The Last of the Tasmanians/Chapter 9
The terrible mortality of the Natives on Flinders Island excited the sympathy of their friends in Hobart Town. Several times had Mr. George Washington Walker and I conversed upon the subject, and wished that the remnant could be brought nearer town. We knew that this was the desire of the Blacks themselves, who said if they could only live in their own country again, they would all be healthy and happy. One Hobart Town paper had a violent leader upon the subject, expatiating upon the outrages of 1831, and predicting a bloody renewal of them, should the Natives be allowed to leave the Flinders' asylum. As if twelve men, the number then alive, could light up the fires of country homesteads, and resume the spear of slaughter, in a colony of eighty thousand Whites!
The Natives obtained their wish. In October 1847, forty-four of the Tasmanian race were removed from Flinders Island to Oyster Cove, There were twelve men, twenty-two women, and ten children, or non-adults. Some of these, the latter particularly, were half-castes. The boys ranged from the age of four to fourteen years; the girls, from seven to thirteen. When Mr. Clark wrote to me in August 1849, he had then with him but one child, six others being placed at the Orphan School—to die.
Oyster Cove is but a few miles' distance from Hobart Town. Leaving the park-like South Arm to the left, and Mount Louis, 680 feet high, to the right, the junction of the Derwent with the ocean is gained. There the Storm Bay opens to the south-east, and the narrow D'Entrecasteaux Channel to the south-west; these waters being separated by Bruni Island. Entering the channel, Mount Louis is on one side, and the old aboriginal settlement of North Bruni on the other. The first little harbour gained, after crossing the mouth of North-west Bay, is Oyster Cove, nearly opposite Barnes Bay, of North Bruni.
The French expedition had called it the Bay of Oysters. The water is so shallow that the little pier can only be reached at high tide. Mr. John Helder Wedge told me that he had a saw-mill there in 1830. A very expensive and profitless Probation penal settlement was existing there for seven years. A reserve of 1,700 acres was proclaimed, though the native reserve is 1,000 acres.
It is not a very attractive place for farmers, the soil being heartlessly barren, though, a few miles further, the traveller passes valleys of surpassing richness. The timber, however, is of gigantic growth. Eucalypti, of the gum-tree kind, run up to 300 feet. I have measured sixty feet round the butt of a tree in the forest near. To the westward of the Cove is the track to the Huon, where a clergyman discovered a gum-tree which was 330 feet to the summit, and 106 feet in circumference at a height of six feet from the ground. Myrtles towered there 150 feet. The Banksia contended with the Xanthorrhoea, or grass-tree, for the possession of desolate spots, while the Epacris and Kennedia sought the humbler levels. The Tasmanian lily (Blandifordia) hung out its bells of orange and scarlet in cool and moistened nooks. The Waratah, or Telopea, threw out its gorgeous crimson blossoms from the mountain heights overlooking the Cove, and attracting the Aborigines to the charming gullies beneath, where sparkling waters trickled by the stems of romantic fern-trees.The Geology of the Cove may be briefly described. Immediately round the station the rocks are the argillaceous contemporaries of the palæeozoic limestones of Hobart Town, and abound in pectens, spirifers, terebratulæ, &c. A slaty porphyry transmutes this bed in the neighbourhood. In the north and south the basalt encroaches, having upon it the soil so dear to the eye of an agriculturist Southward of the cove, along the channel, bituminous coal deposits are bordered by greenstone floors, and lie upon ancient slates. Greenstone and basalt are opposite the cove upon the shore of Bruni Island, where, also, the coal reappears. To the rear of the cove rises the massive Wellington range, a monument of past igneous action, on whose sides respectively the basalt and greenstone tower as columnar pillars, or repose as Titanic blocks.
For a time the new settlement prospered, or seemed to prosper. Mr. Clark wrote to me cheerfully: "They are now comfortable," said he; "have a fall supply of provisions; are able to till their gardens, sow peas, beans, and potatoes; anxious to earn money, of which they know to a certain extent the value. They are thankful to the Lieutenant-Governor and the Colonial Secretary for removing them from Flinders Island, and to Dr. Milligan for all the trouble he has taken. The women can all make their own clothes, and cook their food by either boiling or roasting. Their houses are comfortable and clean. They are as contented as possible." So far this is all satisfactory.
But the Hobart Town people began to doubt the wisdom of the plans pursued at the Cove, particularly when Mr. and Mrs. Clark had gone to their rest. At the end of 1854, there remained of the original forty-four, only three men, eleven women, and two boys at the station. But the colonists found themselves charged with the following little bill for the establishment that was rent free, with wood and water allowance: the expenses for that year stood at 2,006l. 8s. 8d. Curious folks divided this by fourteen, omitting the two boys, and got as a result nearly three pounds a week for each. The Protectorate was then pronounced too extravagant, and a more suitable outlay was ordained.
When I visited Oyster Cove in 1859, a sad spectacle met my eyes. I simply now record what I stated to Dr. Nixon, Bishop of Tasmania, on my return to Hobart Town. I went to him, knowing him to be really interested in the Aborigines, and aware that a long and painful illness, which subsequently led to his resignation of the episcopate, had prevented his attention to their claims. Blame might naturally be attached to somebody. The blight had fallen upon the Natives, and produced the disorders, doubtless, which appeared in their midst. Mr. Dandridge, located with them, seemed kindly disposed toward them, but evidently regarded himself as a sort of ration-distributor only, being, as he told me himself, convinced that he could do nothing to arrest their progress to the grave. He and his wife were then keeping a school for the children of the farmers and labourers outside of the Reserve. Instruction was considered hopeless for the Blacks. But might not a little more have been done?
I saw a miserable collection of huts and out-buildings, the ruins of the old penal establishment, profoundly dirty, and swarming with fleas, as I found to my cost. The Superintendent could not clean all the places himself; he had no manservant, and the Blacks had no inclination to do the work. So it was not done. The buildings formed the sides of a square, enclosing a large courtyard. The officer's family were not luxuriously housed. The Natives were in several contiguous huts or offices. The earthen floor of these was in a sad state. Some had parts of wooden planking remaining. The sides of the huts were in a ruinous condition. The roofs were not all waterproof. Many of the windows were broken, and the doors of some closed imperfectly. The furniture was gone. Here and there a stool was seen, or a log, though the women preferred squatting on the ground or floor, and that not always in the most decent attitude. The apology for bedsteads and beds was the most deplorable of all. I turned round to the Superintendent, and expressed my concern at the frightfully filthy state of the bedclothes. In some places I noticed but one blanket as the only article on the shelf, and remarked the insufficiency of bedclothing for old people, and at that cold season of the year. Mr. Dandridge appeared as surprised as chagrined, and, calling the women, commanded them to tell where all the blankets had gone to. One of them quite coolly answered: "Bad white fellow—him steal 'em all." The Superintendent's explanation was, that they were so given up to drink as to sell for liquor the Government blankets, and even their very clothing, to the low population about. But could no protection be afforded them?
The gardens, so praised by Mr. Clark, had all gone. There was no sign of reading in those wretched abodes. The cooking was managed, apparently, by boiling, judging by the big round pot I saw in each hut, and generally in the middle of the floor. Several times I saw the dogs licking out the vessel, for both brutes and human beings seemed to have common bed and board. The weekly rations then were 14 lbs. meat, 10 lbs. flour, 3 ozs. tea, 14 ozs. sugar, 3 ozs. soap, 2 ozs. salt, and 3 ozs. tobacco. For clothing, an allowance of blue serge, 3½ yds. by 1½, was made, which they rudely made into a loose garment. A flannel petticoat, red cap, handkerchief, comforter, cotton frock and jumper, were supposed to be provided, and some I saw in stock at the store. Handkerchiefs, at any rate, were not required, judging from appearances. When expecting company, they were decked out suitably. Calico for chemises was once issued, and, doubtless, made up by some of them in olden days. The polka jacket was gaily got up, though only worn on festive occasions. When I made a remark as to the paucity of clothes, and their miserable appearance in such weather, there was the repetition of the complaint of their selling for drink the dresses, even though all had been stamped with the Government mark.
In the time of Governor Denison they were happier, according to their own account, as that gentleman often paid them a visit, bringing some of his family with him, and having a packet of toys, marbles and balls. He would spread out the treasure, join in their games, play even at leapfrog with them, and finish off with merry laughter and good feed. Lady Denison would sometimes ride down with a party of ladies, and bring a lot of them up to town in cabs for a change. His Excellency has sent down a stage-coach to fetch some to Government House for a dinner, and afterwards give them a laugh at the theatre. Dr. Nixon, the learned and kind-hearted bishop, often paid them a visit, giving them ghostly counsel, but never omitting, according to their version, to bring them some tucker. A basket of apples, and a genial smile, brought attentive listeners to his devotional exercises. The removal of the Governor, and the lengthened indisposition of the Bishop, had darkened their latter days.
They spoke freely of their friends, but could not forbear a word about the past Black War and its troubles. The "bad white fellows " often came up in their talk. The "bad white fellows" haunted them still, stealing their clothes, and making them drunk. Little or no restraint was laid upon their movements. No fence enclosed their ground, and the wide Bush was theirs for wanderings. Occasionally they indulged in a ramble for days, and returned improved in health by their absence. The diseases troubling them were those arising from neglected colds. I was taken to a bit of ground enclosed by Walter, which was the cemetery of the departed. There was nothing romantic about it, though much that was painfully suggestive.
The moral condition of the station was the subject of indignant complaint from Maryann, the half-caste wife of Walter: "We had souls in Flinders," said she, "but we have none here. There we were looked after, and the bad Whites were kept from annoying us. Here we are thrown upon the scum of society. They have brought us among the offscouring of the earth (alluding to the convict population about). Here are bad of all sorts. We should be a great deal better if some one would read and pray to us. We are tempted to drink, and all bad practices, but there is neither reading nor prayer. While they give us food for the body, they might give us food for the soul. They might think of the remnant of us poor creatures, and make us happy. Nobody cares for us." These are the expressions I find recorded in my note-book.
Mr. Dandridge informed me that the Bishop had made some provision for their religious instruction, by requesting a neighbouring clergyman to give them an occasional service. But the gentleman was unpopular; and, whenever his horse was seen on the hill, it was a signal for general dispersion. There being no congregation, the service was not held.
It was from Maryann that I obtained an account of the last hours of my friend Robert Clark.
Removing from Flinders Island, with his beloved Blacks, he hoped to spend some happy years with them at Oyster Cove, and enjoy some of the sweets of Christian fellowship, as he said, by being only a few miles from Hobart Town. His kind-hearted wife, whose benevolent exertions for the good of the Aborigines were so appreciated by Mr. Robinson, was pleased with the prospect of removal, not merely because she hoped it would be for the happiness of her dark charge, but for a mother's natural anxiety about her own large family, whom she wished to see placed once more with the civilized community.
He arrived with sanguine expectations. He had forty-five Natives remaining. He would do his best for them. He would get gentlemen of Hobart Town interested in their welfare. He would ask friends to visit them. He would have books, pictures, toys, and other amusements. He would excite their ardour to raise provisions for the Hobart Town market. He would establish them in a good dairy farm. He would make them live on the fat of the land, and save money beside. He would so employ them, so keep them interested, that they should not die at that terrible rate they had died in the Straits. He would live long as the father of a happy family.
Alas! there could be no arrest of the fatal disease. They still sickened and died. The rest began to lose heart. They had believed their decline caused by the climate and confinement of Flinders Island, and were so sure that they could not die so in the new home on their own native land. When they discovered the delusion, they were chilled and disheartened. Yes—they were to die—they must die—they would all die soon. Then why should they till the ground? For whom would the potatoes be grown? What would be the use of a dairy? Why need they trouble about dress—they, the dying ones? Pictures lost their interest. Books were left unopened, or looked at with glazed eyes. They read their fate. In such a mood, they cared for nothing. They lost interest in all about them. Everything seemed to remind them of their end. Was it strange, then, that when temptation came near they fell? When the drink was brought secretly, was it strange that they took it as the Aryans their divine Soma, the drink of the gods, the reliever of sorrow, the life-giver, the joy-friend?
Mr. Clark was spared the grief of seeing the worst. His wife's health was affected by the ill-conditioned quarters allotted to her family. She was removed to Hobart Town for a change, and died there. Her tender-hearted husband returned to Oyster Cove a changed man. He had lost a partner indeed. He strove at first to forget the past, and live for his future. But his future had been bound up with the life of his wife, and the life of his Natives. The first had gone, the second was going. Why should he stay? In a few weeks the melancholy of the Aborigines seemed to fall heavily upon him. He took to his bed of death.
At this stage of the story, Maryann pointed to a ruined hut near which we had walked. It was of slab timber, roughly hewn, and roughly placed, but now falling to decay. The paling sides had gaped open. The brick-nogged enclosure had given way. The windows and doors had been stolen. A luxuriant Macquarie Harbour vine had spread itself over the roof, seeking, but in vain, to bind the ruin together. Native flowers crept into the vine, sheltering their weak stems beneath the strong and hardy climber. "Here," said my weeping companion, "here poor Father died."After a Little silence, the sad story was resumed. "I attended him," said she, "along with his daughter, night and day. But all the people wanted to do something for him, for all so loved
|PATTY, THE RING-TAILED OPOSSUM.||WAPPERTY, A TASMANIAN WOMAN|
|(Photographed by Mr. C. A. Woolley, 1866)||(Photographed by Mr. C. A. Woolley, 1866)|
The poor creature could not tell me any more, but fairly sobbed aloud. I tried to comfort her, saying that God had kindly allowed him to go to his wife in heaven, and to the good Blacks who had died before him, and who would be so glad to see her there. If only Walter and she would keep his counsels, they might yet see him again. She shook her head, and mournfully, and yet with bitterness, replied, "No one cares for the Natives' souls now that Father Clark is gone."
And now she has gone, and Walter has gone, and the Blacks are all gone but an old woman. Father Clark had gone to his rest before such blighting sorrow came. It is good to read of such a man as he. It is a relief to the harshness and selfishness of life to know such a man as he. It would be a blessing to the world if more would live his life and die his death, even should clouds dim the horizon of hope.
I proceed now with a brief notice of the Natives on the station at my visit in 1859.
Old Sophia, then apparently over sixty years of age, had white hair, and the most monkey-like face I ever saw upon a human being. The projection of the lower jaw and the low cast of countenance denoted an inferior physique. She was born on Bruni Island, and had given birth to two children. A troop of mangy dogs accompanied their aged mistress, who held forth long harangues to the curs, that answered in snapping barks of recognition. Two of them lay in her wretched bed with her, to keep her back warm, as she told me.
Ragged Wapperty was not a desirable-looking old lady. Her country was near Patrick's Head, to the north-east. Her native name was known formerly as Woonoteah coota mena—"Thunder and lightning." There was nothing brilliant about her then. Her countrywoman Flora seemed about forty to forty-five years old. Her mouth was the most demonstrative part of her person. As I was being shown through the store by the Superintendent, and receiving explanation of the dresses worn by the ladies. Flora appeared at the door. She was called in to give me an illustration of the charms of a holiday attire, such as may be seen in the photograph taken by the Bishop of Tasmania. Without a judicious regard for the proprieties, or from an antiquated piece of coquetry, she suddenly untied a string, and let fall to the ground her only serge garment Then she proceeded leisurely to enrobe herself in the finery, and was evidently gratified at my expressed satisfaction.
Patty, alias Cooneana, the Ring-tailed Opossum, might have been from fifty to fifty-five; though, in the account of her death at the Hobart Town Hospital, in July 1867, she was said to be seventy. She left but two women behind her. She was the wife of Leonidas, of whose literary acquirements notice is given in the chapter on Flinders Island. Patty belonged to the Kangaroo Point tribe, of the Derwent. Her distinguishing feature was a very broad nose. Emma, rather younger than Patty, was of the Patrick Head tribe, and had been married to Albert Caroline, commonly called Queen Caroline, was the relict of the renowned chieftain of the Big River Natives, Roumetewah, or the Wombat. Her native name was Ganganinnanah. She appeared one of the most aged among the party, and sat away from the others crying in an imbecile manner. The Coal River tribe had been her childhood's friends.Bessy Clark, called after the wife of the Catechist, was then under forty years of age, and was the best-looking of the sisterhood. There was no projection of the lower jaw, and her good-humour gave a pleasant expression to her swarthy features. Her native name was Pinnano bathæ, the Kangaroo head. She had not led a forest life with her people, having been rescued in early childhood. When Mr. G. A. Robinson was out with his son and others seeking after the Macquarie Harbour tribe, a family was disturbed at their roaring fire so suddenly, that a mother in her fright forgot her little girl whom she had left near the warm embers. The deserted infant was placed on the back of young Robinson, and ultimately confided to the care of a country-woman on Flinders Island. When old enough, she was sent for education and training to the Orphan School at Newtown, near Hobart Town. It was thought she would there be removed from the temptations of aboriginal life.
PATTY IN OYSTER COVE HOLIDAY COSTUME.
(Photographed by Dr. Nixon, Lord Bishop of Tasmania.)
BESSY CLARK, OF OYSTER COVE.
(Photograped by Mr. C. Woolley, 1866.)
This lady indulged me with full particulars of her courting days. "He," said she (meaning Augustus), "tell me plenty times he love me, then he make love, then he ask me be his wife. I tell him go ask Father (Mr.) Clark. Father and Mother say, 'You marry him.' So I did." She then confided to me some of her conjugal troubles. Like many more of his sex, he had relaxed in his attentions to his partner; though, having the youngest and most beautiful, he might be supposed out of the reach of more attractive influences. Anyhow, he was tired of home delights, and was seriously contemplating leaving her for a whaling cruise, as William Lanné the last man, had done. "And now," added she, "he want to leave me." Some of the old ladies near commenced in rude English to declaim upon the evil propensities of men in general, and Augustus in particular. Of course I expressed my sympathy, and declared that if he dared carry out his wicked intentions, I would come and take her back with me to Port Phillip. This caused shouts of laughter from the aboriginal ladies. Bessy wished to give me a parting gift. Not knowing what to bestow, I suggested it should be something of her own manufacture. After thinking a while, she darted off into the swamp near, and reappeared with a handful of native flax. Squatting down on the ground, she turned up her garment, exposed her thigh, and began diligently rubbing the fibres on her bared leg, until she had made a length of string for me. She spoke very feelingly of Mr. Clark, and repeatedly uttered, as if half to herself, "Very good man! All the Black fellows love him."
Laughing little Lalla Rookh, or Truganina, was my especial favourite of the party. She acted among the rest as if she were indeed the sultana. She was then much over fifty years of age, and preserved some of those graces which made her beauty a snare in olden days, and sadly tried the patience of respective husbands. Her coquetry reminded me of the faded loveliness of French courts; and, as she stood smirking and smiling beside me, I thought of the septuagenarian admirer of Voltaire. Her features, in spite of her bridgeless nose, were decidedly pleasing, when lighted up by her sparkling black eye in animated conversation. Her nose was of the genuine saucy retroussé order. She was further adorned with a fair moustache, and well developed, curly whiskers, that were just beginning to turn with advancing years. She was in 1829 the wife of the bold Wooreddy, the chief of the Bruni tribe. Her appreciation of English society was a sore trial to her more solemn-looking native companion. As her name so often appears in this work, it is needless to say more of this sylvan goddess of Tasmania. She is the last of the race.
Maryann, the half-caste, was the wife of Walter, King Walter, or George Arthur Walter. She had the appearance of her mixed race. Her delicate hand, her dark eyes, her nose and mouth, declared the native mother; but her broad and lofty forehead indicated the European descent of the father. She was unquestionably a woman of weight in the country, bringing down upon the floor as she walked a pressure of some seventeen or eighteen stone. There was not only vigour of intellect, but a strength and independence of will, stamped upon her expansive features. The base of her brain represented the portentous character of animal appetites, while the loftiness and breadth elsewhere exhibited the force of moral sentiments. She was a woman who, placed in happier circumstances, could have been the Czarina of Russia, and would have emulated the intellectual prowess of a Catharine, though she might have betrayed an equal intensity of passions.
Her mother, Sarah, had been stolen from her forest home by one of the early sealers of the Straits, whose name was Cottrel Cochrane. He had not proved a cruel husband, nor a wholly neglectful father. When, however, Mr. Robinson made his raid upon the Straitsmen, and carried off their dark-skinned partners, Maryann found a new home on Flinders Island. There she was cared for as the daughter of a black woman rather than the child of an Englishman. Her associates were her mother's race, and she felt her degradation in the presence of her whiter female acquaintance. With such extraordinary powers, had she been received into a respectable family, and treated in a proper manner, she might have been a happier and more useful woman. As it was, she became the wife of Walter. She never had a child.The masculine element of Oyster Cove was not in the ascendant. There was poor Tippoo Saib, no longer a terrible
WALTER GEORGE ARTHUR, AND HIS WIFE MARYANN, THE HALF-CASTE
Black Allen, Jackey, the Leonidas of Flinders Island, was the husband of the Ring-tailed 'Posum, Patty. He had associated with Whites from a boy, and had accompanied Mr. John Batman in his expedition after the Blacks in 1830. I regret to say that Jackey was much advanced in one civilized habit—that of indulgence in strong drink. This was ultimately the cause of his death—being drowned when returning drunk from Hobart Town, in May 1861.
Walter was far above the rest of the people. He was of royal blood, being the son of King George; and he was named George Arthur, after the Governor of the colony. His face presented no aggravation of the Native features, though sufficiently betraying the Black man. If standing on the steps of the Piazza di Spagna in Rome, he would have been often selected as a model for his magnificent head. His nose was depressed, a characteristic of his tribe; but his eye was of even unusual expressiveness. His general aspect was one of seriousness and melancholy.
I am not ashamed to confess that, when I have sometimes stood silently and thoughtfully before an Aborigine, and looked, though but for a moment, into that dark and dreamy eye of his, catching the expression of its melancholy gaze, I have been oppressed with the feeling that there lay something behind that glance I so wanted to know, but never could know, a something he might dimly conceive, but not accurately realize. Once, when so I looked, and so I felt, before my friend Walter, he answered my silent speech with such a look and start as I shall never forget, and even now remember with moistened eyes. Involuntarily he held out his hand, grasped mine, and walked quietly away. The extremes of colour had met, and both knew, without being ever known. When after a few moments we walked together again, and spoke upon indifferent subjects, there was such a gentleness of manner in him, so subdued a tone, that I knew I had gained his heart, and developed his nature. But for what?—for whom? Going afterwards into his hut, he reappeared with some pebbles in a bit of rag. They were diamonds, so called, which he had gathered on Flinders Island. He put them in my hand. It was his treasure. He had no child and no brother. I understood him, and accepted of his gift. He has gone to his fathers, and his present is one of my most cherished mementoes.
He was then employed to take passengers to and from the steamer, on its way from the Huon to Hobart Town. He received one shilling a day for attention to the mail-bags, and earned money by the execution of various business commissions. He cultivated at his leisure a part of his own little farm of twenty acres. Having been able to learn more than his countrymen, he had quite a civilized appearance, spoke English with fluency, and even wrote with moderate accuracy. His Majesty took me into particular favour, and invited me to a banquet in the palace—or tea in the hut.
Arrived at the door of a neat three-roomed Bush cottage, I was received with many smiles by the buxom Maryann, who introduced me within. There I found my royal host conversing with a Sydney half-caste, who had come on a friendly visit. The room into which I was brought had many tokens of civilization and gentility wanting in most of the country cottages of England. The furniture, though homely, was suitable and comfortable. A carpet covered the floor. Not a particle of dust could be seen. A few prints adorned the walls, and books lay on a side-table. The Bible occupied a conspicuous position. The daily newspaper was there, as Walter was a regular subscriber for the press. The table was laid with quite a tempting appearance, and a thorough good cup of tea was handed round by the jovial-looking hostess. It was about the last evidence of civilization to be witnessed in connexion with the interesting race of Tasmanians.
Our conversation was an interesting and a merry one. The Sydney half-caste, out of respect for the white visitor, soon quietly retired, and left me alone with the proprietors of the neat little hat. I have elsewhere described the gift of some Flinders Island diamonds from poor Walter. I was to receive a parting remembrance from his wife. He had given me what was most valuable in his eyes. She presented me with what was pleasing in hers. It was a charming necklace of the smallest and most brilliantly-polished shells I have ever seen. Even then I felt the delicacy of her nature, as she said, putting the glittering object in my hand: "Give that to your daughter." I thanked her, and inquired if my lassie should wear it as a necklace. "No," replied my poor friend, "let her wear it on her back hair as the Indian women do." Ten years have passed; but I never see my daughter adorned with this pretty wreath without thinking of Maryann the half-caste.When I parted with them, a thorough cordiality of feeling had been established between us. Knowing the moral danger of their position, I earnestly warned them of the evils of intemperance: for what seemed so friendly to them in their weary lives of objectless effort, and so companionless of sympathy, as the cup that elevates and cheers, although it blights and it intoxicates! It was needful warning. The curse had already been felt in their little homestead, for Walter had already fallen to the drunkard's stage. One evening, in May 1861, he and Jack Allen went on board their boat at the Hobart Town wharf, on their way to Oyster Cove. They had been to the public-house, and were seen in a state unfit for the voyage. After proceeding three miles, when off Sandy Bay, the boat was upset, and both Walter and his mate sank to the bottom of the Derwent.