Potted Histories

Australind History Through Newspapers

In 2017 Australind celebrated its 175th Anniversary, with descendants of the original settlers coming from far and wide for a reunion. Today it is a thriving community, situated on the picturesque Leschenault Estuary in the South West of WA.

Australind was initially a settlement funded by a private company, launched in London with much fanfare and high expectations in 1840. The ‘Island Queen’ the first ship to leave London in August 1840 carried the advance party of surveyors. However, by the end of 1843 the whole project was disbanded and few settlers remained. The reasons for the settlement’s rapid decline and failure have been the subject of much discussion over the years. Here we have selected newspaper articles which appeared over a number of years to tell the early Australind story. Letters written by Marshall Waller Clifton, Chief Commissioner of the Western Australian Company have been used extensively in the telling.[1] They are published as they appeared in their original form, apart from breaking up some of the lengthy paragraphs and bolding.

Editors’ Note: The recent publication of Marshall Waller Clifton’s Letter Books in 2017[2] and his Journals in 2010[3] provide an excellent resource for further research on the Australind Settlement.


Daily News, 13 November 1937.

No reference to the history of Bunbury would be complete without some account of the tragic story of Australind — tragic in its lost and blasted hopes, but rich and immortal in the story of sublime faith and courage which triumphed over difficulties which few have faced. There are two big factors in the birth and subsequent development of the town and district of Bunbury. One is the actual founding of this town by Lieutenant Bunbury on December 21, 1836, and the other is the establishment of the first settlement at Australind. This later can surely claim to be one of the most interesting features in the early history of this State. A ‘glorious failure’ aptly describes the history of Australind. The venture failed, but not through lack of faith and courage. It failed through an ironical trick of Fate which proved the turning point in the history of this gallant but ill-fated enterprise. Fate dealt those hardy souls a losing hand, but they played it to the last.

ATTEMPTS were made in England to form land companies to promote extensive settlement in the colony. Thus 1839 saw the formation of the West Australian Company which had as its objective a settlement at Australind. Colonel Latour’s [also spelt Lautour] grant was purchased mainly on the recommendation of Sir James Stirling. Plans were drawn up showing a beautifully laid out city to which the name ‘Australind’ was applied. The name was intended to signify a supposed connection with India. Land to the extent of 51,000 acres was thrown open for selection in lots of 100 acres each. Half the money was to be spent on transport from England and the rest on improvements. The lots sold well but a misunderstanding arose as to whether Colonel Latour’s grant came under the land regulations of 1829 or 1830. If the former it would not be liable to resumption for 21 years, but otherwise it was liable to be resumed in ten years. The Colonial Office ruled that it was held under the 1829 regulations.

FINAL arrangements were made and the ‘Island Queen’ was chartered and set out on a voyage of hope. The ship carried surveyors and others for the purpose of doing preliminary work. The ‘Parkfield’ followed with the first of the immigrants and Mr. Marshall Waller Clifton, F.R.S., who was appointed first Commissioner in Western Australia. Before the ‘Parkfield’ sailed, Captain Grey arrived with information that Governor Hutt intended to resume Colonel Latour’s grant for noncompliance with labor conditions. Grey also reported that the land was unsuitable. The result for these rumors was the withdrawal of capital, doubts instead of hopes, and though the company decided to transfer the scene of its proposed activities to the vicinity of Geraldton, the fate of the plan was sealed. The irony of it all was that it did not seem to strike them that the decision of the Colonial Office was binding and there was no need for panic.

THE difficulties were increased by the failure of the company’s bankers. The ‘Parkfield’ duly sailed, proceeding to Port Leschenault to pick up the survey party before proceeding further north. It transpired, however, that the instructions of the Home Office had already reached the Colony and the resumption order was withdrawn. The settlers ultimately threw in their lot with Australind as was at first proposed, but doubts and fears had turned certain success into nothing more than a slight chance against hopeless odds. Handicapped as they were from the start, one disaster followed another, and now to those few settlers who still are fighting on, the vision of Australind formed so many years ago is, still nothing but a dream.


Marshall Waller Clifton’s letter books have been used to write some of the articles below. ‘The Australind Letters of Marshall Waller Clifton’ was published in October 2017, a transcription of his correspondence as Chief Commissioner of the WA Company.


Bunbury Herald, 18 May 1918.

By courtesy of J. Foster Johnson [sic, Forster Johnston] Esq, of Leschenault, we have been permitted to examine the letter book of his grandfather, the late Mr Walter [sic, Waller] Clifton, who was the Western Australian Company’s Chief Commissioner in this State, and who founded the original settlement of Australind. These letters are dated between 1st September, 1841, and the 22nd July, 1842, and contain much matter of interest to future historians of our fair State.

Wages — The question of wages is one of great interest. In a letter dated the 1st September, 1841, Mr Clifton says: — ‘I had some difficulty with these men when it came to the point on account of wages. They were of those sent out in the Island Queen under an engagement to work at 2/6 a day while employed as labourers; and were promised higher wages when they might be set to work at their trade. I fixed 3/6 a day (the wages I pay carpenters) as their rate of wages; they declined to work for this sum as blacksmiths, alleging that 10/ a day was the rate at Perth and elsewhere. I refused to advance, and then they wished to work as smiths at my rate, provided I would stipulate they should be always employed at that rate of pay. This I would not agree to because I should not have constant work for them, and I would not advance their wages a farthing above those of other labourers when they might be again employed as labourers. …. I am sure that the maintenance of moderate prices (he means wages from the tenor of his arguments — Ed) here will work a great moral benefit in the Colony.’

Postal Arrangements — A letter dated the 10th September, 1841, reveals the fact that a Mr Knight was then Postmaster at Bunbury, for it is so addressed. Mr. Clifton threatens to write to the Governor because the mail bag containing important letters was sent to him open. Incidentally, only 58 numbers of the ‘Times’ were received instead of 61. Fancy settling down nowadays to read 58 copies of the ‘Times’. In the next letter (to England) he acknowledges receipt of 7 original letters, 6 duplicates, 1 quadruplicate and the ‘Spectator’, from 16th January to 7th April 1841. The above looks as though letters were forwarded in quadruplicate to ensure one copy, at least, reaching the addressee. It is interesting to note also that apparently for nearly 3 months (16th January to 7th April), there was no opportunity to forward mail matter to the Swan River Settlement, and that in this particular instance it took 5 months (7th April to 10th September) to get here.

William Paradise — It is worthy of note that the Company gave instructions for the recovery of £1/4/6 from William Paradise on account of slop clothing issued to him in London. He had ‘absconded’ from Australind and one wonders whether Paradise was named after him. We mean the place of that name near Waterloo. The clothing supplied was, mattress and pillows 6/, pair of blankets 7/6, 2 pairs sheets 9/, coverlet 2/. No wonder wages were low, with prices like that.

Mr Clifton’s Salary — Mr Clifton appears to have been paid salary at the rate of £800 per annum, for in a letter of the 10th Sept, he complains that the Company has gone back on its promise to pay £200 into the hands of his son in London on the 1st day of each quarter. Seemingly, the Company asked for proof that he was alive before parting up, notwithstanding that Mr Clifton had effected an insurance to cover its risk of paying him beyond the date of his decease. He is hurt by such treatment ‘at a time when I was zealously serving them, devoting my funds here to their purposes, and risking the life of myself and family in their cause.’

Early Difficulties — On the 11th Sept he complains that no instructions and no money have reached him since he left England. Incidentally, he mentions that the salaries of the Surveying staff amount to £2,100 per annum. He refers with pride to the fact that a Drawing room for the Survey Dept had been completed on the 26th Aug. It was built of ‘our valuable native mahogany and thatched with our bush thatching.’ Further on he says ‘Mrs Clifton and myself still occupy as our chamber, the small wooden room, put up by the gentlemen of the Surveying Dept by their own hands for us. Mr Plowes, Mr Williams, and Mr Bedingfield [Bedingfeld] have put up wooden houses since my last letter on the subject … so that the number of our tents diminish and the place daily becomes more and more of a village in its true meaning. In all, there are, I think, 51 houses, huts and tents now standing in it, all within the reserved space for the gardens for the Company officers below Terrace Hill. (To be Continued.)


Bunbury Herald, 25 May 1918.

The First Social — On the 26th of August 1841, a grand shivoo was given in honor of the completion of the Survey Dept’s Drawing Room. He says ‘the evening and supper might bear comparison with any evening party in a more advanced state of society. Every lady and gentleman of the settlement was present, as well as the only gentleman resident in this District (excepting Mr Wollaston) viz. Mr Eliot (the Government Resident) Mr A. Stirling, Lieut Northey, 53rd Regt, Mr Ommaney, Government Surveyor, and Mr Little of Belvidere, on the opposite side of the Estuary.’

Some Early Surveyors — In a letter dated the 13th September, on the subject of the Survey Staff, Mr Clifton mentions the ‘discontinuance’ of the Chief Surveyor (James G. Austin) and his first assistant, Mr Gaudin. He says that to complete the staff he has put on Mr J. Valentine Smith, a land purchaser who had studied surveying in England. He was entered as an Improver at 5/ per diem and rations. ‘Mr Smith’s excellent conduct has fully entitled him to any favour I could show him.’ Mr Gordon Hamilton was also engaged but ‘without pay till he is reported to be fully competent and useful.’ Mr Clifton seems to have had an eye for a bargain. He goes on to say ‘as he will be detached with a surveying officer and party to a distance in the bush he will necessarily be allowed rations. The conduct of this young gentleman also entitles him to my favour and protection.’ Mr Durlacher is mentioned as indispensable.

Medical Officer — That Mr Clifton ruled much as the Captain of a modern man-o’-war rules his little kingdom, is shown by a letter to Dr Carpenter, the Medical Officer, dated the 16th September. In it, he says that he regrets to hear of the dangerous illness of Charles Millar. He asks for ‘notes of his case, with a statement of his disease and of your treatment of it.’ Fancy asking a 20th Century medico such questions! On the following day, he instructs Dr Carpenter to keep a record of all illnesses and accidents in a book containing five columns, viz. name of patient, disease or accident, periods at which visited, course adopted and result. This book was to be ready for Mr Clifton’s inspection at any moment, and always to be produced to him on Monday mornings.

Poaching or Trespass — The Chief Commissioner writes as follows on the 1st Oct 1841. Mr Clifton’s complaints to Mr Bracher (on Mr Moore’s grant) and understanding that he hunts kangaroos over the land of the Western Australian Company without license from him under the Company’s regulations, desires he will refrain from doing so. If he does not, Mr Clifton will be compelled to adopt other measures, which he does not wish. If on the other hand Mr Bracher wishes for permission to hunt over the lands, Mr Clifton will be willing to grant it to him as an accommodation upon the terms which have been fixed, and which Mr Clifton will explain to Mr Bracher if he will call upon him.

State of the Settlement — Writing on the 1st October, 1841, Mr Clifton gives a quarterly resume of the affairs of the settlement. The population is the same as on the 1st July, viz. 102. The company is employing 24 men, a reduction of £2.

Health — ‘The health of the Colony has been most astonishingly good, especially when the exposure to which the men have been subject in the unusually cold and tempestuous weather we have had is considered. In fact, there has been but one case of serious illness, Chas Miller [sic] a carpenter . . . . now convalescent.’

Crime — ‘We have happily been spared from the commission of any crimes amongst our population excepting drunkenness, and that has greatly diminished. In fact, for some time past, there has hardly been a case of it.’

General Conduct — Under general conduct, Mr Clifton gives the names of several men discharged for misconduct. He mentions four persons guilty of either refusing to work or drunkenness. Perhaps we had better omit names unless they are mentioned under more pleasing circumstances.

Habitations — The following are given as owning wooden houses or thatched huts: — Messrs Plowes, Bedingfield, Williams, Greensill, Treen, Smith, H. Smith, Humphries and Morgan. The latter is referred to as a leading carpenter ‘a man worth his weight in gold.’

Horticulture and Agriculture —He regrets that his report in this respect is not a satisfactory one. He himself has a garden suitable for winter crops, wherein he has planted potatoes, and hopes soon to have in melons and vegetable marrow’ so as to issue them to the people in reduction of our rations.’ Messrs Clifton Jr., Plowes, Treen and Smith are the only others with gardens. ‘My settlers have not been so active in this matter as I could have wished.’

Stock Return — The return of stock at Australind was as follows: — 11 pigs, 7 horses, 10 cows, 8 calves, 1 bull, 213 sheep and lambs, and 100 goats. Mr Gervase Clifton with 199 sheep and 47 goats is the largest owner. Mr Birch with 1 horse, 6 cows, 1 calf and 10 goats was passing rich in the settlement.

Prices — ‘Prices generally have maintained themselves at an exorbitant rate, especially for washing (from the want of women), butter, vegetables, fresh meat, shoes, clothing, servant’s wages and labour.’ The exorbitant price of labour is then detailed. ‘2/6 a day labourers, chainers, etc., 3/6 carpenters and sawyers, 4/ topman sawyer, and 4/6 in the case of John Morgan, a young and most valuable carpenter, who is perfectly sober, and who would be worth retaining at almost any price. He is lately married to Mr Gaudin’s servant.’

Natives — ‘Our intercourse with the natives has been of the most friendly description, and many are employed about the settlement. Having got rid of one of the leaders of the flour robbery, after having banished some of the others from the settlement for some time, I passed a general amnesty, and all are now again in daily intercourse with us.’



Bunbury Herald, 22 June 1918.

Scarcity of Females — Writing to his Board in Nov, 1841, Mr Clifton points out that the Government only pays a bounty where equal numbers of males and females are introduced into the Colony. At Australind the males far exceeded the females in number. He writes: ‘But the blessings to Society in general here, by the introduction of females, will be more than I can express. If they (the Board) were fully aware of the evils which exist at present, arising out of the undue proportion of one sex to another, they would, I am sure, even at a sacrifice, effect the object which I so earnestly recommend.’

Port Grey — When Mr Clifton left England, his instructions from his Board were to form a settlement at Port Grey. (This is practically where Geraldton now is) Arrangements had been made to colonize Australind, and surveyors were actually on the spot, but Captain Grey’s eulogistic references to the country behind Port Grey (it was named after its discoverer, who was afterwards Governor of South Australia, Cape Colony and New Zealand) caused the Board to change its mind at the last moment. On his arrival at Port Leschenault in March 1841, when he was intending to transfer the settlement to Port Grey, Governor Hutt gave him such an account of the latter place that he decided to risk his Board’s displeasure by remaining where he was. Once he had taken that course, the whole tenour of his letters to his directors was one of anxiety as to whether they would endorse his action. Before he had heard from them (Dec. 1841)

H.M. Sloop ‘Beagle’ — Captain Stokes arrived in Gage Roads, and Mr Clifton immediately requested the commanding officer to visit and report on Port Grey and district. Captain Stokes, after consultation with the Governor, considered the matter of sufficient interest to the new Colony to comply with the request. At 5 a.m. on Sunday, 12th Dec 1841, Mr Clifton left Fremantle in H.M.S. Beagle, and anchored in Champion Bay the next day at 7.30 p.m. He says ‘The fact was incontrovertibly established that no port at all exists at the latitude assigned to Port Grey on Arrowsmith’s chart.’ (Subsequent examinations have proved that Captain Grey’s statements were, nevertheless correct, inasmuch as there is a harbour now called Port Grey, and a fertile and extensive tract of country in its vicinity — Martin’s British Colonies 11, P. 716).

After two days on shore inspecting, Mr Clifton reports:—

(1) That the general character of the country is of the most barren, sterile nature, and that even the indigenous growth was of the lowest, poorest and most stunted description.

(2) That the amount of land available for cultivation was trifling, and even that was of a light, dry, sandy nature.

(3) That there were no natural grasses.

(4) That water was scare and mostly salt.

(5) That no timber fit for building existed.

(6) That the climate was exceedingly hot (he says the thermometer stood at 80 to 85 during their visit). His summing up is contained in the following words:— ‘If I had established the Colony in the situation ordered, the whole enterprise would not only have been a complete and wretched failure but, that probably at this time there would have been but few, if any, of us left in existence to tell the tale of our misfortunes. I therefore most fervently offer up to the Disposer, of all events, the expression of my unbounded gratitude (whatever the personal consequences to myself may be) for having by His gracious providence led me to adopt a course, which saved all those whose lives were entrusted to my care, from the unspeakable miseries they would have had to undergo, if I had brought them to the spot directed. With equal sincerity I congratulate the Directors at having been thereby rescued from the odium and ruin which would have ensued to them if I had not departed from my instructions.’ Later, he says, ‘I look for my chief reward in the approbation of my own heart, and in the rapid growth and prosperity of the Colony at its present location.’

Opinion of Captain Grey — As stated above, Captain Grey’s opinion of Port Grey was afterwards justified, but Mr Clifton says: — ‘Nor should I do my duty if I flinched from adding that Captain Grey’s description of the superior advantages of this useless district is not more culpably incorrect than his account of the district in which Australind is happily founded — a district, which, according to him, was sterile and without timber, and not having the River Brunswick flowing through it.’

Governor Hutt visits Australind — On the 2nd December 1841, Mr Clifton, when on his way to Perth, met his Excellency, the Governor, (John Hutt, Governor from January 1839 to February 1846) at Pinjarrah. He was accompanied by Captain Stokes R. N. and the Surveyor General (Mr Roe, father of Gus Roe and ‘Uncle George’ Roe). They stayed at Australind until the 8th December, when the Governor departed for the Vasse and Augusta, attended by Mr Simmonds, Protector of Natives. During his visit, his Excellency re-named the North Brunswick River (the north branch of the Brunswick) the Wellesley.

Local Court — There is no doubt but what Mr Clifton had his mind set on making Australind a big centre. On the last day of 1841, he made application for the establishment of a local court at the settlement. That very week he had heard that he had lost his case with Mr J. Austin, the Company’s late Chief Surveyor. His opening words would appear to be penned in sarcastic vein. ‘The increase of population in this neighbourhood, and with it the occasion and inclination to go to law frequently, seem to me to call for some means of trying civil causes in the District.’

Old Time Mails — His Quarterly report dated 1st January 1842, is marked “Sent by ‘Maria Theresa’, whaler, 14th Jan., to be left at St. Helena, and forward from there.” This is an insight into the methods of dispatching mails to Europe in the ‘good old days.’

Population — The population of Australind on the 1st January 1842 was 63 men, 20 women and 19 children, a total of 102. Of that number 24 were employed by the Company.

Health and conduct — There was one case of insanity (a female domestic) and one accident (Stallard) to report. Apart from this, everyone was enjoying good health. He complains of drunkenness and mentions that he had dismissed two men from the settlement for same. We forbear from mentioning names, as, in a climate like ours, they may turn up at the office to explain that they had only had one whisky, ‘s’welp me!’

Stock — The livestock comprised 11 horses, 256 sheep, 132 goats, 24 cows (presumably in a bull-less Eden), 9 calves (our mistake), 18 pigs.

Wages — On the 4th January 1842, Mr Clifton informs his Directors that he has been forced to give his leading man of carpenters (John Morgan) 5/ per diem. ‘He could get 10/ a day immediately at Bunbury, as houses are constructing there, and the services of carpenters are in great demand.’

More Port Grey — The following letter dated 4th January 1842 is of such interest that we offer no excuse for publishing it in full. It is addressed to the Company in England. ‘Since my return from Champion Bay, there have been so many calls made upon me to publish my opinion of the country in its neighbourhood, and there has been so much aspersion cast upon the Directors of the Company for having thought of fixing the Settlement there, that I have been compelled to break the first determination I had formed not to publish a word on the subject, and to address a letter to the Editor of the ‘Perth Inquirer’ of which I shall transmit a number when I receive it. I was especially, I conceive, called upon to take this means of vindicating the Board, as I learn that the ‘Perth Gazette’, in its eagerness to vindicate Captain Grey, has insinuated ‘that the Directors of the Australind Company were the showmen who daubed and coloured up the information obtained from Captain Grey, I cannot help if it brings on a correspondence between Captain Grey (then Governor of South Australia: — Ed) and myself. I have only spoken the truth.’


Clifton’s journal entries complement the letter books used in these articles.


Bunbury Herald, 1 February 1919.

In a letter dated the 27th February 1842, Mr M. W. Clifton gives the following list of ships then in port at Fremantle: — Napoleon, whaler, of Fremantle; Arabian, English whaler; Newton and another, American whalers; Psyche and Mary and Jane, English traders; Grotius, American trader ; Champion, Colonial schooner; Devonshire, schooner; Venus, cutter; Aurelia, English wreck.

Influenza in 1842 — There is nothing new under the sun. Mr Clifton, writing on the 3rd March, 1842, (the day, by the way, when Mr W. J. Roberts, of Capel, was spending his 14th birthday on the high seas, en route to Australind,) mentions that influenza, which had caused much havoc amongst the natives, and also amongst the whites in other parts of the Colony, had at last reached the settlement. Dr Carpenter was ill (he died shortly afterwards) and Mr Birch, who had been a chemist in the old country, had had medical charge of the sick.

Postal Facilities — The above letter, as mentioned, was written on the 3rd March, 1842. In it the writer says that his last letters from England are dated 12th June, 1841. He states that the letter is going in the Grotius to Van Diemen’s Land on the chance of catching a homeward bound trader from there. By the regular post it took 33 days to get an answer to a letter written to anyone in Perth (2/4/1842.); Mr R. W. Clifton accepted the position of postmaster at Australind on the 2nd April, 1842. In another letter, Mr Clifton mentions sending letters to London by the hands of Dr Crichton and Mr Yule, who were proceeding to India in the Champion, schooner. Thence they were to be transmitted by the Indian Overland mail.

Some Prices — Mr Clifton mentions obtaining, from Mr Samuel Moore, of Fremantle, 12 barrels of flour at 45/ each. Freight and commission increased the price by a further 53/3 per barrel. The bedrock price at Australind, therefore, was 98/3. Even then, the quality was so bad as to be almost unusable. Later, he obtained 40 barrels at £2 per barrel, plus £5 expenses. The freight, on this quantity from Fremantle to Bunbury is mentioned as £16. Mr Clifton also says that his fare for the same journey was £3.The charge for stabling horses in Perth is stated at 12/- per diem. Local flour at about this time was bought for 72/- per barrel. Three months before it had been £5. Oats of poor quality cost 4/6 per bushel.

Belvidere — Mr Clifton, on the 14th March, 1842, reports the death of Dr Carpenter, which unhappy event took place ‘at Belvidere, on Mr Prinsep’s grant,’ three days before. He had been there for nearly a month as the guest of Mr and Mrs Little. The latter couple were not there when the Doctor died, having proceeded to India to see Mr Prinsep (father of the present Mayor of Busselton,) who was Attorney General for Madras (?)[4] Mr Denzil Onslow is referred to as manager of Belvidere in their absence.

Old Time Medicos — Medical men mentioned in connection with Dr Carpenter’s last illness are: — ‘Dr Sholl, a young medical man who had just succeeded to the practice of Dr Green (at the Vasse) who is about to proceed to England.’ The Rev. Mr Wollaston who then resided on the Preston, seven miles from the settlement, was present at the last. Another medical officer mentioned is Dr Joseph Harris, who was appointed to take Dr Carpenter’s place at a salary of £150 per annum. He was an old army surgeon and had been Colonial surgeon. He then practised on the Upper Swan but sustained great losses to his flocks through the poison plant. He arrived at Australind to relieve Mr Lewis Birch on the 27th May, 1842. We believe Mr Birch afterwards opened a chemist’s shop at Fremantle.

An Impressive Funeral — Mr Clifton gives a long account of the Dr Carpenter’s funeral. Five boats escorted the body across the Estuary, from Belvedere [Belvidere] to Australind, where a procession was formed headed by the Beadle, and the Rev. Mr Wollaston, Dr Green and Mr Birch. The pall-bearers were, Mr Eliot, Government Resident, Messrs Greensill, Northey (for Mr A. Stirling J.P.) Onslow, J.P., Thompson and P. Clifton. Following the coffin were:— ‘Mr W. Clifton and secretary, officers of the establishment (two and two), settlers (two and two), foreman, artificers (two and two), labourers (two and two), other inhabitants of Australind, gentlemen of the district, and other strangers.’ Mr Clifton mentions that the body was borne through the village to Claremont, ‘our intended cemetery.’ This was the first death recorded at Australind. We wonder whether the grave is still traceable.

The Staff at Australind — On the 1st April 1842, the officers at Australind were : — Chief Commissioner, Mr M. W. Clifton; secretary, R. W. Clifton; equerry, H. R. Johnston; acting M.O., Mr Birch; store clerk, Mr Gibson; Architect and Surveyor, Mr Greensill; Engineer and Surveyor, Mr Thompson; assistants, Messrs Treen, Harrison, H. Smith, R. Austin, and J. Humphry. In addition 23 artisans and labourers were on the pay list. The total population is given as 97, the following being noted as having left Australind, viz., Mr and Mrs Austin, Messrs Bedingferd [Bedingfeld], Clarke and family, Hoskins and some sailors. Mr Absolon, it is stated, was to leave at an early date.

Salaries — Mr Clifton drew £800 per annum as Chief Commissioner. Messrs Greensill and Thomson were in receipt of £300 per annum, and the others were paid £100 to £150. The medical officer appears to have been on the last named figure also.

State of Society — The Chief Commissioner deplores that drunkeness is not yet eradicated from the settlement in spite of his stern measures to suppress the evil. Instant dismissal was the punishment meted out to offenders. He also regrets that attention to religious duties is almost lacking and says that a church is urgently needed. He himself always read prayers and a sermon on Sunday.

Buildings — At this date (April 1st, 1842) a stable for six horses had just been completed. Public offices (surveyor’s drawing and plan rooms) were in course of erection on Crescent Hill, at the north corner of Brunswick Street. Mr Clifton mentions that some members of his own family were still living under canvas. Mr Williams is mentioned as being, about to build a coffee room and hotel of considerable dimensions. Mr Plowes also was building a house.

Climate — Mr Clifton says of the climate, ‘It is the most exquisite and enjoyable on the face of the earth.’ ‘I consider it unequalled by anything I have ever known or heard of.’ He mentions riding and walking, with the temperature from 90 to 105, without distress. On the contrary, he says that when in Perth, he is always greatly distressed by the heat.

Live Stock — The return of live stock owned at Australind on the 1st April, 1842 shows: — 11 horses and ponies, 52 cattle, 244 sheep, 119 goats and 4 pigs. Mr G. W. Smith with 28 cattle was the largest owner in that line. Mr Gervase Clifton owned all the sheep except 14 belonging to Mr Treen. He also had 55 goats, while Mr Greensill owned 45. Mr Birch was the only possessor of pigs.

Financial Difficulties — Mr Clifton says (2/4/1842), that he paid as far as possible by cheque but, owing to the shortage of coin in the district, it being denuded of same, he experienced great difficulty in cashing them. As a result, he had to send to Perth for coin and notes. These were brought down by ship, and £2% [sic] charged without guarantee. The Bank, also, will part with very few sovereigns. These are urgently required, as visiting ships naturally require payment in gold, and not in notes or silver. Some ships were prepared to accept wool in payment for goods. Mr Clifton considered the establishment of a bank at Australind an urgent necessity.

Australind’s Foundation Day — On the 7th April, 1842, the Government Resident, Mr Eliot, signalled to Australind that a ship was in. She was the Venus, cutter, from Fremantle, with mails from England by the Lucretia, which had arrived on the 2nd April. In these mails were letters to Mr Clifton from his Board, expressing its approval of his action in settling at Australind instead of at Port Grey (north of Geraldton), where he was formerly ordered to found the colony. The people at Australind were mad with excitement and joy when the contents of these favourable letters were announced to them, and Mr Clifton declared a general holiday. He mentions that he had intended to do this on 30th March, the first anniversary of the foundation of Australind. He had, however, for various reasons omitted to do so. He says: — ‘The day has been celebrated with mirth and amusements, to which a few pounds of blasting powder that I gave contributed largely.’

What Might Have Been — That Mr Clifton was an enthusiast is betrayed in every line of his letters. We have already referred to his demand for a local bank. In another letter he says that the site intended for an Immigrant Barracks (a dry flat, south of the settlement), is not suitable. He considers that it should be constructed on Mount Cameron, originally reserved for a hospital. In a further letter, he mentions the advisability of sending out bricks from England for the Barracks.

The Diadem Arrives — On the 10th April, 1842, the Diadem, (Captain Harland), under charter to the W.A. Company, arrived in Port Leschenault with immigrants. Of all the people on board this vessel nearly 77 years ago, Mr W. J. Roberts is probably the only survivor. It is interesting to note that, although 91 years of age, he is, at the present moment, again on the high seas on his way to Hobart for a holiday. The Diadem received her passengers on the 13th November, 1841, but did not get away from Cowes until the 27th November owing to bad weather. Three days later she returned to Cowes at the request of the Dr., and did not finally leave until 18th Dec.

The voyage therefore occupied 114 days, or 148 days, if the first delay is counted. On the passage out, three adults and ten children died, and Mr Clifton called upon Dr. Millard, the ship’s medical officer, for a report. The deaths occurred mostly amongst the children when near the equator, measles whooping cough & diarrhoea, being the causes. In addition to the ship’s cook, those who died were: — W. Story (1), Sarah A. Pead (2), Joseph Salter (6 months), H. W. McGlew (8 months), Rebecca Bagley (1), John Hurst (6 months), Samuel Millard (5), W. E. Baker (1), Everilda Bagley (2), E. Witt (7), Geo. Moore (23), and Matilda Roberts (18). Three infants were born during the voyage. The numbers arriving were: — Cabin passengers, 10; immigrants, 158; total, 168.

The passengers and cargo by the Diadem were landed at Australind itself by means of flats. This service took some time, and it was six days before all the immigrants were at the settlement. Another five days were required to complete the delivery of the cargo, which was landed on the strand, some 80 yards from Mr Clifton’s house. The arrangements made for receiving the immigrants were as follows. Seventeen single women were housed in a wooden building with a thatched roof. The single men were camped together and given rick clothes, etc., to shelter them. A large marquee, 7 tents, tarpaulins, etc., were provided for the others.

On arrival they received rations from the company, for which they had to work from six in the morning until 2 p m., with ¾ hour off for breakfast. They received no wages. The ration scale was: — Men: 1lb. meat, 1½lb. flour, (or 1lb. flour, ½lb. potatoes), 2oz. sugar and ¼ oz. tea. Women: ½lb. meat, 1lb. flour, 2oz. sugar and ¼oz. tea. Children: ½lb. meat, ½lb. flour, 1 oz. sugar and 1/8oz. tea. To this was added a little rice or a small quantity of peas. It is interesting to note that the meat was salt. Mutton, 1/ per lb., was considered prohibitive. Kangaroo meat was impossible to get, but, Mr Clifton had prospects of picking up some goats cheaply on the Murray.



Bunbury Herald and Blackwood Express, 13 September 1919.

Bunbury’s First Auction — In a letter of Mr Clifton’s dated 15 June, 1842, appears the record of what was probably Bunbury’s first sale by auction, unless the early town lots were sold in that manner, which we doubt.

The goods apparently arrived per Diadem. Mr Andrew Stirling, of Bunbury, was the auctioneer, and the sale took place at Australind on the 9th May, 1842, a considerable number of people attending. The articles cost the Company £256/5/7 (? in London) and fetched at auction £324/2/1. The auctioneer’s commission and charge came to £25/6/1. Mr Clifton remarks that where amounts exceed £5, it is the custom to pay by Bill at three months. He further says that many articles sold at exorbitant prices, but stationery and ironmongery were not in demand. The only indication of the prices obtained are as follows: — 48 yards of sacking, £2; 1 ream of foolscap, 24/; wheeler and leader harness £6/12.

American Whalers — Writing on the 30th June, 1842, Mr Clifton says that American whalers had been much in the habit of using the port of Bunbury when in need of fresh water and provisions. This land offered the people a good market for their garden produce. Thirteen whalers had been at anchor in Koombana Bay at one time in February, 1841. However, the Government had imposed pilotage dues amounting to £5 to £8 per visit, and the whalers had practically ceased coming to Bunbury. The residents held a meeting and petitioned the government to abolish the dues. This it refused to do unless a buoy were placed on the reef off Casuarina Point. Mr Clifton, in view of the fact that the Government had no funds for the purpose, asks in this letter that his Company send out a buoy from England.

Land Communications — In the same letter, Mr Clifton refers to another petition, which, as the result of a public meeting, had been sent to the Governor. It asked for a ferry over the Collie and a bridge over the Preston, pointing out that lack of these facilities in the winter time practically cut off Perth and Australind from the settlements at Bunbury, the Vasse and Augusta. He urges the Company to contribute to the cost.

Proposed New Industry — Mr Clifton, writing on the 30 June, 1842, urges his Company to take up ‘Bay’ whale fishing. In the winter of 1841 the American whaler Pluto, Captain Butler, had spent four very successful months in Bunbury. The whales, he says, come into the bays during the winter months and are readily caught. The Pluto used bungling methods, and had lost 23 to 24 whales to which they had made fast. However, in a fortnight in June they had taken 12. Many of the Pluto’s crew deserted at Bunbury, and for that reason the ships had avoided the port in 1842. A Bunbury blacksmith, an American and formerly in the whale fishing business, had fitted up a boat for the trade. A few days before three whales had entered Koombana Bay but the blacksmith had lost them all, his lines having given way after fixing the harpoons. Mr Clifton thought there was ample scope for a small company in the business.

Lake Clifton Named — On the 30th June, 1842, Mr Clifton refers to a lake which he had seen in October, 1841, saying that he had been under the impression that it was Lake Preston. However, with a surveyor and Mr T. Peel he had definitely ascertained that it was an entirely different lake. He says: ‘I shall be greatly honoured if His Excellency will allow it to be denominated by my name.’ Seemingly the Governor acceeded to his request. Incidentally he mentions that the native name for any body of water was ‘Moolour’.

Some Salaries Paid — A letter dated the 4th July, 1842, gives some idea of the salaries paid to the principal officers at Australind. They were: secretary, £175; medical officer, £150; three survey offices at £200 each; one at £100; six improvers (surveying staff), £78 each; one store clerk, £54/12. Mr Clifton received £800 per annum.

The Postman Gets Drunk — On the 11th July, 1842, Mr Clifton writes to explain why he had dared open the Bunbury mail bag. He says that the postman arrived drunk, and he took the mail bags away from him. The mails had apparently come unsealed, and Mr Clifton opened the Bunbury bag, which was only tied with pack thread. In it he had found the Australind newspapers. When ‘postie’ sobered up, he took him on to Bunbury by boat. On the return journey, the postman was found to be suffering from incipient opthalmia [ophthalmia], and Dr Harris detained him overnight. The next morning, instead of getting away at daylight he did not start until 8 o’clock. Shortly after his departure for Perth, some letters were found lying on the ground about 1½ miles from Australind. The gentleman finding them rode after the casual postie, only to discover him drunk underneath a tree. He relieved him of a bottle of brandy and set him on his road once more. However, that night he had only reached Myarlup [Myalup], 11 miles from Australind, where he slept. Mr Clifton complains that the postman is unfit for his job, and that many letters have been missed from time to time. Poor old postman! Fancy walking to Perth through the swamps 77 years ago — dismal rain, hostile natives, no habitations, no roads and incipient opthalmia. We’d have dipped the K.P. badge ourselves under such circumstances. Ugh!

Australind, 30th June, 1842 — Mr Clifton renders his usual quarterly report, dated as above, from which we gather the following: — The population is given as 238. As regards the men’s conduct he says that drunkeness has considerably lessened. Most of the offenders in this respect are visitors from Bunbury. (One for us — Ed). He mentions that Mrs Clifton had opened a Temperance House where refreshments, tea, coffee etc., were obtainable. This had done much good. Of the Diadem’s immigrants, 170 in number, all were working and off rations. One family had gone to the Vasse, two to Picton a few to Bunbury, and Messrs Pomeroy (2) and Clout to Perth. Mr Clifton again enthuses over the climate. He says: — ‘One year of life in this climate is worth three in England,’ which in our opinion expresses it very nicely. That he was right as regards the health giving properties of our beautiful climate is proved by the fact that four of the Diadem’s immigrants (10-4-42) are yet living here. Another died quite recently aged 91.

Mr Thompson had erected a three roomed house at a cost of £110, and had let it at £30 per annum. Clifton and Stirling had a temporary store up, and contemplated building a stone one. Mr Plowes had completed a four roomed house with store on the adjoining block. Mr Witt had erected a building which had been licensed as Witt’s Hotel (Jokes about losing your wits ‘napoo’— Ed). Mr Williams had built a house and was about to build another as an hotel. It was to be called the Prince of Wales (Mr Marsh, please note — Ed). Mr Birch was putting up a wattle and dab house, and was also to launch out as a publican. Mr Birch had just leased Mr Leake’s 1280 acres at the head of the Inlet for 14 years at £60 per annum. Mr Teede was another colonist who had erected a house, and thought of erecting another to be used as a baker’s shop. Sales and leases of allotments (¼ acre) are also reported. Mr Greensill had sold two at £25 each. Another, in Irving Crescent, had fetched £35. An acre in Adolphus Street had been let by Mr Birch at £12 per annum. Mr P Clifton had leased a half acre for £10 per annum on a 7 years’ lease, the tenant to erect a house. He had given a lease of two others for 7 years at £5 per annum each. Messrs Greensill, Treen and J Payne are mentioned as about to build, the latter on a lot leased from Mr Bunbury at £5 per annum.

Messrs Bunbury and Searle had started gardens near the junction of the Collie and Brunswick rivers. The former had also purchased a boat from the Diadem. Other names mentioned in connection with improvements are: Messrs G Smith, J Stallard and Randell. It should be noted that Bunbury was not named after the gentleman mentioned above. His connection with Australind makes it nearly certain that he did not arrive in the Colony until after Bunbury was surveyed and named. The town was called after a Lieutenant Bunbury, a British army officer stationed here in the early days.

The Live Stock return shows that there were at Australind: — 17 horses, 65 head of cattle, 304 sheep and 90 goats. Mr Bunbury had gone to Perth to purchase 30 head of cattle in addition. The most considerable owners were Clifton Bros with 290 sheep and 60 goats. Prices, in these days are interesting to note: — Meat 1s per lb, butter and cheese 2s 6d, flour 6d, salt beef 9d, salt pork 10d, tea 8s, sugar 7d, brandy 25s gallon, Cape wine 6s per gallon. The rate of wages, £2 to £3 per month should be noted in connection with the above prices. It was obviously impossible to live on such a wage. Perhaps that was why the boose was cheap— to give the people a chance to die.

Conclusion — On behalf of the readers of the ‘Bunbury Herald’, and of the public of West Australia generally, we wish to tender J Forster Johnstone [sic, Johnston], Esq., J.P., of Leschenault, our sincere thanks for placing at our disposal the letters from which these articles have been written. The documents are historical, and enable our country’s story to be more clearly told. Mr Forster Johnstone is a descendent of the writer of the letters and naturally regards them from the family point of view. Nevertheless, the place for such valuable records is in the nation’s custody. This, no doubt, they someday will be. We again thank Mr Forster Johnstone for his courtesy.



Bunbury Herald, 15 February 1919.

The following letter was written by Mr M. W. Clifton [to C. H. Smith, Esq., Secretary to the W.A. Co., London] on the 21st, April, 1842. It. is the first sign of the break up of the West Australian Company, which occurred very shortly after. [23 November 1843[5]]

Australind, 21st April, 1842.

Sir, — Your original letters No 77 and 83 of the 13th November and 8th December last, and duplicate letter No 80 of the 2nd December, per Diadem (original per Shepherd) relative to the embarrassed and disastrous state of the Company’s affairs in England, have excited in my mind a degree of alarm which I cannot describe, and lead me to apprehend, not only the overthrow of the whole enterprise, but the ruin of myself and all my family, who have so large a stake in it. The stoutest heart could hardly receive such communications without being appalled, but, after the enormous sacrifices which I and my family have made, the trials we have undergone, and the most prosperous advance the settlement I have founded has already made, it is absolutely enough to sink me into the earth to find that the annihilation of everything relating to the Company, the settlers, the emigrants and ourselves is the probable result of the unfortunate adoption of the advice of Captain Grey, founded, as it has proved to be, on ignorance, or wilful misrepresentation. All my energies would be at once prostrated, did not my duty to those around me loudly call upon me to redouble the exercise of them, and to endeavour, by my single exertions, to preserve my people and family from impending ruin; and so entirely do I feel that a proper representation of the advantages of the position in which the settlement is founded would replace the enterprise, to a very great extent, in the estimation in which it was held prior to the fatal measure, that I have almost hesitated whether I would not myself proceed immediately by way of India home, or send, at all events, my son Pearce, or some other competent person to make proper personal statements to the Board and to the public.

That my letters will have given the Directors the fullest information on every point and on every action of my life in the administration of their affairs which written communication can afford, I am sure they will allow, if they have received them. Their not having reached them at the date of your letter is indeed a matter of the deepest regret and astonishment to me. I not only sent letters by every possible conveyance to England, but also to Perth, whenever an opportunity offered, to be forwarded from thence; and I have sent duplicates of every letter which I considered of sufficient importance, but the Board will remember that in the winter season few ships touch at our port, and that the conveyance of letters to and from Perth is seldom and uncertain. When the Trusty arrived, the mail bag brought by her for me did not reach me for one month after her arrival in gage roads. She had sailed before any letters reached here, and, excepting by the Heney, no opportunity for many weeks offered for the transmission of my despatches. My ignorance also of the new regulation relative to the restriction as to the weight of packets by our land mail probably occasioned some of my letters being sent by sea instead of land, but, in any case, I cannot but believe that the Directors are, before this, in the possession of all my despatches up to the end of last year, and if so, and they have published them, I feel quite confident that the Company’s affairs may have been considerably retrieved, and here I would beg leave most earnestly to express my regret that the whole of my letter of the 30th March 1840, dealing with my reasons for founding the colony here, was not published, instead of part only, which implied the necessity of concealing something which I had written.

Every one of the enormous number of letters which have reached me from England express this feeling and attribute the slow progress making to the want of the very information which that letter contained, and even the settlers who have since joined me by the Diadem express the same sentiments. I do most earnestly trust and beg to advise the Board that every letter of mine containing information of the Settlement and the neighbouring country may be published, that our impending overthrow may, if possible, be averted. I have no fear for the future, if the present difficulties are surmounted and the truth made known. But if so great a probability exists of the dissolution of the Company as your letters express, and which must follow, if, as therein stated, they are not prepared to meet calls upon them from hence, I would most anxiously beg leave to ask whether it is not cruel to the settlers and emigrants who have arrived in the Diadem to send them out to inevitable ruin and misery. My stock of provisions, already nearly exhausted in all species, will not support the increased numbers, whom I am bound by the Board’s regulations to feed for a month. I have no resource but to purchase, and yet I feel it almost dishonesty to procure provisions on Bills which, by your statement, will probably be dishonored. I have always practised the most rigid economy in the administration of the Company’s affairs, and the whole colony will bear testimony to the wonderful extent of work which has been performed with reference to the expense incurred.


Bunbury Herald, 26 February 1919.

Australind, 21st April, 1842.

Indeed the very estimate which the Directors have made of the expenses for labourer’s hire, viz. £2500 per annum, will show that their ideas of the probable expenses I should incur, have been far beyond what I have incurred. The whole, amount of wages put together in the year ending 31st March, is but £ – – – [sic] and with that I have done more than ever will be credited ; and I have accomplished the great object to be first attended to, namely, the marking out of the town; but I have not yet accomplished the survey of the rural land, nor can it be completed for a very considerable period, and yet, although previously ordered to execute that necessary work with every possible dispatch, and with the example of other colonies in which such mischiefs have been incurred, and settlers have sustained such incalculable losses from having to wait long for their land, I am now desired to carry on that work slowly, and with half the number of men which it was supposed I had in employ.

Happily my establishment being so much within the half of the estimated expense to which I am ordered to reduce it, I do not feel myself called upon, nor is it profitable for me, to make any reduction, but with that limited number I shall continue to push on the survey with all practicable dispatch, so as to be enabled to fulfill the Board’s promises to the purchasers of rural allotments to give them the choice of their 100 acre sections out of the whole 103,000 acres. To say nothing of the settlers who came with me, whose exemplary patience deserves every encouragement from me, and reward from the Board, those who have come now (Mr Bunbury in particular), already express great disappointment at not being able to get their land, at once, and I am quite confident that if I were to reduce the parties and slacken the survey progress, everything here in the colony would at once be overthrown. As it is, from the general tone of the Board’s proceedings, very considerable disappointment and alarm has been manifested, and my difficulties there-by increased. I shall nevertheless most steadily keep all the Board’s injunctions in view, and continue to act on the rigid system of economy which I have pursued, reducing by degrees as far as practicable.

None of the surveyors wish to quit. They were engaged for three years certain, and told of the probability of their services being long wanted in the extensive plans then in contemplation. They were promised promotion above as they arose, and to fail in any of these promises will be a breach of faith to them who have done their duty most zealously and ably. Under the circumstances relating to Mr Austin, it is difficult to say what would have become of the whole plan, if I had not had a man of such high education and professional talent as an engineer, draughtsman and surveyor, as Mr Thompson, who has conducted and reduced to paper himself all the works of the survey itself; and Mr Greensill has been equally meritorious in conducting all works and superintending the employment of the people. I know not, therefore, what possible reduction can be made with respect to numbers or in the present salaries, or those I recommended for officers of the survey, I could indeed remove Mr Valentine Smith and Mr Gordon Hamilton, whom I have employed in vacancies as improvers, but they are both in the bush usefully and necessarily employed, and when in a few days I distribute the town sections according to notice their services must be had to assist in resetting stakes burnt or thrown down, and setting off each separate section in order to its being put in possession of its purchaser, for which possession all purchasers here, in person or by agents, are vociferous. I shall tell them, nevertheless, that, unless I hear further in the meantime, I must discontinue their services at the end of the quarter.

The emigrants sent out feel naturally discouraged at my not being able to employ any of them on the establishment, and at there not being any capitalists here to employ them to any extent, but, if there were, emigrants with such enormous families as most of them sent out, and of their age, could not support their families. They must, under any circumstances, have been a drag on the Company under the regulations they were given, for some time, but, in the present state of the colony, I fear they will in a great measure continue so till other capitalists come out. If they do not get employment here, they probably will not elsewhere, for, in addition to the recent importation of emigrants at the Swan, another emigrant ship is expected out, and also the land owners have been discharging their people or lowering their wages.

I have, as stated in another letter, got them to work at present for 7 or 8 hours a day for their provisions without wages, and I will get a great deal of work out of them if possible, in clearing ground and fencing it preparatory to sowing potatoes and wheat as you advise, and in every other respect I will reduce and keep down expenses, but I intreat the Board not to consider it my fault because heavy expenses must result from matters and regulations which cannot be stopped. I feel, I believe, more deeply impressed with a sense of the necessity of economy in the administration of their affairs, than the Director can in the direction of them. I have, as a shareholder, and from the sacrifices I have made to come to this distance, more interest to retrieve the affairs of the company for my sake and that of the numerous people with me, who will be ruined in the ruin of the Company. I intreat them to conceal nothing which I write, and I intreat them, if I write warmly and hastily, to forgive me, as my active duties with the ‘Diadem’ and her recent inmates, now part of my charge, occupy my whole day, and I am obliged to write and get through all official duty, as I am now doing, in the middle of the night. — I remain, your most obedient humble servant.

  1. W. CLIFTON.
  2. H. Smith, Esq.,

Sec. to the W.A. Co., London


Bunbury Herald, 29 March 1919.

Although by the Diadem (10th April, 1842) Mr Clifton received news of the probable early dissolution of the W.A. Land Company, this unfortunate event was delayed for some time after that date, and our memoirs are not yet, therefore, at an end.

Early Day Medicos — We have recorded the name of quite a number of early day medicos, and now we must add to the list Mr John Shipton, surgeon, of Fremantle. He applied for the position held by the late Dr Carpenter in April, 1842, and was informed that Dr Harris had already been engaged.

Cost of Living — From the Diadem, Mr Clifton purchased the following goods, and it is interesting to note the prices, which, he states, are considerably lower than those in force in Perth, without considering the freight from that place to Australind. The prices are: —

Hambro Salt Beef, £7 per tierce[6]; Salt Pork, £5/5 per barrel; tea, 3/6 per lb in 57 lb chests; rice 2¼d per lb, in bags of 159 lbs. Mr Clifton also purchased a Winchester Cooking Stove for the immigrants’ camp. It was worth £30, and he got it for £22/10.

Australind v. Port Adelaide — Mr Clifton notifies on the 21 April 1842 that the Diadem had been discharged in ten days. He then goes on to say: ‘I think the expedition with which this ship has been cleared speaks much in favour of our port, and the water communication to our town, and if I contrast the advantages which we possess with those which Port Adelaide is said to have, I think we are far better off than they of that Colony are. It is true that Port

Adelaide when in, is a better port than ours, but it is difficult and sometimes dangerous to enter. The Parkfield in her voyage there, immediately before she brought us out, got ashore in entering Port Adelaide and was aground for ten days. This ship, Diadem, in her last voyage, had not been able to enter the port for a week after her arrival before it. Ours can at all times and under all circumstances be entered. Then again, although the goods can be landed from ships in Port Adelaide with greater facility than here (if the ship has, as in this case, to land them at Australind — not so if she lands them at Bunbury) they have then to be transported by land to Adelaide City, a distance of seven miles. Here, the same distance is done by water. At Adelaide, the charge is £1 per ton for removing goods from the Port to the City. Here, if they were landed at Bunbury, I could get them moved up for 8/ per ton, and when business increases, I have little doubt the price will not be more than 5/.’

The First Birth? — In a letter dealing with medical comforts, and dated 21/4/1842, Mr

Clifton mentioned the necessity for same, pointing out that Mrs Leonard who landed from the Diadem eleven days before, had since been confined. A Mrs Bagley from the same ship is mentioned as being sick and requiring comforts.

Taking up Land — Mr Clifton (22/4/1842) expresses regret that the W.A. Company has applied for all the land it is entitled to, and intends taking it up in 30,000 acre blocks. He doubts whether in the whole Colony there is left a block of such a size that would be worth an average of 5/ per acre, He advocates small blocks with river frontages, and that the back line be not more than one mile from the river. He says that, once you leave the rivers, the back country is sand, or clay covered with water in the winter.

W.A. Company’s Land —A letter dated 22/4/1842 gives the exact extent of the W.A. Company’s possession in the South West. The amount of land held was: two grants aggregating 103,000 acres, 3240 acres on the Collie bought from Mr Wells, and 1000 acres between the Collie and the Preston bought from Sir James Stirling.

Little Town of Bunbury — Mr Clifton mentions that the Government price of land is £1 per acre, ‘although I do not think that they will sell 100 acres a year at that price. The government price for an allotment even in the little town of Bunbury being £25 and £2/5 for the conveyance, it really does seem that the price in Australind should be higher than £10.’



Bunbury Herald and Blackwood Express, 28 May 1920.

The ‘Daily News’ of the 17th inst published the following extract from a book dealing with Western Australian life in 1847, and may be of interest to those who read the articles on Early Australind published in this paper some months ago. The title of the book is ‘The Bushman’ and it is written by a Mr E. W. Lander, a former magistrate of Perth.

His Excellency the Governor, having kindly invited me to be his companion on a journey, which he proposed to make to the new settlement of Australind, about a hundred miles south of Perth, I set about making the necessary preparations. I borrowed a pair of saddle bags, and, having stuffed my traps into one side of them, leaded the other with a cold roast fowl, a boiled tongue, a pound of sausages, a loaf of bread, a flask of brandy, and sundry small packages of tea, sugar etc. When I looked at the result of my labours, the swollen sides of the leathern receptacle, I enjoyed a noble feeling of independence, as though I were now prepared to ramble through the world.

Having breakfasted at five on a December morning (the middle of summer), I equipped myself in a broad-brimmed straw hat, and light shooting jacket, and mounted my steed, and sallied forth from my gate, followed by the sympathetic grin of Hannibal. We now passed along the banks of the Leschenault Estuary, on which Australia is situated, and soon we discovered three figures approaching on horseback. These proved to be Mr W Clifton, the Chief Commissioner, of the Western Australian Company, to whom the whole district belongs, attended by a brace of his surveyors as aides-de-camp, one mounted on a very tall horse, and the other on a very small pony. The Chief Commissioner himself bestrode a meek looking cart-horse, which, on perceiving us in the distance, he urged into an exhilarating trot. His Excellency seeing these demonstrations of an imposing reception, hastily drew forth his black silk neck cloth from his pocket, and re-enveloped his throat therewith, which, during the heat of the day, he had allowed to be carelessly exposed. Gathering himself up in his saddle, and assuming the gravity proper to the representative of his Sovereign, he awaited with as much dignity as his state of perspiration would allow, the approach of the Chief of Australind. As for myself I plucked up my shirt collar, and tried to look as spicy as possible. The first greetings over, the two chieftains rode into the town side by side, as amicably as Napoleon and Alexander of Russia; whilst I fell to the share of the aides, and related the most recent news of Perth, and the last bon mots of Richard Nash, for their entertainment, receiving in return an account of the arrival of 400 male and female immigrants at the settlement the day before. We were entertained, as every guest variably is, right hospitably by Mr Clifton and his amiable family.

Australind was then (December, 1842) a promising new town. It was alive with well-dressed young men and women, who were promenading under the large forest trees, which still occupied the intended squares and most of the streets. They had only landed from the vessel which brought them some twenty-four hours before, and they were evidently variously affected by all they saw. Some appeared to be struck with the strange circumstance of trees growing in the streets; some looked aghast at the wooden houses and canvas tents; one thought everything looked exceedingly green; another fancied that a town built upon sand could not possibly endure long. And he was right, for the town has long since been deserted, except by half a dozen families; and the newly arrived settlers are dispersed over the colony. This has not been the fault of the Chief Commissioner, not is it owing to any inferiority in the soil, but to causes which I intend to explain.



Sunday Times, 23 March 1941.

BUNBURY, Saturday — UNNOTICED except in the forgotten township itself, the centenary of Australind passed this week. The town which might have become the capital of Western Australia is now but a monument of a glorious failure. Today Australind is but the site of a city which never existed. Its main contribution to Empire history is an excellent example of early town planning.

The fact that the town was never built is not the fault of the founders of the Western Australian Company which sponsored the settlement. [Few would share this opinion – Ed.]

Although Australind is the forgotten town, some of the descendants of the original settlers have helped to make Western Australia. They have drifted to many parts of the State, but if there had been no effort to establish Australind the State would have been deprived of many of its most eminent citizens. Lord Forrest, the Lieut.-Governor (Sir James Mitchell), and Sir Newton Moore are only three eminent men whose ancestors were attracted to Western Australia by the plans of the Western Australian Company.

The hundred years which have passed since the first settlers have seen immense progress in the State, but little progress to Australind. It remains much as it was, living in the past and dreaming of what might have been.

Australind was a hundred years old on Tuesday; its influence will live for ever and its ambitions will be recorded always in those neat maps of a grand settlement which never materialised.


[1] https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper

[2] JMR Cameron & PA Barnes (Eds), The Australind Letters of Marshall Waller Clifton, Chief Commissioner for the Western Australian Company, Hesperian Press, Victoria Park, WA, 2017.

[3] Phyllis Barnes et al (Eds.), The Australind Journals of Marshall Waller Clifton 1840-1861, Hesperian Press, Victoria Park, WA, 2010.

[4] ‘The present Mayor of Busselton’ was Henry Charles Prinsep. His father was Charles Robert Prinsep who attained the position of Advocate General of the East India Company in 1852, ref. Malcolm Allbrook, Henry Prinsep’s Empire, Framing a distant colony, Canberra ACT, ANU Press, 2014 online at http://press-files.anu.edu.au/downloads/press/p290761/pdf/book.pdf?referer=236 viewed. CR Prinsep lived at the ‘Belvedere’ Estate in Calcutta.

[5] ‘On 28 Mar 1843, when the Company had less than £200 in the bank, Clifton was advised that his services and that of the storekeeper at the settlement would be retained on reduced salaries but that the Company employees at Australind were to be dismissed.’ (p. xiv). A letter sent by the WA Co. Director, William Hutt, dated 14 June 1843 and received by MW Clifton on 7 November 1843, terminated Clifton’s appointment as Chief Commissioner which became effective on 23 November 1843. The Australind Journals of Marshall Waller Clifton.

However, the Company appointed MW Clifton’s son, William Pearce Clifton, as agent in order to maintain contact with the Colony.

[6] An old measure of capacity equivalent to one third of a pipe, or 42 wine gallons. Dictionary.com