Recollections of Miss Emily REEVES

b. 21 Nov 1836 Launceston, Van Diemen`s Land, d. 21 Nov 1930 Queenstown, SA


City Fails To Attract

"I have not been in Rundle or King William streets for 50 years. Modern traffic is much too fast. I have never ridden in an electric tram or a motor car. A horse is speedy enough for me." These views were expressed by Miss Emily Reeves, of Queenstown, who celebrated her 87th birthday last week. Asked for a photograph of herself, she said she had never had one taken and did not believe in them. "There is too much vanity nowadays," she declared.

Miss Reeves admitted having attended a picture show. "I went once to please a young man who went away to the War," she said. "The pictures shown were a lot of nonsense. I never want to see any more."

Kangaroo Island was her home from 1847 to 1867. "I can remember seeing and speaking to Capt. 'Bully' Hayes at Kingscote," she said, "when that bold mariner put in there after having cleared out from his creditors at Port Adelaide," said Miss Emily Reeves.

Miss Reeves stated that when she was an infant her father and mother lived in Tasmania, then Van Diemen's Land, and the notorious Brady, a bushranger, was committing robberies on the island. The gang, which consisted of escaped convicts, raided the Reeves homestead for supplies, but was interrupted,and made off. Mrs. Reeves went into her bedroom, and found the bedding rolled up ready for removal, and a cry came from the middle of it. Miss Reeves, then only a few months old, had been sleeping on the bed, and the bushrangers had not seen her, and had unwittingly rolled the baby up in the blankets.

When Miss Reeves was two years old her father obtained an engagement with the South Australian Company, and the family came across to the mainland in the vessel, Lady Emma, and landed at the Old Port, about a quarter of a mile from where Miss Reeves now lives. Under Mr. Giles' direction, Mr. Reeves went to Gumeracha to carry on sheep farming for the company and had to cut a track through the bush to get there. Later he was on the land at Port Gawler and Mount Barker.

"I was only 4 years old at the time, but I can remember the excitement when the new port was opened at McLaren wharf in 1840," said Miss Reeves. "It was a gala day, and there must have been four or five thousand people who travelled miles to attend the ceremony and regatta. We came down in a bullock waggon, and it was a slow journey along the road that cross the swamp to the new wharf.


"I was 11 years old, when we went to Kangaroo Island, and there were only four houses there. Three belonged to brothers named Calnan. They were close together, all alike, and named Faith, Hope, and Charity. The other house, which had once been Mr. Giles', we occupied. It was built of granite, and had a shingle roof. There was a fine old mulberry tree close by which I believe is still alive. We

had to get our water from wells dug on the beach above high water mark. It was fresh there, but further inland was brackish."

"The island was then the headquarters of many American and British. whalers. Whales harpooned, and killed at sea were towed into the bay for the blubber to be 'tried out.' The carcases were floated alongside the ships, and men would bale buckets of pure oil out of them, and haul them on board."

"Cut into lumps, the blubber was then dealt with, melted down, and poured into casks on shipboard. In some cases the 'trying out' was done on shore with fires under great cauldrons, and the smell was objectionable. Although of various nationalities, the whalers were orderly. They lived on their ships when in the bay."

Referring to the visit of "Bully" Hayes to the island, Miss Reeves said his vessel, the Waitamate, was anchored in the bay for two days. She had a conversation with Hayes, unaware of his identity. After he had sailed, a craft from the Fort, which was pursuing him, arrived, and it was learned that Hayes had left without paying for his stores. Miss Reeves found him a quiet spoken, typical sea man.


"I can recollect a huge bush-fire that swept Kangaroo Island from Cape Borda for about 30 miles to the east. It was said to have been accidentally started by Lady MacDonnell (wife of the Governor). No farms or homesteads were damaged. The flames were confined to the scrub. I do not remember having seen any natives while I was there, but there were several lubras from Tasmania. "We were a family of 12, of which I was the youngest, and am now the only survivor. Father was farming. Our supplies came from Port Adelaide by sailing craft. When the gold rush to Victoria started in the fifties no vessels called at Kingscote for months, and our food ran short. We ground up wheat and barley to make bread. Other families were in a similar plight. A passing ship was wind-bound, and

father boarded her, and thus got up to Port Adelaide, but could not get a boat to return him. Capt. Sayers, who owned a cutter, at last heard of the plight of the islanders, and sailed down with father and our stores."

"In the early days Kangaroo Island granite was sought on the mainland, and portion of the original Port road was built of that stone, brought up by sea. About 1867 we came to Port Adelaide, and settled at Queenstown, in this house. which has since been enlarged, so you see I have lived on this spot for more than 55 years."

Despite her age, Miss Reeves is active, and assists with the housework at her home.

- TRAFFIC TOO FAST. (1923, November 28). News (Adelaide, SA : 1923 - 1954), p. 8 Edition: HOME EDITION.


Miss Reeves, 92, Critical

Until she was 80 years of age Miss Emily Reeves, of Spring street, Queenstown, had not spent a day in bed through illness. She is now 92 years old, and holds definite views on life today. Miss Reeves has not a high opinion of modern girls. "I think they live only for pleasure," she declared, "and are of no use in the house."

She had her first ride in a motor car five years ago, and after the experience declared in favor of the old-time bullock cart. She has been to a picture show only once, and was not greatly impressed by it.

Miss Reeves settled in Queenstown 63 years ago. She was present at the historic opening of McLaren Wharf in 1840, when Port Adelaide was formally declared open to shipping of the world.

Among modern inventions wireless holds pride of place in the heart of Miss Reeves. Since she became blind three years ago it has provided her with many an interesting and a comforting hour. She likes the church services best. She is always delighted to hear on the wireless of the victories of Port Adelaide Football Club. She likes cricket better than football, however. "Football is too rough."

she said.

Miss Reeves still enjoys remarkably good health. Her hearing is good, and her memory is practically unimpaired. Misses E. and A. Howell, nieces, with whom she lives, always rely upon her to remind them of any particular date, and she has not failed them yet.

Miss Reeves was born in Launceston, Tasmania, in 1836, the year in which South Australia was founded. When two years of age her parents came to this State, where Mr. S. Reeves, her father, was employed in managing Government sheep stations at Chain of Ponds, Gumeracha, Port Gawler. and Glen Osmond. Subsequently he took up land on Kangaroo island, and remained there for about 20 years.

- GIRLS LIVE FOR PLEASURE. (1929, May 15). News (Adelaide, SA : 1923 - 1954), p. 4 Edition: HOME EDITION.