Fatal boat accident 1885

South Australian Register (Adelaide, SA : 1839 - 1900), Friday 23 January 1885, page 6


Information was received in Adelaide on Thursday afternoon that a boat which belonged to a party of four men, who had gone sealing a fortnight before, had been smashed on the rocks at South- West River. M. C. Withall proceeded at once to Cape de Couedie, the rendezvous of the sealers, where on the Brothers Rocks, a few hundred yards from the mainland, he saw two men, one of whom he recognised. He at once telegraphed for assistance, and the steamer Lady Diana left Port Adelaide about 8 o'clock on Thursday evening for Troubridge, where it is expected that the Governor Musgrave will meet her. The Lady Diana takes the necessary rocket apparatus to be transferred to the Governor Musgrave. The following are the telegrams which were received on Thursday afternoon : — 

" To Inspector Hunt, Kingscote, January 22, 2.30 p.m.— Whilst on patrol at Karama on Tuesday, 20th inst., received intelligence at Mount Pleasant Station that boat had been smashed on rocks at South-West River, description of which tallied with one which left overland for Cape de Couedie about a fortnight ago with party comprising four men, named Alfred Small, Walter Mizon, William Meyers, and Neilson, to go sealing at the Brothers Rocks. Proceeded at once to Karama Head Station, accompanied by Mr. Giles, J.P. , and Mr. DeCoque, thence on to the Brothers. On my arrival there saw with the opera-glass two men, one of whom I recognised as Small, the other not recognisable. Other two men are missing, and there is but little doubt they are drowned. From wreckage of boat pronounced it to be the property of men. The Brothers Rocks, although only a few hundred yards distant from the shore, are totally unapproachable. Precipitous rocks and tremendous seas breaking, making it impossible to render men assistance. No boat obtainable. Communicated by signs, and found them destitute of provisions and water. Unless steamer sent at once men will undoubtedly perish. Mr. Giles and myself are camped at Cape de Couedie, and are cut off from all communication, being eighty miles from Queenscliffe. Messenger awaits at Telegraph Office for your instructions, and will return at once. — M. C. Withall, Cape de Couedie, South - West Coast, Kangaroo Island." 

"Kingscote, January 22, 2.30 p.m. To Attorney-General.—I am starting horseback at midnight for Cape de Couedie, and await your reply to Mr. Giles. Wire to take on. Would strongly suggest that you send rocket apparatus to relief, as, if sea is at all high, landing on Brothers Island is impossible.— J. DeCoque." 

"To Inspector Hunt. 3 p.m.— Just arrived with telegram from trooper to you and from Mr. Giles to Attorney-General. Await reply to both, and start again on horseback to Cape de Couedie at midnight. If further information is required wire me. Have wired Attorney-General.— J. De Coque.

"Kingscote, January 22. To Attorney-General.— Received information from Mounted-constable Withall that portion of boat picked up on rocks at South- West River had been identified as property of four men on Brothers Island. Proceeded to Cape de Couedie in company with Mounted-constable Withall and Mr. Harper, manager, Karama Station. Saw two men on the island. Other two men missing. Communicated by signs to men on island, ascertaining that they were destitute of water and provisions. Have additional party out searching coast. No boats obtainable here. Steamer necessary as soon as possible for relief to men. Sending in DeCoque to Queenscliffe to-night with instructions to await reply as to time and nature of relief to be sent, and will keep up search for the two missing along the coast, but it is always beyond doubt that they are drowned. Mounted-constable Withall and self camp at Cape de Couedie.— John Giles, J.P., Cape de Couedie, Kangaroo Island." 

At 10 p.m. on Friday the following message was sent by Mr. J. De Coque, Kingscote, to the Attorney-General : — "Experienced hands here consider that nothing further can be done to rescue the men than to await the arrival of the steamer Governor Musgrave. The wind is blowing hard from the south, and will interfere with the Musgrave's operations to-morrow if it continues. If the steamer lands provisions it is thought that the men will be all right, as they showed no signs of weakness yesterday." 

[From our own Correspondent.] Kingscote, January 22. The remains of a sailing boat, badly mashed up, have been found on the south west coast of Kangaroo Island. This has been recognised as one which left Queenscliffe a week ago with four men, named respectively Small, Mizon, Meyers, and Neilson, their object being to catch crayfish and for general fishing. The wind has been blowing stiff from the south to the south west for the last fortnight, and it is presumed that the continuous wind raising a heavy sea has been the cause of a sad disaster. Two men, one recognised as Small [sic] by Trooper Whitall and the other unrecognisable, are on a rock about 500 yards from the beach off Cape de Couedie, thirty five miles from Cape Borda. They are without water, but as seals abound they are in no immediate danger of starvation. The small rocky island is precipitous, and owing to the wind blowing from seaward the surf is too heavy for approach from the land there if a boat were available. A party, under Mr. Giles, J.P., is searching the coast for the two missing men. Cape de Couedie is eighty miles overland from here, and Mr. DeCoque rode the distance with the news, travelling all last night. He returns again tonight. Meyers is a coloured man, and is one of the missing two.

A SEALING PARTY IN DISTRESS. (1885, January 23). South Australian Register (Adelaide, SA : 1839 - 1900), p. 6. http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article44548873 
Evening Journal (Adelaide, SA : 1869 - 1912), Saturday 24 January 1885, page 4


RETURN OF THE MUSGRAVE. [By Telegraph.] Queenscliffe, January 21.

The steamer Governor Musgrave arrived at Cape Couedie on Friday afternoon. We saw a party of the residents on the shore off Kangaroo Island, and two men on the Inner Brothers, which is a rocky islet about ninety-five feet high, and about half a mile in circumference. A heavy sea was flowing as the Musgrave dropped anchor near the southeast islet, and sent out a boat in charge of the chief officer to rescue the men. The crew wore life belts. With much difficulty they got round the northern side of the islet and threw in a line, which Nelson seized, and was drawn through the surf to the boat. The line was again thrown, and Mizon was rescued in the same way. When the Musgrave was again reached food was given to them and they were handed changes of clothes and made quite comfortable. They were in good health, and did not appear to have suffered much from the hardships endured by them. 

It appears that a party, consisting of W. Mizon, farmer, of Cygnet River; Olaf Nelson, fisherman, of Kingscote; Alfred Small, fisherman, of Kingscote, and at one time tailor at Thebarton, and William Meyers, labourer in the employ of Mr. Mizon, left Kingscote on Monday, January 5, with a boat owned by Nelson for sealing at the Brothers Island. They travelled overland to the Southwest River, and on Monday, January 12, they reached the Brothers.  Mizon and Nelson landed on the Inner Brothers while Myers and Small returned with the boat to the shore, where they were to obtain a supply of food. 

On Tuesday, January 13, the boat failed to reach the islet, and in the afternoon sailed away in the direction of the south-west river, and has not since been heard of. The remains of the boat were found, and it is believed that both men have been drowned. Mizon and Nelson were on the islet until rescued, in all eleven days, They had a small supply of food and water, which was soon exhausted, after which they lived on fish, penguins, and limpets and obtained water by condensing the salt water by a neat contrivance of their own. They slept in a stalactite cave, and, having matches and-candles, they made fires with the dry grass. They spent their time in shooting seals, and have salted in all about 140 skins. They were beginning to give up all hope when assistance came, and had intentions of trying to reach the shore with the aid of seal bladders, but this was felt to be a dangerous expedient, owing to the breakers. 

Captain Clare and his crew deserve high credit for the way in which the men. were rescued, and the kindness shown to them when aboard. They were taken on to Kingscote, where they were landed early on Saturday morning. 

The Chief Secretary received the following telegram at his residence, Glenelg, at 7.30, on Saturday morning, January 24, from the Captain of the steamer Governor Musgrave: —

" Kingscote.—Have effected rescue of two men from North Casurina, and have landed them at Kingscote, their home. I am returning to Adelaide, landing stores at Troubridge."

RESCUE OF THE DISTRESSED SEALERS. (1885, January 24). Evening Journal (Adelaide, SA : 1869 - 1912), p. 4.  http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article198388788 

The steamer Governor Musgrave dispatched to the Brothers' Rocks on the south-west coast of Kangaroo Island to rescue the distressed sealers, has succeeded in her mission. She arrived off the Rocks at 5 o'clock on Friday evening and sent off a boat, which approached close enough to to allow of a rope being thrown to the shore. The two survivors of the wrecked boat's crew were drawn on board in this way separately. Their names are Mizon, a farmer from the Cygnet River, and Nelson, a fisherman from Kingscote. Small and Meyers, the other two men, failed to reach the rocks when the boat was wrecked on January 13, and it is believed that they were drowned. The rescued men had been living on penguins, fish, and limpets, sleeping in a stalactite cave on the rocky islet, and employing themselves in shooting seals, the carcase of one being salted for provisions. 

They killed and took the skins of no less hen 40 seals. No fresh water being obtainable on the islet, Mizon contrived to supply the wants of himself and his comrade by means of an ingeniously impro vised condenser He placed an oil can full of salt water on a fire, and placing over it another oil can containing cold salt salt water, managed by means of improvised tubes to condense the steam, and obtain sufficient water for drinking. They were well supplied with candles and matches. On being taken on board the Musgrave, Mizon and Nelson were well taken care of and provided with new clothes. The Musgrave returned to Kingscote on Saturday morning, when the rescued men were landed, declaring their intention of procuring a boat as soon as possible to return to the Brothers Rocks for the purpose of resuming sealing operations.

CITY TELEGRAMS. (1885, January 26). Port Augusta Dispatch (SA : 1884), p. 3.   http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article195904325 

A. C. Burgess critical of Walter Mizon for being foolhardy after having been warned, in a Letter to the Editor. 

ELEVEN DAYS ON A ROCK. (1885, February 5). South Australian Register (Adelaide, SA : 1839 - 1900), p. 7. http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article44544026  

Mizon critical retort to A. C. Burgess, in a Letter to the Editor, accusing him of persistently ignoring his signals of distress. 

THE FATAL BOAT ACCIDENT, KANGAROO ISLAND. (1885, February 11). South Australian Register (Adelaide, SA : 1839 - 1900), p. 7.  http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article44543540 

John Little endorses A. C Burgess. Mizon critical of John Little. Letters to Editor.

THE LATE SEALING ACCIDENT. (1885, February 28). Adelaide Observer (SA : 1843 - 1904), p. 29. ttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article160735718

More on Walter Mizon

Farmer, sealer, engineer, bankrupt, Marxist, socialist candidate for municipal and Legislative Council S.A., Victorian Socialist Party. Alleged wife-beater. Unbridled tongue and disruptive influence. 

Matthews, Race. 1993. Australia's First Fabians: Middle-class Radicals, Labour Activists, and the Early Labor Movement.
Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1957), Tuesday 23 March 1909, page 5


At the South Melbourne Court yesterday Walter Mizon, an engineer, and publisher of the "Supplementary Socialist," was charged with having assaulted his wife. Emma Mizon, married woman, living with her husband at 180 Hanna street said that on Saturday last she had occasion to beat her son for disobedience. He told his father who came into the washhouse where she was lighting the copper fire, and struck her a violent blow in the face. He struck her several times, and knocked her down five times as he had done "thousands of times before." She desired him to be medically examined as he was insane. he was continually accusing her of unchastity, which was a vile charge. He had only maintained her for three years out of 34 that they had been married.

Defendant said his wife was the "most atrocious liar living." He had had her medically examined but the doctors said that she was only excitable. He accounted for the bruises on his wife by saying that when he spoke to her of thrashing the boy she caught his finger between her teeth, and in pulling away she fell against the mangle. There was a rough and tumble, and she must have been bruised on the body. Winifred Grace Wilkinson, parties, said that her mother was a good woman, who had earned her own living at a tobacco factory for seven years. The case was adjourned until Monday next to allow both sides to produce further evidence.

AN UNHAPPY MARRIAGE. (1909, March 23). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1957), p. 5. http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article10687181