06 November 2010
[King Georges Sound is south of the Swan River Colony. It's now known as Albany. Image via Wikimedia]
In celebration of Anna Jacobs visiting on Monday (with a giveaway of the first book in her Swan River Colony series, "Farewell to Lancashire") I thought I'd share a few random facts about the nineteenth century colonial settlement that became Western Australia.
The Swan River Colony began in 1829, a couple of years before Victoria came to the throne. Some of the "gentlemen settlers" had fought in the Napoleonic Wars.
For a start, the colony was isolated but not beyond the reach of Yankee whalers. They hunted whales along the south west coast as early as the 1830s.
There were coffee houses -- rough wooden structures, sometimes canvas tents.
Flies and mosquitos were a real nuisance (well, some things stay the same). The solution was cowtails fitted in "rather nice" wooden handles to flick the flies away.
Local Nyungar people acted as postmen, carrying mail between isolated farms.
There were no facilities in the early days of travel for people to wash their clothes on the journey from England to the Swan River Colony. They had to pack sufficient clothes for the journey and wash them on arrival. Ew. The journey was about 16 weeks.
One of the early industries was the sale of sandalwood. History turns full circle, and at the beginning of the twenty first century, Western Australia is once again a major supplier of sandalwood. And if you want to experience heaven, stand downwind of a sandalwood factory. Bliss.