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Rounding Off

The trip to Albany, and the material I was able to access, as well as the wonderfully helpful people I was fortunate enough to meet, was all I could possibly have hoped for. There are a few minor regrets - some photographs missed, some recordings which didn't work, but it is all lessons to be applied for the next excursion; namely Darwin/Raffles Bay in 2007, wherein Barker's period (before being transferred to Albany) there will be researched. Anyway, here are some final thoughts and observations on my trip.

Although Albany counts itself a city, one does not have to go far to find a beach, bordered by bush, and not unlike what it would have been like 180 years ago. For example, I walked out to Possession Point one day, along a beach as white as snow, through some bush, and sat on a great granite slab overlooking Attaturk Straight, the entrance to Princes Royal Harbour. Across the narrow straight the 'city' of Albany nestled between the book-ends of Mount Melville and Mount Clarence, with wheat silos and a wood chipping operation on the wharfs being the only real assault on the eye. But where I sat and gazed and rested, it would have changed little since Collet Barker did the same in 1830. A further trip to Frenchman's Bay with Dot, Carol, and Iris, (Ira's Mum) who spent the last few days with me at Emu Point, revealed a fresh water stream running into the ocean, where Captain Vancouver watered his ship during his journey of 1890...

Vancouver's fresh water source

Dot, Iris, Carol.

An environment such as this makes it easier to visualise the period of Barker's command, not only from the point of view of the less than a hundred soldiers and convicts who made up the white population of the day, but also from the view of the original inhabitants. For the Aboriginal perspective, I was fortunate enough to have met the Aboriginal people I have described in previous blogs, but my knowledge was enhanced by a meeting with local historian, author, and ex ABC journalist Les Johnson, with whom I met for two hours in his extensive home library. As well as his helpful insights into the region, Les showed me many useful and pertinent passages from the books in his library which I gratefully photographed for my records. Unfortunately I neglected to take a photo of Les, but he has promised to send me one.

I also met with a fine retired gentleman called Bill Hassell, who grew up in a region to the north-east of Albany called Jarramungup, where his grandfather ran a property with the assistance of the local natives. In his fine house nestled at the foot of Mount Clarence, and overlooking Princes Royal Harbour, Bill talked of his upbringing surrounded by his native friends, and of his fluency in the language. He also told me of the availability of a book written by his grandmother and published by his cousin, called My Dusky Friends, in which Ethel Hassell tells of her experiences with her daily companions in the 1890s, as well as being a collection of the dreamtime stories they told her in those days. Bill's help was also invaluable.

Bill Hassell

Bill's 100 year old collection

My journey back to Mandura did not include an extensive exploration of either the Porongurups or the Stirling Ranges; explorations which will need to be undertaken in some future trip.

Stirling Ranges

Back in Mandura Steve and Ira Casserley were the perfect hosts.

Steve and Ira

Their hospitality included a trip to Perth with Ira, during which we obtained two copies of the book My Dusky Friends, from the publisher, Cleve Hassell, who we shared afternoon tea with, overlooking the Swan River in Dalkeith. I was also able, thanks to Ira's support, to find the gravestone of my paternal grandfather in the Karrakatta cemetery. Albert Wilkie Innes died at the age of thirty five at Claremont in 1920, of tuberculosis.

Albert (Bert) Wilkie Innes's resting place

The assistance of all the people mentioned in these blogs was invaluable, but in particular the hospitality of Steve and Ira, and the use of the corona and the Emu Point house made it all possible, and I cannot thank them enough. The completion of my project owes it to all who assisted.

Posted: Tue - November 28, 2006 at 03:36 PM      
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