HOME OF THE LADY DENMAN - Local history isn't always about the big story - the everyday story of life in the early development of the region can be a fascinating, entertaining and educational journey.

9 June 2014

Young Australian

sb2 The Young Australian built at Huskisson was a three masted schooner and the first to be built in a colonial ship yard. 1864
The Young Australian was a 94ft, 130ton, three masted schooner, built by George Dent and William Wood at the Dent ship building yard on the banks of Currambene Creek Huskisson in 1864.

After leaving Jervis Bay these mighty hand crafted vessels
headed for many destinations and were used for many different enterprises.

Little did anyone know the beautiful Young Australian would soon be involved in the notorious trade of “Blackbirding” in the South Pacific

Above is an example of a three masted schooner built at Huskisson by the Dents - The Huddersfield.

Seizure_of_blackbirder_Daphne Blackbirding – violence and brutality
Blackbirding as it was called involved  persuading and coercing of islanders as cheap labour to work in the sugar cane fields of Queensland.
The trade proved so lucrative that violence and brutality were used to recruit reluctant natives
In 1868, while the Young Australian was on a recruiting voyage to supply the cotton plantations of Fiji, three natives of the New Hebrides, who had been kidnapped, were shot and murdered on board, after causing a disturbance. Following this quelling of the disturbance  230 men and six women were sold in Levuka for 1200 pounds. Some time later news of the shootings  leaked out and the captain Albert Hovell and one of his men were tried in Sydney and found guilty of murder.
The death sentence was imposed on the two men, but later remitted to life imprisonment.
Later escaping justice on a technicality on appeal and left Australia to live in the islands in exile.
Blackbirding began in Australia with Robert Towns who imported the first of the South Sea Islanders and ended following an Act of Parliament in 1904.

Secret name changes, corrupt goings on.
The Young Australian was one of the vessels that changed its identity for the Fijian slave trade. At his trial, the captain,
Albert Ross Hovell, revealed that it was the custom to clear from Sydney under the name Young Australian with a small general  cargo. At Levuka, the name would be changed to Young Australia and the vessel would be re-registered and provided with new papers  by the British Consul while engaged in the 'blackbirding' trade to Fiji.

May god have mercy on our souls.
On its last arrival in Sydney on 14 May 1877, just 11 days before it was lost at Curdies Inlet, it was still known as the Young Australian.
Wrecked 25 May 1877
While on a voyage from Maryborough, Qld to Adelaide it struck heavy weather off Cape Nelson.
Its fore main rigging was carried away causing the foremast to spring. The vessel nearly sank by the stern
when carried aback by one squall, one of the crew threw a message in a bottle overboard to his sister
to say they were lost and may God have mercy on their souls - it was later found on Warrnambool beach.
The schooner made for a break in the outer reef off Curdies River and went ashore there.
One of the crew William drowned while trying to get a line ashore.
A line was eventually got ashore and the crew were cared for by local settlers.
Police constables from Camperdown and Warrnambool guarded the wreck from "landsharks hovering about,
waiting for an opportunity for plunder"
wreck site
The wreck has never been found.
Manifest at the time.
70 hogsheads and some quarter casks of rum, 150 tons sugar
1864: registered in Sydney as Young Australian by 1867 registered as Young Australia 1874: John Fraser: Sydney 1875: A. Muir of Brisbane
1868: Capt. Hovell Captain W. Whitfield  - 7 crew.
Location - Curdie s Inlet, Peterborough South Australia.


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