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Sydney, Australia 1800s.

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New South Wales

In 1768, Captain James Cook began a search for the "great south land." Travelling in the wake of other European explorers, he was the first to set foot on the east coast of the land the Dutch had named New Holland. He landed at Botany Bay in 1770, naming the coast New South Wales.

When the American Revolution dispossessed Great Britain of its American colonies, another remote settlement had to be found where surplus convicts could be sent. This "social experiment" was a feat unprecedented in history.

The History of New South Wales.A fleet of 11 ships -- with Arthur Phillip, the first governor of the settlement, in charge of 160 marines and 729 convicts -- weighed anchor in Portsmouth, England, on May 13, 1787. They reached Botany Bay the following January. Finding it too barren, sandy, and shallow for permanent settlement, Phillip investigated the next inlet to the north. There, spreading its fingers of deep water into sheltered sandstone promontories, he found "one of the finest harbors in the world, in which a thousand sail on the line might ride in the most perfect security." The harbor, which had been named by Cook 18 years earlier earlier, was Port Jackson--now better known as Sydney Harbour.

The sight that beheld the First Fleet members is well expressed by the Surgeon on board the Sirius, John White RN. "Port Jackson, I believe to be, without exception, the finest and most extensive harbour in the Universe, and at the same time the most secure, being safe from all the winds that blow."

Almost 1000 Jewish convicts arrived in NSW between 1788 and 1852. Very few were violent criminals. Most were in fact, skilled workers including tailors, watchmakers, shoemakers and ostrich-feather manufacturers.

March 16, 1895, Colonies and India, London, United Kingdom

Considerable excitement has been created lately in New South Wales owing to the proposal made by Mr. A. J . Gould, the Minister of Justice, as to the intention of the. Government to reintroduce the gag into the prisons of the Colony. This odious instrument was abolished some years ago, but it seems that Mr. Gould has found from his official reports that the use of strong and offensive language by prisoners has reached an unbearable pitch, and he proposes the gag as a remedy. This may be the only possible remedy, but it is hardly likely that public opinion in the Colony will allow the Government to rehabilitate a system which was the most repulsive feature of the old convict regime.

Mr. George Reid, Premier of New South Wales, replying to a deputation the other day, pledged himself to the principle of women's suffrage, adding, however, that it would be impossible to introduce the measure for a long time.

At the end of 1894 the population of New South Wales was 1,251,452 about a quarter that of greater London occupying an area of 310,700 square miles, or 198,848,000 acres. The males numbered 672,950, and the females 578,500. The increase of population during the year was 28,080, only a small proportion of which was due to immigration, the greater part being due to the excess of births over deaths.

March 16, 1895, Colonies and India, London, United Kingdom

Australia.Government Jail Gang, Wales.
A Government Jail Gang, Sydney
New South Wales
Augustus Earle

A curious incident in connection with the Salvation Army is reported from New South Wales. On the upper waters of the Barwon, the old-fashioned township of Bingera has a municipal corporation of some importance in its own estimation. Some little time ago a local branch of the Salvation Army was established in Bingera, much to the annoyance of the local municipal body. Special meetings of the aldermen were held to deal with the question, and the Army was unanimously resolved to be "the boss nuisance of the district." Then a certain John Plunkett, who holds the position of inspector of nuisances to the corporation of Bingera, was instructed to take action against the Army folk when they next made noises in the street. Plunkett took advantage of an early opportunity to stop the Salvationists physically, and as a result he was haled before the Court for illegal damage, and all the rest of it. In the end, swinging damages were awarded against him in favour of each of the complaining Salvationists, and Plunkett, probably because he had not enough money, declined to pay. Then the Municipal Council was called on to pay the damages secured from their servant, but this they declined to do, and, meanwhile, the unfortunate inspector of nuisances has been put into prison for contempt of Court, for not complying with the order to pay the damages. It is an amusing business altogether.

Australia's Gold Rush

Australia.New South Wales
Sydney, Australia

On February 12, 1851, one Edward Hammond, who had returned to Australia after trying his luck in California's gold fields, rode down to Lewes Pond Creek, a tributary of the Macquarie River near Guyong outside Bathurst. With his guide, John Lister, he began working the river with pick and trowel: Four pans out of five produced gold. It is reported that he exclaimed to Lister: "This is a memorable day in the history of New South Wales. I shall be a baronet, you will be knighted, and my old horse will be stuffed, put in a glass class, and sent to the British Museum."

His visions did not manifest, but Australia's gold fever began. Hammond's discovery was being reported as "one vast gold field." and by May 24, a thousand diggers were tunneling, cursing and exulting on the banks of Summerhill Creek and the road over the Blue Mountain was choked with a winding column of men: clerks and grooms, grocers' assistants and sailors, lawyers and army deserters, oyster-sellers and magistrates, government officials and ex-convict shepherds.

Echoing San Francisco papers of 1849 and 1850, Australia's press reported that "A complete mental madness appears to have seized almost every member of the community."

An aboriginal stockman found a mass of quartz that yielded 1,272 ounces of gold in an outcrop fifty miles from Bathurst, and in September 1851, a septuagenarian digger named John Dunlop discovered the richest field of all, at Ballarat, 75 miles west of the Melbourne Post Office. The word was out that gold was everywhere.

Australia.Mail Steamer at Circular Quay.
Mail Steamer at Circular Quay
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

By November 1851, more than 6,500 licenses were granted to gold seekers. By the middle of 1852, 50,000 people were estimated to be on the diggings and the average weekly shipment on the gold-escorts from Ballarat and Bendigo was more than 20,000 ounces - half a ton a week. In the month of August 1852, alone, despite nearly continuous winter rain and bitterly difficult working conditions for the diggers, 246,000 ounces of gold has been uncovered.

More echoes of San Francisco: By then Melbourne was both a ghost-port and a continuous Saturnalia. Port Phillip Bay had become a Sargasso Sea of dead ships, rocking empty at anchor, their masts a bare forest. When a vessel arrived with her gold-hungry passengers and her hold crammed with mining tools and cheap furniture, the crews (and often the captains) would desert as soon as she was unloaded, to join the stream of miners. The lieutenant-governor of Victoria reported:

" . . . houses to let, business is at a stand-still, and even schools are closed. In some of the suburbs, not a man is left, and the women are known for self-protection to forget neighbors' jars (quarrels) and to group together to keep house . . . Fortunate the family, whatever its position, which retains its servants at any sacrifice, and can further secure supplies for their households from the few tradesmen that remain . . . all buildings and contract works, public and private, almost without exception, are at a standstill. No contract can be insisted upon under the circumstances."

In a strange twist of fate, the discovery of gold in Australia put an end to the lack of appeal to Britain's South Sea Colonies. The discovery of the yellow mineral eliminated Australia's position as a penal colony. With a quarter of Britain's subjects clamoring for tickets to the Southern Australian goldfields, being vanquished to Australia no longer held terror in the mind of men. It was reputed that convicts were pardoned as soon as they stepped ashore at Hobart, thus free passage to the gold fields became a boon, not punishment.

Excerpted from The Fatal Shore: The Epic of Australia's Founding,
Robert Hughes, Knopf, New York, 1987

Australia.Mosman Bay, Sydney Harbor.
Mosman Bay.
Sydney Harbour, Sydney, Australia

Brunel in South Wales: In Trevithick's TracksBrunel in South Wales.
Stephen Jones

Brunel in South Wales: Communications and CoalNew South Wales and Australia.
Stephen Jones

New South WalesBrunel in South Wales:
Volume 3: Links with Leviathans
Brunel in South Wales.
Stephen Jones
Isambard Kingdom Brunel had strong associations with South Wales; chief engineer of the GWR at just 27, he was the same for the South Wales Railway Company, taking the railways across South Wales. This illustrated history focuses on Brunel's contribution to the maritime world, from his work on dry docks and shipping facilities to his steamships, including his 'great leviathan'.

Australia Sea Stories: Fiction and Non-Fiction (and Kindle Editions)New South Wales and Australia.Australia.

Four Seasons of Mojo: An Herbal Guide to Natural LivingNew South Wales and Australia.
Stephanie Rose Bird
Useful ideas unrestricted by geographic borders, ethnicity, religion, or magical path. Included are recipes and concepts from the Caribbean, African American soul food, Buddhist Meditation practices, sacred Hindu rites, Old European traditions, Australian Aboriginal dreaming lessons, and Native American wisdom. "Four Seasons of Mojo" infuses ancient techniques, rituals, and methods from around the world to use each season''s inherent energies to supplement body, mind, and soul.

16th Century Ships: The Warship Mary Rose: The Life & Times of King Henry VIII's Flagship, Henry Grace Dieu, The Anthony Roll of Henry VIII's Navy (Publications for the Navy Records Society)Anthony Roll., Turtle Ship, Golden Hind, HMS Revenge,New South Wales and Australia. Duyfken and the First Discoveries of AustraliaNew South Wales and Australia., Adler Von Lubeck: The German and the Austrian NaviesNew South Wales and Australia.

The Project

Maritime Nations, Ships, Sea Captains, Merchants, Merchandise, Ship Passengers and VIPs sailing into San Francisco during the 1800s.



Merchant Shipping

Merchant Shipping and Ancient Commerce.  
History of Merchant Shipping and Ancient CommerceMerchant Shipping and Ancient Commerce.
W. S. Lindsay

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Sources: As noted on entries and through research centers including National Archives, San Bruno, California; CDNC: California Digital Newspaper Collection; San Francisco Main Library History Collection; and Maritime Museums and Collections in Australia, China, Denmark, England, Finland, Germany, Ireland, Wales, Norway, Scotland, Spain, Sweden, etc.

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