Port Adelaide - Ships and Shipping
- Lights and Lighthouses
- Seamen's Mission
- Ships and Shipping
- Docks and Slips
- The Port
Port Adelaide to Adelaide - 1838
(Taken from Geoffrey H. Manning's A Colonial Experience)
It was then easy to lose oneself in the sylvan city even in the daytime
and at night it was scarcely possible to avoid doing so. The maze-like character
of the spot was much enhanced by the multitudes of wattles...
(Register, 8 November 1869, page 2.)
Our family and fellow immigrants disembarked, but not in the modern style, for there was, as yet, no wharf at Port Adelaide - then called Port Misery. So the men waded ashore from the boats, while the women and children were carried pick-a-back by the sailors. Port Adelaide was, at the time, practically a swamp and at high tide the water covered the face of the country for some miles inland.
On the shore stood groups of men, smoking and talking, sticking their cabbage tree hats over their eyes to shade them from the sun, almost closing the eyes to admit as little light as possible. With a desire to reach Adelaide as soon as possible my father enquired around. Neither four-in-hand nor railway was available in those days and we were roused from our meditation by a rude blast from a horn in the form of a short brass instrument, with one twist in it, battered and bent in an approved fashion. It was sounded by a man seated in a cart, which bore the inscription 'Royal Mail'.
We were invited to embark and sit and did so as comfortably as possible, but we were all but pitched out following a sudden onward rush of the horse. The road ran through a swamp and a supporting board, affixed to a fence which stood on both sides, suggested that town allotments were available by application to Jacob Hagen and Company.
We continued for a mile or so along the desolate track which led to the scattered village of Albert Town which comprised small cottages built upon a plain of sand. The most conspicuous object was a gallows for hanging up bullocks' carcases. Upon the butcher's gallows several crows were perched, crowing mournfully; everything looked parched and dried and the very shingles on the roofs were curling up and splitting under the sun's relentless rays.
A scrawny horse wandered through a few reeds growing on the sand and apparently deluded itself into the belief that it was feeding on a rich pasture. A flock of goats was also within view, the presence of which could be detected, not only by sense of sight, but also by that of smell. After leaving Albert Town the land began to improve and signs of cultivation were evident.
A mile or two further on we stopped at an inn in the vicinity of modern-day Woodville. The landlord, as I recall, was a genial fellow and added to the other romantic surroundings was a pretty, buxom wife, who would as willingly have made you a cup of tea, as supplied you with anything stronger. Indeed, there was a hospitality in those early days apart from the greed of doing business.
If I may digress for a moment, I must chronicle some very interesting history surrounding this picturesque little hostelry. The original premises were built in 1837 of pise and covered with thatch from the Reedbeds. When I first saw it, it was surrounded by fine old gum-trees and not a fence or building of any sort stood within miles of it. Years later a friend called at my home in Norwood and told me that he recalled the inn had a broad cool verandah and inviting benches and went on with this reminiscence:
I well remember it was the goal of many a summer evening's ramble for myself
and a few Portonians and many a brace of quail have I bagged between the
Old Port and that shady little retreat.
In those days I was nearly a teetotaller. Warren's sheoak ale had no attractions for me, for that was the only colonial article resembling beer to be had. A great sensation was caused when a spring of delicious water was tapped close to the house. Hitherto, the Port had been supplied from Torrens Island - just soakage through perforated casks sunk in the sand.
The discovery of the water was a source of considerable profit to the landlord, as affording teamsters an opportunity to water their parched bullocks. Two shiploads of German immigrants drove a profitable trade from this well by selling hogsheads of the precious element, which they retailed at sixpence per bucket.
No bank in Adelaide was ever drawn on to the same extent as the old Halfway House well, and no well ever met the demands made upon it more promptly. But, finding at last that the competition with the reservoir was a losing game, it quietly caved in.
To return to 1838. Further on from the site of our pleasant respite the country opened up and on the southern side stood bare paddocks. We were bogged in a mudhole while attempting to cross the River Torrens and the execrations of the driver did little to help us in our predicament.
Finally, we saw a long, straggling street which, we were informed, was dubbed 'Hindley' - very red and very sandy - the colour seemed to have stained the houses, the bullocks and even the inhabitants. Drays moved slowly down the thoroughfare, while the people walked at a rapid, business-like rate, passing each other with slight nods, as if time was precious. They all had a 'jaunty-like and faded appearance'.
Several horseman rode through the unpaved street, which was beaten and trodden into a solid crust. We saw 'wild-looking creatures', bearded, belted, booted and spurred, some with broad-rimmed straw hats, some on horseback and some on foot. They reminded us of pictures we had seen of Spanish bullfighters!
A few of the more sartorial horsemen wore blue or red flannel shirts, cabbage-tree hats with broad black ribbons, corduroys and boots, with spurs attached. We were told that in such garb one might meet an Oxford or Cambridge man. The cabbage tree hats were made by the Imperial soldiers - they were beautifully pliant and soft. Their weapons, however, were not dangerous to man and consisted of enormous whips, some with thongs about twelve feet long, held in a coil in the hand, with short, thick handles.
Posts, split and warped by the heat, were placed at intervals to protect pedestrians and heat seemed to be the order of the day. A group of half-naked Aborigines clustered around a storekeeper who was standing in his doorway looking for customers. Others of the tribe were lounging down the street, with spears and waddies in their hands, 'filthy, slimy and greasy, leaving behind them an odour that would turn the stomach of the stoutest dog.'
As to the dress of other British citizens it must be said that they were in the primitive state of society at that time. Men were not estimated by the cut of their clothes, or respected for the goodness of their hats. Gentlemen were to be seen in all kinds of dress, each having consulted his own fancy and chosen clothing adapted to the climate.
The sun was without mercy and we all streamed at every pore. We were told that the summer had been unusually dry and every vestige of vegetation had been scorched, revealing the dry, parched land. The poor brick cottages built at the western end of town, partly in a state of ruin, standing on a sloping bank of bright red clay, gave the place the appearance of a superannuated brick kiln. Indeed, all around us the view was the perfection of desolation and wretchedness.
An article on Captain Jones is in the Advertiser,
25 March 1929, page 14i.
"How the Port River was Discovered" is in The Mail,
18 April 1936, page 4.
A report on the Port by Mr Wood, Master of the Buffalo, is reproduced
in the South Australian Record,
14 March 1838, page 43b.
"The Harbour at Port Adelaide" is in the Register,
29 July 1837, pages 1d-2,
12 August 1837, page 2c,
13 October 1838, page 3d:
It seems to be generally conceded that a capital blunder has been committed
in fixing the landing place of Port Adelaide in its present position.
(Also see Register,
27 October 1838, page 2d,
1, 22 and 29 December 1838, pages 3d, 2a and 2a.)
"Port Adelaide Pro and Con" is in the Register,
27 November 1841, page 3f.
A proposal for it to become a "free" port is traversed on
30 July 1842, page 2a and its declaration as such on
5 July 1845, page 4c; also see
4, 7, 11 and 21 August 1847, pages 2c, 2b, 2a-3b-4d, 2b.
The anniversary of the opening of the "new port" and a celebratory regatta
is reported in the Register,
7 November 1846, page 2e.
"The Jubilee of Port Adelaide" is in the Observer,
18 October 1890, page 30b.
Information on the proposed "new port" at the North Arm, plus a sketch of
same, are in the South Australian,
2 January 1846, page 3a and a supplement on the same day.
"Port Adelaide - The North Arm", including a history of "landing places", appears on
4 and 8 December 1846, pages 4d and 4b; also see
20 April 1847, page 3c.
"Port Adelaide and Its Trade" is in the South Australian,
10 and 13 November 1846, pages 4c and 5d,
"Port Adelaide and Its Capabilities" on
24 November 1846, pages 4b-5d.
"The Trade of Port Adelaide" in the Chronicle,
15 February 1873, page 11f,
"Port Adelaide - Its Trade and Industries" in the Observer,
9 May 1903, page 24 (includes photographs).
The port is described in the South Australian,
24 October 1850, page 2e.
Controversy over the "intended removal of the Port" is traversed in the Register,
3 January 1854, page 3c; also see
4, 11 and 12 January 1854, pages 2f, 2e and 3e,
8 February 1854, page 2e.
A proposed canal from Adelaide is discussed in the Register,
17 July 1855, page 3e,
21 July 1855, page 7e,
18 August 1881, page 6b.
"Canal at Port Adelaide" is in the Chronicle,
27 June 1874, page 11e; also see
8 December 1887, page 5b,
10 December 1887, page 31a,
22 December 1892, page 6e.
F.E. Bucknall's plans for a canal through section 105 to connect the river
with the sea coast is discussed in the Register,
22 October 1880, page 5b,
1 January 1881, page 6b;
extracts from the prospectus of the "Pinery Wharf and Land Company" are in the Register,
12 January 1918, page 4e.
Also see under Place Names - Grange.
"Port Charges" is in the Register,
7 January 1856, page 2c.
Information on free and bonded warehouses is in the Observer,
9 February 1856, page 7c.
A history and description of the "Bonded Stores" is in the Register,
29 and 30 May 1884, pages 6c and 7h,
2 June 1884, page 6g.
The trial of a diving suit is reported in the Observer,
5 April 1856, page 1h (supp.).
"Chinese Pilferers" is in the Observer,
26 July 1856, page 4h,
9 August 1856, page 1d (supp.).
"Treatment of Chinese at the Port" is in the Register,
1 May 1878, page 5c; also see
10 March 1879, page 5a,
7 and 8 May 1888, pages 7d and 4g-5h and South Australia - Immigration - Migrants - Asian.
"Defence of Port Adelaide" is in Parliamentary Paper
"Port Defences" is in the Register,
24 June 1862, page 2h,
"Defences of the Port" in the Observer,
11 February 1871, page 13a.
For information on "Twelve-ton Guns at Port Adelaide" see Register,
5 December 1876, page 6f and Place Names - Glanville and Place Names - Largs.
A poem entitled "Lay of the Port Guns" is in the Observer,
30 September 1876, page 14a; also see
26 September 1876, page 5g,
5 December 1876, page 6f.
Lay of the Port Guns
Beneath a shed in a seaport town,
I chanced one day to find
Two massive guns of several tons
A very peculiar find.
Their make was heavy, there bore was big,
So heavy and big were they
That I crept inside the muzzle wide
Of the nearest as it lay.
Then I heard the wind as it whistled past
Make a sort of sobbing moan,
And an eerie cry came trembling by
In a mournful monotone.
But I kept me still in that sturdy gun
As it lay on the gravelly ground,
And I heard it speak in a husky shriek
And startled I turned me round.
Its tones were husky in its throat,
As though it had caught a cold,
And it painfully, as it seemed to me,
This pitiful yarn unrolled :-
'Oh, we were the guns sent out here,
To guard Australia's shores,
But they have us to rust in the dirt and dust,
We shall never be mounted more.'
Then it back recoils with a jingling jerk
That shook up the dust in my eye,
And I couldn't help blinking as I lay a-thinking
How long it had been passed by.
But still it went on in a wearisome tone -
'Why me and my brother chum
Have cost you a pot of gold, God wot;
You never would guess at the sum.
'For we are the guns that were sent out here
To guard Australia's shore,
And they have left us to rust in the dirt and dust,
We shall never be mounted more.
''Tis many a year since we landed here,
And down in the clinging clay,
Where we Whitworth's fell, for a weary spell
Begrimed and becalmed we lay.
'Then shelter at last in this shed we got,
And here we must long remain
To corrode and rust in the dirt and dust,
'Till we can't be of use again.
'A little sponging would sooth our throats,
But vain is our plaintive plea,
And our resonant roar will be heard no more,
For honeycombed soon we'll be.
'The gross neglect and a deep disgrace
That here in the busy Port,
We loll our length and spend our strength
When we might be defending a fort.
'For we are the guns that were sent out here
To guard Australia's shore,
And they leave us to spoil in the slimy soil,
We shall never be mounted more.'
I left those guns in their rusting place,
And I thought as I homeward went,
With a cynical smile, 'tis exactly the style
Of our sapient government.
An editorial on a "Proposed New Port" is in the Register,
25 August 1863, page 2e; also see
29 August 1863, page 2h.
Also see Place Names - North Arm.
"Harbour Accommodation" is in the Observer,
26 November 1864, pages 2h-6c.
23 and 28 November 1864, pages 3f and 2d,
9 December 1864, page 2h.
A complaint on "Harbour Dues" is in the Register
on 15 June 1865, page 2g.
"Nautical Matters at Port Adelaide" is in the Observer,
28 July 1866, page 3e (supp.).
"The Inner Bar" is in the Register,
4 August 1869, page 3a,
7 and 14 August 1869, pages 13d and 10b,
4 September 1869, page 13d;
24 April 1869, page 6b for an informative article on the area and
16 and 23 October 1869, pages 11g and 11g.
"Port Harbour Improvements" is in the Register,
23 October 1869, page 2e.
"The Harbour Works of Port Adelaide" is in the Register,
10 June 1872, page 5d.
"The Lumpers at the Port" is in the Observer,
21 September 1872, page 7f.
"A Day at Port Adelaide" is in the Chronicle,
8 February 1873, page 6c,
"The Trade of Port Adelaide" on
15 February 1873, page 11f,
"The Port at the Slack Season" in the Chronicle,
10 October 1874, page 14a.
"Accommodation for Overseas Steamers at Port Adelaide by an Inner Harbour
and Canal" is in the Register,
12 March 1881 (supp.), page 2b; also see
10 July 1890, page 3f.
The Port Adelaide canal is discussed in the Advertiser,
26 March 1891, page 6c.
Parliamentary Paper 134/1875 has a report on Lt Goalen's survey of Port Adelaide;
also see Register,
26 October 1875, page 4d and 5g,
27 and 29 October 1875, pages 5g and 5e.
A former colonist, then residing in England, expressed his opinion of the
port and allied matters on
31 August 1875, page 6c in the Register - for an editorial response see page 4f on the same day and
4 September 1875, page 5e-f:
This part of Adelaide is nothing more than a long, narrow intricate creek of
shallow water... It is the old story of "vested interests" out there. The
wealth of the colony is centred in Adelaide... These are all interested in
the old port... and their unanimity for one object influence the Government
and are predominant in the House of Assembly, and so it is that they have
kept things as they are and oppose all change...
"The Chief Port of the Colony" is in the Observer,
4 September 1875, page 3b-g,
"Improvements of Port Adelaide" on
30 October 1875, page 13c,
20 and 27 November 1875, pages 9g and 20f.
The sinking of the dredge, Willunga, in the Port River is reported
in the Observer,
10, 17 and 24 February 1877, pages 4c, 6f and 4c; also see
10, 17 and 24 March 1877, pages 7d, 11f and 12d,
7 April 1877, page 2g,
2 June 1877, page 11d.
A letter defending it as a port is in the Register,
24 September 1877, page 6e; also see
25 September 1877, page 7a.
An amusing letter regarding the "Marine Board Reef" in the Port River is
in the Register
on 8 January 1877, page 6c.
Information on the Port Adelaide Dock Company is in the Register,
21 January 1878, pages 2e-5b,
12 June 1880, page 6e,
31 January 1883, page 1c (supp.),
28 January 1885, page 5a;
photographs of a fire at Dock Company's shed are in the Observer,
10 February 1906, page 29.
"Low-Lying Lands at Port Adelaide" is in the Observer,
4 May 1878, page 12a.
The recollections of Captain Underwood are in the Advertiser,
31 May 1878, 8 and 10 July 1878, pages 6d and 7a,
7 August 1878, page 7a.
Also see South Australia - Maritime Affairs.
The excavation for a new dock is reported in the Register,
23 July 1879, page 5b; also see
25 November 1879, page 4g for a progress report,
20 June 1882, page 4e-g,
3 and 6 July 1882, pages 5e and 6g,
4 and 26 August 1882, pages 4d and 5a-g,
20 and 26 September 1882, pages 5g and 4e,
14 October 1882, page 4f,
2 November 1882, page 4g.
"A Wharf for Ocean Steamers" is in the Register,
23, 30 and 31 July 1883, pages 4g, 4e and 5a,
3 August 1883, page 2b (supp.),
25 October 1883, page 5g,
12 April 1884, page 4h,
17 September 1884, page 4d.
"The Ocean Dock Scheme" is in the Register,
21 October 1884, page 4g,
2 July 1885, page 4e,
20, 27 and 28 August 1855, pages 4h, 4h and 4h,
9, 10 and 17 September 1885, pages 7a, 4h and 4e,
6 December 1884, page 33a.
"The Silt Question at Port Adelaide" is in the Register,
6, 8, 9 (supp.) and 31 December 1879, pages 4f, 6b, 2a and 4g; also see
21 January 1881, page 5c,
6 April 1881, page 5a,
20 August 1881, page 6b,
7 and 19 September 1881, pages 6e and 5c.
A cruise down the river is described in the Register,
25 September 1879, page 5a.
An editorial in the Advertiser on 6 December 1879, page 4e says:
Most people are agreed that the Port is in the wrong place, and that it is
a pity that when Port Misery was abandoned, nearly 40 years ago, a move was
not made up to the North Arm. All efforts to correct this mistake ever since
were defeated by the influence of vested interests, and now it is too late.
(Also see Advertiser, 11 October 1881, page 4e.)
"The Inner and Outer Harbor" is in the Register,
14 April 1880, page 4d.
Also see Place Names - Outer Harbour.
"Navigation of the Port River" is in the Register,
9 September 1880, page 7c.
Statistics on seamen passing through colonial ports are in the Register,
2 February 1881, page 5b.
The loading and unloading of steamers on Sundays is discussed in the Advertiser,
12 and 21 May 1884, pages 4f and 4f.
Also see South Australia - Religion - Breaking the Sabbath.
A proposed graving dock is discussed in the Register,
3 June 1884, page 7h; also see
16 May 1891 for a report on the dock and
20 August 1895, page 6g,
17 October 1895, page 7d.
A history of the dockyard appears on
30 June 1898, page 6c. Also see
24 August 1899, page 6d,
9 August 1900, page 6d,
24 September 1902, page 7c,
29 November 1902, page 3g,
19 August 1905.
Also see Ships and Shipping.
Land encroachment by slip-owners is reported in the Register,
2 April 1886, page 5b.
Deepening the Port River is described in the Register,
4, 14, 20, 23 and 25 August 1883, pages 4g, 4g, 4e, 7c and 6e,
4 September 1883, page 6d,
16 July 1894, page 6e.
Comments on the Port River are in the Advertiser,
28 December 1889, page 5f.
Deepening the Port River is described in the Register,
16 July 1894, page 6e.
The employment of Chinese as seamen is discussed in the Register,
24 and 25 October 1884, pages 5b and 5c-h,
27 October 1884, page 4f.
Information on the first harbour-master's residence, etc, is in the Register,
25 and 27 November 1893, pages 5c.
The appearance of sharks in the Port River is reported in the Register,
31 January 1894, page 5c,
7 February 1903, page 4h,
19 October 1903, page 4e.
Also see South Australia - Fish and Other Sea Creatures
An informative letter under the heading "The Port of Adelaide" is in the Advertiser,
7 April 1900, page 10c,
7 April 1900, page 11f.
"The Mail Steamers and the Port River" is in the Observer,
2 November 1901, page 30e.
Photographs are in the Chronicle,
16 January 1904, page 43.
Also see South Australia - Sea Mail
"Veterans of the Port River" is in the Register,
23 August 1902, page 4h.
Silting up of the river is discussed in the Observer,
12 December 1908, page 51a.
"Dredging of Port River" is in The News,
3 June 1929, page 8f.
"A Story of Progress" is in the Advertiser,
29 April 1911, page 7; also see
19 August 1911, page 7.
A proposed harbour for fishermen's boats is discussed in the Register,
23 February 1920, page 4i.
"Dock for Port Adelaide" is in the Observer,
3 February 1912, page 40c.
"The Port of Adelaide" is in the Register,
11 July 1927, page 8c,
"Tugs and Their Work" on
6 July 1928, page 15a.
"The State's Front Door - How Vessels Enter It" is in the Observer,
28 July 1928, page 52c.
Information on George Wills & Co is in The News,
23 July 1929, page 8e.