Monday, October 14, 2013

Aussie Day Trip Day #5

 Hi! Welcome back to Maryde's Aussie road trip.
It's day 5 and we leave peaceful Copeton Dam late morning and continue our trip further inland to Bingara - Aboriginal word for *creek*.
Bingara is a lovely Australian country town on the Gwydir River.
Funny, when I'm travelling the great open roads, I don't think too much of where-about we are, because I'm more interested in the scenery all around. It's not until we stop that I sit and check out the area on a Map. That's when I found out Bingara is 600Kms north of Sydney & 500Kms SW of Brisbane. It surprised me that we were so close to the Queensland boarder. Whilst driving, I had the impression we were much farther south. :)
As we drove into the quaint town we
saw it had the same wide main road of most country towns. I really love that. It was Sunday morning, so other than a cafe or 2 nothing was opened. We drove to where the map said there was a free camping area for Self-contained RV's & campers only, that meant there were no showers toilets etc. You had to have your own *everything*
We found 2 areas by the river, and both were accommodated by a goodly sum of residents. No shortage of visitors to this area obviously. We obviously came at a good time because we found our spot right on the water's edge. Beautiful.
The water was cold and I was *told* that's why there was no fish in it. hmmmm.

Looking East, downstream
 of the Gwydir River
 It was in 1852 and the hope of finding Gold that brought prospectors to the area. There are few towns in Australia where Diamonds are found, and Bingara was one of them. After the 1880's the town grew because Copper and Diamonds were discovered. At this time, Bingara was the largest producer of Diamonds in Australia.
Upstream West, of the Gwydir River.
 Fancy that!
Visitors still come to Bingara to *fossik* for gold at the edge of the river. There is a lovely modern Camping/caravan Tourist Park. A Sports Club or 2 and even a Hospital. For a holiday destination with everything you'd need for a great escape away from the hustle and bustle of City life
GOSH, I'm starting to sound like a tourist agent ... hahahhaha
 Next time we pass this way I might even try my hand at fossiking ... who knows - I may discover my fortune :)
Afternoon GOLD :)

So here we have the *Obligatory* evening fire by the river. Once the temperature got below 10deg C, we let the fire die down and went inside for the night.

And in the morning, I was up by sunrise to catch the first rays of the day.The temperature was around 5deg, so not too bad. But I did notice there were no other occupants around up with me at sparrows - an Aussie term for being up very early with the birds.

 The weather has been  glorious the whole time we've been travelling which has made this winter's trip enjoyable to the max.

Click here for more info on the township of Bingara

Come join me soon on Day #6. The final day of my 1st Aussie Road Trip.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Mutiny on the Lady Shore

In May 1797 the barque Lady Shore left Gravesend bound for Botany Bay. She carried 58 soldiers of the New South Wales Corps, 69 (the number is not clear) female convicts and at least one male convict and a crew of 26.

Convicts on the chain gang overseen by soldiers of the NSW Corpos
Major J.G. Semple-Lisle
Among the prisoners was a renowned “gentleman” swindler who went by the name of Major James George Semple-Lisle. Semple-Lisle appears to have been treated more like an honoured guest than a convicted felon with parties being held in his prison cell prior to embarkation.

The ship was commanded by Captain Willcocks and he had at his side, a young man of only 19, his purser, John Black who wrote a long and detailed letter which his father later published about the events that transpired aboard the Lady Shore. The soldiers of the New South Wales Corps were commanded by Ensign William Minchin, a man ill equipped to command his ill assorted rag tag soldiery comprising French and Irish prisoners of war, deserters, and prisoners from the Savoy. 

Even as the ship lay in Torbay (Devon), John Black wrote that the soldiers are the most disagreeable, mutinous set of villains that ever entered into a ship”.

The ship left English waters under escort from the West-India fleet from which it parted after 10 days. Escort duties were resumed by the Intrepid of the East-India fleet but by the time the Lady Shore was off the coast of South America, it was sailing alone. Following the flurry of mutinous behaviour in Torbay, the soldiers had gone quiet, lulling the captain and the officers into a false sense of security.

On 1st August 1797, Black was woken by the report of firearms and cries of murder. The French prisoners of war (recruited as soldiers into the NSW Corps), taken from the capture of the corvette Bonne Citoyenne (in 1796) had recruited a number of others to their cause. Led by Selis and Thierry, the plot to seize the Lady Shore was carefully planned. Each mutineer had his allotted task:  one controlled the hatch to the women's quarters; two, the hatch of the quarters where the soldiers slept, threatening to kill anyone trying to get out; two covered the deck and were to shoot any sailor or soldier present there and who would not surrender; two controlled the hatch of the officers' quarters; two were to arrest the captain; two were to seize the three officers on deck and prevent them from giving alarm; and the last one would open an ammunition box, distribute it to his fellow mutineers, and patrol to prevent anyone from flanking them.

The murder of Captain Willcocks
In the fracas that followed, Captain Willcocks was fatally wounded and the first mate, Lambert was killed. In his last act, Willcocks ordered the ineffectual Minchin to to give up the ship, which he did. Concealed in his cabin, Black watched in horror as three of the mutineers entered his cabin and bayonetted his bed. Black surrendered himself and joined the other survivors in the Captain’s cabin. The casualties were two dead ship’s officers and one dead mutineer. The most senior ship’s officer left alive was young John Black. He performed the service of commitment for his captain.

An uneasy truce fell over the ship for the next few days. Life for the survivors, crammed into the captain’s cabin worsened when a heavy sea stove in the windows, flooding the cabin. On Sunday 14 August the mutineers advised the survivors that they would be given a boat. The formalities of war were observed, with the officers signing a Certificate that they would not fight agains the French for a year and a day, and a certificate absolving some of the seamen who were required to sail the ship. A long boat was provided and 29 people comprising Black, Semple-Lisle (who wrote his own, pompous account of the mutiny), Minchin, an ensign, two sergeants, two corporals and two privates, their wives and children, as well as three female convicts were set adrift somewhere off the coast of Brazil.

Norman Lindsay's depiction of the survivors
Thanks to the seamanship of Black (or Semple-Lisle depending on whose version you read!), the long boat reached the shore safely with all parties alive and well (although some luggage was lost in the heavy seas). The survivors were taken in by the local governor and word was sent to Rio de Janeiro of the Mutiny. Attempts by the ships officers to take sail to Rio were thwarted by the weather and Black and Semple-Lisle set out on foot to Rio to give their account of the mutiny.

The Lady Shore reached Spanish controlled Montivideo on 31 August where it hoisted French colours and claimed a valid capture of war. The female convicts aboard were distributed around the city as servants. Their fates are not widely known, although it seems that some made the most of their situation, marrying and becoming respectable citizens. Others fell into prostitution. None ever made it home to England.

Of the mutineers, one (Prevost) was captured and hanged for the crime of murdering Captain Willcocks. The Lady Shore may have been recovered in 1801 but there is little evidence to support this.

Major Semple-Lisle escaped to Tangiers but eventually returned to England where he was incarcerated and disappears from history.

John Black finally made it to Botany Bay (with a bit of privateering along the way). He took up with a female convict, Mary Hyde, with whom he had 2 children. With his ship, Harbinger, he commanded the 2nd ship to traverse Bass Strait, naming King Island along the way (after the Governor of the day). He was lost at sea in 1801 on a return voyage from Calcutta with a cargo of gin. The Sydney Gazette reports his loss as a young man much esteemed by all who knew him”.

The account of the mutiny written by John Black and published by his father.
You can read his first hand account of the mutiny “An Authentic Narrative of the Mutiny on the Lady Shore” online here. The Life of Major J.G. Semple-Lisle can be found here
And my interest in this story? John Black was my great-great grandfather!