Tuesday, 29 March 2016

Sunday, 20th August, 1837

That tribune of the people, the Gaius Gracchus of Adelaide; that saint who walks amongst men; that moral paragon whose good deeds shine out in a naughty world - I speak of James Hurtle Fisher, Resident Commissioner of the South Australian Company - has once more had his rectitude upheld.

A public meeting was held a week or so ago where the friends and supporters of Fiddlefingers Fisher all pottered along to prove their friendship by supporting him. All present expressed their outrage that a man of the unsullied reputation of Fisher might be insulted and benighted by the outrageous suggestion that he explain his actions to the populace he serves.

Fortunately Fisher's friends and supporters were able to prove to the satisfaction of Fisher's friends and supporters that he was as white as the driven snow and purified with hyssop. He had toiled unceasingly for the good of the Colony and its Colonists and it was merest co-incidence that money had come his way. At one point, I hear, someone offered to table the Company books to prove the poor man innocent, but such faith did the assembled throng of friends and supporters have in the saintly Mr Fisher that they held up their hands in  horror and scorned the suggestion. "We would not hear of such a thing! Tempt us not with the suggestion that we need anything so gauche as PROOF! Do we need to place our hand in his side and our finger in his hole? We believe!"

And so, of course the half man half rabbit comes out of it all without stain on his escutcheon and will go his merry way. And in the meantime, without surprise, somehow it seems to have been sheeted home to yours truly. 

It seems that the friends, supporters and apostles of Saint James have decided that the South Australian Gazette is to blame for impugning the reputation of the dear man. And of course, they feel that the South Australian Gazette too closely follows my opinions and whims. So clearly it follows as night does day that the Gazette's attack on St James must have started at my desk.

As if I would say a word in public against the hideous blot on the colony; the whited sepulchre; the carbuncle on the colony's arse; the foul little gibbering marmoset! Not a word have I uttered!

So now the friends and supporters of Mr Fisher have decided that they will start their own journal of news and opinion. And the Colony, a place that barely produces enough gossip to fill one edition a month of one broadsheet will find itself with two; one to present the views of St James the half rabbit and the other to present, it seems, mine.

What piffle the lot of it is!

I must record my eternal admiration of my Sister Anne. She is acting almost as a missionary to the people of the colony, helping those who are down and out. I have had many young men of the working class speak to me of the comfort that the touch of my sister's hand has brought them.

Her most recent project is the Marines who, God knows, are about as down and out as it is possible to be. And certainly they need as much help as they could possibly receive.

My sister, bless her, has spent long hours at the Marines camp, providing them with what succour she can. A pot of tea here, a button sewn on there, a kind word and a smile: these are, it seems, what my dear sister provides to those young men and how much they must appreciate it!

I note with shock and horror that Mr Lee and his Coffee Pavilion are stocked with cakes and fancy buns baked by Mrs Whittle. MRS WHITTLE!!! Who used to be Mary-Jane Murray, that paragon of the cooking skillet who used to cook my breakfast until Mrs Hindmarsh lumbered me with Lucrezia, the Mad Poisoner. I purchased a sticky bun there and silently wept as I ate it. 

Then went home and found that the Widow Harvey had prepared something called Northumberland Hasty Fritters. Well I certainly wouldn't be in any haste to go to Northumberland if those God awful fritters were anything to go by,

Sunday, 27 March 2016


Editor's note: The following newspaper cutting was inserted between the pages of the Governor's diary.


In taking upon you the office of ad interim Protector of the Aborigines, to which office you have been appointed. His Excellency the Governor desires to acquaint you with his views of the course which he wishes should be adopted towards the Aborigines of this Province, with a view to their peaceful residence among us, and their instruction in the arts of civilized life. 

The leading principles which should guide you are alone prescribed in this paper, the details you will find are not filled up, and they have purposely been left untouched, in order that you might follow those plans, which may seem most desirable to yourself, for the accomplishment of the proposed ends.

The objects to the attainment of which His Excellency is desirous your attention should be devoted, are:—

 1st. To ascertain the number, strength, and disposition of the different tribes, more especially of those in the vicinity of the settled districts.
 2nd. To protect them in the undisturbed enjoyment of their proprietary rights to such lands as may be occupied by them in any especial manner. 
3rd. To encourage as much as possible the friendly disposition towards the emigrants which at present exist.  
4th. To induce them to labour, either for them-selves or the settlers.  
5th. To lead them by degrees to the advantages of civilization and religion. 

With a view to the attainment of the first of these objects, and to faciliate intercourse between yourself and the Aborigines generally, you are authorised to engage an interpreter, who will take instructions solely from yourself, and whose whole time will he considered at your disposal. By sending or accompanying him into the interior, you will be able to ascertain the strength and disposition of each tribe in the vicinity, a point of great importance, not only with regard to the safety of the parties engaged in the country surveys, but also to those settlers whose business may compel them to reside in the interior. 

You are recommended to endeavour to attach one or two of the most docile and intelligent of the natives particularly to your person, who should habitually accompany you in your excursions. If, on becoming acquainted with the habits and customs of the Aborigines you should find that in any part of the country they are in the practice of making use of land for cultivation of any kind, or if they have a fixed residence on any particular spot, or if they should be found to appropriate any piece of land to funereal purposes, you are required to report such fact to the Colonial Government without loss of time, in order that means may be taken to prevent its being included in the survey for sale. 

It is essentially necessary that the natives should be convinced that on all occasions they will meet with full and impartial justice. Your interpreter will explain to them that the laws protecting the whites extend also to them, and he should make it his business to assist you, who are appointed to be their guardian, in preventing any aggression or outrage being committed by the settlers upon their persons, property, or rights, and when committed, in bringing the perpetrators to justice. 

His Excellency considers it a general rule, the observance of which is most important, that no gifts of any description should be made. Particular circumstances may render occasional deviations necessary, and in cases of extreme hunger, illness, during infancy, or in old age, it may be your duty to see that they are furnished with food and clothing. But experience has shown, that for a trifling recompense they will perform works not requiring skill, and their docility and willingness have been found in many instances, useful to the Colonists. You will best encourage this disposition by refusing supplies of any kinds, excepting for some labour performed, and you will encourage the settlers in engaging and employing the natives, taking into account instances that intoxicating liquors are most strictly prohibited from being given to them, and that the performance of every contract be duly regarded. 

To reclaim the Aborigines of South Australia from an erratic to a settled life, to raise them from their low scale of human existence to a state combining the advantages of civilization and religion, can only be effected by steady perseverance in a conciliatory and judicious line of conduct. 

With a view to attract them, you will find it expedient to enclose a piece of land in a convenient position, and to provide there shelter and food for such as choose to apply to you for admittance, and who are willing to work. Perfect liberty of ingress and egress should be allowed the natives, but it will be a matter of consideration for yourself, whether or not the same liberty should be ex-tended to the settlers generally. In this location you will carry on gardening, the preparation of wood for building purposes, and perhaps some other works, the object of which will chiefly be, by exciting in their minds interest in your proceedings, to induce them to assist in these operations. But you will not compel any to perform even the slightest labour. By way of stimulating them, you may probably find it desirable to distinguish by badges any who are particularly well behaved and industrious, and in all cases it will be your design to encourage by rewards, rather than repress by fear. 

No time should be lost in acquiring a knowledge of their native tongue, and it appears also desirable that the Aborigines, and especially their youth, should learn the English language. By communicating with them in their own tongue, and by giving them a knowledge of our language, you will readily enable them to appreciate our modes and habits, our moral and political laws, and our intentions towards themselves. His Excellency does not point out to you any plan for accomplishing this important object; he is rather desirous of leaving you to follow your own course respecting it, but he wishes yon to consider it an end he is desirous should be speedily obtained. 

His Excellency further requires from you a monthly report of your mode of treatment of the Aborigines, and the results of its application. 

By His Excellency's command, 
Colonial Secretary.   
Colonial Secretary's Office. 12th August, 1837. 

Sunday, 13th August, 1837

Miss Gandy's suggestion regarding the giving of land to the natives has gone exactly where I suspected it would. Which is to say: "no-where". It seems that the idea of giving a large tract of land to the natives - and by "giving" you may be assured that I mean "not taking" - is not to the taste of the Council.

Instead they have decided to leave a few acres of land by the Torrens and designate it as "The Native Area". Here they may congregate and do what they please so long as they stay out of sight and out of mind. And you may be also assured that in choosing The Native Area the Council made damned sure that the land would be of no possible use to anyone else. Well, anyone on the Council at least.

I cannot help but feel that for the Natives, who have roamed these plains for longer than even they seem to know, setting fire to it willy nilly and hunting the wild beasts without encumbrance, to be suddenly told that, out of the goodness of our hearts and the generousity of our spirits, we have seen fit to set aside a patch of land the size of a cricket pitch that no-one else wants - unless of course someone forms a cricket club -and that they can have it for their very selves does not reflect well on us. 

Of course the Council has adopted as a motto in native affairs the maxim "Fair exchange is no robbery" and state that whilst the natives may have lost some land they will, in exchange, receive the benefits of British Culture and Law and, as a bonus, have their everlasting souls brought into the tender care of our English Church.

And not for the first time I look about the Council at the specimens of British Culture there assembled and feel that the Natives are getting the worst of it. And the thought of handing anyone into the soporific mercies of the Rev. Howard fills me with horror.

No, the natives are getting the rough end of the pine-apple and no mistake. And sad to say, even though I am charged by the King himself to do nothing that might affect the rights of the Natives to the actual occupation of any Lands therein now actually occupied or enjoyed by such Natives, (you see, I have the words by heart) the sad fact is that the King is in London and the Council is in the room next door. And so I believe it will turn out that the natives will indeed get the rough end of the pine-apple and, what's more, be expected to smile, bend over and say "thank you" whilst it is being inserted.

The real difficulty lies in the mysteries of the ways of the natives. When Cook or Bligh (par exemplum) arrived in Tonga they found farms and villages and priests and Kings and even warships like their own. The place was like England with coconuts. As a result old Cook knew who to deal with, where to go and what to say.

But the natives we are dealing with are quite otherwise. They want nothing, since everything they need is all around in abundance, we have found no farms, no buildings, no priests, no... well, in truth... no anything! And I, apparently, am required to treat with them, deal fairly with them, compensate them and if anyone can tell me how the hell I am meant to do such then I will sit at their feet and partake of their wisdom.

Last week the weather was wet and cold and I saw a native woman dressed in a fur cloak that would, in the fashionable stores in London, sell for many pounds. When people such as these can be supplied by the countryside with items that would be the envy of the wealthiest in England how am I meant to deal with them? Offer them money? 

I have had that performing monkey Hack in here complaining of the natives. He had built a fence on his North Terrace house out of sticks and branches in rustic manner, when a group of native men who had speared a kangaroo came up from the river. Having no knowledge of what a fence might be they simply saw that someone had kindly collected some wood and used a portion of it to build a fire so that they might cook their dinner.

Hack of course is beside himself about the "wanton vandalism"  of the natives tearing down his fence. I pointed out that the natives did offer him a share of the kangaroo meat and that "Fair exchange is no robbery", but he seemed unconvinced. And besides, surely the one thing we have an abundance of in this colony and enough of to share around is sticks.

But there lies the problem. Since the natives have an abundance laying all around them then everything is free for everyone.And the Council is made up of men of business who can't look at a thing without asking the price.
A month or two ago I appointed poor, dear Walter Bromley as "Protector of Aborigines". As kind a man as ever trod the Earth, Bromley's health has meant that he has tendered his resignation from the position. But I have found a useful successor in William Wyatt, a ship's surgeon, a man of some good sense and a dab hand with a bone saw, it being said of him that he can have your leg off so fast you barely realise until you fall over.

I have written to him publicly with instructions, but have also had a private conversation with him in which I made it clear that the Aborigines only need protecting because we have arrived. In effect, he is being employed by us to protect them from us..As clear a sign as is possible that even we don't think we can be trusted.

I suffered an accident this week as a result of Mrs Hindmarsh's "dear little donkeys" - dear little donkeys that may well find themselves being served up as dog food before too long.

I was riding one through the town on Friday - and I am well aware that the sight of me bumping along on a donkey like a village yokel ill becomes the Vice Regal office - and had got up a  bit of speed, when suddenly the donkey saw a blade of grass or a twig that gave it offence and stopped dead in its tracks. I, naturally, did not stop and went arse over tit right over the beast's head, landing heavily on my left arm.

I do not know if I have jarred it or broken something or sprained something, but it is as sore as the devil and I have difficulty raising my arm to any degree.

Mrs Hindmarsh - perhaps out of guilt at the fact that it is her damned donkey that brought me to this pass - has shown great concern and has been trying to get me to see the Colonial Surgeon. But the thought of seeing Tom Cotter, who will, no doubt, try and treat my arm by giving me senna syrup and telling me to "Move your bowels" does not fill me with confidence. I think that I might just strap it and wait for time to heal all wounds.

With my bad eye and now my injured arm Mrs Hindmarsh has taken to calling me "her little Horatio Nelson". She shows signs of becoming flirty, which only adds to my distress.  

It has come to my attention that Robert Lee has established a "wine and coffee pavilion" in Currie Street. And although that may sound like the pleasure gardens of Vauxhall have come to the colony, in truth the "pavilion" is a wooden hut with a dirt floor, the wine tastes like vinegar and the coffee could double as tar. The place also offers breakfasts and dinners. I have not chanced my arm with these. Whilst they cannot possibly be worse than what I am served at home, I'm not certain that they will be much better.

Still, the place has become popular with the young and it seems that lolling about, sipping strong coffee and nibbling on biscuits whilst discussing politics and society is the thing to do. A passing fad I am sure.

Tuesday, 15 March 2016

A Letter to Colonel William Light, Surveyor General of the Colony of South Australia.

(Editor's note: The following letter, transcribed here from M. P. Mayo's "Life and Letters of William Light" was sent by the Governor to the Surveyor General in response to Light's letter complaining of what was reported to him by Stephens.)

Adelaide, 30th August 1837

Your letter to me begins Sir. I cannot follow your example and however you may behave to me I not only remember (as do you) that we were friends, and that too with a brotherly feeling, but I tell you that feeling has not ceased on my part, and that I deplored most deeply what I have considered and do still consider, as an unaccountable infatuation that you should believe (let the tale bearer be who he may) that I have ever said one word in disparagement of you.

Your letter is so long that I must string some of the facts together, or I shall not know how to answer them. To begin then with your first subject which is the duty part of the story (the selection of this place). Whoever heard me speak of this place in any other than terms of the highest admiration? It is true I regretted its not being nearer the Harbour, and made some little stand that some part of the town should be there. In this, if I recollect rightly, you did not differ in opinion, but this is all nothing.

You say that you have been informed that I told several persons that you were nothing but a mere dependent on me for your prospects, that I was intimate with the Pasha of Egypt, that I commanded his fleet, that I recommended you to him and got you the command of the Nile, that I left the command of the fleet to come here and be Governor of So. Australia and that finally I got you your appointment here. Now with the exception of the last, the whole string of assertions are almost unmixed falsehoods, but let us take them as they stand.

I never said that you were a dependent upon me for your prospects.

I never said I was intimate with the Pasha of Egypt (though you may remember I knew him before you did and received some compliments from him through Cerisy which I believe gave me the first idea of his service). I never said that I commanded his fleet, and I never said as far as I remember that I got you command of the Nile, though I may have said that I recommended you strongly for that command (and this I told you in Egypt). But ask in what spirit I said I recommended you to command the Nile. I will answer. It was in the spirit of friendship to pa you a compliment, for it was said to shew how highly I estimated your nautical talents. I never said that I left the command of the Fleet to come home and be Governor. That I may I may have said that I got you appointed here is true, but I have never mentioned it vauntingly, I pledge my word, or with any feeling save that to shew how strong my friendship to you had always been, or to regret that you have discontinued yours to me.

You go on to speak of our Egyptian affairs and tell me some few court secrets, that I think as we then stood you should have told me at the time. One point, however, I may reply to you en passant - my assertion of superiority. I deny that too, unless my having said that you were my first Lieutenant in the Nile gave rise to the idea. However, even that, I recollect well, I said in the very same spirit Idid the other viz.: to shew that you were a seaman, and that you and i were confidential friends, but certainly noit with any notion of superiority.

As to the remainder of the Egyptian affair, as I deny  the string of assertions it is scarcely necessary to say much. But surely you would never have advised me to have served under a Frenchman. The only stand I made was to avoid that, and to endeavour to be considered in seniority, a Captain older than him, which I really believe would have been the case, had Thurburn delivered Boghos the letter which he (I think most shamefully) thought proper to keep locked up in his desk.

It is true that this stand of mine caused difficulties, Besson Bey having hoisted his flag, and many ill-natured things might perhaps have been said, but I could not submit to serve under a French officer and of much inferior rank to myself.

The letter to Sir Benjn. D'Urban is the next thing I shall speak of. I think you are in a little mistake with respect to it, at least I asked for the letter to request Sir Benjn. to introduce my son to Sir J. Herschell, as I expected he would call at the Cape on his way to join Sir Bladen Capel in India, but not certainly to introduce myself, though had I an idea of going there, I should not have hesitated to ask you for an introduction, and I am quite sure you would have given it to me.

Then for the letter to Col. Napier, I had been introduced to him long before by Admiral Patterson, but not withstanding that, I certainly should not have called upon him so early after my arrival from Milford, had I not had your letter to deliver. Before I went out, I put down in a slip of paper the names of all the friends I intended to call on, not in the order of old old acquaintance but in proximity of residence, in order not to walk forwards and backwards. It so happened that in this list Col. Napier's, his house being the most conveniently situated.

Almost the first thing after he introduced me to his new married wife (who I had known as Mrs Alcock) he said he had resigned the Government of So. Australia, and he mentioned the points of differences with Lord Glenelg. I asked him who was to be his successor, to which he replied, that he did not know, having resigned only three days. I said without a second's hesitation:- Col. Napier allow me to ask you one question, is your difference with the Government of such a nature that you cannot make it up, because  if it is, I don't see why I should not apply for it, as well as any other officer, whose rank would make him eligible. He replied, it is, and i recommend you to do so, I will have nothing more to do with it, and to convince you I will read you my letter to Lord Glenelg, which he did. After the reading of the letter I said: Now Col. Napier you must allow me to repeat in the presences of your wife, my question - Is there any possibility of your accommodating this difference and my reason for asking you is this, because if there were such a possibility I would not stir in the matter, but once attempting to get this appointment, you cannot expect that I should desist, were you even to change your mind. And I tell you candidly, that my interest is of that nature, that I shall be certain to get the appointment if I ask for itbefore it is given away; I shall, therefore, instead of going where I intended, go to the coach office and take my place for town by the night coach.

Col. Napier gave me credit for my decision, but told me he was sure I should regret it etc., etc. 

I went to town that night, and before the following sunset I was the Governor of So. Australia as far as Lord Glenelg's promise went.

Now who can say what is the remote cause in all this. Without, however, attempting to deny that your letter might have been so, or lessening at all your then friendship for me, surely other causes might be imagined, such as my long passage from Alexandria, getting pratique on the very day I did, and ten thousand other matters, that brought my visit to Col. Napier exactly at the moment, when I might acquire the knowledge of his resignation, previous to the office being filled up. Had I gone first to the dockyard instead of Southsea, which I firs contemplated, had I called an hour sooner, or an hour later, I might not have seen Col. Napier, and might not have heard of his resignation.

But it is useless to speculate upon such points, I believe that there is a disposing Prividence that directs such matters, and that chance has nothing to do with it. When I look back to all that has happened to me through life I cannot do it but with amazement, when I remember that for 20 odd years I have been talking of emigrating to Australia, and wishing to do so, and when I remember that in my castle building conversations with my wife, and my intimates, that I have often been i  the habit for that long course of years, of placing my finger upon the very spot on the Australian map, that we not occupy, and saying that is the spot I wish to colonise, this I am sure must from its position be the best in all this vast continent. When I remember all these things, I must abandon the word chance for the use of such as please , and look higher for my source.

To revert to our warlike attitude - do not think I have said all this, or any of it, to depreciate you kindness your kindness to me, or to blink your last question, whether our accounts of patronage are not nearly balanced, or to disprove that the act of delivering your letter took me to Col. Napier's exactly three days after his resignation etc. etc., but to shew that as no human foresight could have contemplated such a thing, that the thing itself was perfectly Providential and above human control.

I consider that in answer to your last question the word Patronage is altogether misplaced between us. It ought to have been - two sincere friends have tried to do each other all the service in their power, and each in turn, when he succeeded felt a much higher pleasure than the receiver would do. God knows in my earnest wish to get you here I contemplated with extreme pleasure, that you would be in a position more congenial to your feelings and to your tastes and for which you were so eminently qualified, But more than this, aye infinitely more than this, I contemplated the extreme pleasure of having to do the great work to which I was appointed, in conjunction with so dear a friend, to be able to have his advice and his assistance.

What then in the name of wonder has caused the estrangement that has been so evident on your part ever since I arrived. You cannot retort the question upon me I feel certain. Have I not often attempted to talk to you as we used to do? Have I not called upon you fifty, aye twice fifty times, regardless that you have never been within the shadow of my roof moe than twice or three times, or more than once (I believe) for the purpose of seeing either my family or myself.

Tell me then, I beg of you, in bare justice, what is the meaning of all this, and particularly tell me who is you informer of the reported points I so strongly deny, that I may trace the source from whence they flow, and know my friends from my foes.


Monday, 14 March 2016

Notes on the Harbour: From "The South Australian Colonial Gazette and Register. 12th August 1837

(Editors Note: These Cuttings from the Colonial Gazette and Register were placed between the pages of the Hindmarsh's diary. A transcription appears below.) 


We have great satisfaction of laying before our readers the following notes which His Excellency the Governor has done us the honour to address to us regarding the report made by Mr. Wood, Master of H.M.S. Buffalo, published in our last number. We now reprint that report, and subjoin His Excellency's observations to the paragraphs of that document to which they refer.

To the Editor of the South Australian Gazette. 
An official report respecting Port Adelaide, from Mr. Wood, Master of H.M.S. Buffalo, having appeared in the South Australian Gazette of this date, the Governor requests that the Editor will have the goodness to republish it in the next number, with the accompanying remarks, made by the Governor at the time he received the report from Mr. Wood. 
The Governor is induced to make this request in order to prevent the unfavourable impression which Mr. Wood's report would tend to create amongst the shipping interest both at home and in the neighbouring colonies. The facts stated by the Governor will be found to differ materially from those of Mr. Wood; their accuracy can easily be ascertained. The Governor trusts that his professional opinions recorded in his remarks upon these facts, will tend to place the question of the merits of Port Adelaide in a fair point of view.
Government House, 29th July, 1837. 

MR. WOOD'S REPORT. H. M. S. Buffalo at anchor off Glenelg Plains, South Australia, March 4th, 1837. 

Sir—Having complied with your orders, and separately weighed every circumstance attending getting into the harbour of Adelaide, with H. M. S. Buffalo under your command, I beg leave to furnish some remarks, with the most faithful report I can conscientiously make, as I am bound in duty to acquit myself towards you, and to be concerned for the safety of the ship and all on board, I therefore respectfully submit that the wind, weather, and tides cannot be depended upon, more particularly in the vicinity of what I deem the most intricate part, approaching the harbour, but so variable and uncertain have they been found since our arrival, that they have been remarked to be much less steady than in any other place." 

First Note by the Governor. 

Mr. Wood is correct in stating that the tides are irregular—i.e., it is difficult to at calculate within two hours when it will be high water. It may however be said generally to take place about six a.m., and about three p.m. But the time is subject to a range, nearly two hours without any apparent cause — it being sometimes high water an early as half past five, and sometimes as late as half past seven. The amount of the rise and fall depends upon the wind and weather; but is usually considerably greater under similar circumstances at fall and change.  

As to the winds, if Mr. Wood means that they are irregular also, I confess myself quite of a different opinion. The winds have greater regularity here than I ever observed any where out of the tropics. The sea breeze usually sets in from the westward about noon. — It veers gradually towards the south, increasing in strength for three or four hours. It reaches south about sunset, when its strength begins to decrease— still continuing to veer in the same direction, and decreasing in strength, it becomes the land breeze during the night. By daybreak it reaches north; greater part of the forenoon, still veering in the same direction, very light airs or cubit; and this regularity round the compass each twenty-four hours has been constant about five days out of every seven since my arrival on the 28th of December. 

The days on which this regular round does not take place, it usually blows hard—frequently almost a smart gale; but even these have a regularity as extraordinary—commencing about N.W., and veering slowly towards the south; and so soon as it gets to the southward of S.W. by S., it may be calculated upon with certainty that the gale is breaking up. 

" The bar, with other banks of sand near it, I found very dangerous, and the entrance not more than the breadth of a ship of large burthen, and although the highest water may rather exceed three fathoms, at spring tides the lowest water is barely one fathom and a quarter, which was also found to be the case on another considerable space or bar, at the distance of more than four miles. The channel between these two bars being generally in width little more than the length of a large ship, and open to the most frequent and violent winds prevailing on this part of the coast, and not admitting of tacking and wearing, or anchoring; with any certainty of safety, should there be occasion to do so quickly." 

The bar possess no peculiar danger, I have not found a rocky spot any where on this coast, and when the channel shall be properly buoyed, I conceive there will be no dangers whatever if the proper time of tide be watched. This watching will always be necessary in a large vessel, from the irregularity of the time of high water—as to the width of the entrance of the bar it exceeds the length instead of the breadth of the largest ships. Off the inner point of Point Malcolm, there is about the same depth of water as on the bar, and may therefore be called the inner bar. The distance between them is nearly as Mr. Wood states, but with regard to the width of the channel he is altogether in error; for instead of its being only the length of a large ship, there is no part narrower than one cubit's length, some parts bring three cables length; the general average being about two. The William Hutt turned in through this channel with the wind right out, and I consider this channel to be a safe temporary anchorage all over; and even should a ship take the ground in this channel, it would generally be attended with no danger what-ever, as she would then be within the protection of the bar. 

" It is necessary to have high water to cross the sea bar, and the tide off the coast being very little influenced by this entrance it would be better to wait and have slack water, or it will run obliquely to the channel whilst you are passing the most dangerous parts, so that a large ship must wait for another day tide, before she can have sufficient water to cross the second bar, subject to changes of weather, for twenty-four hours, or probably longer; and should the wind blow across the channel, the dependance of riding safely will be on a short scope of cable. Therefore, a ship of heavy burthen like the Buffalo, by any accident whatever, touching the ground, and not got off immediately, which is most likely to happen at this time of tide, some damage might reasonably be expected to happen to an old ship like her, or by blowing hard, a total loss, or some such calamity, before any assistance could be procured; indeed, none but our own resources could be expected, being twenty miles from either locality." 

This I believe to be speculation against fact, as on the many occasions, I passed the bar near, and at high water, the tide invariably ran a channel course. Mr. Wood was there on one occasion when it blew hard, which I have not been. As it is generally calm about high water in the morning tide, it would be advisable to haul a large ship over, or tow her over before the flood is done, the bar not exceeding half a cable's length; she will then have plenty of room to anchor to wait for the sea breeze, as my note No. 2 shews. If the ship cannot be got over the flat off Point Malcolm, which Mr. Wood calls the second bar, she can at least be placed in perfect security from all winds, and in a space three cable's length wide, and this too in the very spot Mr. Wood says is only equal to the length of a ship. Damage might accrue to any ship getting ashore; the Buffalo, however, notwithstanding her age, works less in a gale of wind, and shews more signs of strength than almost any ship I ever sailed in. 

" A bar harbour is generally to be approached with caution, and requires long practice, but more so when the breadth of the channel and depth of water are so nearly alike; the ship's breadth and draught, which in this instance would be the case, making the steerage rather difficult. After remaining on the spot for several days attentively sounding and examining in the locality of the harbour, the sea channel, and the other parts best and chiefly suited for vessels, I found that the Buffalo, throughout the greatest part of the inside harbour, would sew at low tides from three to five feet, and there was only one anchorage, in an inconvenient part of it, of moderate extent, that the ship could be moored in any commonly decent manner, I mean to say, in such as would be considered suitable for the security of a king's ship, during the worst season of the year." 

One good spot to moor the Buffalo in would have sufficed for that ship. The harbour is doubtless better calculated for vessels of three hundred tons, than for such ships as the Buffalo. She could, however, I have no doubt, be taken into Port Adelaide, and there safely and properly moored in five fathoms water, and as the greatest rise and fall is under twelve feet, rarely exceeding eight or nine feet, she would never touch. 

"In offering this statement, my best judgment has been used, aided by the experience of upwards of forty years in constant employment, out of which twenty-eight were passed in His Majesty's service, bearing the responsibility of Master in one or other ships of war, acting as pilot in all cases during that period, happily without an accident, which leads me to declare, that I would not risk or attempt to recommend a vessel of more than between three or four hundred tons, or drawing more than twelve to thirteen feet, to use the harbour at present." 

 Mr. Wood states that the sea reach, which is near four miles in length, is very little broader than the length of a large ship. I sounded this reach in my gig, sailing across and across, about the outer two and a half miles, with the wind abeam, and going at least six knots, and had sufficient time to get from seven to nine casts of the lead on each board, tacking on either side on shoaling to fifteen feet water. I therefore estimate the breadth of the reach in this part to be not one hundred and fifty feet, as the report would lead to suppose, but from one thousand to eighteen hundred feet, find that it is nowhere less than a cable's length. I do not see how Mr. Wood's long service can alter facts, however they might tend to give weight to his opinions.

Sunday, 6th August 1837

Like an old Portsmouth tart there seems to be no end to the things Fisher will do for money.

But I fear that unlike an old Portsmouth tart he does not have the good sense to realise that no-one will believe his claims to be pure and innocent.

The rumours that were about the colony regarding Fisher and his irregular sales of oxen, cows and pork that I have written of previously (Editor's note: See entry for Sunday, 16th July 1837) came to a head just recently when a letter was written, anonymously, to Stevenson in his capacity of Newspaper Editor stating the rumours as fact and demanding an explanation from the half man half rabbit. Scoop Stevenson, who can sniff out a story the way a hound sniffs out a badger, informed Fisher of his intention to publish and asked for comment.

Fisher, whom few doubt has been fiddling like Nero, responded by getting on his high horse, saying that "it was not his habit to respond to anonymous letters".

He then started dropping dark hints about the town regarding legal actions for libel and seeking redress for "the damage to his reputation", though I cannot help but suggest that the business did not damage so much as confirm his reputation.

In the meantime he has been sending out a shower of notices to all and sundry demanding to know if they are the anonymous letter writer. Really, all we have not had is pistols at dawn and I think that we have not only because Fisher has been unable to find out who exactly he needs to be shooting.

With any luck Fisher will gather his skirts, flounce about and resign from the Council again. He has already done so twice, each time to return when his flunkies - Brown and Mann - beg him to stay. Perhaps the third time will be the charm and he can spend more time at home producing another gross of offspring.

I am pleased to be able to add "published author" to "Knight of the Royal Hanoverian Order", "Governor and Commander in Chief of His Majesty's Colony of South Australia" and "Hero of the Battle of the Nile" to my string of accomplishments.

That ninny James Wood the "Master" of the Buffalo wrote a report for Stevenson which was published in the last edition of the Gazette decrying the harbour at Port Adelaide as unsafe and unsuitable.

Of course, Wood is an incompetent who is confused if you place a paper boat in his bath water, but really, I can't be allowing shipping interests at home and in the other colonies to think that we have no decent harbour here.

As a result I spent three pleasant days sailing about the river this week, measuring and surveying and disproving his claims point by point. I have written this up and it is to be published by Stevenson in his next printing. I look forward to it!

My sailing at the Port combined with a horse ride with Strangways to the summit of Mount Lofty means that I have had quite the time in the open air. And, may I say, despite that fool Hutchison's febrile melodrama about his ascent of the summit, I found it no more than a pleasant day's ride.

But I fear I have saved the worst news till last.

I received during the week a lengthy complaint from Light, telling me that I had belittled his reputation, decried his abilities, held him up to ridicule and trampled any friendship remaining between us into the dust!.

Naturally, I was at a loss to understand where this ill feeling could have originated. Ask any who know me and they will tell you that I am of the sunniest, good-hearted disposition and that it is not in my nature to speak ill of others.

However, I have since learned the source of this dissension and disharmony. Last week Sam Stephens came to the house "to share a bottle of Indian whiskey with his old friend The Governor". It transpires that the following evening he went to share a bottle of Indian whiskey with his old friend the Surveyor-General.

Now I admit that, influenced by the spirit of the Sub-continent, I may - MAY - have offered one or two opinions of an unnecessary frankness regarding Light. And I suggest that, misheard and misunderstood by an inebriate Stephens, these opinions might have appeared less than flattering, especially when related in alcoholically misremembered form to a Surveyor feeling the warmth of liquorous imbibulation.

But I am certain I feel no ill will towards Light and see all this as proof that strong drink and discretion are not able to share a bed. What particularly saddens me is that it is only a month ago that I invited Light to dinner with us and we shared a splendid evening sharing stories and laughing together at times past.

Well, now I need to write to Light and try to pour oil on troubled waters - or at least try. It is not a letter I look forward to writing, as even if I said half of what Light remembers Stephens as reporting then I should be, sadly, ashamed of myself. Please God that Mrs Hindmarsh doesn't hear of this or I'll never hear the end of it.

Sunday, 13 March 2016

Sunday, 30th July, 1837

I note with some regret that so intent have I been upon recording the practice of government in this fledgling colony, that I have neglected to sufficiently record happenings of a more familial character.

Of my wife I can say little. It is said that amongst adherents of the Roman Church it is not uncommon for them to secretly wear a shirt of haircloth against the skin as a mortification for wrong doings and a penance. I feel that I am doing something similar with Mrs Hindmarsh. I am laying up treasure in Heaven.

She spends much of her time here at the Vice Regal Palace. I try not to take her out too often for fear of frightening small children and horses, but she accompanies me to Sunday Services each week and follows along when my official duties require me to attend some function where I cut a ribbon, or tell some colonist what an asset he is or grease the wheels of civilised society generally.

Speaking of which, up until recently Charlie Howard has been boring for God and Country beneath the sail that I still suspect he acquired by foul means. However, with the winter months coming in he decided that religion en pleine air was quite impractical and so he has moved services into the new, albeit temporary, Court House that Old Gilles stumped up the cash for. (Two bottles of gin and the man grants wishes like the genie of the lamp in some inebriate pantomime)

To be fair, we have repaid O.G.'s investment by naming the Courthouse the Gilles Building and the laneway outside, Gilles Arcade.

So this morning we all trotted over to the courthouse to hear one of Charlie Howard's finest. Ninety fruity minutes on Hebrews 6:1-6:
Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God, of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment. And this will we do, if God permit. For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, and have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, if they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame.
Or, at least, it would have been ninety minutes of vintage Howard, except that at the seventy-five minute mark, just as Charlie, his countenance ablaze with prophetic fire, turned into the home stretch, I leaned back to check my watch and be buggered! if the vice regal wooden bench, graced by the arses of His Excellency, the Governor; his good lady wife; and his three daughters didn't tilt over backwards, falling to the floor with a crash that woke most of the congregation and sent me and my family bum over bosom.

Of course all but two in the room thought it hilarious. The exceptions were, naturally, Mrs Hindmarsh, who felt that she had been made "an undignified object of derision" (although, in truth, I think that she was more upset at the thought that the colonists of Adelaide might have seen that her drawers were patched) And the other was the Reverend Howard who, sad to say, had his train of thought interrupted just as he was coming to a particularly knotty question regarding "the powers of the world to come".

He never really regained his form and, as a result, even though he carried on manfully for a further twenty minutes, the congregation could only manage a doze and not really attain the deep, restful slumber granted by Howard in peak condition and at the height of his powers

John, my son, treats me with all the disdain and lack of patrial respect natural to a son aged seventeen. I am, it seems, out of touch with all that is new and have no understanding of what seventeen year old boys really want. Actually, I have a pretty damned good idea of what it is that seventeen year old boys want and I can assure him that he'll be having none of it!

My daughters are just as silly as ever, but it appears that this has not stopped them from becoming the darlings of the colony. They suddenly find themselves the sinecure of all men's eyes and the object of all men's desires. They, of course, believe that this has something to do with their own natural vivacity, youthful vitality and beauteous charms. It is, perhaps, cruel to disabuse them of these vapid notions, but the truth is that it appears that any number of young men aspiring to greater things are willing to ignore: their tedious talk of trashy novels; their mooning over the dream-like characteristics of Herr Liszt and Herr Schumann; their inane giggling; their plain looks; and their obsession with horses; and still declare themselves as my daughter's suitors if it means having access to and perhaps even influence with me. The girls, naturally, have declared me a beast for saying so and their mother has, inevitably, sided with them. So, once again, if we had a dog house, I would be in it.

On Wednesday last I arrived home to discover Sammy Stephens sitting in my kitchen. It appears the he did, indeed, tell dour David McLaren, the Scotch Baptist his risible anecdote regarding Adam and Eve and the cucumber and, as a result it has been suggested that he head to Encounter Bay to inspect the Company's whaling station there. It is typical of Sam's lack of practical thought that he traveled from Kingscote to Encounter Bay via Adelaide, just so he could share a bottle of Indian Whiskey with "his dear friend, the Governor".

Sam Stephens, of course, is a riot on legs, but we shared a pleasant evening together before I sent him on his way.

I had a visit from Gouger who told me that the Commissioners in London saw fit to include a Library of one hundred and seventeen books for us all here in the Colony. He had a catalogue of the page turners with him. "A Report of the Commissioners of Sierra Leone". "An Account of the Millbank Penitentiary". Every one a cracking read. Just the ticket to boost morale.

In London these books were packed into a metal trunk (I suspect they had 120, but could only manage to jam in 117. I hope the three left out were not something people would actually want to read.) and loaded aboard The Tam O'Shanter before it left Plymouth for the Colony.

Ah, yes, The Tam O'Shanter. Captained by that prize arse Whiteman Freeman who won his Captain's papers at a coconut shy and managed to run aground on a sandbar in the Port River.

Gouger isn't sure quite what happened, as there are different reports. Some say that the trunk of books was loaded into a dingy, but unsecured and Freeman and his crew of clowns watched it slide off the boat and into the water as they brought it ashore. Other reports, the which I find more credible, say that they tried to float it ashore. Think on that for a moment. They tried to float a metal trunk ashore.

Still, whatever happened, the consequence was that The State Library of South Australia ended up at the bottom of the Port River.

Oh, they fished it out and drained out the water, but it's taken poor old Gouger this long, what with one thing and another, to get the books dry and back to a presentable condition.

And now he wants to know where he can put them.

I restrained myself from the obvious riposte, but honestly: having seen the list of books in the trunk I cannot help but feel that the bottom of the Port River is as good a place as any. Still, I suppose we will have to find somewhere for them, but at the moment they are sitting in the corner of my bedroom.

Honestly - State Library: the tin trunk next to the commode. State Archives: third drawer down on the left side of my desk. If someone suggests a State Forestry I can see my vegetable garden going.

The mad poisoner asked if there were any cook books in the trunk. "Not that it matters," she said, "as cooking like mine don't come from no cook books."