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circumspect in his proceedings than he might otherwise have been. The movements of the Frenchman were keenly watched. Even in New Zealand settlement was hurried so as to allow France no opportunity to establish a colony. It was also rumored that Admiral Baudin contemplated forming a settlement at Western Port in 1802, and the effect of this, with the continued presence of French vessels in Australian waters, helped to sustain the curiosity of the authorities in Sydney and the British Government at Downing Street. Just about this time. too, Lord John Russell was asked by the French Government what portions of Australia England included within her lines of demarcation. He firmly and determinedly replied, "The whole."
According to Captain Gilbert, who visited King George's Sound in the Success in 1827, it was early recognised that the site for the settlement was not a satisfactory one, and the life of the pioneers was rendered more rough thereby. He wrote that Major Lockyer had "erected several little cottages, or rather huts, made of wood and plastered with mud, and even in the commandant's house the wind blows through in every part." On the day after the arrival of Lockyer six or seven of his men strayed a short distance from the spot where they had decided to form the town. Natives were suddenly observed among the trees, who forthwith attacked them. The party hurried away to the camp with all speed, but not until one man was severely wounded. He was speared through thigh and hack, and a spear pierced the fleshy part of his arm and entered his side, thus pinning his arm to his side. He managed to reach the camp, where he partly recovered from his wounds, though he was maimed for life. Captain Gilbert took him to Sydney on board the Success. Unfortunately, records of the original King George's Sound Settlement are not obtainable, and little information can therefore be given of what transpired. It would appear that American sealers and whalers frequently put into the harbour and plied their avocation in and out of the sound. Possibly some had called there between the last visit of Lieutenant King and the arrival of Major Lockyer. For some time after the latter was settled, he had much trouble with them. They treated the natives in a high-handed manner and ill-used them with impunity. They forcibly took native women away, and some they shot for the slightest offence. During the early part of 1827 seven sealers seized four natives and removed them to Michaelmas Island (a small barren rock) in the sound, where they killed one and left the others to starve. At about the same time they took two native women from their tribe and landed them somewhere on the main, apparently in another tribal district. Major Lockyer arrested these seven sealers, and intended despatching them to Sydney on the first opportunity, there to be tried for murder. The natives soon got on friendly terms with the soldiers and convicts, and had ingress to and egress from all the huts, and never took anything away but what was given them.
A period of alert quietness followed this scare of 1826. Governor Darling was occupied in meeting the difficulties of the infant settlements, and that none of them were satisfactory, except so far as actual establishment went, was probably due to the somewhat hurried manner in which each was fixed on. Darling repeatedly mentioned in despatches to the Home Government and in private correspondence that the locality at King George's Sound was unsuitable. The soil did not seem to yield to the efforts of the tillers, while little inland agricultural land was opened up to the energy of private individuals.
And while quietness reigned for a period at Sydney, it was as nothing to the great silence which encompassed the isolated band at King George's Sound. In that solitude they found no charms. The scenery and the climate were pleasing enough. Rank and picturesque vegetation clothed the hills, the great woods were peopled by beautiful specimens of the feathered tribe, the natives constantly appeared in the vista surrounding the camp, and watched the movements of this advance guard, whales sported and spouted in the azure-blue sound, and seals wailed on its banks. Lockyer's men were completely separated from their kind. It was only at long and irregular intervals that any news arrived from Sydney, and more than once they were reduced to serious danger by the depletion of food supplies. Rude cannon were erected near the flag, and frowned down on the whalers and sealers and natives. They were required to serve for no other purpose. Labour was spasmodically applied to clearing areas in the woods but their futile efforts at cultivation tended to dishearten the people and accentuate their unenviable and unfortunate position. Under Mount Clarence and Mount Melville there are still to be observed the ruins of cottages, crumbled to their foundations, which were erected at this time and later. Otherwise no memorial exists to show the place where the English flag was peacefully implanted, where Western Australia by that simple act was declared a possession of Great Britain.
Governor Darling was determined to take every precaution to ensure the western coast to England. He did not desire that these lands should be inhabited by the children of two hostile nations. Early in 1827 he decided to dispatch H.M. frigate Success to the west coast to make surveys, and to discover a suitable site for a more ambitious settlement than that at King George’s Sound. The Success had been ordered to New South Wales on a particular service, which it was unable to perform. Because she was lying idle, Darling chose her for the new work.
The early records throw little light on the equipment and complement of this expedition to the west coast. The reports at present among the records of Western Australia of the voyage of the Success and the movements of the explorers are signed by Captain Gilbert and Mr. Charles Fraser. They make no specific mention of Captain Stirling, who had been commander of the vessel, being present, but in one place Captain Gilbert uses the words "the captain," as applied to some order during the trip. It is reasonable to suppose that he was in command, especially as all works of the subsequent decade mention Captain Stirling as in charge of the expedition, and impose on him, through his representations on the land resources, the onerous burden of the final colonisation. After much groping among Western Australian records, and those in New South Wales, we have not discovered decisive documents on this point.
The Success sailed away from Sydney on the 17th January, 1827, in company with a cutter. The Governor equipped the latter for survey work along the coast, and also to carry provisions to King George's Sound. Mr. Charles Fraser, the Colonial Botanist, was on board the Success. The two vessels went down to Hobart, the convict settlement in Van Dieman's Land, or Tasmania, and some little time was passed there by the officers, who, needless to say, expressed themselves as greatly pleased with the magnificent scenery presented by the Derwent River and Mount Wellington. After leaving there the commander found his progress so retarded by the slowness of the cutter that he decided upon leaving her. He instructed her master to make his way to the Swan River, which was to be the basis of their explorations, and in the event of his being unable to round Cape Leeuwin by the 15th March, to bear up for King George's Sound. Finally, should that place be not reached by the 20th March, he was to shape a course for Sydney.