Port Augusta Dispatch, Newcastle and Flinders Chronicle (SA : 1885 - 1916), Friday 10 August 1894, page 4
SOUTH AUSTRALIAN PIONEER'S EXPERIENCES
EXTRACTS FROM AN OLD DIARY (CONTINUED)
"Rapid Bay, Friday, 13th January, 1837.—I started soon after breakfast this morning, taking three of the natives with me to hunt for oppossums, which they do very cleverly. These animals, with a small species known as the wongo, are found in the hollow branches of gum trees, and the manner in which they are taken deserves a little notice. The native, when he sees a likely tree, strikes at the trunk with the point of his waddy (a short club of hard wood, used both in war and the chase) and listens intently to hear for any answering sounds to indicate the presence of an oppossum. He also examines the bark to see if any marks have been made on it by the claws of these animals. He is seen pretty certain whether or not the tree contains one, and he seldom mounts in vain. They are very good climbers, making their way up tee trunk by means of notches, which they cut with the end of the waddy. In these notches they place their feet, and they draw themselves up by means of a pointed stick, which they thrust with great violence into the bark. Our success was but moderate, as we only caught six, which is not considered a good days sport. The females are very good eating, but the males are strong and require much disguising to render them palatable. After dinner a whaleboat came round the point from Kangaroo Island. It contained our old boatswain, Bradley and two others, who have quarrelled with little Stephens and are on their way to seek employment at head quarters."
" Tuesday, 17th January.— accompanied Mr Finness and party on an exploring walk towards Cape Jervis. We have had a very fagging walk, but have been repaid by the splendid views we enjoyed from the high land above Cape Jervis, particularly the one of Kangaroo Island, which was remarkably fine. The country in this direction is well-wooded, but the soil appears to me to be rather inferior to that in our neighborhood."
"Thursday 19th January.—To-day and yesterday I again spent out with my gun, to which I am entirely indebted for fresh meat, as we have no more mutton, and the blacks very seldom bring home any kangaroo. On my return I found that a ship had been in sight all this afternoon, but making little progress owing to a strong land breeze. We suspect she is the Cygnet, come at last to remove us to Adelaide."
"Friday, 20th January.—The Cygnet anchored in our roads at 8 am., and we have been all bustle, for we embark our stores to-morrow. We shall also get the private stores on board, and if possible sail in the evening. Captain Rolls brought me a very kind letter from Colonel Light in answer to mine of the 3rd. The Africaine passed from Hobart Town on her way to Holdfast Bay."
" Saturday, 21st January. — The whole of this day has been employed in embarking. "
" Sunday, 22nd January.—At 9 a.m Finch, one of our men who had left the camp to shoot without leave, returned after having been lost three days. He has been a great sufferer both from want of food and an accident, his powder having exploded while attempting to make a fire, and dreadfully burnt the poor fellow's face and arms. We were all embarked by 1 o'clock in the afternoon, and at six shipped our anchor and made sail for Holdfast Bay. The wind is light and the weather fine."
"Monday, 28rd January.—After a very fine, though slow, passage we anchored in Holdfast Bay at 1 o'clock this afternoon; had a hasty dinner and went on shore. The settlement here is named ' Glenelg,' and finding that Colonel Light and all my old mess-mates were at Adelaide, I returned on board with a full determination to make an early start to-morrow."
"Tuesday, 24th January - I succeeded in getting my boxes on shore this morning and my tent pitched, I then left Glenelg and started for Adelaide to pay my respects and report myself to Colonel Light. The journey being successfully accomplished I took dinner with Colonel Light, from whom I met with as much kindness and attention as ever. In the evening I visited such of my old mess-mates as are encamped at Adelaide, and returned by moonlight to Glenelg, where I arrived at 1 a.m. In the selection of the site for the town Colonel Light has shewn in my opinion, great judgment and firmness. There are many discontented who are impelled with envy to find fault with the choice. It appears to me that there is nothing to wish for in the selection, as the soil is excellent and the pasture fine, while there is abundance of splendid water from the lagoons and river, and in addition water may be be obtained anywhere by digging six or eight feet. The town is on a gentle eminence in the middle of the beautiful plain I described when writing of Holdfast Bay and its neighborhood. The country is moderately wooded principally with the gum tree, which averages the size of the oak. Our prospects are very cheering, and I am very confident they will continue so under the able guidance of Colonel Light. We are roughing it at present; we are very badly provisioned, but we have some excellent stock which, though very poor on landing, have convinced us of the goodness of the pasture by the astonishing rapidity with which they fatten. The stock consists principally of sheep, 700 of which the Africaine brought from Hobart Town. Some working bullocks were likewise brought. The settlers were at first deprived of the services of these animals by their running wild, but they were after a time re-captured and are now steadily at work. There is so much for them to do at present that I fear I shall not be able to get my luggage to Adelaide for some time."
"Sunday, 29th January.—This week has been one of bustle and confusion, the work of disembarking our luggage and stores being proceeded with. I have not been able to repeat my visit to Adelaide, as do not like to be absent long from Mrs Finnis, who is unwell. I have occasionally sauntered out with my gun with which I manage to get a meal now and then. I thank God that I have health to do so, as I am thoroughly disgusted with ration fare. Holdfast Bay has presented a scene of lively industry during the week. We have had six vessels lying in our roads, vis., Buffalo, Coromandel, Cygnet, Africaine, William Hut and the Company's cutter William. The Africaine and William Hut left for the harbor on Friday, and there is a report that the latter touched on the bar. If so, I am convinced it was through mismanagement, as was the case with the Tam O'Shanter. The above mentioned vessels have been discharging their cargo and passengers, and we have here now not far short of a thousand souls, most of them happy and big with life. I am sorry to say the seeds of discomfort are being industriously spread by a few, amongst who shines a Mr Stevens, brother of the Stevens well-known at King's Court. I dined to-day with Mr and Mrs Neale."
" Monday, 30th January.—Mr Finnis's party proceed to Adelaide to-day to assist Colonel Light in his labors. Mr. Finnis will follow to-morrow, and I remain here till Mrs. Finnis can be removed. Mr Stevens has addressed a printed circular to landholders begging them to call a meeting to alter the site of the town. Both he and his effusion are too insignificant to notice, and I trust will meet with the contempt they merit. Nothing else new has occurred."
" Tuesday, 31st January.—I rose at daybreak and went out to shoot a dinner. I succeeded, with a few I killed last night, in killing six brace of quails besides a great number of parrots. These I sent to the baker who made me two pies, finding all materials, and charged two shillings for each, which we do not consider exhorbitant for a new colony. Mr Finnis and my old mess-mate Hill have just partaken of them with me, and we are all three going to walk to Adelaide."
" Wednesday, 1st February.—I arrived at Adelaide just in time to take a glass with Colonel Light, who kindly gave me a couple of blankets in his tent for the night. I breakfasted with him this morning, bathed in the river, and then returned to Holdfast Bay to dinner. I was much pleased with my visit, having met several old messmates, one of whom I was particularly glad to see. It was Field who came out as first mate of the Rapid, and is now in command of her. Now as I am speaking to this best-of-fellows, I must say that the brig could not have fallen into better hands." Here several pages of Surgeon Woodforde's journal are missing, the next entry being as follows :—
" Friday, 24th February.— After dinner I was sent for to see the surgeon of the Buffalo (Mr Jackson), whom I found, on examination, to be suffering from a determination of blood to the head, bled him largely, and remained with him till midnight at the Rev. Mr Howard's, at whose hut he was when taken ill."
" Saturday, 25th February.—I galled my foot so badly yesterday that I am scarcely able to walk. I have received an invitation to dine at Colonel Light's to-morrow. I have been reading and smoking all the afternoon in my bower, which I find a great comfort. I make it my surgery, and see my patients there from 9 till 10 every morning, almost despair of being able to get a hut up before the wet season, as the laborers are all engaged, and I have nearly come to the resolution of renting at £13 a year one of the wooden houses which Mr Fisher intends putting up as soon as the land is allotted. As they will have but two rooms each, I am doubtful as to the propriety of dividing the expense and living with my present chum, Jacob. I am afraid I must have a room I can call my own, as patients will not bear a second person. We have messed together ever since we have been in the colony, and I shall be sorry to part, as he is an excellent young man, although of so bad a temper. No one can manage him half as well as I can, which I do by humoring him in his whims. He is a kind-hearted fellow, simple, bashful, and sensitive in the extreme. I really begin to think my own temper much improved, as I find I seldom quarrel with anybody."
" Sunday, 26th February.—Did not rise till 8 this morning, from which time until 1 p.m. it took me to dress, owing to my game foot and the confusion of a tent. I then repaired with Jacob to Colonel Light's, where we found dinner on the table. We spent a pleasant and sociable afternoon. We had an apple pudding—the first apples I had seen since leaving England. They were brought from Sydney, and were a great treat as were also some fine onions and cheese. These are not everyday luxuries."
" Monday, 27th February.—My foot is all the worse for yesterday's exercise. I am completely tied by the leg, I received a visit from Jackson this morning. He brought with him two officers of the Buffalo, and was very warm in his thanks for my attendance on him, and kindly offered to do duty for me if I wished to absent myself at any time. He is a very gentlemanly fellow, and I am happy to make his acquaintance."
" Wednesday, 1st March.—My foot is much better. After visiting my patients I took my gun and was so successful that in about an hour Simons and I killed sufficient for five hungry men. Hardy, Cannon, and Finnis dined with us in my arbor. Poor Jacob is confined to his tent unwell."
" Wednesday, 8th March.—My time has been pretty well taken up this week with my patients, who increase daily, and should money be forthcoming I am not at all dissatisfied with my beginning. Fresh provisions are very scarce yet as Mr Fisher, the Colonial Commissioner, is loth to kill the sheep until they are in better order. On Sunday last we had a heavy gale during the night. The company's brig Emma got ashore owing to taking a berth too near in. She is now hard and fast, and low water is nearly high and dry, but has not, I believe, sustained much damage. I have just paid a visit to Colonel Light, who informs me that the allotment of town land will take place on 16th inst. I had yesterday the satisfaction of shooting another native dog. These animals commit great ravages among the sheep and poultry, and their howling around the tents at night is truly hideous."
" Friday, 17th March.—We have had three deaths this week, viz., Mrs Gouger, a child, and Mr White who came out to establish a brewery. The latter was a patient of mine, and died of exhaustion succeeding a severe attack of pneumonia on a broken constitution. My practice is still on the increase. The town acres are all completed, and the first meeting relative to the choice of land took place on Wednesday. A second meeting takes place to-day, and on Monday next the lots will be drawn. Everything went on smoothly at Wednesday's meeting till the latter end when some wrangling took place between the Governor and Samuel Stevens. The latter very politely told the former that he was no gentleman, upon which His Excellency threatened to put him in custody. Surely these two gentle do not understand the duties of their respective situations."
"Tuesday, 21st March.—The natives are showing a disposition to mischief, they having this week carried off some sheep before the shepherd's face and threatened him. Last night we perceived extensive fires along the hills towards Mt. Lofty. It was feared that they would make an attack in the night but as yet all has been quiet. The reason of my not writing up my journal daily is the horrid inconvenience of a tent into which two of us are thrust with all my baggage. We are almost choked with dust but Mr Fisher has promised to get my house up as soon as possible, so we live in hope and filth."
" Thursday, 23rd March.—After dinner I was taking a stroll when I saw a number of men hurrying along, led by Mr Mann, the Attorney General, and Hill, my old messmate, who has been sworn in Constable. Upon my going up to the latter and enquiring the cause of the row he very civilly pressed me in the King's name to assist in taking into custody some seamen of the Buffalo who had been guilty ol a disturbance. I should state that these men have been on shore building a house for the Governor. I accordingly joined them " nolens volens" and in a few moments had a job cut out for me, for these men being intoxicated had no idea of civil law and treated poor Hill uncivilly by knocking him down with a bludgeon and laying open his temporal artery, have just helped to carry him home, dressed his wound and left him pretty comfortable but not over well pleased with his warlike expedition."
"Monday, 27th March.—The man who wounded Hill is still at large, justice being as yet very slack and there being no prison. Hill is doing well and out of danger. The unselected town acres ou the south side of the river have this day been sold by auction and have fetched enormous prices— some of them 14 guineas. I had intended to purchase an acre or two, but was not inclined to bid so high. The remaining acres on the north side will be sold to-morrow, and if they go at a moderate rate, I intend to purchase one or two. This side is not considered the court side, but offers many advantages from its vicinity to the harbor and the beauty of its situation and picturesque view of the hills."
"Tuesday, 28th March.—Attended the sale this morning and purchased two acres on the north side of the river viz., No. 747 at £5 10s, and No. 900 at £4. The average prices this morning were £6."
" Friday, 31st March.—I this morning visited my acres, and found that one of them is delightfully situated, commanding a fine view of the mountains and at a convenient distance from the water, but No. 900 is very in-different, and I shall sell it if I find a good offer."
"Tuesday, 11th April.—Since I last wrote little worth noting has occurred. Everybody is busy providing shelter for the forthcoming rainy season. I am still confined to a miserable hut, and am likely to be so for some time as Mr Fisher, of whom I have rented wooden house, shows no alacrity in getting it up. My practice goes on increasing, and if I find my bills come in, or a reasonable proportion of them, it will I think scarcely be worth while to remain attached to the survey ; that is if I am required to accompany the party to the country. There are five medical men here, but I am happy to say my name stands as high as any. Mutton, which has been hitherto from 1s 2d to 1s 6d per lb., has been reduced to a standard price of 1s per lb., so that everybody can get an occasional taste of it."
" Friday, 28th April.—I have again turned builder, and have been employed this last week in getting up a hut as I can wait no longer for Mr Fisher's house. I am paying a man 6s a day for labor, and by the time it is finished it will cost about £20. The Rapid arrived last Sunday from Sydney, and is to proceed almost immediately to England whither a passage has been offered me. I have declined it as my prospects here begin to brighten and my practice increases daily. I have just been applied to by a body of laborers to become surgeon to a benefit society and at present can see no objection. The Governor gave his first ball at Government Hut on Monday last. I was there and a very lively party we had, there being present a number of naval officers from the Buffalo and Victor. The latter is a sloop of war stationed on the coast, and arrived here only a few days before the ball. We had plenty of dancing and music but very little supper. On the whole we spent an agreeable evening and all went on smoothly. 1 am invited to a ball at the Colonial Commissioner's next Monday and anticipate much pleasure.
"Monday, 31st April.—I have today got into my hut. I am thoroughly tired and disgusted with the delay and expense I have been put to. I have actually been obliged, such is the independence of the laboring class, to beg them to work for us and that at the exorbitant rate of 6s a day wages. My hut is the prettiest in the colony. The walls are of the pine kind ; the outside, imitation stone work; the roof is a cottage one of reeds, and the whole is 14 feet by 9. Although, however, it attracts much admiration it really is such as a poor laborer in England would refuse to live in. I have purchased plates, dishes, cups, &c. at an enormous rate, to wit:—9s for half a dozen dinner plates and 5s for three cups and saucers. I have a small portable grate which burns in the centre of my hut, the comfort of which 1 am at this moment enjoying. I have no table as yet and am now writing on my knees. The Rapid sails in a-few days for England."