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Week 01 – Setting sail

Model of the ship Duke of York

On 25 February 1836 Captain Robert Morgan sat down in his tiny cabin on board the Duke of York to begin a diary of the long sea voyage to the new Province of South Australia. He was well aware that the journey he faced would be long and perilous, indeed the route to Australia was one [...]

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Week 02 – Storm in the Channel

As February 1836 drew to a close two of the three South Australian Company ships, the John Pirie and the Duke of York, left Gravesend at the mouth of the Thames and began their careful navigation of the English Channel towards the Atlantic Ocean. Poor Captain Morgan continued to be very anxious about his wife, who was due [...]

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Week 03 – Waiting on the wind

One week after the storm the Duke of York was still at the Isle of Wight, held there by ‘adverse winds’. Captain Morgan made use of the time to repair the ship and replenish his stores, providing fresh meat for both passengers and crew while he had the chance, but his passengers fretted at the delay.  He [...]

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Week 04 – A fair wind

Sketch of the Cygnet at anchorage, Port Augusta, April 1833.

The middle of March found both the John Pirie and the Duke of York still anchored close to shore in the English Channel, as strong adverse winds and torrential rain delayed their departure still further. But by 19 March the winds had swung around and Captain Morgan prepared his ship once more for sea. His duty called, [...]

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Week 19 – farewells and new beginnings

This week sees the unhappy passengers and crew of the Cygnet still anchored in Rio Harbour.  While Boyle Travers Finniss chafes under continuing delays, the crew mutinies, refusing all work.  Brazilian soldiers come to arrest four of the ringleaders, but the defiant crew insists on a mass arrest.  The captain seeks solace in drink. We finally [...]

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Week 26 – the expanding settlement

scene: kangaroo island

On Kangaroo Island The fledgling settlement on Kangaroo Island is now into its third week and it is not a happy place. Samuel Stephens and Captains Morgan and Ross are increasingly anxious about their failure to find an adequate supply of fresh water nearby. Both the Duke of York and the Lady Mary Pelham need to replenish [...]

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Week 27 – a scandal averted

lithograph of a wallaby

At Kangaroo Island Samuel Stephens is gradually settling into a routine, although his habit of rising well before 6 am in the middle of winter cannot endear him to his men. He sends the company stock off to good grazing land near the Salt Lagoon, and selects a portion of land for a more permanent [...]

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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 32 – Visions of the future

The maritime portion of South Australia from surveys of Captn. Flinders and Col. Light, Survr Genl.

In South Australia In Kingscote Samuel Stephens takes advantage of the John Pirie sailing to Hobart to write to George Fife Angas, enclosing a copy of his private journal. The tone of this letter is somewhat defensive.  Stephens stresses that he has ‘had a great deal to contend with’, and admits that he may well [...]

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Week 39 – settling in at Holdfast Bay

Scene: Robert Thomas's tent and rush hut

In South Australia Colonel Light is busy making arrangements to secure food and means of transport for the new settlement at Holdfast Bay.  He contracts with Captain Duff of the Africaine to buy sheep, oxen and carts in Hobart and writes a long letter of explanation to the Commissioners in London to justify his purchases. [...]

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