthful, the interesting story of three
shipwrecked souls, who, if they were convicts or ticket-of-leave men, proved
what Britishers could do then (as others are still proving)- three men who were
the actual discoverers of the Brisbane River on or about the 14th
June, 1823, and whose names were Thomas Pamphlet, Richard Parsons, and John
little time after the foregoing had been written, my attention was drawn to an
article in one of the Sydney papers relative to one, John Hoddle, who laid out
the city of Melbourne, and who, in later days, occupied the position of
Surveyor-General of Victoria. What followed proved to me of a most interesting
nature, and I then determined, if I could secure further data, and of a correct
nature, that I would add to my narrative of the discovery of the Brisbane River.
It appears that recently, when the Sydney Lands Department were making a change
in office occupation, one of the seniors came across many field books of
early-day history, and amongst them six important books made by Surveyor Hoddle
relative to Moreton Bay and the Brisbane River. These books were regarded then
as being the property of the Queensland Government, and were sent on to
Brisbane. They were for a time in the possession of our Lands Department, and
amongst those interested, were regarded as highly valuable, for in two of them
certain writings were seen giving undeniable proof that Hoddle was with Oxley in
1823, when Parsons, and his comrades were discovered; also that he had journeyed
with Oxley in his voyage up the river, named afterwards the Brisbane, as far as
Termination Hill, and had made various pencil sketches of the windings and
turnings of the stream.
some reason best known to those in authority, the books were regarded as not
being the property of the Queensland Government, being dated 1823, and as that
year was long before separation took place with New South Wales, it was
considered they belonged to the mother State, and were in due course returned.
On the return being made, a request was graciously granted, an exact copy of
each book being sent to the Lands Department here. They were then passed on to
the Chief Secretary's office, where they can now be seen by the curiously
Seeing that Oxley's narrative contained no mention of Uniacke, and again, neither of Hoddle, I became the more interested, and availed myself of the opportunity of a visit to Sydney, and thereby see the originals themselves. They are quaint looking books, in good preservation, written partly in ink and partly in pencil, showing daily reckonings, with latitude and longitude, and sketches of a portion of the southern coast. In one number a clear and distinct account is given of the finding of the wanderers, the wording being of sincerity and earnestness occasioned by such a discovery. The writing is good, with here and there a small error in spelling, with an occasional word missing, the whole having an imprimatur of genuineness that supports the story of Uniacke, and convinces me of the correctness of Uniacke's own narration. Naturally, not being the leading surveyor of the party- Oxley occupying that position-Hoddle mentions no names in his daily entries, save Pamphlet, Finnegan, and Parsons, although there is nothing to indicate that the “Mermaid's" party were otherwise than friendly one towards the other. Taking the story of Uniacke and Hoddle as written independently of each other, there is such a ring of authenticity as to the actual discoverers of the Brisbane River, that I could not refrain from making an addition to what appeared in my three original articles in the Courier.
spent a considerable time in the perusal of the Field Books, and have taken
exact copies of what I deemed the most important features of the discovery and
publish them so that readers may concur in my opinions. Had any doubt ever
existed, the coming to light of these Field Books must banish any such feeling.
They are viewed by me as being a silent, unconscious endorsement of the writings
of another person, whilst in placing the two written accounts side by side,
their truthfulness becomes the more impressive. I feel sure and certain that any
interested reader will with pleasure peruse the following extracts from Hoddle's
own Field Books. The originals are in the hands of the Under Secretary for
Lands, Sydney (Mr. Arthur John Hare) are zealously guarded under lock and key by
Mr. H. Selkirk, one of his senior officers, whilst the copies- well made and
exact- are in the Chief Secretary's office, Brisbane. To both the gentlemen
named, I give my sincere thanks for the courtesy given me in Sydney, and the
liberty of perusing such interesting, important and valuable documents, such as
Hoddle's Field Books undoubtedly are.
from Hoddle's Field Book
NOVEMBER 29, 1823
rounded Point Skirmish about five o'clock, and observed a number of natives
running along the beach towards the vessel; the foremost one appeared very much
lighter in colour than the rest. We took him for a half-caste, but were to the
last degree astonished when he came abreast the vessel (which had just anchored)
to hear him hail us in good English. We immediately went on shore, and were
received by the poor man with a breathless joy that almost deprived him of
utterance. He said his name was Thos. Pamphlet, that he left Sydney on March 21,
in company with three other men, Richard Parsons, John Finnegan, and another
whose name he does not remember, being a stranger to him when he sailed; that,
intending to go to the five islands for cedar, they were caught in a small gale
of wind shortly after quitting the Heads, and were blown out of sight of land;
that some days after when the gale abated they made the land again, and thought
they had been blown to the southward, near Jervis Bay; that under this
impression they kept to the north twenty-one days without water, having only
four gallons when they sailed. The man whose name he does not know, died for
want of it; had plenty of provisions, but had neither fire nor the means of
procuring any; ran the boat on shore on the outside of a large island (proved to
be Moreton Island), when she was dashed to pieces. Walked round the island, fell
in with natives who were universally kind to them and assisted them; that they
wandered for many weeks round the shore of Moreton Bay (Glass House Bay) in
entire ignorance where they were; went up a river which they found to be fresh
at some distance from the mouth; descended in a canoe and found their way to
Point Skirmish, receiving occasional assistance from the natives; that three or
four months ago, still believing themselves to the south of Sydney, they went
forward to the northward; that himself and Finnegan, being footsore, soon
returned to Point Skirmish; that Parsons went on, he does not know where he now
is, but thinks he is not many days' journey from this place; the natives were
certainly kind to him. Finnegan went upon a hunting excursion about three or
four months ago, with the chief of a tribe at Point Skirmish, and is now on the
opposite side of the Bay ... Natives were around us in considerable numbers and
seemed most friendly. Pamphlet assured us they would do no harm, and had treated
him with great kindness. He afterwards gave many curious and interesting
particulars respecting them, etc. . . .
three o'clock we had the satisfaction to see a white man wading into the water
from the point opposite, and on sending the boat for him he proved to be Jo
Finnegan, whose actions, words and countenance showed how deeply he was
overpowered by his sudden and unlooked deliverance. His account of the wreck of
the boat, and their subsequent adventures perfectly coincided with the statement
we had previously received from Pamphlet, and was somewhat clearer as to the
dates; his manner throughout was truly diverting, yet was perfectly original in
his remarks and detail; his resignation under his sufferings and privations did
high credit to the native simplicity of disposition, which seemed a marked
feature in his character; he spoke highly of his friend the King, and agreed
with Pamphlet on praising the kind and humane treatment which they had received
from the untutored beings who inhabit these shores.
quitted his companion Parsons three days after Pamphlet, being afraid from his
wild language and threats that he would do him some bodily harm, as they were
both reduced to the last extremity of hunger, not having seen any of their
friendly natives for some days. Finnegan soon after quitting Parsons fell in
with some who had seen him in Moreton Bay, and they would not suffer him to
proceed northerly, as was his wish, intimating to him that he would meet with
people who would ill-use him. From his account of the day's journey to the north
of Point Skirmish, it appears that he parted with Parsons on the banks of the
south arm of Wide Bay, in a brush near which he saw some cedar.
the east coast of, Moreton Island, they saw a New Zealand canoe of large size,
painted red, also a log of cedar with a staple in it. It is a singular
circumstance that from the description given of the canoe, it was recognised by
a seaman on board as one that the “Echo"- South Whaler- had procured in
the Bay of Islands (New Zealand) when he was there, the canoe being not only
remarkable by its colour, but also its size and long projecting head. The
“Echo" was wrecked about two years ago on Wreck Reef, thus it would
appear that some judgment may be found as to the set of currents on this part of
the coast. Out at sea they appear to set strong to the south, in the shore to
the north, and this corresponds with my own experience on this point, and with
that of Captain Flinders.
men in the boat were deceived by these currents, leaving Sydney at a period of
the year when it is known the southerly currents prevail strongest. They at once
conceived they must have been set in that direction, whereas, not being in the
stream of that current, they were set to the north, and they were only convinced
to the contrary by their falling in with us. Finnegan, however, declared he
thought it was very strange that if they were to the south, the weather should
prove so extremely hot, and that instead of getting colder, as he afterwards
knew it ought to do as the winter season was advancing, it was rapidly getting
warmer every day they sailed to the north, in which direction they imagined
Sydney to be. Since they had nothing to do (with) what was it to men so
situated? They had long forebore to keep any account; they, however, remembered
the day of the month they left Sydney, and up to a period of 101 days. Finnegan
asked the day of the week, and being informed it was Sunday, uttered a shout,
and I am sure a heartfelt prayer of thanks to his beneficent Creator for his
DECEMBER 2, 1823
and fine- at six we again embarked and pulled along the shores of the harbour;
at eight we entered the mouth of a very large river, having three and four
fathoms. The islands in the main bay apparently closing up the mouth of the
river, which between those islands and the main land is about two miles wide.
Proceeded up the river, and at the end of the first reach, having four fathoms
close to the starboard shore, landed to take bearings."
five at the mouth of a small river, which we called Canoe River, being the spot
where Parsons and his companions found a canoe in which they went down the river
. . . River navigable for large ships. The slowness of the current and depth of
water induce me to conclude that the river will be found navigable for vessels
of burden to a very considerable distance, probably at least fifty miles. I
cannot help entertaining a strong belief that this is no river having its source
in mountain streams. I see none to give them; on the contrary, my opinion is
strongly in favour of its deriving its source in an interior lake, which even
turns out to be the case it is by far the largest river in New South Wales, and
promises to be of the utmost importance to the colony from the very fertile
country it passes through, affording the means of water communication with the
sea to a vast extent of country, the greater portion of which is capable of
producing the richest productions of the Tropics... I had not contemplated such
a discovery, and was therefore totally unprovided with the present means of
ascertaining how much further the river was navigable: We were about seventy
miles from the vessel, and our provisions were only calculated for the present
day; the entrance of the river was also to be sounded and the position fixed, as
also a large island (near the entrance which from a cursory view I was induced
to think might prove eligible as a primary place of settlement) required to be
therefore determined to return down the river as far as the green hill, and
afterwards proceed to determine such points as are mentioned above, the great
object of a large navigable river having its source in the interior being
reader must be impressed by the quaint wording of Hoddle's writing)
Thanks to a kindly interest taken by Commander W. J.
Weatherill in my articles, as published in the Courier, I am enabled to
add a little more interesting Matter to what I have already written. Pumice
Stone River, as it must be named, and called prior to 1823, had apparently been
visited and slightly explored, as well as Moreton Bay was, before Oxley; but it
must be remembered Oxley's visit was purely one of examination for the purpose
of finding a suitable convict depot. In January 1822, the colonial cutter
“Sally" left for the north, having in command one John Bingle; his
objective, according to the following, being the discovery of a large river; but
what river I leave the reader to conjecture.
am directed by His Excellency Sir Thomas Brisbane, to authorise your taking the
command of the sloop ‘Sally,' on her departure from Port Macquarie, and
proceeding in her in search of a large river supposed to exist between Port
Macquarie and Sandy Cape. Wishing you a pleasant and prosperous voyage, and
trusting that should you verify so desirable a discovery you will not fail to
bring back with you specimens, both of the water it contains and the soils by
which it may be bounded, together with an accurate delineation of the course it
pursues until it ceases to be navigable."
is evidence hereby that both the writings of Captain Cook and Captain Flinders
had established in the Colonial Secretary's office, Sydney, a knowledge that
some large river was in the vicinity of Moreton Bay- at least that is what I
surmised from the foregoing. In 1822 Captain Bingle received the following
certificate from Governor Brisbane:
are to certify that Mr. John Bingle was employed on board His Majesty's colonial
cutter ‘Sally,' surveying the coast of New Holland, to the northward of
this port, so far as latitude 25 deg. south, from the 31st day of
December 1821, to the 24th day of March 1822, during which time he
used his utmost endeavours to perform effectually the service he was employed
on, and conducted himself throughout very much to my satisfaction. The charts of
his survey, which he submitted to me, were highly creditable to his nautical
abilities, and I recommend him as deserving of notice.
under my hand at Sydney, New South Wales, 20th day of April,
His report was in due course sent on to the Chief Secretary's Office, Sydney, and duly recorded; but unfortunately the records, maps, and charts are not to be found, so I am informed. Private papers in family possession show that Captain Bingle had visited Moreton Bay, but naturally the effective and more valuable particulars of an official report would go in to the New South Wales Government. From what has been gathered by me there is evident fact that the “Sally" anchored in Pumice Stone River, as it was named by Flinders, but I should not imagine the Brisbane River was discovered by Bingle, for it was only a little under two years later that Oxley was found in the waters of the Bay, and then learnt of the river.
Bingle seen it, this would have been known in the Sydney governmental offices,
and that knowledge conveyed to Oxley, who most undoubtedly would have mentioned
it in his despatches, or at least by the context of his writings have conveyed
some idea of the river having been known at an earlier date than
some private papers have come to light of much interest, and I am privileged to
insert them in this little volume. An old MSS. book is on hand, in Captain
Bingle's own handwriting, containing an account of his visit to the Bay, more
particularly in regard to the natives; which account will be found a little
further on, entitled “The Natives of Moreton Bay in 1822." It will be seen that
in the account he uses the words “in the river" more than once, but that must
have been no other than Pumice Stone. Entering the South Passage, between Amity
Point, on Stradbroke, and the southern end of Moreton, there is no passage
defined enough to call a river; and again, Amity was not known as a passage (it
was known earlier as an opening) until October 1824, when the brig
“Amity" sailed through on her return voyage to Sydney.
Captain Bingle was made of the real Simon Pure of the British sailor, living until his eighty-sixth birthday. He was mentally and physically strong to the last. He came from a seafaring lot, his father having been a prominent dockyard official at Chatham, whilst the captain was in the Navy, and in the employ of the Honourable East India Company. Leaving the service of the New South Wales Government he became first a squatter, then a merchant in Newcastle, N.S.W., and occupied high business and social positions in that town.
am deeply indebted to his grandson, Mr. Walter D. Bingle, Marshal of the High
Court of Australia and Chief Clerk to the Department of Home Affairs, for
interesting data re the foregoing, as well as to Mrs. Hugonin, Ormiston, for her
NATIVES OF MORETON BAY IN 1822
Talking of savages reminds me of my early life, when I surveyed the shores of the Northern Territory. I well remember in particular going into Moreton Bay, now Brisbane, Queensland; my interview with the natives, who had not at that early period of the Colony seen a white man, and had only the fear and cunning savages in general mostly possess.
anchoring, late in the evening, I early next morning prepared to visit the land
to carry out my instructions, but, before doing so, armed myself and men-no
natives at that time had been seen, nor their fires. Soon after landing, and
looking round, I heard the shouting of many natives, and after some time had
elapsed, an old grey-headed and bearded man made his appearance alone, with the
bulk of his tribe behind him, creeping, and appearing greatly alarmed. I went to
meet him, when he shrank back, and I had great difficulty in inducing him to
meet me; so, to give him confidence, I held out a tomahawk to induce him to come
forward, which he did with great fear and trembling. It took a long time before
we met -more than an hour- and when we did it was only to touch each other's
fingers. He was trembling all over and in a great state of excitement, so I laid
down the tomahawk with a knife and some other trifles that I thought would be
serviceable to him, retired a few paces, and then went forward to the boat to
return to my vessel in the river. As soon as I got to it, the whole tribe came
from their hiding place, out of the thicket or mangrove scrub, and were making
signs to come to them, and shouting at the top of their voices, dancing and
throwing up their hands to show they were unarmed, leaving their spears in
clusters shoved into the ground, and their war weapons laid aside. I, returning
on board, concluded the first interview. Just as I was getting into the boat a
flight of wild ducks flew over the tribe, I up gun and shot one, tumbling him
down amongst them. The noise of the report of the gun did not in the least alarm
them, as they were not aware of its powers to kill, but as the bird fell at
their feet, their astonishment was beyond description with their shouts of
wonder. I left the shore, and went on board for the rest of the day. It was on a
sandy beach I landed, and from the time I got on board, they assembled in
hundreds to see the print of my foot, which to them- I having shoes on- must
have been and was marvellous; the beach being lined the whole day with the
different intermediate tribes, as news had flown far and wide of the wonders
they had witnessed. The next morning I went on shore, but the hesitation was not
so marked, and after placing on the beach a number of what I considered useful
articles to them, and my apparent confidence in them, they gradually crept
towards me, seeing I had no intention of hurting them. The old man of my
yesterday's acquaintance was the first to come forward, and took hold of my hand
and made a great fuss, pawing me all over; as the rest of the tribe did as we
became better acquainted. I had on my head an old Calcutta hat, which I put on
his head to his great delight, considering himself clothed from head to foot.
The whole tribe‑men, women and children- were in a state of nudity, so there was
no fear of petticoat interest, but the great wonder to all, and the difficulty
to be solved, was my footprints in the sand, not being foot like their own, so
when most of them were assembled around me, I took off my shoe and stocking,
convincing them I had a foot and toes like their own, and opened my shirt collar
to show them was flesh and blood as they were. I can never forget their
surprise, their shouting, dancing and astonishment, hugging and making a great
fuss over me, as you may well imagine, giving me their spears, and implements,
baskets (made by the women), etc., a good collection for the Governor- Sir
Thomas Brisbane. My gun was a great source of wonderment among them- they
handled it with caution and examined it minutely. It so happened that a pelican
was feeding on one of the sandbanks not very far distant, within range, so I
pointed it, making signs that I would kill it- fortunately I could depend on my
fowling piece, it was a real good one; I fired, and down dropped the pelican to
their great astonishment and delight, which was accompanied with the same
outburst of shouting, etc. Every morning remained in their river they brought me
fish in abundance, enough for myself and ship's crew. When I left- with regret-
the whole tribe were in great distress, following me four or five miles down the
river, running on the beach with their women and children-shouting lamentations,
throwing up hands, howling, and bewailing my departure. Still I always thought
it prudent, both for myself and my men, to be on our guard and well armed.
Fortunately no white man had been in that immediate neighbourhood before us, so
we had nothing to fear, and others that followed us reaped the advantage our
friendly visit. At that time, early in 1822, I was little more an three months
in the Colony.
OF MORETON BAY "
GLIMPSE OF MORETON BAY" appeared in the Brisbane Courier of the
17th September 1910, and
relates to certain dates and events that may be of interest. Flinders was ever a
favourite of mine, as he is, I should imagine, of all Australians who take any
interest in the doings of our Great Continent.
more than one occasion have I traversed every inch of his journey in Moreton
Bay, not alone from Bribie, where the sloop “Norfolk" was repaired, but
across the marshy flats right to the foot of the mountain he did not climb.
There is a charm in the name and life of Matthew Flinders that appeals to me
most deeply, and as at the time of writing an attempt is being made by Naval
Authorities and others in the South, to collect sufficient money to erect a
statue in memory of his doings, may they succeed is my sincere
two volumes, published 20th May 1814, London, with an Atlas, which I
am thankful to say I possess, are now a rare quantity, and are well worth
as to make the somewhat small article appearing on the following pages a trifle
more interesting, I have written a brief memoir of the great navigator, which I
trust will be acceptable.
Flinders was the son of Doctor Matthew Flinders, and was born at Donington, in
Lincolnshire, on the 16th March 1774, and entered the navy on board
H.M.S. “Scipio," in May 1791. After serving for a short term on the
“Dictator" and the “Bellerophon" (famous as the ship on which
Napoleon surrendered himself in 1815), he embarked with Captain William Bligh on
the “Providence," and secured the good favours of that captain, gruff
martinet as he has been called. Returning home in 1793, he again became one of
the “Bellerophon," and took part in the decisive action of Lord Howe over
the Brest Fleet in June 1794.
Flinders' Australian connection dates from 1795, he being then 21 years of age. In the beginning of that year Captain Hunter sailed a second time for New South Wales in the “Reliance," accompanied by the “Supply," and on board the “Reliance" was young Flinders as a midshipman, and a Mr. George Bass as surgeon.
Flinders and Bass became exceedingly friendly, Bass being a man, so writes Flinders, “whose ardour for discovery was not to be repressed by any obstacles, nor deterred by danger."
Bass as a friend, a determination was formed of completing the examination of
the east coast of New South Wales by all such opportunities as the duty of the
ship and procurable means could admit.
does not know of the “Tom Thumb," a boat of eight feet in length, in
which he and Bass and a small boy pulled around to Botany Bay, exploring
afterwards the George's River for twenty miles further than Governor Hunter's
Survey Party had done.
8th July 1799, Flinders, in company with his brother Samuel, who had
served on board the “Reliance" as a midshipman, and by a native named
Bongaree, sailed from Sydney on a northern voyage, and in the evening of
12th July, he dropped anchor in what he terms “Glass House Bay," and
on the 16th he entered what he named the “Pumice Stone
the arrival of the “Reliance" in England at the latter end of 1801, the
chart of his new discoveries on the New South Wales coast were published, and on
the Right Honorable Sir Joseph Banks recommending the completion of the
investigation of the coasts of Terra Australis, His Majesty was graciously
pleased to direct that the voyage should be undertaken, and that Flinders should
be appointed to command.
The commission was granted on the 17th January 1801, and on the 25th, he took command at Sheerness, the vessel being the “Investigator" (called previously “Xenophon").
The “Investigator" was a North Country built ship of 334 tons, and in form, so it is said, she resembled the description of vessel recommended by Captain Cook as best calculated for voyages of discovery. As an instance showing British pluck, it may be quoted that when eleven men were called to go with Flinders from the “Zealand," about three hundred disposable men were placed on one side of the deck, and after the nature of the voyage, with the number of men wanted, had been explained to them, those who volunteered were desired to go over to the opposite side. Two hundred and fifty men sought with all eagerness to be received. Eleven only were required and chosen.
In June 1803, after much coastal work, the “Investigator" entered Port Jackson for the second time, and being condemned, Governor King afforded Flinders the right of selection of another vessel for further navigation purposes, or to return to England with his charts - Flinders accepting the latter; and on the 10th August, he started his return journey, via Torres Straits.
The vessel chosen was the “Porpoise," she and a merchant ship the “Cato" being wrecked on the seventh day out, and reported in India as “total loss of ships and all hands."
Flinders took command, and in an open boat, with a few picked men, returned to Sydney, a distance of 734 miles, doing the journey in twelve days.
Here Governor King provided him with a schooner, the “Cumberland," register 29 tons, and accompanied by two vessels, he returned to “Wreck Reef," and there rescuing the men, sent them back to Sydney, Flinders proceeding on his voyage to England.
Passing through Torres Straits, he put in at Coepang, thence setting his course for the Cape of Good Hope. Finding the ship leaking considerably, he was forced to call in at Port Louis at Mauritius. This was in December 1803, and readers of history well know of the war going on between England and France during that year; and of Trafalgar in 1805.
At Mauritius, he was made prisoner by Captain General De Caen, and all his charts, papers and journals, both public and private, were taken from him. Later on, during his confinement, a portion of these were returned, by which he was enabled to complete the chart of the Gulf of Carpentaria and of Torres Straits.
June 1810, Flinders was kept as a prisoner, repeated application for his release
being refused. He was, however, enabled to do much good work in preparing
matters for publication should he live until he reached England. The third
volume of his voyage of discovery was never returned to him.
a little pamphlet in my possession, I gather the following. When he returned to
his native land, he was broken in health, and almost worn out by years of
anxious waiting and disappointed hopes. He suffered from a painful and incurable
disease; his discovery work was at a standstill, and imagining that other
discoverers were on his track, and his charts and writings not published, these
Flinders arrived in England, very ill. Living in London with his wife, on half pay, altogether a poor man, with the aid of the restored charts and papers he had sent on home from time to time, he laboured on his truly great work, “Voyage to Terra Australis," and lived to complete it.
is, however, a pathetic feeling in the story of his writing and completing that
work, when it is known that when the volumes were finished, and he was beginning
to look forward to comfort and rest after so many years of toil, it is stated
that he died only the day before they came out.
was of ambitious character, for when writing to Sir Joseph Banks, he said that
he wanted to be of an equal as a navigator as Captain Cook.
sum up ... Flinders was a Middy at 21 years; a Lieutenant at 23; Master and
Commander at 27, and made Captain at 40, and then “aloft" came the call, and he
GLIMPSE OF MORETON BAY
couple of Sundays ago (September 1910), I was at Amity Point in the
“Sunbeam," and towards the fall of the afternoon strolled with a few
friends to the outer beach. It was low tide, and thereby the walk was an easy
and pleasant one. The bar was particularly calm, and the clearness of the
atmosphere made distances the more deceptive. Standing on the sandy point bare
only at low water and changeable with the wind and weather, a companion
queried a remark I had made that many years ago the natives of Moreton
Island could at one time speak to the natives of Stradbroke. “Well," I replied,
“I can only speak from information received, but can quite believe that it was
On return to my yawl-rigged craft we were all agreeable to carry the young flood as far as Myora, and there again I learnt from the lips of Mary Ann, the oldest native woman of Moreton Bay, that she had been told by her parents that the passage between the two islands was in their days but narrow, and that at the Nooghies, the blacks of Moreton could easily converse with the Noonuckles, the blacks of Stradbroke.
I still believe that story, and will give my reasons.
Mary Ann was ten years of age when the “Sovereign" was wrecked on the South Passage bar, on 11th March 1847, and when it is known that the first record of the break was made by Matthew Flinders, in the sloop “Norfolk," on 12th July 1799, forty‑eight years previously, and his description read, much proof would appear in her statement. One has only to remember the break through of Jumpin Pin (meaning in native language “big fellow wave"), and compare the two places. The break of Jumpin Pin occurred in May 1898, the first official report being under date 13th May, coming from Mr. Andrew Graham, Government official, Southport.
The division of the island at this place is too well known now, but many and many a time had I camped under the pandanus trees on the soil carried away by the tempestuous seas. On the selfsame sandy hillocks slept the sailors drowned from the “Cambus Wallace" on the 3rd September 1894.
So I argue in all humbleness that as nature altered the appearance of Stradbroke at Jumpin Pin, so also she felt inclined to, and did, many years before, alter the land at the South Passage. At Amity, for my further reasoning, let me add there is a little hill, or rather the remains of one, named by the natives Pyrrnn Pyrrnn Pa, meaning little hill (the repetition means “little"; had Pyrrnn but been used once then it would represent “big").
my early days, extending from 1876, 1 knew this hill in all its completeness,
and knew the island to extend at least one hundred yards to the north where now
but water can be seen. I have known large slips at Amity carry away tons of
sand, and many a ti-tree familiar to my boating companions has toppled and
fallen into the waters of the Bay.
far I have written from a native statement, and from my own personal knowledge,
and in the seeking for information may be pardoned in writing
the third volume of Captain Cook's Voyages published in London in 1773, on page
513, Cook writes:
“To which I gave the name of Point Lookout. On the north side of this point the shore forms a wide open bay, in the bottom of which the land is so low that I could but just see it from the topmast head."
From this we learn that Moreton Bay, as it is now called, was named by Captain Cook, given from the ocean when looking through the opening at Moreton and Stradbroke. The weather on 18th May 1770 when the sturdy solid Yorkshire captain sailed along in the “Endeavour," was boisterous, his own words being “we had a great sea from the southward." He then carries on further northward, and in the morning sees the bluff headland, which he then named Cape Moreton, it being the north point of Moreton Bay.
refer to Flinders again in his voyage in the “Norfolk." In the
introduction to “A Voyage to Terra Australis," undertaken for the purpose
of completing the discovery of that vast country, and prosecuted in the years
1801-1802-1803, and published in 1814, on page cxcv, volume 1, he
“At Moreton Bay further on that navigator (Cook) had left it in doubt whether there were any opening; and therefore we closed in again with the land at Point Lookout on the 14th July. At noon, the point bore S. 42 deg. E. three or four miles, and a small flat islet E. 3 deg. N. three miles; the opening in Moreton Bay was then evident, and bore W.N.W. It is small and formed by two sandy points, beyond which a large extent of water was visible."
stood on to within two miles of the opening in Moreton Bay, but seeing it
blocked up by many shoals of sand, and the depth having diminished from twelve
to four fathoms."
words of Flinders, remind me that when in a conversation with another Amity
friend, she informed me that as a little girl she remembered an island between
the two places on which there grew small ti‑trees and oak. Taking this and other
matters into consideration, in my opinion, there can be but little doubt
therefore that at one time, and that not so many years ago, the islands of
Stradbroke and Moreton were joined.
I have scanned very closely the charts prepared by Flinders in H.M.S. “Investigator," and on chart 2 find that he gives a division in the two islands; but between Point Lookout and Point Danger, there is an unbroken line of coast, so that probably there was in those days no break at Southport.
same chart shows three islands which are easily distinguishable as being Mud
Island, St Helena, and Green Island. Then away further south the outline of Peel
Island is faithfully portrayed; then comes the island of Coochie Mudlow, thus
giving proof positive that Matthew Flinders was the first individual to sail in
Moreton Bay. But of this I have still to write.
On 17th May 1770, Captain Cook passed on from Cape Moreton northward, and seeing hills, which “are remarkable for the singular form of their elevation, which very much resemble a glass house," he named the Glass Houses. Then on 16th July 1799, Flinders, with more time at his disposal, stands into Moreton Bay, and from an encounter with the blacks, names the lower end of Bribie, Skirmish Point.
It has been written by those who should know better that Flinders caused death on this occasion to the native inhabitants. Nothing of the kind. On page cxcvi of the same work quoted (“Terra Australis") we read:
“There was a party of natives on the Point, and our communication was at first friendly, but after receiving, presents they made an attack, and one of them was wounded by our fire."
Flinders stayed here whilst his leaky vessel was being repaired, from 16th July until 31st July, and it is most interesting to read of his doings. He had named the passage we boating men know so well, Pumice Stone River, and having so much leisure for exploration, purposes we find him therefore on the 18th with a crew working southward in the direction of Coochie.
Knowing the islands as I do, and looking carefully at his chart, there is no doubt but that he sailed almost as far as Karra Garra.
He writes: “Next day we beat up against a southern wind to a sixth island but the shoals then became more numerous and the channels between them so narrow that it was very difficult to proceed further."
he was away the sloop “Norfolk" was brought more round the point, for he
writes that the place chosen for laying the sloop on shore was on the east side,
five miles above Point Skirmish, at a small beach, close to which the depth was
seven fathoms. This must be near the fishing ground, where good schnapper are
occasionally caught. I wonder if any relics of Flinders' visit will ever turn up
on the island frontage, where the sloop was repaired.
From what Flinders writes, he went 34 miles south from Cape Moreton on the inside of the Bay, and from this he must have gone some distance past Coochie. He found at the “Sixth Island" that the shoals became more numerous and the channels narrow, and that it was difficult to proceed further, but the entrance to what he thought was a river was too full of shoals to leave a hope of penetrating far into the interior. On 25th July. Bark canoes were seen, and the river (? passage) was full of swan. Before leaving for the Northern voyage he named the land south of Cape Moreton as Moreton Island, supposing that it would have received that name from Captain Cook had he known of its insularity. And then to conclude, he says that he judged favourably of the country on the borders of what seemed to be a river falling into the head of the Bay, both from its thick covering of wood and from the good. soil of the sixth island which lies at its entrance.
comes the question- What was the sixth island seen by Flinders? His writings
proving that in that respect, backed up by his charts, he (Flinders) was the
first person to sail a craft in the waters of Moreton Bay.
the 18th July we learn that Flinders proceeded up the Bay, as he puts
it, with the afternoon's flood, passing two low islands, and (using the words of
his diary), “We beat up against a southern wind to a sixth island." On page
cxcix of the introduction to his great work, he uses the following words: “I
judged favourably of the country, on the borders of which seemed to be a river
falling into the head of the Bay, both by its thick covering of wood, and from
the good soil of the sixth island, which lies at the entrance."
to explain, and remembering Flinders words as given above: The sixth island was
discovered in beating up against a southern wind, and as Flinders' chart shows
five distinct islands in a southern direction, and defines no track towards or
near the entrance to our river, I am convinced that the Brisbane River was never
known to him. His marked passage shows his journey as between the islands known
to us as Mud Island and St. Helena, and between Peel Island and Coochie Mudlow.
These make four of the five islands he mentions, and there is no difficulty when
examining his chart to at once determine island number five as Green Island.
Taking Coochie Mudlow as the island furthest south, and again referring to the
chart, it can be distinctly seen that Macleay Island is the sixth. I am firmly
of the belief that Flinders went as far as Karra-Garra, or nearly so, when he
mentions the good soil of the sixth island, which lay, as he thought, at the
entrance of a river. Any one knowing the passage, as seen when nearing the
Garden Island, will unhesitatingly admit it gives the full appearance of a
river, thus reconciling the words of Flinders: “A river falling into the head of
GLASS HOUSE MOUNTAINS
If the reader refers to the previous article under the heading “A Glimpse of Moreton Bay"- he will notice that these mountains have been mentioned by me as having been discovered and named by Captain Cook in 1770.
The account of my ascent of all the mountains but one, appeared in print early in 1886, and as they bear a most interesting episode in the history of Queensland as regards Captain Cook when he passed along our coasts in the year mentioned it was suggested that the inclusion of the article in this small volume would not be amiss, but would add to the gathering of the early history of the surroundings of the Bay, and be, as it were, “a record."
little thought when I wrote of my adventure and then prophesied that Coonowrim
(or Crookneck) would be climbed some day (and remembering the words of William
Landsborough), that this mountain would be climbed in my own time and in my own
the Brisbane Courier of June 1910 the following appeared:
10th March the climbing of Coonowrim Mountain was successfully
accomplished by a young man of this district, Driver Harry Mikalsen, who is No.
1177 of the Royal Australian Artillery, and is stationed at Victoria Barracks,
Brisbane. He scaled the mountain, and fixed a flag on the summit, and so far as
can be ascertained, he is the first man to do so. The feat was not completed
without difficulty and danger; but although he was urged by his friends and
family not to make the attempt, he was fully determined to get to the top. Once
there he was satisfied. He stayed for an hour on the summit, and made the
descent without mishap. The trip took about three hours from start to finish,
and as his home is at the foot of the mountain, he was watched with anxious
eyes, and could be seen the whole time. He is twenty three years of age, and can
be interviewed at Victoria Barracks, Brisbane.”
immediately wrote to the Courier, asking for information, and a few days
afterwards, was rewarded in this wise.
writes: 'Sir, with reference to your paragraph in Friday's Courier on the
ascent of Crookneck, I am a former resident of Glass House Mountains, and can
supply you with the information you require, as I am acquainted with the person
who ascended the mountain Coonowrim or Crookneck. Seeing the flag flying when on
holidays at Easter time I made enquiries and was informed that a Mr. Henry
Mikalsen of that district had performed a most dangerous task. Therefore, you
can rest assured that the task was accomplished.
C. W Holland, Honorary Secretary to the Field Naturalists' Club, also
summit of Crookneck was reached on 10th March last, by Mr. Mikalsen,
whose mother's farm abuts on the base of the mountain. There were witnesses
present who saw the intrepid climber perform the feat, and indisputable
testimony also exists in the shape of a flag planted by Mr. Mikalsen on the
topmost peak. This flag was seen by me on Good Friday last. A party of the Field
Naturalists' Club, numbering over thirty, visited Glass House Mountains on April
30 to May 2 instant, and each one saw the flag fluttering in the breeze. The
fact is referred to in an account of the Club's trip appearing in this week's
Queenslander. Those who know Crookneck will appreciate the boldness of the
climb, and it is only right that Mr. Mikalsen's name should be placed on record.
There have been many ineffectual attempts to reach the top, and it may be a long
while before the performance is repeated."
Having received thereby Mikalsen's address, I immediately put myself in communication with him, asking for an interview, and after the lapse of a week or so, had the pleasure of seeing him in my own office. A very pleasant lengthy conversation ensued, the outcome being that Mikalsen said that if I cared to join him, he would make another ascent of Crookneck, and take me in company. I had my own doubts of personal success, but the offer was too tempting, and I at once consented. Business kept me engaged for some time, and Mikalsen's holidays were missed, but later on we were enabled to carry out our promise to each other. Crookneck was again climbed by Harry Mikalsen, and on the 25th February 1911, my second account of the mountain appeared in the Courier (see “Crookneck climbed by two Sturdy Queenslanders"), but I then thought that that ended Coonowrim and its ascent for ever.
that was not so, for in May 1912, the “impossible mountain," as I had always
termed it, was again conquered, not alone by sturdy males, but sturdy and plucky
individuals of the other sex. By kind permission, I have therefore under the
heading of “Successful Ascent of Coonowrim," taken from the Courier of
1st June 1912, a
contribution to that paper, giving an account of what was achieved by these
plucky individuals. Photographs of the mountain are also given, together with
one of Harry Mikalsen, and the second party of six. An explanatory note is
perhaps here required. The six named in the article reached the top of
Coonowrim, carrying with them two or three small cameras. Sitting near the flag
mentioned in Mikalsen's ascent, one of their number took a photograph of the
other five, but when town was reached, it was considered only fair that the one
who had taken the picture should be included, seeing that he also had reached
the top of the mountain. A separate photograph was taken and inserted with the
other five, making the number six, which photograph will be found amongst these
GLASS HOUSE MOUNTAINS
The Glass House Mountains can be seen from almost any portion of Moreton Bay, and are useful guides to schnapper grounds from Cape Moreton to far north of Caloundra. To passengers on coastal steamers they are objects of interest, and to boating men in the Bay, especially in the Bribie passage, they are the same. The windings of Pumice Stone Passage place the mountains in every changing position and at early morning, ere yet the sun has risen, if the tide permits an onward journey, say from Cowie Bank, these changing positions are most interesting to watch. Beerwah almost always comes foremost, now hiding Coonowrim under its heavy silent shelter, again letting it stand by its side as though in guardianship, and as the sun throws its light on the peaks and foliage of the mountains, the run up towards Mellum Creek is entrancing.
I first saw the mountains, at once I was filled with a desire to climb them. All
information was obtained for the journey and for the climb. I was in those days,
in what is commonly known amongst athletes, “good condition." My gymnasium
exercises had made me hard, whilst running and football gave me extra stamina
for mountain climbing. So later on, having accomplished my desire and having
climbed all the mountains but one (and that mountain, Coonowrim, will be climbed
some day), I take the liberty of telling of our little stay at the accommodation
house, kept by the Grigors, and of our climb.
left Brisbane in April (it was in 1886) in the cutter known as the “Three
Brothers," since changed to the more euphonious one of "Amy," with
Con Tripcony as our worthy skipper, to whom we were indebted for untold
comforts. With the trip down the river and across the Bay all sailing men must
be conversant, for it was one of the usual type experienced by many. Although
several times I have run the same journey this proved no exception, and with the
freedom from city toils, and the breakfasting at early morn, as we passed the
light ship, an old happy and familiar sensation returned to me, bringing with it
the full knowledge of how such a holiday was to be enjoyed. With a pleasant
sou'-easter we soon reached Bribie, and anchored our craft for the evening some
mile or so up from Toorbul Point, for there the passage schnapper ground can be
found. I do not speak of the Flat Rock schnapper at that place the fish are full
grown, and all that a piscatorial chief could desire, but of the squire in the
chrysalis state as it were, before it grows into the full sized
catch was sufficient for the evening meal, nay even more so, for the breakfast
of the following morn saw us partaking of a similar dish. Then we hurried on to
Cowie Bank, living on wildfowl and more fish, with oysters galore, oysters such
as Bribie alone can produce. Here we stayed a couple of days, then transhipping
our cargo into the “Hebe," we ran up to Caloundra for a week, enjoying
all the comforts of camp life so acceptable to a colonial.
we did luxuriate in that locality! There was a delightful charm at our camping
ground, with the breakers of ocean ever rolling on the bar, making music of
which we never tired; and sandbanks teeming with whiting and bream; the gentle
incline of the hills, with tree-tops bending away from the winds of the sea, and
the rippling tide flowing out and in some ten yards or more from where we
pitched our tent. Most of our time here was spent in viewing and examining the
wonders of ocean on the rocky points of Caloundra. I candidly confess not to
have seen many of the seaside beds of any ocean, but the rocks of Caloundra teem
with rare beauties and prizes sufficient to enchant any lover of the tender and
fragile flowers of the waters of the sea.
One spot I can never forget. A long stretch of flat (almost asphalt in form), filled with interminable wearings away by breakers and tides, with crevices and openings, with basin-like holes and corners, with the jutments of boulders over some deep fissure, boiling with the waters dashed in by heavy rollers and breakers, and all abounding with seaweeds and flowers of the rarest growth. Loath, indeed, were we to leave such a spot.
Caloundra I cannot but speak in the highest terms. It is far and away above
Southport in every respect, and those of my readers who may visit the place
will, I am sure, fall in with me in this. It needs opening up certainly. The
channel, especially at the “W's," requires cutting, and with a few land owners
who will not be afraid to spend money on their properties so as to facilitate
the progress of the place, Caloundra cannot but go ahead. But time will do its
work, and Southport may yet have to play second tune in the matter of watering
we sailed back to Cowie Bank. On our way down we landed for fresh water. As one
of our party made for the stream a huge carpet snake was seen warming himself in
the noonday sun, with coil upon coil, its head hidden beneath its huge body as
though hiding from itself. A gentle pat on the twisted reptile was of no avail,
but when a tattoo was played upon it the head was out in an instant, and ready
for the fray. It was a curious yet pretty sight. As though anxious of full
inquiry, its head moved from side to side watching us one and all, but the swift
descent of an oak switch soon terminated its existence, and before long its skin
was drying upon our boat.
Arrived at Cowie Bank we made preparations for our ride to the Mountains. I would fain write of more than our climb, for our time was filled with many adventures. With the description of the ascent of these most extraordinary rocky cliffs I must, however, be content; with them alone lies the full meaning and purpose of my brief and hasty sketch.
Some twelve or fourteen miles inland from Pumice Stone stand the mountains. Their towering heads can be seen for many miles both inland and at sea, and ever presenting a weird picture of wonderment, cannot but fail to attract the attention of travellers passing within viewing distance. In number they may be some eight or ten. Three of these suffice to entice the rambler and climber desirous of adventure associated with a certain amount, of danger, namely, Tibberawaccum, Beerwah, and, Coonowrim, or Crookneck, as it is generally called. The meanings of the first two are “mother mountain" and “highest," for the blacks have so proclaimed. Coonowrim I could find no meaning for, unless it may apply to our English idea or name of Crook, or Wry Neck.
Other mountains of meagre proportions are within a short distance of these three. Toomboombudla or the two mountains; Coochin, Micketeeboomlgrai (most terrific high-sounding, but true aboriginal name indeed), and others are to be seen from the Gympie road, though they bear no comparison with the first three mentioned in either, height or aspect.
up our steeds at Mrs. Grigor's accommodation house, we made arrangements for our
stay and climb. All requirements for this latter had been duly considered and
provided, though my little experience of mountain climbing has told me a steady
eye and firm head, a strong arm and vigorous body, are the best requirements for
scaling any rocky height. Resting ourselves for a day or so, on the Tuesday we
issued forth, leaving one comrade laid up with rheumatic pains, and taking
Tibberawaccum as our first adventure.
This mountain stands some two miles or so seaward from Grigor's, and is to all appearance like one huge and gigantic rock standing out boldly on the eastern sky. At first sight its sides seem inaccessible, but on a nearer approach there can be discovered a passage on the southern side sufficient to tempt a start on the upward journey. Leaving our horses some distance from the base of the hill, we soon reached the foot of the mountain itself and made ready for the fun. Taking a careful scrutiny of a crevice in the rock as a guide for an upward scale, and also for our descent, our worthy weighty leader placed his feet on the first loose boulder, and was soon some 20 feet or 30 feet ahead. Then we joined him and at once saw the commencement of our difficulties. Almost perpendicular stood the walls of the mountain with but little show of a whereabouts of progress. A short confab ended in the complete strike of our youthful guide, and a “push on" of the remaining two. With a footing on what first came in our way and a clinging to shrub or undergrowth, we slowly advanced until a sudden turn from out of a huge abutment brought us a full view of the climb pure and real. Another confab ended in the strike of number two, and I alone was left to take my journey upwards. Had it not been that I was the promoter of the party I scarce believe I would have gone on alone, but the jarring taunts of the “boy" below nerved me with full intent, and on I determined to go. Discarding sand shoes and spare clothing I took in a silent and steady view of what I had to pass over. The sides of the mountain had by this begun to prove their most serious aspect to me, whilst the tree tops of the valley were fast assuming a regular and uniform height. The rock at my feet partook of a gentle incline with slight breaks and water worn passages, varying from a mere mark on its surface to holes some inches deep. Selecting a footing, and bidding good-bye to my comrades, I started. By dint of keeping close-in on the stone, and never leaving one foothold until sure of another, I slowly made my way upwards until a space made by the fall of some detached rock gave me standing room, and there I rested to take in my situation, and see what view was on ahead.
The surface became more irregular and thereby easier of ascent, shrubs
began to grow from the sides, grass trees innumerable were far above my reach,
whilst everything augured well for my climb, could I but manage to reach a
further distance of some 50 feet. Not daring as yet to throw my eyes
downwards, I renewed my way, and I soon found myself in loose, almost pebbly
country where the climb was
ever so much easier and the dangers almost gone. The shrubs and grass trees some
2 feet high, proved my safeguard, and soon I was free from bodily exertion and
dangerous position to view what I had gone over, and see the valley below. Here
my aneroid registered 600 feet.
What the view was can well be understood, for I was free from the blocking in of ordinary hills. The ocean had opened up to my sight, and the Blackall Ranges threw their sombre outlines against the north-western sky. But of what I saw here, and even on the top, I leave for my description of Beerwah, for on that mountain the same beauties could be seen, and my climbing powers had still to be exerted there. Pursuing my way I came into good climbing country, thick with undergrowth and withered shrub, with loose rocks and boulders, affording a footing sufficiently firm for my purposes. After an hour or more I gained the summit. Hallooing to my comrades beneath, and sending out a vigorous shouting towards the accommodation house, I soon gave proof undeniable that I was on the highest point of Tibberawaccum, and that one of the mountains had been scaled by me. To make the proof even stronger still, I collected some loose timber and set the pile ablaze, great volumes of smoke first curling upwards before the fire had taken proper hold.
Taking note of the height (1,250 feet) I began my descent. Although I could write much of all three mountains, what little descriptive power, if any, is left for Beerwah, for this mount is the monarch of them all, and the account of both its ascent and descent will suffice.
Cooeying occasionally as I moved downwards, I noticed the nearness of one of the return calls. Reaching the 600 feet level, I found the “boy" had come up so far, and I was greeted with the surly question of “Why I hadn't waited?" “Because you jibbed" was my reply. Seeing there was a mock bravado in what he “could do," I essayed to return to the summit provided he followed, but this proved too much for the poor fellow, so we both made our way downwards together.
What a narrow escape he had had from death I was not aware of until we reached our other comrade, who had managed to get some 400 feet up. It seems that No. 2 in his anxiety to follow me up, had not taken sufficient bearings of the somewhat slippery though jagged rock, the consequence being that when some 10 feet on from this level he had slipped, and was sliding down towards a declivity that could not be seen. Luckily, there grew two thick-stemmed shrubs, about two feet from the edge of the cliff, against which he had managed to throw his body, and thus saved from a fall of over 200 feet into a gorge below. What the consequences would have been did not appear to trouble him very much, but to show that mountain climbing had lost its charm for the future may be seen when it is known the gullies at the foot of the other mountains were sufficient for his ambition.
Tibberawaccum is a somewhat difficult mountain to climb, though nothing when compared with Beerwah or Crookneck. The start is rough on the climber, and tries the nerves well. A few steep inclines, much as I have described, meet one on the way, but when once these are overcome the rest is easy enough. Having accomplished, the mountain seemed to lose its charm for the rest of my stay in its proximity, though I was not over anxious to tackle it again.
That evening dwellers in the district and the, occupants of our humble shelter place beheld a magnificent spectacle. The fire I had kindled had spread all over the top of the mount, and had crept downwards, reaching over cliff and gorge, scaling some steep inclines covered with withered grasses and ferns, the flames lighting up the mountain all about. The moon did not rise until 8 o'clock. By that time the place was all aglow, and as the moon came from out the eastern sky and threw its rays over the hilltops, the blending of the two lights mellowed the scene with a “dim religious" colouring of beauty none of us can ever forget. As the evening advanced the flames died out, leaving interspersed on summit, and on side, a starry like effulgence as though the mountain had been illuminated with ten thousand lamps. I could not help saying as we turned in that evening, “What a bully New Year's Eve bonfire that would have been for the urchins of Brisbane." To this my comrades assented, and we turned in for the rest required for the climb of Beerwah.
Crookneck was our next venture, but as we did not climb this mountain I will leave it until later on. Beerwah was our third and last climb, and of this a true and complete account may prove interesting. It stands three miles from the accommodation house, somewhat to the north-west, and is the highest of all. In appearance it resembles a mount with two peaks, one a shoulder, the other standing far above, having the same peak-like semblance. There is but little vegetation on most of the sides, and when the sun is over the yard arm it does not altogether imbue one with a hasty impulse to climb.
Leaving early in the morning on our Arab steeds, Jack Grigor as our guide, we gradually neared the ravine from which the mountain starts, after having ridden up hills and down dales for an hour or so. The rain of the previous evening made its sides shine out with a certain slipperiness that did not bode an easy task. Grigor has been to its summit more than once, and somewhat cooled our ardour by recounting his last attempt with a friend. It seems that they had started the climb somewhat late, and had purposely deviated from the ordinary path, thinking another way down would be easier and more expeditious. But woe to them, for their path proved a false one, and with evening coming on they had but accomplished one-half of the downward journey, when indications of a more declivitous road told them of their mistake. Hurrying on whilst daylight lasted, letting themselves drop from ledge to ledge, they came to a broken mass of rocks, that puzzled them completely. The smaller member of the party was lowered down, and then joined by his companion, both pursuing their way on the ridge to the right when a frightful chasm opened wide before them, enough to appall the bravest, and with Old Sol sinking in the west they saw their great mistake, and were compelled to camp on this ledge of rock the entire night. No sleep was theirs. When morning broke they retraced their steps. Determined never again to leave the ordinary track of any mountain they should in the after time climb.
Pointing to a nasty white patch of a frosty appearance about 300 feet up, our guide remarked, “You must be very careful there, for that is a rise of 30 feet or more, with scarce holding enough for fingers and toes." This we regarded with a suspicious eye, noting well the locality. Travelling round to the north-western side the manner of our ascent could be discerned. Here I may mention a curious, yet perhaps regular feature of the mountains that may lead to prove something concerning them in scientific investigation.
From the north-western sides a cavity seems to have been made in all the mountains, by what process I could not say, but the ravine-like centre of this hollowness affords a path for the adventurer. It may have been caused by upheaval, it may have been brought about by some huge land slip, but on Beerwah the fall is so pronounced as one climbs its sides as to convince one of the long ago existence of the regular unbroken mountain.
Carefully examining our pointed-out path, we made preparation. With sand shoes and knickerbockers, a close fitting guernsey and skull cap, and some 50 feet of rope wound round and round my body, I followed in the rear of the trio. The approaches having been passed the mountain stood out in bold stupendousness before us, the startling rocks not over pleasant for a commencement. A dismal smile o'erspread the countenance of our dark companion. “Baal, cabon budgery, that fellow Marmy."
And the strike commenced, and two of us were left for the climb. “Good-bye," we said, with a hesitating smile, and waving an adieu with perhaps reluctance, we started. Gripping our fingers on the cracked surface of the rock, with a firm pressure of the stripe-soled sandshoe, by mere adhesive power, as it were, we struggled on over the bare exterior until we reached a vantage ground that might direct our next onward course. Following the ledge for a few feet we passed round some circular boulders, and were shut out from the view of the watchers at the base. It wasn't an over pleasant sensation. Towering above us as we took a cursory glance stood the fine-pointed peak; midway yawned a great cave, overhung by great pillars and masses of rocks, with no apparent foundation; and from thence downwards to where we stood wet and shiny slippery rocks betokened our path. There was but little fear of our turning back, for we were determined to do or die- die seemed the only alternative to my mind- ere we started again. By dint of perseverance we followed up the fissures between rock and pillar until we must have reached 150 feet upwards. Here we hailed and welcomed the furze plant, and shrub, peculiar to the cliff and sides of the rock-built tower. On one part this continued for a good distance, the nearest to me being the ordinary rocky surface over which we had so far come. Taking the shrub path, my companion hurried on, leaving me in doubt as to which would prove the easier. With the rock for preference, I was soon clinging and crawling along until better wisdom prevailed, and I made a detour to my right, where the shrub plants were growing. This had placed me many feet behind, but, pressing on, my comrade was soon overtaken. The ascent was becoming somewhat easier. Danger and trouble yet remained above us, so we determined to halt awhile and view the country around. Throwing our eyes towards the horizon, gradually we brought our gaze on what we had passed over and to where we were stationed. The valleys had opened up, the tree-tops were clustering together, the distinct call of our friends below was borne upwards through the clear air, and the sense of joy in our hazardous adventure proved a recompense even so far. With renewed vigour we pushed on in company, over rock and rubble, through shrubs and trees. So far no indications were given us whereby the “slippery rock" could be noted. It was not long we were thus left in doubt and wonder as to its location. Beneath the cave under the broken shoulders of the mountain, we had been told a dense scrub would have to be passed through ere we came to the foot of the cliff, where our path would be completely changed. Through the scrub the waters had trickled until, coming to about 100 feet below, the exact surface of a certain portion of rock had been worn until moss had grown, to be killed by the hot rays of a summer sun, then to be swept away by the next fall of rain, and the slippery and dangerous path was formed. By the word path do not imagine a defined way; rather let it be a “direction" to be passed over as well as could be, and you will understand me better. So far we had gone on all well. Traversing a defile for a time, and climbing over several boulders, the first view of the scrub above could be obtained, and the slippery part of our climb was soon upon us. It didn't look as nice as a Brussels carpet, so we thought it better left alone. We skirted the edge of it in a very careful manner, and wended our way past its dangers with perfect safety. One would not like a fall there. You would not, perhaps, go far, but the distance would be quite enough to make you remain quietly at the termination of the fall until a' shutter was placed by your side; at least, that was what I thought, but we both decided not to try it.
By this we had been climbing for a couple of hours, my aneroid registering 1,200 feet, and in the distance, Tibberawaccum seemed to lower his head. We had reached the skirt of the scrub. Our toil through it was far, and away the safest of our journey, but it was the most troublesome and irksome. It took us as many minutes to go 10 feet, the deceptive undergrowth and decayed shrub bringing us to grief more than once. Whilst clambering through this the mountain was lost to our view. Finding our way out on the uppermost limit a huge wall about 400 feet in height- burst upon us to our astonishment- pillar upon pillar, with boulders broken away, leaving upon the surface great crevices, here and there massive portions of rock apparently held in position by adhesive power alone, and then at our feet a cave of broken formation; so the scene came before us. It was grand indeed, so seating ourselves beneath a honeycombed formation we rested for a quarter of an hour.
Many persons nave not seen this cave. Let me hope time will bring to others what we that day saw. Formations of rock, though very much broken, jutted out from the cliff, taking an appearance like the Shawl Cave I have seen in the famous Fish River Caves of New South Wales. There is not, however, the slightest comparison in the way of beauty. The one is a pure and marvelously marked limestone hidden thousands of feet within the heart of the Blue Mountains; the other rough and rugged, exposed to the winds and rains that fast are wearing it away. High above us towered the cliff. Then beyond terminated the point of the mountain proper. We were still many hundreds of feet away from the summit, but our laborious climb was over so far as danger was concerned. Following the edge of the scrub and the base of the cliff and cave, we took our way round the mountain to the western side where a gentle slope (that is, compared to what we had gone through) ran upwards to the highest point. Clambering onwards with the aid of grassy mounds and gigantic boulders we progressed in comparative ease until we reached the top of the cliff overhanging the cave, and crawling gently to the edge, gazed down to the depth below where the scrub and slippery rocks indicated our earlier climb. Sheer down for hundreds of feet, and as the view from above gave the pillars a clearer aspect, the fall seemed indeed amazing.
Once again we pursued our journey. The mountain was fast coming to a point and on north, west, and south the inclines could plainly be seen. Now we were in need of our steady nerves, for the peak above seemed scarce wide enough to accommodate many, though we knew the distance was deceptive in this. Passing from boulder to boulder, crawling and climbing through spaces between them, we gained within a few feet of the head. Then we stooped quietly and steadily along until the summit was attained, and together we stood upright to view the enchanting scenery around.
The scene was one of intense grandeur- mile upon mile of undulating country stretching away on all sides. The waters of Moreton Bay glistened in the distance in the noonday sun; far out upon the Pacific with its vast expanse we gazed. The Lytton encampment could also be plainly seen; whilst the passages leading from Bribie to Caloundra seemed like some gentle rivulet wending its way amidst tree and fern. The Blackall Ranges in the west towered their high hills; the mountains around us seemed diminutive and dwarfed and insignificant. And away beneath us fell the great cliffs, making me shudder, as that strange feeling (so peculiar to those at a great height) made me desirous almost of leaping out into the clear space down the gorge below. Throwing a stone from the summit, for several seconds no sound could be heard, until a faint thud beneath told of its journey, and then all was silent again. Seeking a suitable boulder we cut our initials with the tomahawks. Others had been there before us, though very few, and the initials of A.P., W.B., told we had not been the first to gain that summit. We stayed there for some time taking in the beauty of the scenery, and accustoming ourselves to the height we had attained. My aneroid had registered 2,100 feet, and as the day was particularly fine, I believe this may be fairly taken as the height of Beerwah. Enjoying a quiet smoke and yarn, it was some time before we began the return journey. Ere we did we lighted a few tufts of grass as an indication that Beerwah had been scaled also by us, the smoke curling up in volumes that must have been (and were) plainly seen by many persons for miles around. On returning to the accommodation house we found the passengers by the Gympie coach had seen two dim figures at the mountain top, and had also seen the curling smoke arising on the calm and still air of midday.
Of our return journey little need be said. It was rough indeed. But as we were satisfied with what we had done, we little reckoned our stumbles and bruises, for were they not the marks of glory of our adventuresome climb? As before stated, very few have climbed Beerwah. Mr. Andrew Petrie, of the North Pine, is said to have been the first white person who gained the summit. Mr. William Butler, of Kilcoy, was some days in discovering a path upwards, but eventually gained its height. Others whose names have been given me have also climbed to the summit. The ascent is far from easy. In many places it was attended with peril and extreme danger and taken altogether is one that our American friends would term as not to be “hankered", after. But the climb is well worth the trouble, and as I am sure there are scores in this city who could accomplish it with safety, I would strongly advise them to go and do what others have done.
My sleep that night was a dream of rocks and cliffs and boulders. A fall from some dizzy height in my dreams brought me to my senses on the carpeted floor, so I banished climbing for the remainder of the night, and slept the sleep of innocence.
When we left Grigor's on the following afternoon for Coonowrim or
Crookneck, it was not for the purpose of climbing that mountain, for not only
had we been forewarned, but we had seen the difficulties of the climb from
the road. And here let me say but a few words to those very kind (?) friends who
warned me of the mountain. When questioned by me they treated my remarks with a
almost, and averred I would only come to grief- the mountains could only be
climbed by blackfellows, the place swarmed with death adders, and in every way
threw difficulty in my path.
I subsequently found that these individuals had never made a survey of
the mountain at all, but had based their opinions and remarks from having ridden
or driven along the Gympie road, certainly not less than two miles from the
nearest. Still, when I queried, ‘Had they ever attempted to climb them?", “Had
they ever examined them carefully?" they could give no other answer than that of
Crookneck, however, has not yet been climbed. I have no record before me,
except one, of any person having really made the attempt to reach the summit,
and that was of a gentleman who scaled higher than usual in making a scrutiny of
the mountain, and seeing how far he really had gone, kept on until help was
required from others. He states he reached within 20 feet of the top. This I
very much doubt, but will give him the benefit of this, allowing him to have
been deceived as to his real height by the overhanging appearance of the rock.
Crookneck is situated on higher land than any of the other mountains before its
real rock commences. Strewn around on all sides of the hill are great boulders
and broken rubble, through which have grown rank grass and ferns. It is great
fun skipping along these rocks, when there is any level country to be traversed
but the speed is somewhat different when inclines are encountered. After passing
up a certain portion of the basement over such country I as I have described, a
curious sight is seen. Within, say, the last hundred years- it can scarcely be
more- some action of the earth has caused a great falling away of stone from the
eastern side into the valley below, the rocks appearing at first sight like a
prepared road of blue metal. Towards the base there are many rocks some tons in
weight, and they lie in close proximity to one another. One can trace the great
likeness the fallen rocks bear to the columns of the mountain, and in some cases
the exact cavity of a fallen boulder can be seen. From the debris, for it is in
reality nothing else, a full view of the surrounding district can be observed,
though we were not near the point from which the rambler can take
“Place the mountain upside down, and I'll use the broken pillars for the staircase," quoth the “boss," and truly so it seemed. “Or make the place telescopic," he continued, “and I'll seat myself on the highest pinnacle."
We agreed, for no other method there seemed to be. The mountain had
indeed a most extraordinary appearance. These pillars I have mentioned were
almost of the shape of a rhomboid, with angles more inclined to be right, and
they rose upwards side by side for a great height. In some cases they ran with
even regularity, on others broken and rough; others again honeycombed in
beautiful order, and worn with the tricklings of water. The appearance of some
gave the feeling that they would come toppling downwards, for hold they appeared
to have none.
Passing along towards the northern side, with great overhanging rocks
above us, we lost sight of the regularity of columns, and came into the true
rock-like appearance of all the mountains. Stepping upwards to a higher ledge a
path ran at the base, round into a small cave, immediately beneath one some
scores of feet higher. Here the winds and waters have brought about a curious
result. The walls seem, nay are, crumbly and powderlike, the ground is thickly
covered with flourlike dust and the camping ground of the rock wallaby is seen.
Clambering into the cave, we saw the marks of those who had been there before
us- initials on all sides, certainly not a great number, with here and there a
name given in full. Searching about whilst my comrade scratched our names into
the rock, I came upon
It was said with the calm reservedness peculiar to the man, and I believe him to be right, now that I have seen for myself.
Still continuing our circular exploration and examination mountain, we arrived at last at the north-west side. Here the mountain wears a totally different appearance, and it is from this direction that it must be tackled by anyone determined to reach the to top.
With the same formation of Beerwah and Tibberawaccum, a displacement of earth and rock has taken place. By this is formed a ravine, along which great rough, broken and jagged boulders lay in profusion. By making a zig-zag path of the climb the adventurer could reach the base of rock hanging from the top, and from which the mountain, no doubt, takes its name. The climb would be rough and dangerous, I admit, but the one great advantage it would have would be the entire absence of the great yawning cliffs and precipices that abound on the other side. The uppermost rock would be the clincher, no doubt; but with a rifle or kite a rope could be passed over, and the summit no doubt attained. And even then pluck would be required. For once there the full extent of danger would be realised, the distance down into gorges beneath would be before the eyes, and the realisation of the adventure might unnerve the brain.
This overhanging rock has a peculiar feature. Its
beauty cannot be seen from immediately beneath. The best view is obtained from
the western side on the road to Beerwah, where the full expanse and inclination
of Crookneck can be seen. Taking out my compass I observed that the inclination
was to the north-west, that is, the inclination
of the general body of the mountain, for in some places the columns mentioned
are upright and in others lean with the mountain itself.
Our walk so far had shown us that the hill upon which Crookneck stands has a gentle incline on an average for several hundreds of feet into the plains below, but on the south-western side they ceased. The mountain rises clear from out of a huge gorge dense with eucalyptus, and covered with ferns and shrubs. The sides are far from being safe for walking purposes. The rocks are embedded in earth and loose decayed matter, so that the pressure of the foot will easily displace them.
The temptation was too great, and, like schoolboys out for a holiday, we
must have spent half-an-hour in rolling the great rock to the edge of this
cliff, and away they would go. Trees shook and bent before their fall, saplings
snapped like reeds; other rocks would receive an impetus, and away down the
ravine would the tumult go until all was lost in the silence beneath. Our
journey here received a check. Like the lad we read of in the “Natural Bridge of
Virginia," I was tempted onwards, but the warning cry of my more sensible
friends called me back, and we retraced our path quietly and in contemplation
until the mountain was in our rear and our steeds were reached in the vale
Grigor is of opinion with us that the mountain can be climbed. Some day
we have agreed to make a party for the purpose, and see if we cannot destroy the
prevailing idea that its top is entirely beyond the reach of man. That it will
be an adventuresome trip I readily admit. Therein lies the glory and as we will
go well prepared, let us hope for success
CLIMBED BY TWO STURDY QUEENSLANDERS
Some years ago, when strong in nerve and muscle, occasioned by gymnastic training, I spent a couple of weeks in the Glass House Mountains district, and during that time climbed all the mountain save one, namely, Coonowrim, meaning Crookneck. Through the columns of the Courier an account of my ascent of these mountains was shortly afterwards given, and when then writing I stated that, although Crookneck was not successfully negotiated by me, I felt positive it would be climbed some day.
It has been climbed at last, and as I write now a flag is gaily waving at Coonowrim, top, and a small globe coated with quicksilver is shining by sunlight and moonlight, giving evidence of success. The apparently inaccessible height was reached on Sunday, January 22 1911, by two active young fellows accompanied by me for almost two-thirds of the distance, before I declared myself beaten.
to rock and ledge, they went further upward, and by the time I had returned to
the foot of the mountain, and passed some little distance away so as to gain a
clear and distinct view of the summit, I heard shouting, and saw my two
companions victorious. For an hour and more they remained on that dangerous
perch, built a small mound or rock some 3 feet high, fastened the quick-silvered
globe with copper wire, erected a 7 foot pole, to which was attached a flag, and
the mother of one of the adventurers and I watched in fear and anxiety until
they safely reached the forest ground below.
As probably some of my readers are equally interested in mountain climbing as I was, and am, the particulars are willingly given. I first heard of the ascent of Crookneck by Harry Mikalsen on my return from my customary yachting Easter trip. For some weeks I made inquiries, and, although a little doubtful, was inclined to believe. Eventually I wrote to the Courier and received satisfactory replies from two disinterested persons, obtained the name and address of the successful climber, and, writing to him forthwith, was favoured with a personal interview. His story to me was interesting and thrilling, and I was inclined almost to be envious. We then made ourselves friends, and formed a compact, that being that, on the first and most favourable opportunity, together we would try and reach the top, although when that compact was made inwardly I doubted my own success. Harry Mikalsen, who is a driver in the Royal Artillery, and can presently be found at the barracks, Petrie Terrace, had later on, and without my knowledge, another opportunity of once more scaling the mountain peak, so that when the time and opportunity came for me to visit Coonowrim he had been at its top three times. Sunday, January 22, was his fourth, and he says, his last; and I don't wonder at it.
The trip now being recorded was arranged months ago. Seeing that Mikalsen would be receiving his yearly holidays early in 1911, I left Brisbane on Saturday, January 21, and spent the day in and about the vicinity of the mountains, and the afternoon examining Coonowrim from all its points.
were to have started early on the Sunday morning with a couple of friendly
photographers. These gentlemen not putting in an appearance, we gave them up
after a two hours' wait. It had been learnt amongst the residents that another
attempt was to be made to scale Crookneck, and I was not surprised to find a
strong able-bodied young fellow accompanying us. His name is Tom Roberts, aged
about nineteen, lives near Glasshouse Station, and is engaged in cutting timber,
etc. The morning vas dull, with rain squalls and wind, the sides of the mountain
throwing water marks of a shiny nature, not too encouraging. Whilst waiting for
the camera gentlemen, from Mrs. Mikalsen's verandah the track of climbing was
pointed out to me in detail, even to the very summit; the cavity part of the
mount being the climbing course, the side being the north. On the north-eastern
side could be seen the terrible cliffs and perpendicular walls, so that as my
eye followed the description of our route I saw that for some time we would be
near those cliffs and falls, and my heart misgave me. Besides, as was explained,
the continuous rain had disturbed the soil all about, and the smaller stones on
the track would be loose. Once those stones began their downward course there
would and could be no stoppage, making descent easy and destruction most
certain. Even this danger was averted, the rolling of stones might at any time
displace conveniences on the path, and thereby cut off means of
the house the base and the mountain top and cliffs could be seen. There was no
sun, and occasionally a squall would strike above and round, leaving the summit
enclothed in a deep, vapoury mist. This mist would pass from the seaward to the
ranges, giving us a first glimpse the almost perpendicular walls, which when
outlined with a clear sky (for the time) gave no hopes of my success. Still the
top was not mine, it was Harry Mikalsen's and his mate's. We trudged along, and
eventually reached the base. So far we had worn heavy boots and ordinary
clothing, but on getting well upwards and towards the cliff, in a small
cave-like appearance in the mountain walls we donned lighter garb and discarded
boots- all except the writer. Bare feet climbing we all agreed was not pleasant,
but it would be safer and easier for us in the upward journey. I would like to
explain that the climbing track is known only to Mikalsen, and, even though it
is described from afar, with the mountains in view, the commencement point and
first journey cannot be seen.
this starting point the valley below is discernible, with far away views of
ranges and homesteads. It is high above the tree tops and a certain peculiarity
of feeling came to me, as the rock wall was tackled. A skirting is made to the
right for some 50 feet or more, then the more convenient round is left behind,
and the seriousness of the journey is known and understood, for hands and feet
are used, the body is crouched, the testing of hand and foot hold is made, and
the valley below becomes the more distant. Then a huge cavity in the mountain is
seen, impossible to approach, being directly under the summit peak, and curious
Here was our first spell, and I didn't like the aspect, nor did I like to look below. The country in that direction, with green tree tops on all sides, gave the appearance of a huge bracken fern vale, and was pleasant to look upon. Most certainly it could soon be reached- by a fall- disastrous at that. Then we skirted to the right, moving in that direction, and still climbing. A few minutes brought us immediately above where we had made our start, and directly ahead was our track leading to the top. Real and proper path there was none, and as Mikalsen pointed upwards he called it “the track,” and we believed him. This had brought us to the steep and smooth faced rock, wet with the rain and crumbling in some parts, making neither foothold nor hand grip, and we could see in an eastward direction the precipitous formation of the mount on that side. Here my own shoes were discarded. There was more climbing, very little talk, a feeling arising in me that Crookneck Peak would never be seen by me, for dangerous climbing was now immediately ahead, dangerous slipping was now at hand, and although I endeavoured to keep my eyes from below, the one or two looks that I gave had dismayed me. Had I known that as we rested, I was within three feet of a couple of hundred feet of a drop to boulders below, I would have succumbed. My companions urged me on for a time but when we came right in the heart of wet, slippery and crumbling rock, I openly spake, “This beats me; I can go no further."
consoled and urged me upwards, but when Mikalsen stated the worst had yet to
come, and the mountain top was narrow, and there were other cliffs and
precipices to be passed within a feet, and a heavy shower was passing over, I
said it was no good going further; they could leave me and proceed and succeed
themselves. Were they to leave me there or was I to wait? Well, to remain there
meant danger from falling rocks as they went upwards, and it were only fair for
them to go on. It took some argument to convince them. I told them it would be
all right, and that I could coo-ee now and again as I passed downwards; so they
decided to let me return provided I left my shoes behind for them to carry back
on their return. This was willingly done, as I wanted no encumbrance in hand or
attached to my belt, and we parted.
a few minutes I watched the intrepid couple get higher on the cliffs, and as
they turned a ledge of rock towards the eastern side, this the most dangerous
passage of all, I began my downward trip.
portion of the ascent was finished here, so let me but say that I reached the
bottom safely, exchanging calls now and again, with my comrades as the distance
increased, receiving a startling shock, however, on my journey in hearing a
rumbling overhead, and a rustling sound through the air. I questioned my
companions afterwards, but they knew nothing about it. I had almost reached the
cave when my attention was called as already said by a disturbance. On looking
in the direction of the noise, I saw crumbling earth and small rocks and sticks
flying downwards, well away from the mountain side. These must have fallen by
the movement of ground disturbed by climbers. The climbers would pass upwards,
but the small crumbling rock would move downwards, and speedily gather bigger
companions, until there became no stoppage of any loose material and away went
everything. I shuddered as the small rocks and timber went through the air, well
away from me, and became satisfied in knowing and seeing the falling material
was not my friends and companions.
and there I rested, but when in a safe and more contented position, I too
disturbed soil and rock, and made the valley below ring again and again by the
rapid falling and rolling of boulders. The base was soon after reached, and my
ordinary clothes being donned I passed further down to the forest ground, eager
to gain a position from over or through the high-topped foliage of the mountain
peak to see my comrades victorious and successful. But ere that position was
reached I heard cries of exultation, cheers and coo-ees, and knew they were
there. I had almost gained the Old Gympie road before I could see them, and as
they stood clearly outlined on the peak of Crookneck I felt pleased that at last
in my own presence the mountain had been climbed. Their figures were clearly
seen, their calling reached me distinctly, but as they stood on the narrow peak
within a little distance of a precipitous fall of hundreds of feet my blood
curdled and I had to turn my eyes from them. At that height they stood on a
summit space of some seven feet or eight feet, square, but not all that square
was safe for walking purposes. They could not see what I saw- that terrible fall
away of rocks hundreds of feet from top to base, but they knew it was there, and
dared not go too near the edge of that dangerous top. I returned their call, and
waved to them several times, until a heavy shower of rain hid them from view,
and I turned my steps homeward to the Mikalsen abode. Still came the victorious
calling, but as I neared the home it ceased. On regaining the side steps of
their dainty dwelling, the mother and youngest lad were found watching a dense
mist covering the mountain, and more anxious than I to see it clear away. There
was satisfaction on the good mother's face when she saw me walk across the
paddock, and when I assured it would have been out of all possibility for me to
have gone on with her son and his companion, she remarked that she was thankful
that I had returned. I told her how far I had gone, and pointed out the gap in
the mountain where we had parted company, and told her of my failure. For ten
minutes we conversed, and then as rain and mist cleared away we saw the two
young fellows still on the peak, saw the flag planted amid stone and rubble, and
the gleam in the mother's eye gave me the feeling that she was proudly
satisfied, yet anxious.
an hour or so we watched them, and before another heavy shower struck the peak
they had begun their downward journey, and ere another hour had passed they were
safe and at home.
pleased me was the quiet manner in which they talked of their achievement. I was
with the family for another twenty-four hours almost, and it was only little by
little I gained from the two young fellows the details of their dangerous
ascent. The climb was difficult after leaving me, one spot in particular being
almost beyond negotiation. Within one hundred feet of the top, and on a small
ledge close to a direct fall of many hundred feet, the cliff opened up suddenly
perpendicularly before them. Mikalsen knew of this part, Roberts did not, and
had it not been for the pluck of a Queenslander, backed up by encouragement and
cheer from a companion, one more adventurer would not have succeeded. Nature had
provided and given assistance at this spot by the growth of a white bloodwood
sapling, and some feet of it had to be climbed before the burnt base of an
almost insecure small grass tree could be reached to enable them to proceed. But
once on that ledge beyond the view of all sides of the country was theirs, and
the remaining portion of their journey was to be on a narrow and dangerous
ground- on ground where one error, one slip- and death was sure and certain. And
also when once past that bloodwood, there was the knowledge that it had to be
used on the downward journey, and its dangers again overcome. Still all went
well, and the top was reached in safety.
following further particulars may be of interest. Harry Mikalsen has climbed the
mountain four times, the first on March 11 1910. Then on March 14 1910, he
ascended it once more, and built in a small flagpole with a small flag attached,
which braved the breeze but a few days, being blown down by a westerly wind. He
next succeeded on September 13, of the same year, and for the fourth time on
January 22 1911, accompanied by Tom Roberts. Mikalsen was born within view of
the Glass House Mountains, and in early youth resolved to reach the top of
Coonowrim, and was the first known human being to succeed. I made inquiries many
years ago from the natives of the district and of Bribie, and all stated that it
had never been climbed by any of their kindred, in fact, a “debbil debbil" was
supposed to exist near its summit, waiting to devour anyone coming within
approach. Then Beerwah (meaning highest) was looked upon by them also with fear,
they believing that should any black or white man reach its top such man would
be stricken blind.
mountain on almost all sides is nearly perpendicular, and from my examination,
made more than once, the one path alone known by Mikalsen exists, and that path
is dangerous beyond knowledge. The mountain is built, or rather rests, on a high
cone of natural soil, and then from that springs upright towards the sky above.
Forest trees abound on its earthy foundation, a few minor and smaller trees grow
a little way up, and occasionally can be seen tufty grass, bracken fern, stunted
grass trees, and in some places moss. The summit can scarce be termed square,
for from below it appears slightly rounded, and slopes away gently for a few
feet on all sides, and then comes the terrible drop. On that summit grow a few
diminutive grass trees, bracken fern, small oak of no dimension worth speaking.
There are no large boulders, nothing but fair-sized rocks, and crumbly smaller
ones which move with the footstep, and make the position so dangerous. The
mountains were first seen by Captain Cook, when going towards the Barrier Reef,
and were named by him the “Glass Houses" on 17th May 1770, and on
27th July 1799, Flinders, waiting while his sloop was being repaired
at the entrance to the Bribie Passage, stood at the foot of the mountains, but
found them inaccessible, and returned to his anchorage.
the reader taking no interest in adventuresome climbing will regard with but
little interest the feat of Mikalsen and his mate. I have ever and always heard
that Crookneck would never be climbed, yet could scarce bring myself to believe
that, and now that two young Queenslanders, the one aged twenty-four, the other
nineteen, have stood on those dizzy heights, and were seen standing there by
myself and others, I am inclined to write and say that the pluck and hardihood
known in the old country in ancient and modern days still exists in her
offspring beyond the seas.
ASCENT OF COONOWRIM
An idea of climbing one or two of those weird peaks which have received the name of Glass Mountains had been prominent in the minds of a small coterie of friends for a considerable time, and only lack of opportunity prevented it being carried out. An invitation to spend a week-end in the district brought matters to a head, and as soon as possible a trip was arranged.
At 10 o'clock on the morning of Empire Day, two ladies and two members of the opposite sex passed the G.P.O. on their cycles en route for the Glass Mountains. The roads were in a very bad state owing to recent dry weather, but splendid headway was made and the Pine River was reached in the good time of two hours. There a halt was made for a twenty minutes' luncheon, then on again towards Caboolture. The roads on this section were considerably worse, cyclists evidently not being considered when they were made. The stretch of fourteen miles occupied about two and a half hours, so that the party passed through Caboolture without a halt, as it was absolutely necessary that they should reach their destination before daylight deserted them. Considering the distance from town, and lack of attention, the road from Caboolture to the Glass Mountains was much better than one might expect, although the members of the party were on foot almost as long as the period during which they were mounted. All was well, however, and “Bankfoot House" was reached about 5.15 p.m. in the very excellent tine of 7¼ hours.
host and hostess were awaiting the arrival, and soon the weary travellers were
thoroughly enjoying themselves with the good things provided. During the evening
another member of the coterie who does not cycle arrived by train, and the
programme for the morrow was arranged.
The holiday-makers were astir early next morning to get ready for an ascent of Tibberawaccum, the huge mass of rock arising perpendicularly on two sides at least. The bluff is about a mile from the North Coast Railway, and is the admiration and wonder of all travellers thereon. A Union Jack and about 30ft. of rope was carried along, besides a little provision for the “inner man.”
The attack was made from the south-west or Caboolture corner. The approach to the cliff required a good deal of exertion, as the way was rough and steep, and loose stones hidden in long grass made walking rather difficult. At the foot of the cliff the view towards the west and north-west was well worth the trouble of any one who cared to make the effort.
The ascent proper was then commenced, and the party, which hitherto had been fairly numerous, was reduced to three girls and two young men. Single file from here was the order of the day, and the scramble up the face of the cliff was commenced. Small niches and crannies of the rock were utilised to the full, and now and again where small shrubs were growing, the chance was taken of having a rest. About half way up the irrepressible photographer stopped to take a couple of snapshots of Beerwah and Coonowrim, of which a good view was obtained. He also thought it opportune to leave his boots behind, an act which he ever afterwards regretted. The rope was only brought into requisition on one occasion- in a ticklish climb up the bare rock, where there was very little foothold and a slip would have meant a serious fall of at least 15ft.
the summit was approached the way became safer, but the undergrowth was very
annoying, and the blady grass which was about in large quantities upheld its
name, as all found to their cost, especially the camera man, who was trying to
find a pair of extra shoes among the party. At last the southern bluff was
reached, and from there the quintette made their way along the ridge to the side
of the flagstaff. Here all gathered round and placed the flag in the old staff,
after having lowered it. Soon the bunting was fluttering gaily in the breeze.
Three cheers were given, and the dinner gong was sounded. The view from the
bluff was grand, stretching round to all points of the compass. Far away to the
south is the Macpherson Range, and on the west the view extends to the Cooyar.
On the north one can see to the Blackall as far as Mount Cooroy, with Moreton
and. Stradbroke Islands in comparative proximity in the east, which, together
with the intermediate country, form a scene which is not given to everyone to
behold. A goods train, which passed while dinner was being partaken of, appeared
like a toy train; indeed, it was difficult to tell the different kinds of trucks
of which it was composed, so fairy-like did it appear. The descent was soon
afterwards begun, leaving the flag fluttering bravely in the breeze., no doubt
to be eagerly gazed at for some time to come by travellers on the North Coast
line. The track down was followed safely, with a little variation, and the
arrival at home was made about 2.30 p.m.
it was early, three of the party drove up the D'Aguilar Range far as Beerwah,
and had a look at its fine peak and round to, its western side, from which
tourists may make the ascent. This mountain is the highest of the Glass
Mountains, rearing its point some 1,760ft above the sea level. The view from the
top is even finer than from Tibberawaccum, the townships of Peachester and
Woodford being plainly visible. The drive back took place in partial twilight on
a very bad road, and once or twice it was thought that portions of the
conveyance, if not some of the party, would be left behind.
tea time again arrangements were made for the morrow- the last day of the stay-
and it was decided to get up at daybreak, make a light breakfast, and start for
Coonowrim in order to get back in time for the cyclists to arrive at the Pine
River on their way home before dark. No very serious thoughts were at this
period entertained of climbing the mountain, but that the foot of the cliff
should be approached and circled in the hope of finding the famous sapling by
which it was supposed the only way up could be found. At 5.30 o'clock all were
astir, but matters were not ready for a start till about 7 a.m., when the march
began. The party on this memorable occasion consisted of Misses L. J., H. D.,
and S. E. Clark (daughters of Mr. A. H. Clark, of the firm of R. W. Thurlow
& Co., Brisbane), also Messrs. W. Fraser, J. Sairs, and G. Rowley. The girls
are all members of the Brisbane Gymnasium, and their training stood them in good
stead on the journey. Along the Gympie road for about half a mile, then through
the property of Mr. K. Grigor, Coonowrim was approached.
is probably the most famous peak of the Glass Mountains, owing to the fact that
in the history of man only three known ascents had been made, two of them by Mr.
H. Mikalsen (alone), and the third in company with Mr. T. Roberts, both
residents of the district. A well-defined timber-getter's track was followed to
the foot of the rise of the mountain itself, then a way was taken direct to the
foot of the cliff, and after an arduous climb the cliff was reached at its
south-west corner. As it was approached all eyes were watching the line of
vegetation on its sides which marked the only means of reaching the summit.
Several were followed down carefully, but apparently all ended in some bare rock
which it was impossible to scale. At last the foot was reached, and as the high,
straight cliff frowned down upon them at least some of the party gave up hope of
ascending. It was intended to walk round and find the sapling, which was
supposed to be on the north-west corner, but on gazing intently for some time a
favourable “get up" seemed to show itself. The only difficulty was that it
started about 39 feet up the cliff. After a little scouting along the side Mr.
W. Fraser scrambled up with the rope, some distance away from the point, but he
managed to work his way round to the ledge, from which the “get up" led. The
rope was let down, and the ascent began. A slip knot was arranged and the girls
placing this under their arms, were steadied and helped till they reached the
edge, from which the way up started. The two men also took advantage of the
method, and soon the whole party were together. From this spot ran a small
gutter, up which, with considerable scrambling, another gain was made. Here the
way went to the right, and by means of grass, trees, and little ledges of stone,
the side of the cliff was gradually crossed. In one place where the rope was
requisitioned one of the girls had rather an exciting experience. The rope was
let down through a crack in the rock at the side of which she was standing. As
she stepped off on to another little corner, the rock gave way and left her
swinging for a moment in mid-air, some 100ft. from the ground. Fortunately, the
rope was good, and in strong hands, and she soon gained a fresh footing and
clambered into safety.
but surely, the way across the cliff from the bottom left-hand comer to the top
right-hand corner was accomplished, though not without many thrills and tremors.
At last a short climb of about 12ft. brought the cliff to an end. At the bottom
of this little track one member of the party looked back, and when he saw the
precipice stretching away about 300ft. below wondered whether he had really
traversed it, or if he were dreaming. Over this rise the way was considerably
safer, as the grade is about 45 deg., instead of 89 deg., which had been the
recent climb. There the rise came to an end and the party encountered a
razorback about a foot wide, consisting of loose shingle, which was very
treacherous to walk on. Great care was exercised, and one by one the party
negotiated it safely, and soon stood side by side on the top bluff shaking
hands, and congratulating the girls on being the first of the weaker sex to
attain the summit. After resting awhile, the pole placed in position by Mr.
Mikalsen, but which had been broken off short, was raised again and the calico
sheet, apparently portion of an old sail, was hoisted up. The silvered glass
bowl was found, and, after the party had put their cards inside, was replaced on
the top of the small cairn on the highest portion of the peak. The view from the
summit is very fine, the height (about 1,200ft.) being apparently the same as
that of Tibberawaccum. A couple of photographs of the group were taken, also a
snapshot of Beerwah, which is quite close. It happened to be the birthday of one
of the party, and he was heartily congratulated on celebrating it in such a
unique place. The descent was shortly afterwards begun, and by exercising very
great care and taking things very slowly it was effected in safety. The
precaution had been taken of marking the ascent at critical places by means of
pieces of cloth, so there was no danger of going wrong.
Coonowrim is a difficult peak to ascend, and its difficulties are increased
tenfold owing to the soft state of the rocks. Every foothold was carefully tried
and tested before progress was continued. At one point a large stone about 30lb.
in weight, probably embedded for centuries, broke out like a piece of chalk and
fell hurtling down the side to be smashed into atoms as it reached the
one occasion a dangerous rock was detached and thrown down, and as it fell sheer
to the foot the silence was very impressive, only to be broken by the faint
crash at the bottom. The listening group shrank a little closer to the cliff
side. On many occasions one mis‑step would have sent the maker of it to instant
death. As the intrepid climbers retraced their steps down the slopes, after the
descent of the cliff, and glanced up, there was still a deep feeling of respect
for it, and the same care would be used any and every time the trip was made. It
was different with Tibberawaccum. Familiarity in that case brought about a loss
of the feeling of awe that existed before the climb, but Coonowrim lost nothing.
A feeling of pride was in the hearts of the little band, but the mountain still
commanded respect and caution.
Very great praise is due to Mr. Fraser, who was practically the leader, and who found his way wholly unassisted, doing the journey almost three times over in his untiring efforts to assist the others of the party. He is a young fellow, twenty‑two years of age, and, although born in Brisbane, has spent most of his life on the Blackall Range (Yandina). At present, however, he is following up the engineering course at Messrs. G. and J. Dowrie's works, South Brisbane, and is a student at the I.C.S. Mr. J. Sairs, who is residing in the district, ably seconded his efforts.
On the way home the party was very much elated over the feat, which was such a grand finale to their holiday. Arrived at the homestead, some slight difficulty was experienced in convincing their hearers of their success, but their earnestness overcame all doubts, and they were congratulated heartily. After the heavy morning's work, doubts arose as to whether it was advisable for the girls to cycle home, but they were anxious to make a good finish to a day so well begun, that it was decided to ride home as they had come. After a hearty dinner and a very cordial farewell at 1.45 p.m., they bade adieu to the genial host and hostess to commence the long journey of forty-four miles to Brisbane. Darkness, which overtook the party some miles on the Caboolture side of the Pine River, delayed them considerably, with the result that it was 10.15 p.m. before they reached home, where all arrived tired and hungry. But what matter? Had not the apparently impossible been proved possible? Had they, not achieved an ascent of Crookneck by a new track?
MUTINY OF THE “BOUNTY"
The insertion of the “Mutiny of the Bounty" may seem a little out of place so far as Moreton Bay, or even Queensland, is concerned, but I have been actuated by a desire to bring before such of my youthful friends who peruse what this little issue contains, a précis of the Mutiny as it applied to Captain Bligh.
Again, the fact of his having been made Governor of New South Wales in 1805, long before Queensland's separation, may be regarded as a factor in the wish to publish what I had intended to read before my club mates. The account is a brief one, and although to many the history of the “Bounty" and the subsequent career of Bligh is familiar, I trust the reading may be of instruction to those who have never studied the peculiar and fascinating events that bring to mind Pitcairn and Norfolk Islands, and the romantic associations that cling to the names of Fletcher Christian and John Adams.
Norfolk Island today claims many a descendant name of its first white inhabitants. There is a strange coincidence too of Bligh's long journey of 3,618 miles in a boat 23 feet long, and Flinders' journey from Wreck Island to Sydney, a distance of 734 miles, in an open cutter
(This was written as an address to my comrades of the R.Q.Y.C., but was never delivered)
In the early part of the present year, I was one evening looking for something interesting and instructive to read when I came across a somewhat rare volume published in London in 1792, entitled “A Voyage to the South Sea," in his Majesty's ship the Bounty, commanded by Lieutenant William Bligh.
It was a book I had read on more than one occasion, and my mind turned as it always does turn, when I hear the word Bounty, to that wondrous mutiny and its extraordinary after consequences.
Whilst reading again it passed through my mind that on some evening in our club, I might recount what many of you full well know, and tell once more the story of Bligh and his comrades. I, therefore, crave your indulgence for a brief half-hour or so, and trust that I may not be termed wearisome in recounting deeds and perils of the sea.
King George III, one of those Georges whom Thackeray has so bitterly satirised, was on the throne of Great Britain in the year of grace 1787, and at the request of merchants and planters interested in His Majesty's West Indies possessions, gave permission that a vessel might be sent to the South Seas and young bread-fruit trees be taken therefrom to the West Indian Islands. The ship was called the Bounty, and her necessary fixtures and preparations were carried out according to the plans of Sir Joseph Banks.
Banks it will be remembered journeyed with Captain Cook in the Endeavour in the year 1769, his name being well known in Australia, but more particularly in Sydney. Lieutenant William Bligh was appointed to her command, her burthen being nearly 215 tons, length on deck 90 feet 10 inches, extreme breadth 24 feet 3 inches. Her cabin was peculiarly arranged for the preservation of the bread-fruit tree plants. The establishment of men and officers were: One lieutenant to command, one master, nineteen qualified necessary men, twenty-three able seamen; or, in all, forty-four souls.
Sir Joseph Banks, that great botanist, and who has been called the “Father of Australia" (vide J. H. Maiden's publication of 1909) arranged for skilful men to take the management of the plants intended to be brought home, one having been with Captain Cook in his last and fatal voyage. All previous voyages to the South Seas undertaken by the King had been for the advancement of science and the increase of knowledge, this voyage, perhaps, to be regarded as the first, in carrying out the intention of deriving benefit from those distant discoveries. The instructions given Bligh by the Admiralty, mayhap too long to read to you, I summarise as briefly as I can.
“You are to proceed as expeditiously as possible round Cape Horn to the Society Islands, take on board as many trees and plants as may be thought necessary, proceed thence through Endeavour Strait to Prince Island in the Straits of Sunda, thence round the Cape of Good Hope to the West Indies, deposit one-half of such trees as may then be alive at His Majesty's Botanical Gardens at St. Vincent, for the benefit of the Windward Islands; then go on to Jamaica and deliver the remainder to the Governor thereof, from thence return to England."
It may be here interesting to quote from Dampier in his voyage round the world, his interesting description of the bread-fruit. Extract from the account of Dampier's voyage round the world performed in 1688:
“The bread-fruit (as we call it) grows on a large tree, as big and as high as our largest apple trees. It hath a spreading head full of branches and dark leaves. The fruit grows on the boughs like apples. It is as big as a penny loaf when wheat is at five shillings the bushel; it is of a round shape and hath a thick tough rind. When the fruit is ripe it is yellow and soft, and the taste is sweet and pleasant. The natives of Guam use it for bread. They gather it when full-grown while it is green and hard, then they bake it in an oven which scorcheth the rind and makes it black, but they scrape off the outside black crust and there remains a tender thin crust, and the inside is soft, tender and white like the crumb of a penny loaf. There is neither seed nor stone in the inside, and all is of a pure substance like bread. It must be eaten new, for if it be kept above twenty-four hours, it grows harsh and choaky, but it is very pleasant before it is too stale. This fruit lasts in season eight months in the year, during which the natives eat no other sort of food of bread kind. I never did see of this fruit anywhere but here. The natives told us that there is plenty of this fruit growing on the rest of the Ladrone Islands, and I never did hear of it anywhere else."
So from Merrie England on a Sunday morning the twenty-third day of cold and bleak December 1787, sails the Bounty and her crew. Could Bligh have foretold, could Christian have foretold, could Alexander Smith (John Adams) have foretold, this eventful story would never have been penned. “Vain boast, who can control his fate," speaks Othello.
In the one case to be cast afloat in almost mid-ocean, to endure days of agony and distress, to fight under Nelson, to become Governor of New South Wales- such was his then unknown career to be.
In the other case that of Fletcher Christian, to be an outcast amid a great wilderness of water and then cruelly shot by the natives, and John Adams, he to be the last of the mutineering twenty-five, to find himself in the early part of the year 1800, the sole surviving man on Pitcairn Island, the guardian and teacher of helpless women (native) and young children.
On January 5, 1783, the island of Teneriffe is sighted and water and provisions obtained. The island was left on the tenth, and as Lieutenant Bligh then purposed carrying right on to O’Tahiti, orders were given for all hands to be at two thirds allowance of bread, and all water for drinking purposes to be filtered through dripstones.
Bligh’s instructions had been to proceed via the Cape Horn, discretion having been given him at a later date to proceed via the Cape of Good Hope. His course so far had been for the former Cape, but on April 22, he determined to, and did, bear away for Good Hope, and on May 24, the Cape was reached. Here a short stay was made and then the course set for Van Dieman's Land, and on Tuesday, August 19, they were at the south-west of that island, where they stayed until September 4.
Sailing onwards to O'Tahiti, one of the seamen died from an asthmatic complaint.
For one moment let me digress. Bligh in his journals speaks of the crew all told, that is, including himself, as numbering forty-four. On pages 159 and 160 of his history of the mutiny he gives the names and numbers of those cast adrift and remaining on board, these numbers being respectively nineteen and twenty-five, thus making a total of forty-four, whilst the name of the fireman, James Valentine, who died, does not appear. This occasioned me to turn up other books, and I find the actual number leaving England forty-six, but the surgeon died at O'Tahiti, these two accounting for the difference in numbers.
On Sunday, the 26th day of October, O'Tahiti is reached, and Bligh closes his chapter, the sixth, with the following words.
“It may not be unworthy or remark that the whole distance which the ship had run by the log in direct and contrary courses from leaving England to our anchorage at O'Tahiti was 27,086 miles, which on an average is at the rate of an hundred and eight miles' each twenty-four hours."
Let me in a few words mention the discovery of O'Tahiti. Captain Wallis in his voyage round the world in the good ship Dolphin arrived at this island on Monday, the 8th day of June, 1767, and gave orders for possession to be taken in the name of King George, the Third, and give it the name of Queen Charlotte Island in honour of Her Majesty. Following Captain Wallis we proceed with Captain Cook and find that this notable sailor and navigator visited King George's Island, or O'Tahiti as it has long been called, on three different occasions, viz.: April 13, 1769, in the Endeavour; April 2, 1774, in the Resolution; August 21, 1777, in the Resolution it being known to Captain Cook from Wallis' journal when discovered and how named. Captain Cook, however, did not become aware of the native name O'Tahiti until some time after his being at anchor on the occasion of his first visit. Captain Cook was killed, as I daresay you are all aware, at Karakooa Bay, Owhyhee, on February 14 1779, in the 51st year of his age, only four years older than Nelson when he was killed at Trafalgar. It is not a pleasant recollection when we bring to mind that every exertion was made to obtain Captain Cook's remains by the officers of the Resolution. There was a certain barbarity of custom of the natives in carrying off their slain, and although negotiations and threatenings were employed little more than the principal part of Captain Cook's bones could procured. They were placed in a coffin on August 25, and the service being read over them, were on that day committed to the deep.
The Bounty remained at O'Tahiti until April 4 1789, a term of twenty-three weeks, collecting bread-fruit tree plants in sufficiency for the ship's accommodation. Great care had to be exercised in the collecting of these plants, and it was not until the end of October that Bligh obtained permission from the King to search for, and take away, plants. It may be interesting to know that at the time of Bligh's visit, the population of O'Tahiti was supposed to be something like 100,000.
On March 31, all plants were on board, comprising as follows: 774 pots, 39 tubs, 24 boxes- these containing 1,015 bread fruit tree plants. From O'Tahiti Bligh sails for Huaheine, with the hope of obtaining more plants, but the crowd of natives was too great and caused suspicion, so further away he goes on his voyage.
Bligh does not say whether it was his intention to have visited other islands and collect more plants, but the closing paragraph of chapter 12, reads:
“Thus far the voyage had advanced in a course of uninterrupted prosperity, and had been attended with many circumstances equally pleasing and satisfactory. A very different scene was now to be experienced. A conspiracy had been formed, which was to render all our past labour productive only of extreme misery and distress. The means had been concerted and prepared with so much secrecy and circumspection that no one circumstance appeared to occasion the least suspicion of the impending calamity."
From this it can now be perceived that we have approached the more interesting part of our subject- in fact, the real substance of what has been prepared by me.
The mutiny took place on April 28 1789- a Tuesday. It will I be necessary occasionally to here and there read extracts from Bligh's journal, his words being the more descriptive and the more explanatory. On page 154 of his journal he writes: “Tuesday, April 28 1789. Just before sunrise, while I was yet asleep, Mr. Christian, with the master at arms, gunner's mate, and Thomas Burkitt, seaman, came into my cabin, and, seizing me, tied my hands with a cord behind my back, threatening me with instant death if I spoke or made the least noise. I called, however, as loud as I could, in hopes of assistance, but they had already secured the officers, who were not of their party, by placing sentinels at their doors. There were three men at my cabin door besides the four within. Christian had only a cutlass in his hands, the others had muskets and bayonets. I was hauled out of bed and forced on deck in my shirt, suffering great pains from the tightness with which they had tied my hands. I demanded the reason of such violence, but received no other answer than abuse for not holding my tongue.
The master, the gunner, the surgeon, Mr. Elphinstone, master's mate, and Nelson were kept confined below, and the fore hatchway was guarded by sentinels. The boatswain and carpenter, and also the clerk, Mr. Samwell, were allowed to come up on deck, where they saw me standing abaft the mizzen mast with my hands tied behind my back, under a guard with Christian at their head. The boatswain was ordered to hoist the launch out with a threat, if he did not do it instantly, to take care of himself.
When the boat was out Mr. Hayward and Mr. Hallett, two of the midshipmen, and Mr. Samwell, were ordered into it. I demanded what their intention was in giving this order, and endeavoured to persuade the people near me not to persist in such acts of violence, but it was to no effect. ‘Hold your tongue, sir, or you are dead this instant,' was constantly repeated to me."
It has been written by some that Bligh as a man in authority was a strong disciplinarian, if not almost a martinet. Lady Belcher, in her book, “The Mutineers of the 'Bounty' and their descendants in Pitcairn and Norfolk Island," published in 1870, says:
“Bligh was of an irritable and passionate disposition, and was of a most suspicious turn of mind. The language he indulged in both to officers and men was so harsh and offensive as to be exceptional, even at a period when it was deemed that discipline could not be maintained without the use of opprobrious and profane epithets."
Then James Morrison, the boatswain's mate, and who was one of the mutineers, writes giving an occasion of Bligh's language and manner in reference to certain missing cocoanuts from the Bounty whilst at O'Tahiti in the early part of April 1789, just before the mutiny. Questioning Christian, he (Bligh) asks the number of cocoanuts he (Christian) had in his possession, the reply being: “I really do not know sir, but I hope you do not think me so mean as to be guilty of stealing yours." “Yes," said Bligh, “you … hound, I think so; you must have them from me or you could have given a better account of them. You … rascals, you are all thieves alike, and combine with the men to rob me. You will steal my yams next. I will flog you and make you jump overboard before we reach Endeavour Straits."
Marcus Clarke, in his sketch, “Governor Bligh and the Rum Revolt," speaks of him: “The name of the new Governor was Captain Bligh, a bold and daring though somewhat pigheaded post-captain, who had gained some notoriety by reason of the famous mutiny of the Bounty.”
Of the mutiny he also writes: “Seduced by the black eyes of the Tahitian damsels, the crew of the Bounty led by a lazy old reprobate named John Adams, mutinied, and putting Bligh and his officers adrift in a long boat, gave themselves up to unrestrained licentiousness on one of the lovely islands of the South Pacific." And of Bligh, again referring to the mutiny:
“Bligh displayed much ability in navigating his boat to safety, and as a sort of recompense for the sufferings he had endured, was made Governor of New South Wales. His previous history was a good one. He had been for nineteen years a post-captain, had fought under Parker, Howe, and Nelson. At Copenhagen he commanded the Glatton, and was thanked by Nelson publicly on the quarter-deck for his services. He was said to be a tyrant, and to have ill-treated the crew of the Bounty. It is possible he did so, but it is also possible that they deserved it."
Dr. John Dunmore Lang in his work, “An Historical and Statistical Account of New South Wales," first published in the years 1834, 1837, and 1852, and then in 1875, writes:
“The character of Governor Bligh has at different periods, and according as different parties have successfully obtained the management of the colonial Press, been pursued with the utmost unqualified vituperation and lauded with with the most unqualified praise. As is usual in such cases, the truth lies between. That he had faults I will not attempt to deny."
Perhaps when thinking of the cocoanut episode early in April (coupled with others not especially to be referred to), one can understand the feeling by Christian towards Bligh; and the mutiny itself. To my mind the mere fact of Bligh having fought under Nelson, and being praised by such a sailor, gives a fair amount of credit to the opinion that Bligh was also a worthy and capable true sailor and man.
The launch into which Bligh and his comrades were put was 23 feet in length, 6 feet 9 inches in breadth, and 2 feet 9 inches in depth, and in this boat Bligh, as master, with eighteen others, or a total of nineteen souls, sailed and pulled almost 4,000 miles in 40 days, losing not a single life, with the exception of one killed by natives; sixteen days out of the forty being during heavy weather, and almost continual rain.
There is much tempting matter for me to relate, but my half-hour would mean a very extended one, so we follow Bligh and his comrades during his journey until he lands on Timor on 14th June, and then return to briefly tell of the doings and actions of the mutineers at Pitcairn and later on at Norfolk Island.
The boatswain and seamen who were to go in the boat were allowed to collect twine, canvas, lines, sails, cordage, an eight and twenty gallon cask of water, whilst Mr. Samwell got 150 pounds of bread and a small quantity of rum and wine, also a compass and a quadrant. Luckily, perhaps, for history, Mr. Samwell secured Bligh's journals and commission, together with some valuable ship's papers. The carpenter was allowed to take his tool chest. Four cutlasses were thrown into the boat, a few pieces of pork were thrown in also, and some clothes, and after undergoing a great deal of ridicule, they were cast adrift on the open ocean. And across the water rings again and again, and still again, the cry of the mutineers: “Huzza for O'Tahiti."
It is natural to perhaps ask “Why this revolt?" Let me give Bligh's own words: “It will be naturally asked what could be the reason for such a revolt. In answer to which I can readily conjecture that the mutineers had flattered themselves with the hopes of a more happy life amongst the 0’Tahitians than they could possibly enjoy in England and this, joined to some female connections, most probably occasioned the whole transaction. The women of O'Tahiti are handsome, mild and cheerful in their manners and conversation, and have sufficient delicacy to make them admired and loved. The chiefs were so much attached to our people that they rather encouraged their stay among them than otherwise, and even made them promises of much possessions. Under these and many other attendant circumstances, equally desirable, it is now not so much to be wondered at, though scarcely possible to have been foreseen, that a set of sailors, most of them void of connections, should be led away, especially when, in addition to such powerful inducements, they imagined it in their power to fix themselves in the midst of plenty on one of the finest island in the world, where they need not labour, and where allurement of dissipation are beyond anything that can be conceived."
Bligh's first determination was to sail for an island some thirty miles away and seek for water and provisions. The Island of Tofoa was reached after dark, Bligh getting next day about 20 cocoanuts and no more, and three small bunches of plantains and nine gallons of water. Then finding the natives a little more was added to their stock. At this island an attack was made upon the men, and one man, John Norton, killed by stones. So for sea, the open sea, they sailed, Bligh informing his crew that no hope of relief remained, except what might be found at New Holland, till Timor, a distance of 1,200 leagues was reached, all the crew agreeing to live on one ounce of bread and a quarter of a pint of water per day. So all agreed, they bore across the sea in this narrow boat, only 23 feet long, deep laden with eighteen men, their stock of provisions consisting of 150 pounds of bread, twenty‑eight gallons of water, twenty pounds of pork, three bottles of wine, and five quarts of rum, some of their provisions having been lost in the attack. Sunday, May 3, saw the little craft under reefed lug foresail with a gale of wind to contend against, the sail at times between the heavy running sea being becalmed and the sea curling over the stern, bailing being kept continuously going. To lighten the boat spare clothes were thrown overboard, with some ropes and sails, the tools from the carpenter's chest being laid along the flooring boards and the chest used to keep the bread from being destroyed by water. The wind still continued to blow strong from the north‑east, the boat keeping before the sea, the men almost fatigued out with constant bailing, the hardship of being continually wet not being the least; a small teaspoonful of rum being occasionally served all round. Several small islands were passed, Bligh's object in a way being to see the Fiji Islands, and then go ashore. Damaged bread and a quarter of a pint of water served for dinner on the Tuesday, the allowance for Wednesday being a quarter of a pint of cocoanut milk and two ounces of meat. On that day a fish, to their great joy, was caught, but to their sorrow was lost ere it was on board. For supper an ounce of bread, damaged, too, at that, and a quarter of a pint of water. More small islands were continually being passed, and on one occasion two canoes with numbers of men on board, pursued the little craft, but desisted after an hour or so. From the sails of these vessels, Bligh was of opinion that the islands now in their neighbourhood were the Fijis.
For days Bligh goes on sailing west by north, cheering his men with descriptions of New Holland and of New Guinea, giving them all information in his power, so that in the case of his not surviving, those left might have some idea of what they were about; ounces of bread and small portions of water being served out at intervals, sometimes the milk of cocoanuts and the meat of the same fruit, too, the allowance of bread being a 25th of a pound. Rainy weather, day and night, continued, the sun rarely shining, the men get down-hearted, yet are courageous, many of them complaining of internal pains, and others losing the use of their limbs. Then comes an opportunity to have their clothes dried, so Bligh recommends them to strip, wring their garments in the salt water and replace on their bodies, which was done and much relief obtained, and still the rain falls and winds blow. Small islands at greater intervals of space are passed, and a couple of thousand miles off lies New Holland. Then comes an opportunity to land, and Bligh writes that the blessing of the rain and wet weather comes; that continued hot, sunny days would have caused deaths from thirst. On Sunday, May 17, almost three weeks since the Bounty was left, complaints of suffering come from all hands, some soliciting extra allowance of food, which is refused, the situation being indeed miserable, no shelter from the weather, the only exercise that could be obtained being that of continuously bailing out the water.
Bligh writes: “At dawn of day some of my people seemed half dead, our appearances were humble, and I could look no way but I caught the eye of some one in distress. Extreme hunger was now too evident, but no one suffered from thirst, nor had we much inclination to drink, that desire perhaps being satisfied, through the skin. The little sleep we got was in the midst of water, and we continually woke with severe cramps and pains in our bones."
And again: “Strong gales from E.S.E. to S.S.E., a high sea, and dark, dismal night, our situation was this day extremely calamitous. We were obliged to follow the course of the sea running right before it and watching with the utmost care, as the least error in the helm would in a moment have been our destruction. Then four weeks out, a noddie is caught, the bird being the size of a small pigeon. This is divided into eighteen parts, entrails included. Boobies are caught later on, and the same division is made. For a few days the weather breaks fine, with a severe sun, this latter causing some of the crew to be seized with a languor and faintness, making them indifferent to life. Other sustenance is given by the catching of small cuttle fish, whilst a few flying fish drop into the boat.
“At the end of May the Barrier Reef is opened up, and Providential Channel is passed through, and the heavy seas of the outer ocean are behind, and forgotten in the joy of their so far happy deliverance."
Bligh again writes: “We now returned God- thanks for his gracious protection, and with much content took our miserable allowance of a 25th of a pound of bread and a quarter of a pint of water for dinner."
As they advanced northwards, within the reefs, the coast of New Holland, that part known to us as Queensland, began to show itself very distinctly in a variety of high and low lands. On Friday 28, part of the crew landed on an island, and found oysters and also old fire-places made by the natives, giving Bligh and his companions some apprehensions. The shore party returned highly rejoiced at having found plenty of oysters and fresh water, and as a copper pot was amongst the cargo on board from the Bounty a stew was made, so says Bligh, with these oysters, mixed with a little of the remaining bread and pork that might have been relished by people of far more delicate appetites, each of the crew receiving a full pint. The general complaints of diseases among us were a dizziness in' the head, and great weakness of the joints.
“I had," he says, “constantly a severe pain in my stomach, but none of our complaints were alarming; on the contrary, everyone retained marks of strength, that with a mind possessed of a tolerable share of fortitude, seemed able to bear more fatigue than I imagined we should have to undergo in our voyage to Timor."
On Saturday, May 30, Bligh discovered a visible alteration for the better of his company, and also found that but two pounds of pork were left, this article, not having been kept under lock and key, having diminished by theft, so as all denied having stolen it, he resolved to put it out of their power for the future by sharing all round what was left for dinner.
On May 30, Bligh and his crew embark once more in their frail craft and proceed northwards, landing again on 31st, two parties being sent to seek supplies, some of, the crew being so fatigued that they complained, and said they would rather be without their dinner than go in search of it, one person telling Bligh with a mutinous look‑so he writes‑that he was as good a man as Bligh himself.
Bligh determined to maintain his authority, seized a cutlass and ordered the other to take another and defend himself. This settled all apparent complications, and harmony was soon restored. Later on, when farther north, the first “beating," as Bligh describes it, takes place, one man being so punished for having left a search party and having disturbed the birds. This man admitted at Java that he had deserted deliberately, and had killed and eaten raw nine birds. On Sunday, June 3, the coast of New Holland is left, and the course is made for Timor. On, Friday, the 5th, some of the men are weak and the blood of a booby bird that came near enough to be caught is divided amongst them, the flesh to be kept for the next day. On the 7th the surgeon and an old hardy seaman appeared to be failing fast, and a little wine is given them and does them good, whilst Bligh himself suffers greatly from sickness of the stomach. June 10 shows more sickness and distress to many others, and on Friday, June 12, the island of Timor is in sight, after pulling and sailing 3,618 miles in an open boat in forty-one days from Tofoa, and no single life lost. Sunday, June 14, sees them landed at Coupang, and safe from all the miseries and distress of the sea. At Coupang (Timor), Bligh remained until August 20, and, having purchased a small schooner some thirty-four feet long, and naming her the “Resource," sailed on this date for Batavia, arriving there on October 1.
At Coupang, David Nelson, the botanist, died. On Saturday, October 10, the schooner “Resource" was sold for 295 rex dollars, and the launch which had carried eighteen men almost 4,000 miles was also sold with great reluctance. Then, on October 16, Bligh sails for England, taking with him Samwell, the clerk, and one John Smith, seaman, and on March 14 1790, he lands at Portsmouth. Prior to leaving, two of his crew of eighteen had died, and of those left behind waiting their opportunity to get to England two more died within a fortnight of Bligh's departure. Two more died on the voyage home- Robert Lamb and the surgeon. Thus, out of nineteen souls leaving the “Bounty," we find one man killed by natives, and of the remaining eighteen, twelve surmounted the difficulties and dangers of the voyage to live and revisit their native land.
Leaving Bligh arrived safely in England, we return to the Bounty and follow her crew until but one man remains in the South Seas, of the twenty-five left in the ship. The mutiny having taken place, and Christian finding the die cast, he assumes command, and puts the ship under discipline. The Bounty instead of heading for 0’Tahiti, is steered for the small island of Toubouai, this place being reached on May 28, but as the aspect of the natives was so savage the vessel's course is steered for O'Tahiti, all the plants are thrown overboard and the latter place reached on June 6, the thirty-ninth day after the mutiny.
The speedy return of the vessel came as a matter of surprise. Bligh had previously represented himself as the son of Captain Cook, and told the natives that the Bounty had met Captain Cook, who had taken a certain number of his crew on board, and had despatched him (Bligh) to collect live stock and other provisions. Taking with them a bull and a cow left on the island by Captain Cook, they put to sea once more. There were on board, after sailing, not including the twenty-five whites, nine 0’Tahitian men, twelve women, and eight boys, most of them having secreted themselves, and only being discovered when the vessel was at sea.
On June 23 they arrive back at Toubouai, several of the live stock being killed on the voyage, including the bull. (Captain Beechy states that there were seventeen male natives, ten women, and a young girl, comprising the O'Tahitians.)
Here they remain until September 11, but as discontent had arisen, a vote is taken of the twenty-five, and sixteen to nine is the result for the return to O'Tahiti, and the vessel for the third time is anchored in Matavia Bay, at O'Tahiti, the date being September 22. Then the sixteen disembark for a life on the island they loved, many of the natives also going ashore, and the remaining nine leave for some unknown island to hide their crime and live amongst the glorious freedom and idleness of the South Seas; one mutineer only, Alexander Smith, alias John Adams, being found by an American ship on Pitcairn Island in February, 1808. Pitcairn being reached, Christian divides the island into nine portions, all available articles are removed from the Bounty, even to the planks from her side, and in order to leave no trace which might lead to discovery, her hull is set fire to, and the remainder sunk in twenty-five fathoms of water on January 23.
For three years all goes well then Williams the blacksmith is shot by the natives; then Fletcher Christian is shot when working in his garden; Mills is fallen upon and killed; Martin and Brown are clubbed; John Adams is shot, the ball entering in his right shoulder and passing out through his throat, but he is not killed. Four only of the unfortunate men now alone are left. For a week or so peace and tranquility prevail, when the women become the cause of more bloodshed, for the blacks began to quarrel about choosing the women whose husbands had been killed. Then the remaining native men are killed, and on the island remain the four white men and some native women. McKay, one of the four whites, soon after, having learned how to distil and make intoxicating beverages, throws himself from a cliff and is killed. Quintal, not living according to the desired rule of the island, is put to death by his comrades, and a year later, Young, suffering from an asthmatic complaint, terminates his existence; and John Adams is left alone.
Twenty years had elapsed before the mystery which had hung over the Bounty was cleared, the first gleam appearing in the log book of Mayhew Folger, master of an American ship named the Topaze, and dated September 1808; and later on Sir Thomas Staines calls in at Pitcairn whilst in charge on the Briton; then Captain Beechy, in the Blossom, in 1825 visits the island, and John Adams is still alive, surrounded by children of his own and those of his one-time comrades. On March 29 1829, John Adams, who had become their venerated pastor and teacher, passes away in the presence of those who loved and respected him.
I follow the doings of those left behind no further, nor do I tell of their return to O'Tahiti, thence back to Pitcairn, and later on to Norfolk Island, for time does not permit. The story of the mutiny of the Bounty will live for ever in the history of South Sea life, and as years take away the sadness of the crime, I am sure a reverence almost will attach itself to the islands I have mentioned.
Pitcairn, it may here not be out of place to explain, was discovered in 1767 before Cook's voyages to the South Seas, the name being given to it after the name of a young midshipman, who described it from the masthead of his ship, in charge of Carteret.
And now briefly to the sixteen left at O'Tahiti. One of the number shot his companion, Churchill, and is himself killed by the natives. Then the remainder build a vessel, schooner rigged, and name her the Resolution. In 1791, the H.M.S. Pandora anchors in the harbour, and the remaining men of the Bounty are taken on board as prisoners.
A court-martial is held, and the men are destined for trial in England. The Pandora sailed for England in the same year, and on 28th August, the current forces her on a reef near the Endeavour Strait; several are drowned, including thirty-one of the Pandora's company, the survivors getting on a small sandy island, partly by swimming and partly by the aid of the boats.
On August 31, the weather permitting, the men embark in their small boats, having a passage of between four hundred and five hundred leagues to run, before the Dutch settlement at Timor can be reached. On September 16, Coupang, at Timor, is reached, Batavia on November 7, and on June 19 1792, the mutineer prisoners are at Spithead, four years and four months having elapsed since these self-same people left Merrie England in the Bounty. A court martial is held, three of the unfortunates receiving the extreme penalty of the law.
Bligh was sent out on another expedition to the South Seas, with the same object as the first, in the year 1791, successfully carrying out his duties and returning to England in 1793. He was afterwards employed in active service. In the two famous actions of St. Vincent and Camperdown, Captain Bligh commanded the Glatton, and also at Copenhagen on which occasion Lord Nelson sent for him and thanked him for his admirable support during the action.
In 1805 he was appointed Governor of New South Wales, but in January 1808, the New South Wales Corps deposed him and placed him on board a ship proceeding to England. On arrival home he returns into private life, having attained the rank of Vice-Admiral of the Blue, and dies in London at the age of sixty-five. And in conclusion, let me add these few words. A charge of cowardice had been preferred against Governor Bligh, and this is his reply: “The court will forgive me if I intrude a moment on their time to mention the services in which I have been employed. For twenty-one years I have been a Post Captain, and have been engaged in services of danger not falling within the ordinary duties of my profession. For four years with Captain Cook, in the Resolution and four more years as a commander, I traversed unknown seas, braving difficulties because less frequently encountered. In subordinate positions I fought under Admiral Parker at the Dogger Bank, and Lord Howe at Gibraltar. In the Battle of Camperdown, the Director, under my command first silenced and then bombarded the ship Admiral De Winter, and after the Battle of Copenhagen, where I commanded the Glatton, I was sent for by Lord Nelson to receive his thanks publicly on the quarterdeck.
Was it for me then to sully my reputation and to disgrace the medal I wear by shrinking from death which I have braved in every shape? An honourable mind will look for some other motive for my retirement and will find it in my anxiety for those papers which during the enquiry, have been occasionally produced to the confusion of those witnesses, who thought they no longer existed.