Sunday, November 4, 2012

Victoria Settlement Ruins - Port Essington

Tuesday - 30/10/2012

We did the radio sched then went ashore before having breakfast the Victoria Ruins walk takes about 2 hours and we wanted to head back north whilst still on ebb tide, this gives us 2 hours walk and 2 hours sail or more like motor there is no wind whatsoever. We arrived at the beach and then started the walk after securing the dinghy. The first ruins is that of John Lewis's house which was built in more recent times, Lewis came over from Pine Creek in the 1870's with his partners with the intention of providing buffalo meat for the Darwin market, these stones were probably taken from the original Victoria village. The original settlement consisted of ammunition magazine built below ground level to reduce damage if an explosion should occur. Government House which was probably the first to be built on piers with the original reason being the uneven ground but was found to be cooler in the hot humid weather. Married quarters row of cottages  where the fire places now remain, the blacksmiths forge, quartermasters stores, Hospital and hospital kitchens, a lime kiln and the cemetery.
(Photo of the picture of early days of Victoria Settlement)
(The magazine built below ground lever in case of explosion)
(The ruins of the married section of the settlement)
(The ruins of the Hospital Kitchen and Hospital)
It makes one wonder why they even tried building a settlement at this location the reason for it was in 1818 Captain Philip John Parker King explored and named the Cobourg Peninsular and Port Essington. His surveys determined the locations of the first European Settlements in Northern Australia, Fort Dundas, Wellington and Victoria. With the Dutch and the French expansions in Southern East Indies the British Government decided to establish settlements along the northern coast of Australia, After failure and abandonment of two settlements Victoria was constructed and was a settlement by 1838. One mistake Captain King made was that he assumed the place was plentiful of water as he had visited just after a good wet season but there was little water in a long hard dry season.

This settlement was abandoned after 11 years in November 1849, Expectations of trade had not been met, supplies had become infrequent and fever and death more common.

To my way of thinking it would be hard to get passing trade when the settlement was 12 NMS inside Port Essington they would have had a better chance if the village had been built where the Ranger Station is today.

After the 2 hour walk we weighed anchor and caught the tide under one engine to Coral Bay and then into Seven Spirit Bay where the Seven Spirit Bay Resort is. It was a calm flat hot day as we motored north I spotted a Customs Patrol Boat anchored on the opposite side and was wondering whether it was the same one as we spoke to at South Goulburn Island, they did not call us as we passed so I thought it could be and they know who we are. We got well passed them and just near where we turn to go into Coral Bay when they called, "The sailing catamaran exiting Port Essington this is Customs Vessel Hervey Bay on 16 do you copy?" We answered them and they kept calling, obviously they are not receiving us, we checked that we were getting out by using our handheld and we were transmitting alright, I even tried calling them on the handheld radio but still they could not hear us.

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