Australia: ° Adelaide ° Brisbane ° Darwin ° Fremantle ° Hunter Islands ° Lord Howe Island ° Melbourne ° Perth ° New South Wales (Sydney) ° Norfolk Island ° Van Dieman's Land: Tasmania (Hobart Town, Port Arthur)
Lord Howe Island
Lord Howe Island, in the Tasman Sea off the east coast of Australia, was first visited by Europeans on 17th February, 1788 by Lieutenant Henry Lidgbird Ball, commander of the armed tender of the First Fleet, HMS Supply.
His Majesty's Brig Supply, 1790, off Lord Howe Island. And His Majesty's Ship Sirius in Sydney Cove 1789. Painting by George Raper, 1792.
The Supply was one of the escorts of the First Fleet of convict ships to Botany Bay.
Purportedly, no one actually lived there before 1834. It was inhabited by 13 species of birds found nowhere else on the planet: The island’s unique species of birds can be seen throughout the island; the Lord Howe Woodhen, Golden Whistler, Silvereye and Currawong are found nowhere else in the world. The island is seasonal habitat to millions of seabirds such as Noddy terns, White terns, Sooty terns, Muttonbirds, Black winged petrels and Red-tailed tropic birds. Some migrate from as far as Siberia each year to breed. (Nine are now extinct.) The island also has scores of endemic plants. Surrounding seas were rich with more than 500 species of fish, and 90 different corals growing on the most southerly reef in the world.
Lieutenant Ball was sailing from First Fleet headquarters in Sydney Cove to Norfolk Island where it was intended to found a second colony. Ball did not land on Lord Howe Island until 13th March, 1788, on his return journey, when men from the Supply came ashore to explore the newly discovered island and claim it in the name of the Colony of New South Wales.
The first settlers were three Englishmen from New Zealand. Their names – Ashdown, Bishop and Chapman – have the ring of a firm of family solicitors. In a part of the ocean where islands were in short supply, particularly ones with fresh water and neither unfriendly natives nor meddlesome officials, A, B and C saw an opportunity for victualling whaling ships. They grew vegetables above what is now Old Settlement Beach, and introduced pigs and goats, whose descendants eventually had to be eradicated to repair the island's pristine ecosystem.
Many place names of the Island date to this first visit. The Island was named after Lord Howe, who was the First Lord of the Admiralty at the time. Ball’s Pyramid and Mount Lidgbird were named after Lieutenant Henry Lidgbird Ball.
In that same year a number of other First Fleet ships visited the Island. Some of the sailors who came ashore made diary notes and even sketches of the Island and its birdlife.
From 1800 onward, Lord Howe Island became a well known stopover for whaling ships to obtain food and water.
New South Wales Lagoon, Lord Howe Island
In 1830,1830 whaling Brig George, 185 tons, hit a rock (now George’s rock) off the south east side of Mount Gower. The George was said to have been carrying a chest of gold coins, which the crew got ashore in the lifeboat, but this has never been found.
By 1833 three men came to live on the island to supply food to the ships crews. Messrs Ashdown, Bishop and Chapman, accompanied by their Maori wives and two Maori boys arrived from New Zealand on the barque Caroline. They settled at Hunter Bay, now known as Old Settlement, where they engaged in supplying ships with meat, fish and vegetables in exchange for other goods. They continued at Lord Howe until 1841 when Captain Owen Poole, retired naval officer, and Richard Dawson purchased their holdings for 350 pounds.
Being a remote island 500 km from any other land, Lord Howe Island naturally has a rich maritime heritage. As did all island nations, the residents of Lord Howe Island relied upon passing ships to bring news of the outside world, supplies and passengers.
The first regular trading vessel to the Island was the barque Rovers Bride, which commenced voyages in the 1840s. She was followed by a succession of similar small sailing vessels such as Sylph and Comet. In 1893 the Burns Philp company commenced a regular steamship service to the island.
Later, in 1841, Poole took to the Island Messrs Wright, Hescott & McAuliffe and their wives. Thomas and Margaret Andrews arrived on the barque Rover’s Bride in 1842. All were employed to help carry on the industry commenced by Ashdown, Bishop and Chapman. In 1844 Dr John Foulis, who had bought a half of Poole’s share, arrived with his wife and daughter and four English emigrants.
August 19, 1856, The Sydney Morning Herald, New South Wales
Colonial Whalers at Sea
With Their Last Reports
- Caernarvon, barque, 222 tons, Eury, hence, February 12th, 1856 R. Towns, agent.
- Daniel Watson, brig, 160 tons, Phillips, hence, February 3. Reported in March, at Howe's Island, one whale. Smith, agent.
- Independence, brig, 199 tons, Peters, hence, 1st June, 1856. R. Towns and Co., owners.
- Jane, barque, 356 tons, Wybrow, hence, 28th March, 1856. Reported in March, at Howe's Island, clean, R. Towns, agent.
- Kate, brig, 281 tons, Sargent, hence, 19th April. Reported on 9th June, with 70 barrels. T. Dawson, owner.
- Kestrel, brig, 150 tons, Sullivan, hence, 21st October, 1855. Reported in March, at Howe's Island, clean. Merriman, agent.
- Lady Blackwood, barque, 253 tons, Oliver, hence, March 11. Re-
ported on 10th April, clean. R. Towns and Co., owners.
Onyx, barque, 259 tons, Hurford, hence, June 5,1856. R. Towns and Co., owners.
- Post Boy, schooner, 96 tons, Field, hence, March 3, 1856. T. Dawson, owner.
- Panama, brig, 190 tons, Bushell, hence, 19th April. Reported May 9, with 60 barrels. R. Towns, owner.
- Regia, brig, 181 tons, Johnson, hence, November 1st, 1855. Reported February 15, with 75 barrels. Thacker and Co., agents.
- Royal Sovereign, schooner, 100 tons, Needham, hence, 26th Ocotober, 1855. R. Towns, agent.
- Susan, brig, 230 tons, Hoodley, hence, 21st October, 1855. Reported in March, with 80 barrels. Smith, agent.
- Sutton, barque, 282 tons, McBeath, hence, October 3, 1855. Cole, owner.
- Vernon, brig, 230 tons, Spurling, hence, April 6th, 1856. Smith, agent.
- Waterwitch, barque, 382 tons, Lee, hence, 5th September, 1855. Reported April, with 180 barrels. Smith, agent.
- Woodlark, barque, 190 tons, Cook. Reported in March, at Howe's Island, clean, R. Towns, owner.
With the decline of whaling in the 1870s, Lord Howe's growing population needed another money-earner. They turned to the kentia – or thatch – palm, a decorative plant endemic to the island that thrived 'in captivity' in the northern hemisphere. It has defined the Palm Court and Winter Garden for 140 years and still adds a sprig of exotica to smart foyers the world over. Between two and three million palm seedlings are exported each year. Kentia palms, fishing and tourism are the island's only industries, the 15,000 tourists a year adding more than A$25 million to the island's coffers.
Sources include: Lord Howe Island Museum, The London Telegraph
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