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Briefly about the Colonists' perceptions of Aboriginal people:

The diaries of those who make landfall in South Australia in 1836 include a number of observations about the Aboriginal people they encountered, from the women companions of the Kangaroo Island sealers to the ‘Encounter Bay tribe’ (Ramindjeri) and, later, the Kaurna people of the Adelaide plains. Some of these accounts are first contact stories, [...]

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Week 43 – settling on Holdfast Bay

Scene: Holdfast Bay

In South Australia Colonel Light is preparing to leave Port Lincoln to return to Gulf St Vincent after satisfying himself that southern Eyre Peninsula is no place for the initial settlement. Once again he battles unsettled weather and strong contrary winds. Luckily he decides to anchor overnight just off Thistle Island, because the morning reveals [...]

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Week 29 – Impressions of the mainland

On land Sunday 4 September finds Samuel Stephens deeply depressed. ‘I cannot and will not endure this state of things it shall be mended by some means or other’, he confides to his diary. He and Captain Martin put their heads together and the experienced captain devises a plan to try to get everyone working [...]

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Week 30 – First encounters

SLSA_B4263_HMS_Buffalo_1836 low res

In South Australia The week begins with the long-awaited arrival of the Cygnet. Sadly this is the last we will hear of Boyle Travers Finniss, as his diary ends with the arrival on Kangaroo Island on 11 September. From his last brief entry however, we learn that Colonel Light has left a letter for Kingston, [...]

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Week 34 – a tempest

In South Australia Light continues his exploration of the coast, although he is beginning to doubt the existence of the harbour Jones described. For the record he copies Jones’ description into his journal, which allows us to be fairly certain that the anchorage in question is Port Adelaide, but clearly this was not obvious to [...]

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Week 35 – feasting on fish

In South Australia After several days of bad weather, Colonel Light is finally able to send the Rapid off to Kangaroo Island on 16 October to fetch supplies and bring over the surveyors from the Cygnet. For the rest of the week he must await its return and he spends the time in completing his [...]

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Week 40 – Finally! The harbour is found

In South Australia Colonel Light is a relieved man. He has identified the harbour that will become Port Adelaide and is excited by what he sees. ‘[O]ne of the finest little harbours I ever saw is now fairly known’ he writes, adding that it is ‘more extensive, safe and beautiful, than we could even have [...]

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Week 41 – Fire!

In South Australia Colonel Light is under increasing pressure to identify the site for the capital and begin his detailed land surveys.  He is acutely aware of the impatience of the emigrants camped at Holdfast Bay and knows that they will soon be joined by hundreds more from the Buffalo. But he has been instructed [...]

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Week 44 – ‘excellent eating’: kelp, parrots and a new oven

In South Australia On 18 December Colonel Light sails the Rapid into the harbour on the Port River with the Tam O’Shanter close behind. It is an emotional moment for Light.  In his mind’s eye he can see this harbour, ‘in a creek that had never before borne the construction of a marine architect’, as it might [...]

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