Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Sunday, 9th April, 1837

Word came to me during the week that made all as clear as crystal.

Last week the Buffalo topsail disappeared during the night to the puzzlement of all.

This week the Reverend Charles Beaumont Howard set up his church in the settlement of Adelaide, intending to bring succour and spiritual nourishment to the people. His church, I discovered today, consists of a ship's sail strung up between trees. A SHIP'S SAIL!!!

The miserable thieving mongrel son of a whore! I'll give him succour! He'll need to suck his food through a tube by the time I get through with him!

This morning at service, as I sat under the pilfered canvas the little gobshite had the unmitigated gall to give an interminable sermon on 1 Timothy 2:1-4 "I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; 2 For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.3 For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; 4 Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth."

Pray for those in authority so we may live a quiet life of honesty? Honesty? Clearly the man knows nothing of it! A quiet life is just what he won't be having, the larcenous bitch's bastard

I sat seething throughout his sermon while all around me slept on, my temper not helped by the warm temperature, the flies and the sunshine. Because, whether by accident or design - thought I suspect the latter - my Vice Regal chair was placed directly beneath a hole in the sail, meaning that while everyone else could doze in the shade, I had the sun beating down on me full force.

After the service was finished Howard approached me and asked what I thought of his improvised shelter. "The view of God's own nature", he simpered. "So much finer than any stained glass in the great cathedrals of Europe."

I simply grunted at him then said: "Perhaps next week you tell us what you think about 1 Thessalonians 5:2?"

He thought for a moment then recalled the verse. "For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night.  A splendid verse."

"Isn't it?" I hissed menacingly. "Or perhaps  Zephaniah 1:9?"

This one had him stumped, so I took the victory.

"In the same day also will I punish all those that leap on the threshold, which fill their masters' houses with violence and deceit."

And with that I left the hypocrite to wallow in his depravity and turpitude.

I have heard reports that the swine had an accomplice in Osmond Moneybags Gilles.The two of them were seen loading the sail onto a handcart and then pushing and dragging the thing up the track from Holdfast Bay to the town. It was a stinking hot day and I hope it nearly killed them.

No doubt Howard got Gilles, the poor old duffer, suitably marinated in order to get him to help, tempting him like the serpent in Eden.

The man is a bounder and a thief and I shall ensure that his life is a living Hell.

Sunday, 29 December 2013

Sunday, 2nd April, 1837

Difficult as it is to imagine, but the Marines sunk to new lows this past week.

For some weeks now I have been aware that there has been resentment simmering between them and William Williams, the part time policeman appointed by Gilbert. Their feeling was that Gilbert and Williams (or "Billy Bill" as they refer to him) were encroaching on the Marines' duties and responsibilities.

Sergeant Strugnell told me that: "It's us that's meant to be the peacekeepers, sir. Not some popinjay with a pea shooter and a letter opener." The which curious allusion referred to the pistols and swords conferred upon Williams by Gilbert upon his taking the job on. I did point out to the sergeant that most disturbances of the peace in the Colony seemed to be caused, not rectified, by his Marines, but he replied that people needed to make allowances for their youth. "They have spirit, sir"

Indeed they do - bottle after bottle of it.

But when Gilbert appointed young Bob Hill to the post of Assistant High Constable, the Marines could scarce contain themselves in their derision of "Bill and the Hill".

Things came to a head earlier this week when several Marines, emboldened by brandy and the encouragement of the equally shickered Coromandel escapees they were guarding, set off to determine the matter once and for all.

Unfortunately for Hill and Williams it happened to be the one day on their monthly schedule that they were on duty together and the Marines found them at the Paddy will Linger Lagoon giving people the benefit of their impersonation of comedy policemen. "'Ello 'ello. What's all this then?"

Of course a fight soon broke out, though not between the Constabulary and the Military. It appears that the Marines disagreed between themselves as to whether Hill or Williams was the bigger son of a bitch's bastard and fell to work pugilising each other to prove their point.

At this point Williams made the stupid error of trying to intervene.

I don't blame him, but I do point out that a more experienced man might well have stood back and allowed the situation to resolve itself as the Marines pummeled each other into unconsciousness.

But intervene he did and, as a result, I cannot help but feel that much of the responsibility for what happened is his alone.

It seems that he began by foolishly blowing a whistle, thus attracting the attention of the Marines. Fortunately the whistle was on a lanyard, which gave the surgeon who later pulled the thing out something to grip.

Having attracted the attention of the brutes Williams and Hill did not take the obvious course of action and run like hell. Instead they attempted to subdue the Marines and place them under arrest, with the result that Williams received a black eye and was then folded up like a Bavarian pretzel; Hill was knocked unconscious from a blow to the head with a handy cast iron skillet and a perfectly good whistle on a lanyard was nearly lost for good.

In fact, if it hadn't have been for the intervention of Charlie Mann, Advocate General and welter weight champion, the whole thing could have turned particularly ugly.

Mann flattened the Marines with one or two swipes, gathered them up under his arm and returned them to the shore. They have now joined the Coromandel prisoners they were meant to be guarding for a short stay on the other side of the bars.

Once Hill could remember his name he promptly resigned from the position of Assistant Constable, saying that when he signed on he had thought the job was to be mainly ceremonial.

Williams has been unfolded and is due to return to solid food shortly.

Still, there's always a silver lining. Several witnesses have reported that they have never heard a sound quite so lovely as the muffled, melancholy tone of the whistle, which sounded each time Williams broke wind.

A most strange occurrence this week, when it was discovered that the topsail from the Buffalo had disappeared during the night.

Things like a topsail don't just vanish by themselves and so I can only conclude that it was, in point of fact, stolen.

My daughter Susan has told me that she suspects it was stolen by thieves, so clearly the mystery is as good as solved with her on the case.

But I cannot work out how it was done. A topsail weighs a goodly sum as any AB who has had to hoist one aloft will tell you. So I cannot help but think it was the work of two or even three interlopers. And then, having got the thing off the Buffalo they then had to get it ashore. And all the while they had to go about their nefarious deed while several marines, several of the Buffalo crew (the rest live ashore), the Coromandel prisoners (Jeffcott hears their case on Tuesday) and my family and me all slept undisturbed,

Now I admit, the Marines couldn't spot a turd in taffeta, the crew were almost certainly in a drunken stupour and the prisoners probably lent a hand. But Mrs Hindmarsh can hear a Marine slip loose a silent fart when she is at the far end of the ship in order to admonish him, so how the thieves managed to lug a sail over the side without her hearing I do not know.

And then, having acquired this great wad of coarse canvas there remains the question "Why?" A great lump of weather worn canvas... why would anyone want it? Once again Susan had the answer. "Perhaps the thieves wanted to make curtains."

Tis mystery all - both the topsail and the way my daughter thinks.

We finally prepare to say farewell to the Buffalo this week. I will sign command over to Captain Wood at the end of the month and this week we headed ashore to find the house the Marines have built for my family and me on the shores of the lagoon.

For the past few weeks the Buffalo crew and the Marines have been engaged, whenever there was a free moment in their busy daily programme, (a jest!) in moving furniture and effects belonging to me from the ship to the shore.

It would seem that at no point when building our new residence did they considered that the furniture might need to go inside the house and still leave room for people.

What they have given us is one large room and an outhouse, built of wood, reeds, wooden packing cases and drift wood, all plastered with mud. From what I can see they piled all our furniture and effects together and then constructed (I use the term loosely) the walls around them. How else to explain the irregular shape of the floor plan and crazy angles of the walls? Certainly we will need to pull the walls down in order to move our furnishings out when the time comes.

Since we are unable to move the furniture without tearing down the building, we have had to do the best we can as to find places to sleep and to live.

The girls have set up a boudoir inside the Linen Press and young Johnny has found a bedroom inside the pianoforte. The strings, he says form a quite comfortable mattress.

Mrs Hindmarsh and I have found our bed, but it has the dining room table siting on it. However, but by draping a mosquito net over the table we have created something like a four poster bed. As long as one does not roll over too quickly in bed and hit the table's central wooden pillar it is quite comfortable. And the central pillar does form a barrier between Mrs Hindmarsh and myself, so we both feel reassured.

There are no cooking and washing facilities, so Widow Harvey has had to do all the meals outside; the which, no doubt, will suffice during the Summer, but if the winter months prove rainy then she will have a damp time of it. I refuse to have the mad poisoner sleep in here with us. She would need to sleep in the sideboard for one thing and the thought of sharing a bedroom her does not allure me. As a result she is currently sleeping in the outhouse which naturally brings other problems to the fore when one of us wishes to avail themselves of the facilities.

But seriously, if this is the job the Marines do of the "temporary residence", then God's bollocks, what sort of hatchet job will they make of Government House?

Of course the Marines came to me to ask what I thought of their work in building for me and they looked at me like  a little puppy that had bought back a dead rat and laid it at my feet and expected a "well done". Of course I should have given them the dressing down of a lifetime. but really, they looked at me with such innocent stupidity that I had to let it go.

Sunday, 15 December 2013

Monday, 27th March, 1837

What a week it has been. So exciting that I have been unable to write my usual Sunday night summary of the week and have had to put off its writing until this Monday evening.

On Wednesday last the Council gathered at Light's cottage for his unveiling of the city plan.  We all dutifully "oohed" and "ahhed" at the thing, while Whatshisface Kingston pointed out the bits that were his idea and everyone ignored him.

No doubt the plan is a good one and will suffice, but there are rather too many boxes for my liking. "More curves," I kept telling him, but Light (as usual) seems to have done exactly what he wanted. I suspect the influence of Light's housekeeper, Miss Gandy in this. It is rumoured that she gave Light an engraved ruler and set square last Christmas and insisted in his using of it throughout his work on the plan.

Still, we all congratulated the Colonel, slapped him on the back and I made a small speech saying, "You've all done very well", or some such tomfoolery. Buggerlugs Kingston spent the rest of the afternoon telling all who would listen (and that number was few) that "His Excellency said that I had done well." Vulgar little oik.

The next day those of us who had purchased land back in England returned to what, I suppose, must now be called the intersection of the Northern and Western Terraces and the Port Road for the allocation of purchased acres.

It had been decided by Fisher that the fairest way of going about this would be to put all the numbers of the available acres in a hat and then each landowner to take turns in pulling out a number which would then be recorded in the Company Ledger.

The whole thing seemed rather undignified and smacked a little of the Lucky Sticks stall  at a Country Fair and I said so in no uncertain terms. Stephens, damn him, had the gall to make some comment about me being too grand to condescend to attend country fairs and warm words were exchanged between us. I believe I may have suggested that no country fair allow him attendance lest he turn it into a drunken orgy and he seemed to take exception to this. I might have also suggested that he could get yet another wife through the lucky sticks since he seemed to not be too fussy about who he married and this too was not received well. At length he calmed down and since there seemed to be no other choice available we agreed to this Cheapjack affair.

Of course, Fisher bollocksed the whole thing by not having a hat set by, but to no-one's surprise Whod'yamaycallhim Kingston pressed forward eagerly shouting "You can use my hat! Use mine!" The man was born in Ireland I believe, which explains a great deal.

Someone - I believe Brown - made the pretty comment that over five hundred numbered papers fitting in Kingston's hat proves what a bighead he is and all agreed.

In the event the draw of numbers was quite exciting and all who took part agreed that it was a fair way of dealing with the matter. Although Fisher, who wrote out the numbers, seems to have done particularly well, causing some to suggest that he marked the backs of the acres he specially wanted. I make no judgemental comment, but such sneaking and deceit would certainly not be beyond the wiles of the loathesome bastard.

Today we finally had the sale of unallocated town acres and great was the excitement. All week there were rumours of bargains to be had; of the South Australia Company being short of money and unable to meet its financial obligations and hence being forced to sell off vast swathes of land at knockdown prices. As a result of these rumours, the land sale was overflowing with people of the less wealthy sort, hoping to strike a bargain.

It seemed to me that this could only go in the favour of those of the better class of buyer, If the sale was full of bidders bidding at rock bottom then those with a copious supply of coin of the realm would need only bid what was, to them, a modest price in order to be the winning bidder. Hence, those who were at the sale hoping to buy land for next to nothing would be sure to be disappointed, whilst those who could afford to pay a realistic price might well pay less that they expected.

That, at least, was my thinking when I started the rumours.

In the event the sale went wonderfully well. Several hundred settlers gathered outside Mr Fisher's hut, some arriving the night before and camping out in order to be the better able to bid for prime lots. I am informed that Fisher was not best pleased when, at about three in the morning, some seventy settlers began singing songs of a bawdy and comic nature at his front door, like dirty minded carol singers. No doubt his herd of children discovered some new words with which to enliven their conversation.

To add to the misery, in the morning Widow Harvey arrived on the back of the Company dray, having travelled up from the Bay during the night. She was offering to supply the assembled settlers with breakfast and had made pies to try and sell from the cart. This had the twin effects of driving people in to the sale and also ensuring that the notion of a "pie cart" will never catch on in Adelaide.

Mrs Hindmarsh and the girls with their ceaseless preparations meant that we did not leave Holdfast Bay in good time. I had informed Fisher that the sale was not to start until my arrival and I thought I detected an air of some impatience when I entered the sale at about eleven.

I detected also an air of disappointment when the lower orders realised that the knock me down bargains that had been rumoured were not to be had and there was a deal of muttering and grumbling which I thought most ill humoured and impolite. Really, if people are so foolish as to believe every baseless rumour they hear they have no-one to blame but themselves.

Though let me add, I am gladdened that they do believe every baseless rumour they hear. Otherwise, what would be the point of starting them?

The outcome of the sale was that, for an outlay of just under 75 pounds, I am now the owner of a fair portion of North Adelaide and some delightful acres in the southern section as well. Add these to the acres I bought before leaving England and the country acres to which I am entitled once Light finishes his survey and I have become owner of a swathe of land that will, I do not doubt, increase in value manyfold.

I see this as some small recompense for the trials of Governing the colony and her people. If I have to put up with them I might as profit from them.

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Sunday, 19th March 1837

This week saw the emergence of our own "Robinson Crusoe" story here in the Colony.

Back in January ten men from the Coromandel (Cpt W Chesser) jumped ship and headed for the hills - quite literally, as they were last seen heading up the Sturt River towards the uncharted hills.

This week they re-emerged, tired, filthy and dishevelled and gave themselves up to the marines saying that after the Hell they had been going through, living a life of terror and distress in what they termed "The Coromandel Valley", they threw themselves on the mercy of the courts and would rather life in prison than go on eking out a miserable existence in the Adelaide Hills.

Bugger them!

They are more nuisance than they are worth. "Throw themselves on the mercy of the courts" indeed! "The courts" at present consist of nothing more than old Jeffcott, swanning about with his gavel and wig and "life in prison" is hardly likely when we don't actually have one.

The circumstances of their capture I can recount fully, as it was I who took them prisoner. I had ridden out with the Marines on a reconnoitre to discover any French spies or New South Welsh convicts attempting to enter our territory when suddenly a man dressed in the scantest of rags stood up from behind a wattle bush and hailed me. At first I did not see him as he was on the side of my bad eye and I almost rode on, but the Marines alerted me to him and I turned to see the spectacle of ten ragbags emerge from behind same bush. How they fitted there I do not care to think about,  but they all cried out in piteous voices "Sanctuary! Sanctuary". One of the Marines rather wittily replied "No, thank you very!", but they did not seem to appreciate the humour.

I soon heard their story and then handed then over to the Marines, ordering them to march the prisoners back to the Bay. I rode on to alert Jeffcott about this and to take some legal advice.

The Marines duly marched them back to Glenelg then stood about in confusion wondering what to do, since none of them have any experience with taking prisoners. At length one of the Marines suggested that the prisoners might like a drink and before long the prisoners and their captors were singing drunken songs together in harmony and feeling that life was very fine indeed. Certainly the Coromandel escapees soon forgot their distress, though I hope to God they suffered the next day.

The Coromandel having long since departed the prisoners are currently billeted with the Marines on board the Buffalo; notionally "under arrest", although from the way Mrs Hindmarsh and I are kept awake by singing, concertina music and raucous laughter at all hours night and day it seems that never was there a more hilarious incarceration.

I have suggested to Jeffcott that he find them guilty of desertion, give them a lecture about the "hideous nature of a crime abhorrent to decent society" and then tell them to bugger off. We simply do not have the facility to be dealing with convicted men - certainly not ten of them - and we have need of ten able bodied men to further develop the Colony. And if they were so keen to stay then we might as well let them.

I have had occasion to speak before of our Company's geologist Johan Menge. The man is either a genius, a charlatan or a buffoon.

I received a report this week telling me that in the two short months he has been on Kangaroo Island he has discovered commercial quantities of Amethyst, Aquamarine, Carnelian, Rubies and Lapis Lazuli.

If true then Kangaroo Island might yet be the gemstone capital of Asia.

If false then I am left with the possibility that Menge has no idea of what he is talking about.

He included rock samples with his report and I am no expert, but I must needs say that they look more like bits of  old gravel than semi precious stones. In his reports he also seems to claim that he was led to the mineral deposits by angelic spirits. A pretty picture, but not one that causes me to be sanguine of the veracity of Menge's claims. I find myself doubting the efficacy of angelic intervention as a tool in mineral exploration.

Still we shall see.

With the Completion of the town survey by Colonel Light the time has come, it seems, to set our minds to naming the streets and parks.

I have let it be known that members of the populace interested in contributing suggestions should see their suggestions, in writing, to me here at The Buffalo. So far I have received several lists of suggestions each less enticing than the last. They range from the unimaginative - First Street, Second Street, Third Street and so on was one such - to the enthusiastic ravings of the apparently febrile.

One list - I suspect from Charlie Howard -  suggested naming the streets after people in the Bible.  And so we can have Abinadab Street, Bechorath Boulevard, Kerenhappuch Street, Abiasaph Road and the like. Rejecting this list means that we will miss out on walking down Zurishaddai Street, but it is a price I am prepared to pay.

Since the city is to be named after Queen Adelaide (or "Eagle beak" as she is affectionately referred to by many) - another suggested that the streets be named after Monarchs of England. I am sorry to record that I find the notion of the main street being called "Ethelred the Unready Avenue" unacceptable. And do we really need Ã†lfweard Road as an address? I think not.

My own list of suggested street names using Great British Naval Victories will, I hope, meet with greater favour. Trafalgar, Penobscot, Porto Bello, Navarino, Quiberon Bay all shall live on as they deserve in the street names of Adelaide. What could be finer?

Anything could be finer than the meal served up by Lucrezia on Thursday last. We had invited Moneybags Gilles to dine with us and the woman outdid herself by serving Moules Mariniere a la Provencal. Unfortunately she took the gilt from the gingerbread by announcing that she had been unable to procure the necessary mussels and so had made the thing with wombat. She assured us that we would barely notice the difference, but I beg to differ.

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Sunday, 12th March, 1837

In Council this week I had occasion to both contradict and deny Fisher when he was demanding his own way.

He gave me an oily smirk and, in a sneering voice that fair dripped with sarcasm smarmed, "As Your Excellency wishes." And then Fisher, Brown and Mann sniggered and ribbed each other like schoolboys. The Registrar of the Colony, The Emigration Agent and the Advocate General carrying on as if they were naughty boys in the corner at some Dame School! If the meeting had gone on much longer I fear they would have produced pea shooters and started putting tacks on people's chairs.

I have had nothing but trouble with Fisher, the slimy bastard, and his cabal of bully boys.

Each time he sees me, his face shows all the welcoming warmth one might show to a turd in a Turkish bath.

He is not a man who takes "no" for an answer, something I imagine his wife has discovered to her cost. The poor woman seems to have had another three or four children in the past few months to add to Fisher's brood. I suspect he intends to keep having children in the unlikely hope that they will eventually produce a likable one. In the meantime the half man, half rabbit simply keeps on. 

I have had nothing but trouble with him since the moment after the Proclamation. He has been obstructionist, petty and vindictive. He harried the Marines this week because they were gathering wood for the building of my residence and he maintained that they were on his land. (I was unaware that any land had been sold as yet, but Fisher has staked his claim and dug his burrow ) He has tried to harass me at every turn, so much so that I took him before Robert Gouger as JP and had him instructed to keep the peace. 

At bottom is the trouble at the start of the voyage out here, when Mrs Hindmarsh threw Fisher and his brood out of the cabin and claimed it for her own. Fisher, a man who not only nurses a grudge, but exercises it and grows it into something greater, has never forgotten it and holds it against me completely.

When I took on the Governorship I did not realise that my decision making power would be shared (and hence diluted) with a collection of shopkeepers. Clearly Fisher and I are in disagreement about the extent of my jurisdiction. He doesn't want me to have one and I'd like to.

Perhaps I could suggest he needs to spend more time with his family so he can produce a few dozen more children.

Colonel Light, bless him, tells me that the survey of the city is all but complete and the town acres will be ready for sale in a matter of days. I must admit that the survey might have been finished rather sooner if it were not for an unfortunate incident involving Mrs Hindmarsh and my daughters.

We had all travelled up to the city site to meet with the Colonel so that he could show us the newest progress in his work. Light and I were in his hut and the women folk went walking while he showed me many impressive sketches, maps and diagrams.

Suddenly we were interrupted by my daughters bursting in to the room followed by my wife. In their arms each carried dozens of carved wooden objects.

"Look at what we found!" they cried as one, and went on to explain that these were strange artefacts, no doubt made by the natives! They found them half buried in the ground and who knew what strange and mysterious significance they might have to the natives in their ancient ways!

With a patient sigh Light explained that they were, in fact, survey pegs that he had carefully positioned and, judging from the number they carried, represented about a fortnight's work. I could do nothing but apologise, but it was clear from his demeanour that he saw my wife and daughters as damned nuisances, an opinion I could hardly disagree with.

In anticipation of the sale many colonists have set up camps near the edges of the site. Curiously they seem to have grouped themselves together according to which ship they arrived in. Those from The Buffalo have settled near the north western corner of the site in "Buffalo Lane", The group that arrived on The Coromandel are a little to the North. Those who came on the Tan O'Shanter have made camp on the western extremity of the site in what is known as "Forbes Camp", after Charles Forbes, a young man who has taken a lead amongst his ship mates.

Their huts are crudely made of sticks and reeds, but are hardly meant to be permanent. The settlers have no thought of order, stylishness or even convenience about them when they set up their huts. If a child threw his nursery blocks upon the ground they might well land in better order than these temporary settlements. And the huts themselves are both crude, dirty and ugly. They seem to be a banner making known the fact that "The Lower Classes Live Here".

With such a concentration of hoi polloi I expect to see an increase in crime presently. Wakefield had us believe that since the colony would be settled by hard working Christians and those of the monied  sort there would be little or no crime to be seen. Moreover, without the contagion of the transported convict our colony could grow as a place for gentlefolk.

 It should be noted that Wakefield was in prison (after a warmth in the breeches and a hole in his purse led him to kidnap and marry a child heiress) when he expressed his views regarding crime and the gentry, so grains of salt all round, I say.

Anyway, Wakefield was a dreamer, having visions of a perfect society (well, that and fifteen year old girls) and didn't need to make the whole thing really work. We might not be importing felons, but whatever Fast Eddy Wakefield says, I have no doubt that within a few short months we will quite be able to produce our own home grown ones.

Accordingly, this week in Council I set in train a Commission to ascertain the feasibility of the construction of a gaol. Whatsisface Kingston, who now, heaven help us, fancies himself as an architect, has offered to look into the matter, so I have no great hopes.

Meanwhile the greater number of settlers still reside at Holdfast Bay near the lagoon. We have learned that the natives refer to the lagoon as something like "Paddy will linger". But not linger too long I imagine, as the place stinks and is the home of avaricious, blood sucking mosquitoes, midges, fleas, rats and lice in great abundance. I admit that the rats, fleas and lice we might well have brought with us, but the smell and the mosquitos are entirely South Australian. It needs to be also said that camping amongst the sandhills might not have been well thought out. The winds, sun and sand have resulted in an almost universal opthalmia. Blindness is prevalent - though not, I hope, permanent - and all who live around the Paddy will linger lagoon complain of soreness and infection of the eyes.

Since the lagoon is so inhospitable the Council, under the influence of Fisher and his hangers-on - and I have seen more presentable hangers-on at the rear ends of sheep - have made two decisions regarding my accommodation. The lagoon is a damned uncomfortable and unhealthy place to live and so it had been decided that I am to live there. And in order to hurry us up from off the boat is has been decided that The Buffalo is to be used as a prison.

So the Marines, having proved incompetent at building Government house are to be set the smaller, easier task of building a temporary hut on the shore of the Lagoon. We have spent all week unloading furniture from the Buffalo and hoping that the Marines will have somewhere for us to put it. And if they do not get it built I know exactly where I will be putting it.

Saturday, 26 October 2013

Sunday, 5th March, 1837

I have received worrying news this past week from Sir Richard Bourke, my fellow Governor in New South Wales, that word has circulated throughout Sydney regarding our colony. As a result there are rumours of convicts planning to escape and make their way here.

This seems to me to be greatly disturbing. The notion that our little colony could be flooded with undesirable and unauthorised new comers is worrying in the extreme. Some, to be sure, might be attempting to escape and seek refuge from the iron fist of Sydney Anglicanism and the repressive military government of the Eastern colony. But I have no doubt that some will simply be coming to cause mischief and further their own beliefs and practices.

I have heard tell that there are cruelly heartless rapscallions in Sydney offering to sell to those people desperate to escape the hell hole that is New South Wales a pair of shoddy walking boots and a hand drawn map before sending them on their way with a guide prepared to smuggle people into our colony. They plan to destroy (or "Lose") any identity papers they might have with them the better to remain anonymous and untraceable here in the new colony.

Who knows then who might make their way here? Radical Unionists; Atheists; Free Thinkers; Benthamites; Frenchmen; Owenists: none of them the sort we want here in South Australia and all of them the sort that would not hesitate to undermine our way of life in order to pursue their own nefarious, liberal ends. It is only a few years since that unfortunate business at Tolpuddle and I am sure we do not need a repeat of that debacle. Nor does the thought of another Peterloo Massacre on the plains of Adelaide fill me with delight. (Though, to be honest, if the Marines charged a mob of radicals the greatest danger would be that the radicals might die laughing!)

So it is clear to me that we must act to protect our Colony from illegal newcomers arriving by walking overland from Sydney. Not merely to protect us from those who wish to overturn us, but also as a kindness to those desperate souls who embark on the dangerous, probably lethal, journey down the Murray to our township.

I have stated in Council that we must "stop the walkers" and I have instructed Stephenson to produce handbills that can be distributed about the colony to that effect.

I am telling the people: "Anyone who has not arrived on our shores by boat must be treated with suspicion."

Perhaps I can raise a force of patrolmen who would move about the plains near the foothills, intercepting and turning back illegal traffic. Perhaps we can make it known that any who arrive here illegally will not be allowed to live in the city, but will be taken and resettled in the less hospitable and accessible locales of Glenelg and the Port.

As a last resort I could instruct Widow Harvey to meet them as they arrive and offer them a hearty meal. I feel sure that one bite and they would turn tail and head back to where they came from.

I have instructed Brown, the Emigration Agent, to plan to build a processing camp outside of the city limits in Light's "Parklands" near the Western boundary of the planned city and here arrivals will be detained until such time as their identity and status is proven.

We must determine for ourselves who arrives on our Colony's Shores. Only "boat people" may be considered safe.

And on a different matter it was pointed out to me in Council this week, by, I believe, Gouger, that the Liquor Licencing Act we passed recently calls for a Licencing fee of  £50 which sum, for the average sort, is rather prohibitive.

To be completely honest I did not really read the thing all that closely before I signed it into law, but I seem to recall that we agreed to a figure of £5 for the Licencing fee.

Is it possible that the draft of the Act was changed without my realising it? Could someone have added a zero to the figure before it was sent off to the printer?

Well yes it damned well is possible and it has the paw marks of Mrs Hindmarsh and her temperance views all over it. She was adamant that the Colony should be untainted by the Demon Drink and I have no doubt that she saw this as a blow against drunkenness. As she sees it, if no-one can afford a licence there will be no licenced premises. And with no licensed premises we will all be drinking "the cup that cheers without inebriating".

Or there will be a legal challenge and Jeffcott will disallow the law, the which is far more likely.

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Sunday, 26th Feb, 1837

What exactly, I cannot help but ask, is the matter with the Captain of the "Tam O'Shanter"? Whiteman Freeman is his name and I am astonished by the man's incompetence.

The ship left England at the same time as we did on the Buffalo, but whereas we took a leisurely, pleasant cruise out here, the "Tam O'Shanter" rushed with unseemly haste and arrived at Kingscote more than a month before we did. Over seventy settlers on board and I doubt any of them had a chance to put their feet up and relax as we did. What is the point, I ask, of being on board a ship if you can't take the time to enjoy it?

The Tam O'Shanter

Be that as it may, after a few days at Kingscote the ship proceeded to Holdfast Bay and then Freeman, using all his navigational skill, tried to enter the Port River and promptly ran aground on a sandbar, the poltroon. Thanks to his stupidity it took four days just to refloat her, followed, once we managed to get her tied up safely, by two months of repairs. So this week he set off again and be buggered if the buggery bollocks didn't run her aground on the same bebuggered sandbar as before.

So now we are faced with refloating her and assessing the damage before repairing her all over again.

Damn and blast Whiteman Freeman to the fires of Hell! How he ever got his Captain's papers and commission I do not know, but I suspect he bought them at a cut rate price. The bastard son of a bastard dunderknoll!

We nearly lost the Marines earlier in the week. (That word "nearly" pains me as I write it.) They set out early in the morning to cut timber for my new residence and by late afternoon had not returned. They had taken sandwiches and a cake made by Widow Harvey, so naturally we feared for their lives. By early evening, when they still had not returned, we took to firing the guns on board the Buffalo in order to help them find their way. Naturally there was talk of them being taken by the natives, although I assured all that if the Natives did take the Marines they would certainly bring them back once they saw what a load of shoddy goods they had stolen.

Finally there was the sound of gun fire on the beach and the Marines appeared.... drunk and with no wood cut, but full of stories of what a grand day they had had. It appears that the highlight was target shooting using Lucrezia's cakes as skeet.

While we had been home worrying ourselves sick they had been off roistering and having a high old time. It is clear they display a level of irresponsibility and foolishness unique in my experience. Perhaps we could give them to the natives.

The building of Government House has made little progress I am sorry to say. The Marines have been the abject failure I predicted and I am no closer to moving off the Buffalo than I was a month ago. They have assured me that they are "making progress with the plans" and have, rather proudly, shown me their architectural drawing for Government House. I attach it here without comment.

The Marine's Final plan for Government House
The colony has had to avail itself of the stores on board the Buffalo due to a shortfall in supplies of food. One thousand pounds of flour, five hundred and sixty pound of sugar and two chests of tea have been transferred from ship to shore. The tea was of good quality and the sugar only a little adulterated with sand, but the flour, I am afraid to say, was through and through infested by weevils. Still, the oven kills them, they add flavour and as a source of fresh meat they make a change from possum and parrot.

I am in two minds about the arrangement. In my position as Governor of the colony I am disappointed at the high cost that we were forced to pay for these supplies. The Provisioner  of  the Buffalo drove a hard bargain, knowing that we had no choice but to pay him his extortionate rates. However, in my position as Provisioner of the Buffalo I am glad to say I scored a handsome profit and of the portion of the Colony funds still residing under my bed a goodly wad of it has moved to under my mattress.

Fortunately by having less provisions on board there is less opportunity for Widow Borgia to carry out her dreadful trade. "Derbyshire Dumplings" and "Cheshire Puftaloons" have crossed our plates this week and our lives are, no doubt, richer for the experience. We survived and are stronger for it.

Friday, 11 October 2013

Sunday, 19 February 1837

Currently lying at anchor in the Port River, but soon to depart for Sydney is "The Isabella" which arrived 10 days ago with passengers and livestock.

The livestock seemed an odd mix to me - eight hundred sheep and seven head of cattle. You might have thought they could have made the cattle numbers up to a decent number. Seven seems hardly worth the trouble. And eight hundred sheep. Man alive! Where are we going to put them? We barely have fences enough erected for two donkeys and six pigs.

Fisher had the bright idea of getting the marines to build the fencing for them. Oh well thought! - let's delay building the Governor's residence so the sheep are happy!

Amongst the passengers was Sir John Jeffcott who is to be our Judge here in the Colony. A good thing he spent the voyage from Launceston surrounded by eight hundred sheep. It will be good practice for dealing with some of the people we have living here.

I had occasion this week to inspect the first horses to arrive in the colony. They arrived on board "The Africaine" from Hobart Town. A decidedly dubious group of nags that some knackers yard in Hobart was, I don't doubt, glad to see the back of. That didn't stop Mrs Hindmarsh setting her heart on having one immediately. "It would be so elegant and so fitting for the Vice Regal couple to be driving in a trap pulled by a fine bay chestnut, rather than riding about on those nasty donkeys," she said.

As I recall "those nasty donkeys" are the same "dear little donkeys" she couldn't do without in Rio de Janeiro.

I pointed out three flaws in her argument. (1) They are not "fine bay chestnuts". They are broken winded, sway backed things probably good for nothing but dog's meat. (2) We have no trap for one to pull. (3) We have no road to pull a trap on.

I also thought, but kept silent, that if we did bring home a horse , Borgia Harvey would try and cook it. Probably pass it off as Royal Ascot Delights.

Speaking of Lucrezia, I asked her to simply poach me an egg, thinking that here was something she could not make a mess of. I was looking forward to cutting open the white and mopping up the gooey runny yellow with some bread. What arrived was inedible, but I could at least amuse myself by throwing it at the wall of my cabin and watching it bounce back onto my plate. This I did for about half an hour, before Lucrezia herself stuck her head round the door and bellowed "How are yous gettin' on wiv that egg?" at which interruption I dropped the thing on the floor. One of the dogs pounced on it and swallowed it in one gulp. He has been costive for two days since, I suspect unable to pass the solid mass of the poached egg.

I need to appoint a person to fill the position of Protector of the Aborigines. I needs must say that, from reports I have read, the natives living in the area chosen for the colony are far superior to those living in the other settled parts of New Holland. Their friendly dispositions, honesty and inoffensive conduct have fairly put to rest any fears we may have felt for our safety before our arrival.

The official policy that I have been instructed to enact is that we are to bring to the natives the benefits of English culture and to bring them within the pale of Christian civilization. As Governor of the colony I shall of course do my duty and work to effect this. But within these private pages let me record that I have some doubts.

I look at these friendly, honest and inoffensive natives and then look at our own little community; full of petty jealousy and squabbles, drunkenness and meanness of spirit and I cannot but wonder: if the natives and ourselves were placed in the balance which would be found the more worthy?

Are we really inviting these people, whose wants seem few and who seem to me to have a touch of simple dignity about them, to come and join us so that they can be like Stephens, Fisher, Kingston and Gilles? I am unconvinced.

I suspect I am the only one in  the colony who sees how poorly it reflects on us when we engage in appointing a Protector of the Aborigines when the only thing they seem to need protecting from is ourselves.

Still, the one man in the colony who probably does offer an example for the natives to follow is dear old Walter Bromley. Just about the kindest man who ever wore shoe leather, he has spent the last six months or so trying to establish a school for the children at Kingscote. Since I am not exactly being knocked over in  the rush of people applying for the position I have offered it to Walter. He tells me he is not a well man, but I believe his heart is in the right place. If any man in the colony can establish a rapport with the natives it is Captain Bromley. Whether he is strong willed enough to protect them from the rest of us remains to be seen.

The one thing I would note about the natives is their extra-ordinary ability to set fire to things. Every time you turn around there is some native chappy setting a bush or a shrub or a sapling ablaze. It is a complete mania with them.

This had amusing results about a week ago when a ship, the "John Renwick" arrived at Holdfast Bay with 140 new colonists aboard. The natives, for reasons best known to themselves, had decided to set the hills behind Adelaide on fire. Flames leapt across the hills face until it looked like a wall of fire and the poor passengers on board ship took it as a signal for the terrible native hoards to gather and rush down in waves to drive us poor Englishmen back into the sea.

Hence the settlers refused to leave the ship and sat up all night, shivering on deck, shivering in fear at the thought of the impending massacre. Eventually I had to send a message across to the Captain from the Buffalo telling them that they were all silly sods and to shift their arses or they would have me to deal with and I would give them something to be going on with.

Silly buggers. But amusing none the less.

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Sunday,12 February 1837

By God I am getting heartedly sick of being stuck on board this boat. Yes, I am a navy man through and through and have been serving in His Majesty's Navy since I was a lad, but the facts of the matter are that the sooner I see the back of the Buffalo and get my feet permanently on solid ground the happier I will be.

With that in view I have set in train the steps to seeing a Vice-Regal residence built so that my family and I can have a god damned address!

This week I traveled up to the Torrens to speak with Colonel Light regarding a suitable spot for the house. With him and with his advice we found a place on the Northern Terrace of the city between the road and the river that seems more than suitable. Light has marked it down in his notes as reserved for my use.

The building will, by dint of necessity, be of earth and timber construction, I expect with a thatched roof, though timber slabs may be possible depending on availability of materials. Of course, a more substantial residency in dressed stone would be my ideal, but just at present such might be a step too far.

However, let me face the real difficulty here. And that is, the only people available to me to call on to erect this new home are - God help me - the marines.

The thought of that troop of drunken, foul mouthed, argumentative layabouts building my new abode chills me to the bone. Why, a troop of baboons would have more chance of building a ship of the line than the Marines do of building a house, though in the Marine's  defense it must be said that the baboons would have the advantage of being sober. Still, I have no alternative and so must give them their orders. "Build me a house, or livable facsimile of one. And hurry, because the Buffalo is needed in Sydney."

Lucrezia Harvey lived down to our expectations this week by presenting us with Hertfordshire Fricassee. "You make it with left overs," she told us. Given the quantity of leftovers she must have in that galley, since no-one can stomach an entire portion of her meals, she must have been spoilt for choice. But it would appear that she has not learnt the lesson that mixing and frying inedible slop simply creates crispy inedible slop, not an actual meal.

I am saddened, annoyed and more than a little astonished to report that Mrs Hindmarsh's efforts to mobilise the wives of the Colony in stirring up trouble have been effective enough to warrant a public meeting to settle the question of the site of the capital once and for all. And, of course, word has got around that this is all my doing and it is me that wants the move to Boston Bay or the mouth of the river on the south coast when, in fact, I am perfectly content with Light's choice and it is my wife who is causing the kerfuffle. No doubt it suits her to have it believed that I am the cause.

When I was with Light earlier in the week speaking with him about the site of Government House we took the opportunity to cook up a plan between us that will, we think, settle the matter. I am going to "demand"  that something be done about the Port, this being one of the chief objections to the current site, and Light will, "grudgingly" offer to put aside the survey of the capital in order to spend a week or so surveying a number of acres by the port river, thus enabling work to begin on the development of a port facility. Since he was planning on doing this anyway the inconvenience to him will be negligible, but the effect of this will, of course be that an angry Governor has been mollified by a Surveyor ready to compromise.

As icing on the cake we have also decided that Light will put forward the notion of a canal from the port river to the Torrens River, following the line of the road up to where the Colonel intends the cattle yards to be, on the corner of the Northern and Western boundaries Adelaide South.

Those people, such as, it seems, myself, who maintain that the port is too far from the city will be silenced at a blow. And I will be able to assure Mrs Hindmarsh that I did all I could in her interests.

Of course the canal scheme is complete fantasy and Light and I had trouble containing our derision at the idea of the worthies of Adelaide taking it hook line and sinker.

For one thing the cost of such a canal would be entirely prohibitive, unless we get Osmond Gilles drunk again.

But what caused the Colonel and I the greatest smirking and helpless giggling is the idea of the worthies of Adelaide attempting to build such a thing. Only the other day Fisher told me that he found it difficult to get servants to dig his vegetable garden. If Nero with all the resource of the Roman Empire couldn't manage to build a canal across the Corinthian Isthmus, it is unimaginable that this lot, who can't plant out a few turnips, could dig a navigable waterway twice as long. And when I suggested that we might set the Marines to work on it poor Light was helpless with mirth.

I have decided not to attend the meeting, but have written a letter which will, I think, add credence to Light's and my plan. The outraged Governor, the poor set upon Surveyor. I suppose it will look bad for me, but if I do not play my part in this farce Mrs Hindmarsh may learn that I disagree with her and am working against her and a little loss of  prestige is as nothing compared to the consequences of that disaster.

Saturday, 5 October 2013

Sunday, 5th February 1837

Dear me, the Reverend Charles Howard has been in a tizzy this week.

Now I believe I made it clear enough at the time as to my opinion regarding a state sponsored religion in the new colony. To have an official Colonial Chaplain appointed as a part of the Governing Council of the Colony seems to strike at the idea Gibbon Wakefield (the old ravisher) had of Church and State being separate.

Although I am not a dissenter myself,  I have little time for the God bothering enthusiasm of the pious and good. Go to church of a Sunday to keep in touch, both with your fellows and with Heaven, then put your head down and shift for your self for the next six days would be my creed in a nutshell.

Charlie Howard, of course, is a different kettle of fish all together.  He oozes piety and expects others to ooze with him. He seems genuinely excited by that which might bore rigid the less pious. So naturally he has been frothing to the point of ecstasy this week at the unloading of his church building from the ship.

As a gesture of godliness, a group of London worthies dedicated to the triumph of the Gospel spent a small fortune in delivering to the Colony a wooden church building that has been knocked down into its component parts, the idea being that it be re-assembled on a town acre quickly in order to allow the godly of the colony to continue their worship with as little interruption as possible.

The problem with London worthies, of course is that while they might have their eyes and hearts on heaven their eyes and hearts are most certainly not on practical matters. Hence they spent all their money on getting a disassembled church to the colony, but did not put aside funds to get the thing reassembled when it got here. Which leaves Charlie with the task of going cap in hand around the traps cadging money from anyone he can touch for a few shekels.

I gave him five pounds and sent him on his way. Five pounds might seem a lot, but when you are Governor you need to keep up form.

London worthies have also bollocksed us all in regard to food. It seems the Commissioners (God rot them) were of the view that within a few weeks of landing in Holdfast Bay we would all be cheerfully gardening and growing our own fresh fruit and vegetables and living off the fat of the land.

Of course the pratical result ("practical" - a word the commissioners are clearly unacquainted with) is that we are running out of food.

I have given an order for the Rapid to set sail for Sydney to purchase our much needed supplies. Such supplies need to be paid for, naturally, and in order to do so I have issued a letter of credit drawing on bills of 5000 pounds from the British Treasury.

Strictly speaking I am not entitled to do so without the Authority of the Commissioners being granted, but by the time I send back to England asking permission and get a reply it will be eight months - longer if they decide to discuss it - and we'll all be starved to death!

 I am certain the decision will come back to haunt me, if not bite me on the arse, but what other choice do I have?

Mrs Hindmarsh and her coven have been at work once again. The question of the site  for the capital, which I thought quite settled, has raised its ugly head again. I thought it had been agreed by all that the site on the River Torrens was the best available and we would proceed on that plan. Certainly Light, who has been surveying like the devil himself, is working as if the thing is done and dusted.

But I am hearing talk of Boston Bay and the Murray Mouth, both of them being Mrs Hindmarsh's preferred options and I fear she is using her influence to stir up trouble,

Certainly she is attempting to influence me, quite improperly, over a matter in Council. Before the Council this week has been a Licencing Bill to regulate the selling of Spirits, Beer and Wines in the Colony.

My wife is firmly of the opinion that intoxicating beverages are a work of purest evil. She has a speech I have heard many, many times; so many that I can quote it from memory.

"Intoxicating liquor is injurious to health, deleterious to industry and incompatible with morality.It weakens the will and destroys the flesh. It hastens death and ensures an afterlife in hell. Those who indulge in incontinence lower themselves to the level of the beasts, corrupting God's image that is the birthright of men."

Where she got all this I do not know. Probably from some tract or other. I believe that she just dislikes seeing people enjoy themselves. "Dost thou think, because thou art virtuous, there shall be no more cakes and ale?"

She has been known to declare that "Lips that touch wine shall ne'er touch mine!" a declaration that has caused much relief to wine drinkers everywhere. Indeed, some have asked for it in writing.

I did point out that part of the purpose of the bill is to control drunkenness. For Mrs Hindmarsh the only way to control it is to not allow it to happen in the first place.

The result is that she wants me to cause the bill to be rewritten so that the Colony becomes entirely a temperance community.

Well of course it is nonsense - imagine the Marines sober for one thing - but I have promised to do something about it.

Of course I shall do nothing, bur she is not to know that. Besides, I like a tipple.

What I do not like is Widow Harvey's cooking.

She continues to weave her culinary magic, rather like a kitchen based weird sister.

The low point this week was something she called "Devonshire Hot Pot with a twist". The twist, it seems, was that she had been unable to procure a suitable cut of beef and so she had made it with possum. I was pulling fur from between my teeth for three days after.

Thursday, 19 September 2013

A report onto the recent appearance of a party of natives in the Holdfast Bay camp. 29th January 1837

Great was the excitement this week when a group of natives - most as naked as the day they were born - appeared amongst the tents and huts at Holdfast Bay.

I have spoken with the settlers involved and have prepared this written report describing how this came about.

The incident began some days earlier when it was discovered that the horses had disappeared. There being only two horses in the colony at present - one belonging to the Company and one belonging to old Swankpot Morphett - it was of a fairly pressing urgency that they be recovered. All and sundry were kept busy running about the plains with lumps of sugar in the hopes of bringing back the nags, the which provided great and diverting entertainment, but little result..

A search party decided to head South, the horses having been seen heading in that direction. The party consisted of: Charlie Stuart (who revels in the company title of "Overseer of Stock" and is hence in charge of some sheep, some pigs and innumerable chickens) ; Henry Alford; and a sealer named "Nat" as a guide. He had, he claimed, been through the area. They were joined by Freddy Allen, who wished to collect plants for his gardening ventures. A strange idea it seems to me, but to each his own.

They took with them some rations and two bottles of water each. Of course, the day was hot and before too long they had emptied the bottles and had nothing left to drink. They struggled on manfully up and over the line of hills to the South. 

Late in the afternoon they reached a line of sandhills which Nat, who had been of no use at all so far, suddenly recognised. "Just over these sandhills there is a river mouth with native springs." he said.

He was, as it happens, quite correct. In fact the party may have wished that he wasn't, because not only were there native springs, but also a native camp and a considerable number of natives of all ages and sexes.

Before the party could scarper the natives spotted them and a group - men, women and children - ran towards them with much noise and shouting. Several men with spears gave a great yell and came to the front of the group.

Stuart says he was unsure whether the natives were threatening or welcoming. Alford says he was glad he was wearing brown trousers. Nat the sealer offered the advice that on the full moon the natives came to the river mouth to fish, advice which the others felt he could, perhaps, have offered about fifteen minutes earlier.

The natives approached and Allen, who can be, to tell the truth, a bit of a pompous arse, kept gibbering on about "being prepared to die like men". I think he was wishing that he could be at home, potting up some seedlings. One who the men took to be the leader began to address them in what seemed like a friendly and interested manner. 

Allen, like the arse he is, stepped up and began to address the natives on the aims and principles of the colony and begged their forgiveness for trespassing on native land.

The thing Allen had forgotten was that the natives had no idea what he was saying and when he realised this he just started again, only louder, in the common, but foolish delusion that volume and comprehension are interchangeable.

Allen was just sailing into a description of the life and times of Gibbon Wakefield when the native leader clearly came to a decision. He might not have understood what Allen was saying , but he certainly understood that he could be ignored, because he pushed past him and stepped up to Stuart. The native removed Stuart's hat and ran his fingers through his hair, opened his shirt to inspect his pale skin, felt the fabric of his jacket and trousers and lifted up his foot to examine his boot.

He then turned to the others and gave them a similar inspection. Alford was, apparently, too terrified to object or even move as the native leader gave him the once over, but Allen, like a fool, was most offended and let it be known that he “was not used to such undignified treatment and the native's interference with his person was not to be tolerated”. Imbecile!

The party had taken a hunting dog with them and the natives showed a great fear of him as he growled and barked at them. Alford had the good sense to chain the dog to a nearby tree and the natives were all smiles again.

Then they discovered the salt pork within the party's bags and were much taken with the pork belly fat which they ate with great delight.

Nat the sealer then said to the natives “Cow – ee” which was, he assured the others, the native word for “water” - but the natives seemingly ignored him in preference to demanding - by signs – to see the fowling-piece Stuart had brought with him.

Stuart fired the gun into the air, which impressed the natives greatly, but did not offer to reload before the natives tried to fire it. When the gun produced no second great flash and noise the natives dropped the gun onto the sand in disgust and, repeating the word “Cow-ee” motioned the party to follow them. Allen, of course, started blathering about how they were being led to their doom, and how the natives would slit their throats at the first opportunity, but in fact the natives simply took them to the nearby springs in the sandhills where the thirsty men drank their fill.

The men made camp at the springs, building themselves a crude shelter from boughs, and settled down for their dinner. Before much time had passed they had lit a fire and boiled water for tea when an old native woman arrived bearing a sheet of bark loaded with cooked fish which the men fell upon hungrily. Even then the fool Allen decided that the natives were cannibals and were fattening them up ready for a meal, like the wicked witch in a fairy tale

To add to his terrors, just as the men settled down to sleep there was a great cry from the direction of the native camp and a great flare of firelight glowed. Allen knew his time had come and that he was next on the menu when a group of native men appeared in the midst of their camp. Expecting each moment to be his last the damned fool cowered in the shadows until the others realised what the natives wanted. They were there to offer them an invitation to join in with the natives fire and celebration.

They found themselves fed, watered, entertained with dances and made a fuss over by the women and the children. Even their dog seemed content and curled up and went to sleep.

The next morning Stuart woke before the others and took time to survey the lay of the land near their camp. He saw a fine river winding back towards the hills through marshy meadows. The water was covered with a multitude of black swans and ducks and it was the work of moments for Stuart to unchain his dog and take his fowling piece down to hunt. He had already shot one bird and the dog was retrieving it when he was suddenly joined by two native men armed with throwing sticks and before long they had joined in a scene that would not be out of place on any fishing river in England – three men hunting together, and sharing their time in pleasantries. Stuart demonstrated how he hunted with gun and dog and the natives showed Stuart the art of the throwing stick. Stuart tried his hand and his complete lack of skill was the source of great hilarity for the two native. The natives also invented a sport of trying to beat the dog to any duck that Stuart shot and fell about themselves with laughter each time they failed.

As pleasant as the time was, Stuart and his new friends made their way back to the native camp where Stuart distributed the ducks, giving the native leader and the old woman who brought them the fish the best of them.

When he returned to his own camp Allen, that most nervous of Nellys, was beside himself. The men had awoken and found him gone and immediately Allen feared the worst. And so while Stuart was having a delightful early morning of duck hunting, Allen and Alford, the silly sods, were hiding in their tent waiting for the King of the Cannibals to pop in and see which of them was on the menu for lunch.

Their mood was hardly improved by Stuart's laughter at the foolishness of it all, nor by his description of the delightful time that he did have. Even after a good breakfast their were still some hot tempers in the camp.

Nat the sealer at this point suggested that they have a swim to cool themselves and their tempers and all thought this advisable. And so they stripped themselves of clothes and dived into the river. Almost immediately they were joined by a group of native children and young men and after a pleasant hour romping and splashing in the cool water all ill feeling was forgotten.

As they were dressing on the river bank (an activity that caused much astonishment amongst the natives, whose custom it was to wear a minimum of accoutrements and count their nakedness to be “just the style”) Alford noticed the track of a horse hoof in the mud. On seeing it one of the native boy went down on all fours and gave a perfect impersonation of a galloping horse.

There was much excited chatter amongst the natives and then they signed to the men to follow them. The group of natives led them over to a spot by the river where tracks showed that the horses had been there two or three days. The natives signalled that the horses had moved on and Stuart decided that it was pointless to try and follow them further a decision which, to me, seems to make a complete dog's breakfast of the entire affair.

What was the point of traipsing over the hills and far away to find these damned horses if at the first sign of them you decide that it's all a bit hard and you'd rather go home? Damned silliness it seems to me.

That being so the men headed back to camp and the next morning struck out for home Many of the natives accompanied them as they went. Observing Allen's interest in plants, several of the natives collected and gave him interesting specimens.

When they reached the top of the hills overlooking the plain, in the distance the natives spotted, for the first time it seems, the ships moored at Holdfast Bay. There was much excitement amongst the natives and a group of men went with Stuart's party, the rest lagging behind, clearly unsure of what might happen.

After a time they reached the tents on the Paddy Will Linger where I met them and greeted them. It being warm weather the native men were wearing nothing but a belt of string made from some twisted jute or fur that they used to hold a throwing stick. For the sake of modesty they had an arrangement not unlike a Scotch sporran, also made from string, hanging in front. This covered to some extent the more delicate areas, although, as my sister Anne remarked, you didn't have to try too hard to see past it.

I ordered some to fetch Gilbert and have him draw some trousers and shirts from store and give them to the natives and the Marines took them in hand to make them fit for society. I wonder if I was the only one who appreciated the irony of the Marines, who are mostly unfit for society, giving lessons in etiquette?

I offered our guests a meal, of which salt pork, along with some sugar, was again their favourite. The Marines offered them tobacco, which they declined, and rum, which the Marines also proffered, was rejected firmly.

It being clear that the trousers and the shirts were not to their liking, I ordered that these be exchanged for blankets and they soon returned to their naked state, with their modesty preserved by swathes of Navy Blue wool.

What thoughts were going through the natives' heads I could not say, but they took everything in their stride, in a calm and dignified manner, almost like the Stoics of old. The only time they seemed to become excited and even mystified was when they saw a young girl carrying a doll made of papier mache. The sight of a small child carrying an even smaller person left them completely flummoxed and who knows what stories they told of it as they headed home?

It seems to me that the natives come out of this pretty damned well. Unannounced, a party of strangers arrive in their midst and the natives, acting like perfect, if under dressed, gentlemen, feed them, entertain them and act as perfect hosts. Stuart is to be commended at his efforts to mix with the natives and his delightful hunting expedition with them is a model for the future.

Allen and Alford, with their talk of cannibals and fearful expectations of doom are a pair of ninnies with not a pinch of good sense between them and deserve sound, firm kicks in the arse. And if they present at Government House between the hours of nine and three I will be delighted to deliver said kicks in arse and will wear my dress boots so they can have them is the proper Vice-Regal manner.