The New Colony of South Australia

13 March 1837 The Sydney Monitor

The following interesting particulars have been handed to us by Lieutenant Field, R. N. Commander of the Commissioners' Brig Rapid:– 

The Brig Rapid, with the Surveyor-General on board, the first vessel sent out by His Majesty's Commissioners for the Colonization of South Australia, arrived at Kangaroo Island on the 19th of August, 1836, two vessels belonging to the South Australian Commercial Company, (a private co-partner), having a short time preceded her, and established a settlement in Nepean Bay.

The Surveyor-General, after surveying Nepean Bay, proceeded up St Vincent's Gulph.

He anchored first, in a little Bay, called by the natives Yatagolanga and by us Rapid Bay, where he pitched the tents and remained on shore with the surveying party three or four days, walking some miles over the hills in different directions; and surveying the valleys; a delightful spot, covered with fine grass, and a variety of flowers and shrubs; amongst the latter the Mimosa and Cypress were the most prevalent; of the former, the, geranium, lupin, and marsh mellow.

A small river or brook runs through this valley when the season is not dry, and, on calculation, by taking the level of the ground, this brook was found capable of being dam'd up to a depth of 31 feet.

We had shipped a Sealer at Kangaroo Island, who was accompanied by two native women and four kangaroo dogs.

We fenced in a little garden and sowed some vegetable seeds; also a little wheat.

The Sealer volunteered to go to the east with the women, as far as Encounter Bay, and induce the natives there to communicate with us.* 

They returned on the third day in company with six or seven natives, two of whom were the sons of one of the women above-mentioned, and whom she had not seen for many years.

We supplied them with some clothing, with which they seemed much pleased also, some biscuit and tea, of which they had already learnt to be very fond.

We left them in charge of the little garden in Rapid Bay, and anchored seven miles further up the Gulph off an extensive plain called by the natives Yankallilah plain, which separates the  mountainous ranges of Mount Lofty and Cape Jervis, but which ranges have the appearance from the sea, of one continuous range.

The plain just mentioned, is very fertile, and beautiful to look upon, and at the present time has three brooks running through it.

We proceeded further up the Gulph, anchoring every night, and remaining three or four days at each spot, as we found objects worthy of our attention, until we were so far up as to discover the head of the Gulph.

At the last anchorage we had only three fathoms water; a distance of four miles from the shore.

The coast towards the north, and for some miles to the south, was low, sandy, and covered with mangroves.

We then put about, and returned to the Sixteen-Mile Creek of Captain Sturt. Several small rivers at present run between this creek and Cape Jervis, but none of them are navigable, all having bars at their entrance.

There is an inlet of the sea at a place we called Glenelg in latitude 35, which runs in a N.E. direction four miles; and at high water ships' long boats might go in, and by clearing away the stones and sea weed, and turning its course in one certain direction, the channel might be considerably deepened.

But as large ships already go into the harbour of Port Adelaide, this object is not of importance.

We retraced our course with the intention of visiting Spencer's Gulph, (we were now visiting Gulph St. Vincent on the east, but close to Spencer's Gulph,) but a whale-boat having come up from Kangaroo Island to acquaint us of the arrival of the remainder of the Surveying Department; the Surveyor-General went on shore at Rapid Bay, despatching the brig to convey a portion of its stores to the latter place, and the remainder to Glenelg, when a store-house was erected, and the storekeeper landed.

The Surveyor-General now proceeded to take a further survey of the Sixteen-mile Creek, and finding a passage, the Rapid went in, when much to our delight, we found a good harbour - one branch of the Creek running to the southward for seven miles, from half a mile to a mile in width, and a depth varying from three to five fathoms.

Towards the upper part is a spot for landing, clear of mangroves, on an extensive plain, over which, at a distance of four miles, is a fresh water river.

We afterwards went to Port Lincoln, which although a fine capacious harbour for a fleet of men-of-war, is by no means so eligible for a mercantile port as Port Adelaide - the winds being very variable, and strong gusts coming down from the hills, might prove disastrous to heavy-laden merchant ships.

The approach is also dangerous, from the number of rocks and hidden   impediments dispersed throughout the entrance of the Gulph; while, on the contrary, Gulph St. Vincent is perfectly free from such dangers, save the York Shoal, and this may be easily avoided at night in thick weather by attending to the soundings. 

These circumstances, combined with the superiority of soil–the abundance of fresh water - the extensive sheep runs, and the vicinity to the Murray River, decided the Surveyor-General in fixing out the present site in Gulph St. Vincent for the future colony. 

The Governor arrived on the 20th of December, and landed the same day, amid the cheers of the new settlers.

After reading the Proclamation, he   partook of a collation, provided by the Government officers who had preceded him.

The usual loyal toasts, together with that of his Excellency's health, were drunk, the ships, being decorated, saluted; and much delightful enthusiasm prevailed at the prospect of establishing a colony in so beautiful a country and climate.

For with such advantages from nature, combined with the admirable principles on which the Colony is to be founded and governed, nothing but the most untoward circumstances can prevent its rising to a state of rapid prosperity, unparalleled in the annals of colonization. 

The settlers are all comfortably settled, and are anxiously waiting the completion of the survey of the town lands, so that they may commence building. 

A wealthy builder had arrived with twelve of his own workmen, and a great many houses, together with the Church, had been brought out in frame, with a large supply of materials of every description for building purposes.

It was thought by our Surveyor-General that the survey of the town lands would be completed about the 1st instant, when the first sale by auction would take place of the unsold portion, which no doubt will meet with ready purchasers.     

In the little garden in Rapid Valley, the wheat and Indian corn were in full ear, and looking extremely well.

Beans, peas, onions, lettuce, cabbage, and vegetable marrow, were gathered; and on touching at Rapid Bay on our passage to Sydney, we landed and gathered potatoes which I had planted in October; they were excellent.   

About eighty young couple of the labouring classes came out in the Coromandel: and having erected their temporary habitations of bulrushes, (which fortunately are very large and plentiful) all near to each other, the name of "Coromandel Village" was given to it.

A Ball had kindly been given them by the Captain of the Coromandel ship on shore, previously to his taking his leave, at which all his Cuddy passengers, and many others of the respectable classes, both ladies and gentlemen, attended.

Nothing could exceed the propriety of the behaviour of the Settlers and their wives on the occasion.

On their passage out, their conduct was equally praiseworthy.     

The following extracts from letter from one of the Directors of the South Australian Commercial Company (connected with the Settlement and under its  Government) dated London, the 1st Oct.1836, we copy from yesterday's Colonist. 

I am happy to say, since the South Australian Company has been fully established, it has taken root in the hearts of some of the wisest and best men in the kingdom, and there appears to be a strong reaction in its favour, both in London and in the interior provinces.

The capital of the Company is now £300,000; about £50,000 paid up; the shares being £25 each.

The last 4000 issued have been sold at £1 premium.

Since the Report of the first three months' operations was written, many important movements have taken place.

We have established Bank at the metropolis, to be called Adelaide, and set out a considerable supply of notes and bullion.  

Besides the vessels named in the Report, we have purchased and equipped for the South Sea Whaling, the Sarah and Elizabeth, of 270 tons, which sailed last week.

The Swallow, 236 tons, which they are fitting out under the direction of Captain Whittle, at Plymouth, will sail in a few weeks for the colony, touching at the Cape of Good Hope. 

She will take out passengers, and be employed in the coasting trade with trade other colonies.

A saw mill, a flour mill, a patent slip for repairing vessels of 500 tons, and a steam engine of twenty horse power, are in a course of forwardness for the colonies. 

You will see by the Prospectus, at the end of the Report, that the third object empowers the establishment of a body of Farming Tenentry; and we are at this moment actively engaged in the  selection of' practical married farmers, to become tenants on lease of twenty-one years.

The Company proposes to allow them 134 acres of freehold land with 1,290 acres of pasturage, at an annual rent of £25 for the hole.

Each farmer is expected to have from £100 to £200 capital of his own, and the Company will lend him from £300 to £400, to be employed in erecting the farmstead, and in other objects in the farm, at the interest of ten per cent. per annum.

And they propose to fix £200 as the value of the whole of the Company's interest in this farm, and give him the power to possess  this estate at any time he pleases, during the lease, by repaying the sum of £400., and the £200 for the value of the estate.

The only thing the Company are likely to retain are, the mines and quarries underground.

Therefore, for the £200, the tenant, when proprietor, possesses the 134 acres of freehold, and a perpetual lease from the Government of 1,290 acres of pasturage, renewable every three years, at the low rent of 10s., a square mile-less than a farthing an acre.

Thus, as the Company's land is reduced by falling into the hands of the tenants, they can increase their possessions by making fresh purchases of the Commissioners. 

Being aware of the vast importance of having Christian men at the head of each farming establishment, who will have the right of selecting their own laborers before they leave England, we are using every means to procure men of good Principles, as well as of practical knowledge and general intelligence.

But alas, they are very scarce; and often the right men have a great objection to so long a voyage.   

This Company is likely, to be the bond of union of the Auatralian Colonies, and also of considerable, benefit to their commerce; for it is by no means confined in its operation to the Colony South Australia.

As proof of it, a negotiation is going on between Major Irving, Mr. Mangles, and other gentlemen, on behalf of Swan River, and our Board of Directors offer to establish a Branch of our Bank in their metropolis. For some years to come, the new Colony will be excellent customers to the surrounding ones, for stock and supplies.

It was near Encounter Bay where Captain Barker was killed.- Ed.

The Port is up the Gulph, 50 miles from the open sea, and on the Eastern side.–Ed.