Sunday Tasmanian

Sunday 1 August 2004


Whaling industry takes hold


August 1, 1804


Early that morning the master of the Alexander, Captain Rhodes, paid an early morning courtesy call on Governor Collins who asked him to join him for breakfast.
Rhodes said they had just come back from a successful whaling expedition in the South Sea after which they called in at Sydney, and that at present his ship was anchored in Adventure Bay.
He also held on board the two deserters from the Ocean whom they came across on Maria Island and from whom they had heard of the intended settlement here on the Derwent.
On an anxious question from Collins, Capt Rhodes almost casually answered that, yes, he did indeed have despatches for Collins on board his ship but didn't have them with him, using the excuse that he did not know what to expect here.
Leaving a frustrated Governor, Rhodes then went next door to see Knopwood and told him that he also had some mail for him on board.
The stories of Capt Rhodes reminded Gov. Collins once again of the potentially very profitable whaling industry that could be opened up here in Tasmania.
With this in mind he later called in William Collins, who in his job as harbour master had had ample opportunity to assess the prospects of the Derwent and the adjacent bays for “Fishery”, and asked him to prepare a report on the advantages of establishing a whaling industry here.
In his report, William Collins envisaged the need for two or three ships to hunt what he called the South Sea Sperma Whale, and that they should be processed at a factory in the Derwent. (Soon after he would indeed establish such a factory near Trywork Point in Ralphs Bay, of which some remnants are still there to this day).
His recommendations were detailed, while he envisaged that in due time enough oil could be produced to fill one ship each month for the English home market (whale oil being the up and coming new fuel used for lighting purposes).



The Mercury

Monday 2 August 2004, page 13


Flurry of despatches


August 2, 1804

Early in the morning Lieutenant Lord, Knopwood and Harris joined Captain Mertho for breakfast on board the Ocean. The ship in the meantime had been moved from the protection of the cove to more open water in the Derwent, from where in the distance they could still see Captain Rhodes' boat making his way back to his ship in Adventure Bay.
In view of the fact that Collins was in the process of writing important despatches to Sydney and to his superiors in London he was very keen to read the incoming mail destined for him on the Alexander before he closed off his own correspondence, and therefore sent pilot Hacking in the white cutter to Adventure Bay to collect this mail from the Alexander.
That day, the last two Risdon convicts (Cole and Harris) arrived in Hobart Town, they being among the 13 or so convicts who Collins, for one reason or another, wanted to stay.
(A month later Collins would visit Risdon Cove for the first time since he first arrived there from Port Phillip seven months ago. Collins, Knopwood and some other officers inspecting the site soon discovered that there were still a few huts left that could be demounted to help overcome the shortage of housing at Hobart Town. Instructions to that effect were promptly given, after which Collins and Knopwood went home again for dinner, both men no doubt recalling over a glass of wine all the problems which this ill-fated settlement had created for them over the past six months or so.)



The Mercury

Tuesday 3 August 2004, page 19


Special deal for Hayes clan


August 3, 1804

Knopwood walks to the farmhouse of Martha Hayes, where he and Wilson had been invited for a final dinner with Lieutenant Bowen and his Martha.
During this visit a mutual sympathy seems to have developed between Knopwood and his bright hostess, as a result of which this first visit would later be repeated many more times.
The story of the Hayes family went back several years to the time when Henry and Martha Hayes ran a drinking house in the East End of London and became involved in shady dealings with stolen goods in which John Pascoe's father also was mixed up.
During the subsequent court case Henry got off free but his wife Maria and Fawkner Snr were found guilty.
Maria, accompanied by her (free) teenage daughter Martha was transported on the Glatton to Port Jackson, where they arrived early in 1803.
Also on board was a young naval lieutenant, John Bowen, who during the journey began an attachment with the young Martha and in 1803 took her with him when he was appointed by Governor King to create a settlement at Risdon Cove.
Maria's husband Henry, now on his own, decided to follow his wife and used the opportunity of passage offered by the Collins expedition to travel to Port Phillip.
His older brother Thomas also decided to join him with his wife and children, and as a result both Henry and Thomas received permission from Lord Hobart to travel with Collins to Port Phillip, while Thomas received permission to travel from there in the Calcutta to Sydney.
Thomas and his family seem to have decided to stay with the Collins expedition, and in the end it was Henry (but officially under the name of Thomas Hayes) who travelled on to Port Jackson in the Calcutta.
Here, he not only found his wife Maria living very much like a free woman (she even advertised her services as a needlewoman and hat maker), but via her also met up with Bowen, who told the couple that their daughter Martha was with him in Van Diemens Land and because of her pregnancy wanted her mother Maria to come back with him to the Derwent -- most probably the real reason why Bowen left his post at Risdon Cove early in January to travel to Sydney.
Having arranged the necessary co-operation from Governor King both Henry Hayes and his wife Martha (probably in order to remain on the safe side, King recorded them as travelling under the names of Thomas and Elizabeth Hayes, two names being on the books as free settlers) then joined Bowen and the other passengers on the Integrity for their journey to the Derwent.
How much King knew about this charade is not clear; all he wrote in a letter to Collins was that Thomas Hayes and (Anthony) Fletcher with their families wish to return to you as Settlers, although in a later letter to Bowen he speaks about the latter's private affairs.
Having thus rejoined the Collins expedition, Henry Hayes was once more added to the list of the free settlers (13 March 1804), while his convict wife Maria seems to have moved to Risdon Cove where her daughter Martha was about to give birth to her first child.
Henrietta Hayes was born on March 29, and Maria stayed at Risdon until July when this settlement was closed down.
Martha and her baby daughter then moved to the cottage which Bowen had built for her across the river near the shore of the Prince of Wales Bay, while her mother Maria once more joined her husband Henry.
How that was officially managed is again unclear, although in a letter signed by Collins it is on record that once more she was formally transferred from the Integrity to the Collins settlement as Elizabeth Hayes, settlers' wife, again a blatant administrative error enabling Maria to freely join her husband Henry.
(To cover the presence of the real Elizabeth Hayes -- then living with her husband Thomas Hayes and their children on the banks of the New Town Rivulet -- the name of Maria Hayes was coyly entered on the list of those receiving Government rations under the heading of Females as Hayes, settler's wife, again clearly implying a knowledge at a high level of what went on.)
Meanwhile, Thomas Hayes had been present during the late days of February and the first few days of March when Surveyor Meehan surveyed several allotments for the settlers then living along the banks of the New Town Creek, and thus obtained a 100-acre allotment in New Town, an area which ran from Pedder St to the village of New Town and from there to the present Douglas Parker Rehabilitation Centre and the New Town Creek.
Shortly after his arrival in Hobart Town, Henry obtained a similar grant alongside that of his brother, roughly the area between Pedder St, the present Ogilvie High School and the New Town High School.
While within the overall scheme of things the story of these people would not have had any significance in relation to the settlement of Hobart Town, it does throw an interesting light on the flexibility of the authorities of the times if genuine efforts were made to establish (or re-establish) family ties, and that in such circumstances the official status of those who made these efforts -- convict or free -- was often looked upon as a secondary matter only to be ignored where convenient.
In fact, such efforts (especially if they involved marriages) were very much encouraged by the authorities because they were perceived as having a stabilising influence on the fabric of this new, raw -- and initially very fragmented -- society.
Of course, in this particular case the influence of Bowen and Collins in covering the necessary associated administrative entries (such as described above) may be taken for granted.


The Mercury

Wednesday 4 August 2004, page 15


Knopwood gets a dog, the famous Spot


August 4, 1804, Saturday

Having picked up the despatches for the Governor from the whaler Alexander, Hacking returned from Adventure Bay and reported that he had seen a ship far out at sea approaching Storm Bay, the general expectation being that it would be the long-awaited Lady Barlow.
He also had with him a dog for Knopwood, sent to him as a gift from his old friend Lt Houston (this dog became the famous “Spot”, a very good hunting dog and thus a very valuable asset in a community greatly dependent on successful hunting), and also returned the two deserters from the Ocean back to the tender care of Capt Mertho.
Meanwhile, the Lady Barlow had worked its way to near the mouth of the Derwent, and its logbook recorded that during that afternoon they: “Sent the 2nd Officer up to Hobart Town in the Pinnace for a Pilot”.
That day's census of all the livestock kept at the Derwent (including New Town) paints an interesting picture of what the settlers had been able to salvage from the effects of the long sea voyage out, the abortive settlement at Port Phillip, and the subsequent two sea journeys from there to the Derwent.
The government farm at Cornelian Bay possessed 21 cattle, 25 sheep and 15 swine.
Beyond that, the private ownership of livestock varies somewhat but concentrated on goats, swine and poultry -- all welcome suppliers of milk, meat and eggs, the latter being a particularly welcome regular addition to the diet of those who
either had them, or could afford to buy them from others.
Lt Bowen was, at that time, the only person in the settlement to have a horse -- a mare which he had brought out with him in September 1803.
When he left again in the Ocean, he sold the animal to the authorities in Hobart, where it was soon joined by the other horses that reached Hobart on the Lady Barlow a few days later.



The Mercury

Thursday 5 August 2004, page 23


Deserters feel sting of the lash


August 5, 1804

Probably because the desertion occurred while Governor Collins was in overall command of the Ocean, Captain Mertho took his two deserters from Maria Island ashore to face an impromptu court presided over by Knopwood and Harris.
The two men appeared to have nothing to argue in their defence and were sentenced to 100 lashes each, to be executed for greater effect before the ships Company a 1 PM, with Knopwood using the opportunity to sound a stern warning to any other sailors playing with the idea of deserting their ship.
With regards to the punishing of crew members, ship captains faced the very same dilemma as Collins did when prisoners had to be sentenced. Punish them not enough, and they would soon cause trouble again. But heavy  lashing penalties, although a much better deterrent, also made the recipient unfit for work for a very long period -- if not forever.
On a ship where the input of every member of the crew was important, if not essential, this would be a major consideration in deciding the punishment.
In this case, one of them (perhaps the instigator) received 100 lashes, while the other sailor received 78 on the back with a cat of nine tales.

(NOTE: The cat o' nine tales was three lengths of rope held together in a wooden handle. Towards the end of these ropes, about a metre long, they were split into three strands, each having a hard knot in the middle. The impact of this whip on the skin was severe, probably the reason why the use of this whip was abolished in 1806 by an order of the Admiralty.)

And with this distraction out of the way, the Ocean hoisted a signal indicating its readiness to sail, and emphasised the point by firing one of its cannons. In reply they received a message that the despatches from the Governor still were not ready, a matter not helped by the late arrival of more correspondence from the Alexander.
In the afternoon the pinnace (an eight-oared rowing boat, usually provided with sails) from the Lady Barlow arrived with its 2nd officer, who reported that his ship was under anchor near Betsey Island with cargo and cattle on board for the settlement, a message which caused the harbour pilot to leave immediately to guide the ship (500 tons, with 14 guns and a crew of 50 on board) safely into the Derwent and Sullivans Cove.
Actually, the Lady Barlow had already been in Storm Bay for some days, but failing to make the Derwent because of the fierce winds, had anchored on the eastern side of Betsey Island. Then the wild weather had picked up again and the ship had been driven out to sea very much like the Ocean a few weeks ago.
Reported Captain MacAskill later: the Wind almost invariably Blows from the NW to the SW with sudden Gusts, Severe Squalls and Heavy Gales, so that at times a Ship cannot show a stitch of Canvas, and may be driven out to sea from the very Anchorage off Betsey Island -- which was in fact the case with the Lady Barlow, being twice driven out to sea after having been well up to the head of the Bay.
We can be sure that MacAskill would have had plenty of yarns to exchange with Captain Mertho of the Ocean.
With all this commotion going on, again nothing is being said about holding a divine service that day.



The Mercury

Friday 6 August 2004, page 18


Collins expresses anxiety over supplies


August 6, 1804, Monday

Still in port, Captain Mertho invites his friends once more for dinner aboard the Ocean, so that afternoon Knopwood and Harris were being rowed to the ship, now at anchor in the river, where they met up with the last few passengers boarding that day: Dr Mountgarret (on his return to Sydney he would immediately be appointed as the doctor for an intended settlement at Port Dalrymple), Lt Moore and Robert Brown, the botanist.
A convivial meal was enjoyed in the great cabin with many memories being recalled. In the evening, Knopwood and Harris reluctantly returned to shore.
Other people onboard (but certainly not taking part in that dinner) were most members of the abandoned Risdon settlement, including William Birt, the carpenter, and his family, a party of mutinous soldiers and a party of Irish convicts, all of whom Collins was glad to get rid of.
In his cottage, the Governor was still hurriedly working on a pile of letters and reports, as he was very much aware of the fact the time had come for him to submit a detailed account of his activities since the changeover from Port Phillip to the Derwent.
In a letter dated August 3, Collins described to his superior in London, Lord Hobart (who, unbeknown to Collins, was at that time no longer in office), the situation and condition of the settlement in general, complete with statistics on people, the houses erected, in what way the convicts entrusted to him were employed, general health conditions and the amount of food rations still available in the government stores.
The last stocktaking had shown there were some 64,000kg of food (flour, beef, pork and sugar) still in store, of which each week 2600kg was used for rations, optimistically estimated to be enough flour for the coming 30 weeks. The quantity of beef in store was much less: there would be enough for only the next two weeks, while the pork still in stock would be used up in 17 weeks. Fortunately, the sugar in store would last for more than two years.
What with well over 300 mouths to feed every day, these figures were certainly not very good and Collins must fervently have hoped that the Lady Barlow would have the necessary additional supplies aboard. (It had but the joy about this news would be very short-lived).
Collins also added for his superiors in London a list of supplies he needed.
Included in the list were food, clothing and blankets, stationery (paper especially was in very short supply), iron, glue, borax, rosin (used for making soap, glue and pitch for casks, etc), sheet iron, agricultural machinery, tools and similar equipment, rope, a compass, bunting, lanterns, bees wax, sheet copper and copper bolts and nails, sail needles, etc. (Boatbuilding was clearly high on the list of priorities.)
The list of medical supplies included a range of chemicals then in common use in hospitals -- such items as vinegar (still thought of in those days as an agent to “cleanse the body”), lime juice (used to fight scurvy, caused by a lack of vitamin C), wine (as a digestive aid and blood tonic), oatmeal (used to combat skin rashes), sago (used to feed patients with stomach problems) and “portable soup” (a forerunner of the modern soup cubes, made from cattle offal, flavoured with salt and vegetables and boiled down to hard, gluey cakes) and powdered rhubarb (used in various strengths as a laxative), all popular prescriptions in those days for a range of ailments.
Another matter heavily emphasised by Collins in his reports was the need for blankets because

“. . . the winter season in this Latitude has been severely felt by the people. A mountain in my neighbourhood has been for some weeks covered with snow. Scurvy, diarrhoea and catarrh are the prevailing diseases . . .”
For the settlement's hospital they also needed candles, soap, paper, pens and ink, skins of leather, blankets and other covers, flannel and calico (for bandages), a still with wax candles to heat this apparatus, lancets and lint (used for dressing wounds).
Collins also hammered again the need for “Specie”, coinage that was urgently needed by both the government and the community as a whole for their daily routine of buying and selling. There simply was not enough ready cash to go around in the settlement, a problem aggravated by the widespread habit of saving coins as much as possible as the only form of preserving their buying power in a community without banks or other financial institutions.
Marriage and death statistics also were given: six marriages had taken place since the expedition left Spithead in England exactly one year ago, while 36 people had died over that period. What with the various others who had since come, gone or were going, Collins' overseers had come to an official grand total of 433 people in “the Colony”.



The Mercury

Saturday 7 August 2004, page 32


Cargo of mail and livestock welcome


August 7, 1804, Tuesday

Impatiently, the Ocean ran up her “ready to sail” flag once again, but the dispatches from the Governor still were not ready.
Meanwhile, the Lady Barlow was seen during the morning laboriously working its way up the river, finally dropping anchor in the cove late in the afternoon.
Its cargo consisted mainly of livestock and provisions.
The most-anticipated items on board were the mail containers.
The mail was unloaded that evening for sorting.
Lieutenant Bowen also received a letter from Governor King, who “suggested” that he should return “now” to Sydney with the Ocean, and so he finally also embarked.
That evening, Knopwood visited the Ocean one last time to his farewell to his friend Bowen.
What was discussed and in the end arranged between Knopwood and Bowen was not recorded.
But it is clear from later entries in Knopwood's diaries over the next few decades that the chaplain undertook to take a close and personal interest in the well-being of Martha, Bowen's daughter Henrietta, who had been born only a few weeks ago, and Martha Charlotte, Bowen's second daughter, who was born nine months after he visited Martha Hayes for the last time at her farmhouse near Prince of Wales Bay.
Probably to convey or confirm this promise to Bowen, Knopwood again visited Martha Hayes a few days later, telling her of what had been discussed between him and Bowen, and that he had promised to watch and protect the interests of her and her child.
The livestock on the Lady Barlow would have been a very welcome addition to the small Government herd being tended at the Government Farm at New Town.
In one of his letters, surveyor Harris gives an interesting summing up of the kind of cargo being unloaded. The Bengal's cattle included one bull, 149 cows, 10 yoke oxen, 90 hogs, one stallion and five mares.
It also carried two years' worth of salted provisions.
Luxury goods carried “on spec” and to be traded with the local population included tea, sugar and “India Goods” (spices) and, of course, spirits.



Sunday Tasmanian

Sunday 8 August 2004, page 19


Merchandise up for grabs


August 8, 1804

Gradually Governor Collins seems to come to the end of his correspondence for Sydney and London, and at long last was able that morning to send his official mail trunks to the Ocean.
Then Collins and Knopwood received the Captain of the Lady Barlow, MacAskill, because the cargo of the ship held much livestock, food and other items of great interest to the settlement.
Some of this was sent by Governor King as official Government cargo, but other merchandise was up for grabs -- such as the small matter of some 5400 litres of alcohol, of which Collins wanted to make very certain where all this merriment would end up, and at what price.
As recent experiences at the Risdon settlement had shown (and a year later would actually be repeated in Hobart Town itself), the sudden release of all this alcohol would most definitely cause major problems of public order and safety, and for this reason its sale had to be very carefully regulated.
Just to be sure (and probably also to keep on the right side of those he had to work with), Collins instructed the public stores to buy some 500 litres of rum for distribution among his senior officers, who could . . . repay the store in a given time. (Rum was normally used as payment for labour at the rate of 21 shillings per gallon, but on the “free market” easily seems to fetch four times as much as that, this being the only way in which some settlers and prisoners could lay their hands on these spirits).
Other items the officers got first refusal on were some of the livestock on board the Barlow; Lieutenant Lord and Mr Humphrey, for instance, obtained one cow, a calf and eight sheep, increasing their total holding to one cow, one calf, eight ewes, one goat and kid, two sows and two sow pigs, 15 chickens and one goose; they also had five dogs.
Commented Humphrey: These dogs supply our table with kangaroos every day, which is most excellent eating, not unlike good beef, but without fat. We shall shortly supply the Governor with a large quantity weekly for issue to the prisoners. (Probably an important motivation behind Collins' apparent largesse towards his officers).
Humphrey was well satisfied with these livestock purchases for which Collins advanced him and Lord the necessary funds against their salary, and happily noted that  This acquisition, if we are fortunate, will produce a stock worth four times that sum in two years. (Within a few years, Lord would be the largest, and richest, cattle owner in Van Diemen's Land).
But the bad news about the cargo was that much of the food in the holds was of inferior quality.
Some of it had already been hurriedly issued, and reading between the lines of later correspondence there had been a near-riot about the poor quality of this food, causing Collins to promptly instigate an investigation.
It was soon discovered that about 200 barrels of pork (representing about 30 tons of meat) were totally unfit for human consumption, and that 363 barrels of flour (about 62 tons) also had to be rejected, being full of weevil, maggots etc.
When Collins later complained about this to King, King happened to be away in the country and passed the question on to the Commissary back in Sydney for comment, causing a great deal of hurried buck-passing by all and sundry. But there was a great deal of water between Port Jackson and the Derwent, and in the end a hapless King was forced to reply to Collins that, surely, it couldn't possibly be as bad as all that and anyway, what wasn't eaten could be given to livestock.
Even so, King's conscience on this matter kept bothering him; he continued to raise the matter in his correspondence to Collins until early in the next year, when he put some hope out to Collins that direct supplies will reach you from England before any further supply from here may be necessary. Collins was experienced enough to let the matter rest there.
It later turned out that some of this flour had been inside those barrels since it had been packed in England in 1801. (No wonder the stores in Sydney grabbed an opportunity to offload some of their old stock!)



The Mercury

Monday 9 August 2004, page 23


Our First Settlers: A Special eight-page souvenir liftout


The first settlers of Hobart spent their early days huddled in tents in a dense forest.
Two hundred years later a modern, vibrant port city has emerged from the bush, but it was the tenacity and survival skills of those first Europeans that saw the settlement grow into a town and later a state capital.
The early sketch (above) by surveyor G.P. Harris is of the area around the present day Grand Chancellor Hotel.
Frank Bolt salutes the early settlers in this eight-page souvenir special which ends his daily diary of life in the first 12 months of Hobart Town.
He has compiled a list of Hobart's first residents and gives an interesting description of many of them, painting a fascinating picture of those bleak times.


The Mercury

Monday 9 August 2004, page 24


Ideal place for a settlement

The above image is a part-enlargement of the watercolour by G.P. Harris made shortly after the establishment of the settlement (early March, 1804.) Before us is the outlet of the Hobart Rivulet, flowing from the forest on the right to its outlet into the Cove on the left. Above that is the sandbar  which linked Hunter Island (outside the picture, on the left) with the shore.
Clearly visible in the middle of the painting is the steep waterfront (still visible today behind the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery and at the top end of Brooker St), near the edge of which the senior officers have erected their marquees, shown here as A-ridged tents with an extra cover over the actual ridge, although behind them are several other tents without this extra protective cover.
In the distance on the right are the tents of the soldiers and/or convicts, visible here because Harris probably took some artistic licence in omitting most of the vegetation obscuring his view in order to give at least some idea of how they all had found their place in the dense bush which surrounded them everywhere.


Ocean departs and survival battle begins

9 August 1804 Thursday


At long last free to go, the Ocean raised its anchor at daybreak, and making use of a northerly breeze, sailed down the Derwent. At noon she reached the entrance of the river and turned towards Tasman Island, slowly disappearing over the horizon, never to reappear in these waters.
Normally used as a freighter, the Ocean this time would have looked more like a passenger liner, given the large number of people on board. By far the largest group would have been the population of Risdon Cove, complete except for those prisoners that Collins had added to his own people at Hobart Town.
Also missing were of course the convicts who had escaped in a boat towards the Furneaux Islands and some prisoners already transported to Sydney earlier on.
The group further included all the settlers at Risdon and their families, Lieutenant Moore and what remained of his military attachment, Dr Mountgarret, the storekeeper Mr Wilson, and the botanist Robert Brown.
Another unwelcome settler and his family leaving Risdon Cove was John Hartley, fully intending to continue to make life difficult for officialdom in Sydney and later in London. He was accompanied by his wife and their son, together with their servant Joseph Moulding and his son.
From the Collins' settlement there were on board an overseer called William Parish, a woman called Mary who had pretended to be John Whitehead's wife and for this was returned in disgust by Collins to Sydney, and four "servants".
Their identity remains unknown, but there are suggestions that they were the deserters from the ship Ferret which visited Risdon Cove early in January 1804.
A very mixed bunch of people and many would continue to colour the Australian scene for quite a few years to come.
All in all it was a sad farewell for many in the settlement, as the Ocean was one of the two ships in which they sailed from England last year, full of expectation, and after many adventures and outright dangers finally ended up here on the shores of Sullivans Cove to begin a new life in a new land under a new Australian sun.
Noted a reflective Knopwood in his diary: at 8 this morn saild our friend Capt. Mertho, who commanded the Ocean, transport, which came from England in company with H.M. Ship Calcutta, Capt. Dan Woodriffe. The Ocean brought out settler's stores etc. etc.
for the colony at Port Phillip under the command of Lt. Gov. Collins of the Royal Marines. The settlement at Pt. Phillip did not succeed and the Ocean removed (us) to the Derwent in Van Diemen's Land.
And here ends our narrative of the events from the first days of the settlement of Hobart Town, the future capital of the State of Tasmania.
With the departure of the Ocean the initial period of settlement had come to an end; that day the last link of the settlers with "home" disappeared below the horizon, and from now onward they would be on their own, alone, and thrown entirely on their own resources to survive and make the best of the situation before them.
Especially during the first decade or so there were to be many difficult times (the provision of food often being the main problem), but in due time they were overcome. Many other problems, such as the settlement of people (convicts and settlers alike) in the virgin wilderness of the Tasmanian environment, the development of a relationship between the European settlers and the original inhabitants of the island, and the isolated location of Tasmania in relation to the rest of what was to become Australia were still to follow.
But through it all a new process of bonding developed between these people and the soil beneath their feet, creating the groundwork for what would, a century later, encourage the creation of a new Federation of Australians in a new country called Australia.
And it is this effort by these first settlers to create a new way of living in a new world that we of today are commemorating.
We walk the same ground as they did, and while much has altered since, we still face many of the challenges as they did then.
Seen this way there is, indeed, much to be remembered.



The Mercury

Monday 9 August 2004, page 25


How early Hobart Town took shape



While at first glance this quill drawing by G.P. Harris resembles very much the watercolour he made early in March 1804 (it certainly was made from the same location in Evans St, at that time still on the shoreline of Sullivans Cove). There are, by closer inspection, many improvements which had been made since and based on these changes we may assume that he made it several years after 1804, some sources giving the year 1806.
Harris numbered many cottages and other features of the settlement  which he described underneath the drawing, repeated (with further comments) below.
(For improved clarity, the numbers he drew in the sketch were replaced with modern typeset.)

  1. Government House. Much improved since it was erected for Governor Collins in 1804, we can clearly see that a small wing overlooking the Cove has been added since.
  2. Chaplains: Located next to Government House, a small cottage seems to stand here, perhaps suggesting that Knopwood at that time had not as yet moved into his new cottage in Battery Point.
  3. Dept Surveyor General: It is not clear who lived in that house at the time of the making of the painting.
  4. Surgeon: This, presumably, was the cottage of the Senior Medical Officer, William I'Anson and his household.
  5. Commissary: Presumably the house of Leonard Fosbrook.
  6. Printing Office: The hut where Collins' printing machine was located, and where, it is thought, Mr and Mrs Matthew Powers also lived, conveniently close to Government House.
  7. Guard House: This structure stood for many years on what is now the intersection of Macquarie and Market streets, the place where the sand bar linking Hunter Island with the shore ended - an ideal place to keep a close eye on who went to or came from the Government Stores on the island.
  8. Hospital: By the time this sketch was made, the original "medical" tents seems to have been replaced with a structure of unknown description. This site is now occupied by the Royal Hobart Hospital.
  9. Two Assistant Surgeons: Two cottages, one occupied by Dr Matthew Bowden, while the other was the home of Dr Wiliam Hopley, his wife and their daughter.
  10. Commissary Cottage: The Commissary (store keeper) at that time was Fosbrook. Judging by the fact that he appeared to live, at the time of the drawing being made, on the waterfront near the other senior officers, we may assume that his residence on Hunters Island (see 27 June) was only short-lived.
  11. Blacksmith: Whether this was the actual blacksmith shop or the cottage of the blacksmith is not clear, but its location some distance away from the coastline indicates that Harris used some artistic licence here, as he would not have been able to see that site from where he made the sketch.
  12. Hunter Island: With the store erected during the winter of 1804. Note the barrels outside. In those days barrels were used to ship a wide range of goods.
  13. Jetty: This jetty was completed in early March. Also shown is the tripod hoist, dating from the same time.
  14. Magazine: The powder magazine, which gave Collins so much trouble to have it constructed. (See March 29, 1804).
  15. Barracks: A somewhat long structure so typical for military barracks, indicating that these barracks were actually erected.
    (At present, this is the only known drawing of that structure.) A few years later Governor Macquarie took one look at them and condemned them out of hand, and promptly gave instructions to build new ones, resulting in today's Anglesea Barracks in Davey Street.
  16. Captain Slatten's cottage.
  17. The cottage of G.P. Harris: Again some artistic licence; its actual location was in Sandy Bay.
  18. Table Mountain: A few years later it would be named Mt Wellington, in honour of the Duke of Wellington, who had distinguished himself in the Battle of Waterloo (1815).
  19. The mouth of the Hobart Rivulet: In those days located underneath what is now Macquarie St and the site of the Sheraton Hotel.

NOTE: also the presence of a long row of smaller cottages (huts?) above cottages 2-5, indicating the location where by that time many of the settlers and convicts had erected their huts, all conveniently close to the rivulet. They would not have been visible from where Harris sat down to make this drawing (Evans St), but he obviously did not want to miss this opportunity to proudly show what had been achieved by that time, not only by the senior officers but also by the entire community as a whole, free or not free.



The Mercury

Monday 9 August 2004, page 26


The Pioneers of Hobart Town – 1804

With the departure on August 9, 1804, of the Ocean and its passengers - such as Lieutenant Bowen - the initial period of the settlement of Hobart Town comes to an end, but it is also the start of a new period of consolidation which would continue for a number of years.
In fact, it could be argued that this second period lasted until the arrival of Governor Arthur in 1825, an experienced administrator who introduced major overall changes in the government and administrative policies governing the colony, especially the role which the convicts played in its development.
Allowing for a small margin of error (the documents of the time are sometimes dubious or even clearly in error), the list as given here identifies those pioneers who took part in the founding of "the settlement on the Derwent" up to the departure of the Ocean in August 1804.
This list does include of course the prisoners, many of whom stayed on in Tasmania and after an often troublesome first few years settled down and in due time spread their roots over the entire island.
The list also includes those settlers and convicts who were transferred by Collins from Risdon Cove to Hobart Town and remained there after the departure of the Ocean in August 1804.
However, the remainder of the Risdon Cove population (i.e. those who returned to Sydney in August) did not take part in the settlement of Hobart Town as such, and for that reason was listed separately (see Appendix 1).


Lt Governor David Collins: (pictured above) Apart from being the commander-in-chief, it was the all-out effort of this man alone which managed to encourage the people he was responsible for to persist in the face of many problems and hardships.
George R. Collins: Collins' 10-year-old son.




Total of civil establishment: 18 men, 4 women, 6 children for a total of 28 people.

MARINE PERSONNEL and their families


The Mercury

Monday 9 August 2004, page 31


The Pioneers of Hobart Town – 1804
MARINE PERSONNEL and their families cont…


Total of military establishment: 50 men, 9 women, 4 children for a total of 63 people.

THE SETTLERS and their families



Total of settlers: 15 men, 8 wives or independent women, 21 children for a total of 44 people.

THE PRISONERS and their families

The following list was compiled with grateful acknowledgement to the material compiled by Mrs Marjorie Tipping (Convicts Unbound) and Mrs Irene Schaffer (Land Musters, Stock Returns and Lists), without whose incredibly laborious work in the past this information would not have been possible to collate. To give a better idea of the sort of convicts Collins had to work with, a brief background note has been added to most of the names. For a more detailed description of the often indeed very colorful lives of many of these people, see Mrs Tipping, pp. 248-326.

From her notes it becomes clear that a large number of the original convicts later disappear from the scene in one way or another, that those who stay often continue to have trouble with the law for a while, but that in the end they and their households settle down and produce respected families within the Tasmanian community.

With regards to those described as bushranger or outside the law, it should be appreciated that during the 1805-1808 period the food situation was very critical, encouraging some convicts to absent themselves (some with and some without permission) from their normal duties and live in the bush, existing on whatever wildlife they could shoot or catch.

The authorities were not overly concerned about that, as it meant that firstly they did not have to be fed from the public stores, and secondly they often traded (kangaroo) carcasses to acquaintances in exchange for other essentials, contributing via the back door to what was a very desperate food shortage in Hobart Town.
Although these absentees were usually declared as outlaws, they often received only a minimum punishment on their return or were taken back under an amnesty.

Note also that quite a few convicts died from scurvy during the spring and early summer of 1804, caused by a lack of vitamin C due to the absence of fresh fruit and greens, a problem which graphically illustrates the difficulties which Collins faced in supplying his people with the right food.



The Mercury

Monday 9 August 2004, page 32


The Pioneers of Hobart Town – 1804
THE PRISONERS and their families cont…




The Mercury

Monday 9 August 2004, page 33


The Pioneers of Hobart Town – 1804
THE PRISONERS and their families cont…


The Mercury

Monday 9 August 2004, page 34


The Pioneers of Hobart Town – 1804

THE PRISONERS and their families cont…

Totals 274 male convicts, 16 female convicts or free wives of convicts and eight children.
Total number of convict group was 298 people.

Grand total of population at Hobart Town on 9 August 1804 (but not including any new arrivals in the Lady Barlow) was:







Collins’ Numbers

Civil Establishment


















Convicts and families












Grand Totals












‘total victualled from the store’ (according to Collins) 438


COMMENT: There appears to be a discrepancy in the total numbers as given in the General Statement of the Inhabitants in His majesty's Settlement Derwent River Van Dieman's Land, July 1804, dated 3 August 1804.
On the one hand it states that there are 433 Total Number Victualled from the Stores and No. in the Colony (as arrived at in the above list), but when the Collins' breakdown of these figures is added up (as in the last column), the total is 438.
Furthermore, this official breakdown differs from the modern analysis, yet Collins still comes up with the correct figure of 433 in his final summing up of the overall total of his settlement.
Unfortunately, the Statement does not give us any further details, making cross-checks virtually impossible.
Some discrepancies may be related directly to errors by those responsible for collating the figures. For instance, the clerk in charge may have made some errors when counting the women connected with the convicts: the General Statement states that there are two female convicts and 16 free wives of convicts, whereas the actual figure is more like five convict women and 10 free wives - still leaving a discrepancy of three females.
Similarly, the Statement gives a total of 36 settlers being victualled from the public stores. The concept of settler was somewhat elastic; the actual figure of the settlers and their dependents is more like 49, a figure which includes a number of people not on any earlier lists of those who joined the expedition as such.
On the other hand, the Civic Establishment is stated to count 32 persons, also a fluid group of people where several names at the lower end of the list seem to appear or disappear, while it is totally silent on the presence of Governor Collins' son George R. Collins.
With the benefit of hindsight, we should perhaps allow the clerks of the Public Stores some latitude in their headcount.
They would have been very hard-pressed just then, what with the imminent departure of the Ocean for Sydney with a large variety of passengers who all had to be removed from the official ration lists in Hobart Town, and the alarming discovery that a great proportion of the new food rations just then being unloaded from the Barlow were very much "off" and no longer fit for human consumption.



The Mercury

Monday 9 August 2004, page 25


Early cottages built with stock in mind



To the officers, the possession of cattle, goats etc for private use was an important perk of their job which few of them would have neglected - hence the interest in the livestock arriving on the Lady Barlow.
It was for this reason that they soon organised the erection of their own cottage and a surrounding enclosure where they could live in (relative) comfort and at the same time keep a watchful eye on their stock. A painting made by Magistrate G.P. Harris demonstrates this urge for improvement - and the resulting success - very well.
In this painting the main focus of interest is his cottage, proudly shown in the middle of the painting, and its detail gives us a very good idea of the simple cottages which the first settlers of Hobart built to house themselves and their families.
The front opening went straight into the living room which had an open fireplace over which the food was cooked. The painting seems to suggest the use of bricks for the chimney, no doubt indicating the usefulness of Harris's position in obtaining these scarce building supplies, as those less fortunate no doubt would have had to use rubble sandstone or even a chimney made from rough planking or split timber. Note the use of glass in the windows, again indicating that Harris would have had access to the 8x10 inch glass panels which had been part of the original cargo of the expedition.
Depending on the size of the cottage, there may or may not have been a wall of some fashion between the living room and the probable sleeping section on the left. The walls of the house are obviously made of lath-and-plaster, and while not ideal would, with proper upkeep, suffice for some time.
Note also the roof covering the house. While good splitting timber to make shingles abounds in the Tasmanian forests it was not freely available near the settlement, and it would take some years before good stands were discovered in the forests further away.
This created another problem: transporting this timber from their distant location to the settlement. In the meantime, the leaves of the grass trees were commonly used as a cover, a notorious fire hazard under the best of conditions.
The barrels outside were used to store drinking water, while the livestock around the house seem to consist in the main of milk-producing animals: cows and goats. The fence on the right was an essential part of having a vegetable garden at all, as it had to keep out the grazing wildlife such as wallabies, kangaroos and wombats as well as the owner's own livestock - all still very much a problem even today!
Finally, note the man on the left of the cottage. In all likelihood a convict, his task was to tend the stock, and make sure that none of those grazing nearby were lost. The first stock fences already have made their appearance (as shown on the left of the house in the distance), but they had to be made from timber to be cut in the forests, a time-consuming job. The location of this cottage was probably on Harris' allotment of land in Sandy Bay, on or near to the site of the old Ashfield home in Margaret St.