The View From Mount Clarence

A look back at settlement along Western Australia's South Coast

About The View. . .

The View From Mount Clarence is concerned with the history of racial integration along the South Coast of Western Australia and by direct association with marginal inland locations.

The original purpose of the blog was to support some historical fiction stories I had written about early settlement in and around the town of Albany. As time went on the research stretched deeper into a past which is still incredibly relevant today and as a result become a rich, powerful and compelling journey.

Using established research and presentation techniques adapted to the internet the explorations have gone in search of lesser known individuals. There are many categories and tags to explore but the guiding theme behind the work is exploration of the life and times of Campbell Taylor, son of original settlers Patrick Taylor and Mary Bussell.

Campbell Taylor was a pioneer pastoralist who left behind a positive story of racial integration. He was born into a moneyed family but his father met with misfortune and lost most of it. Campbell Taylor was ambitious and a distance from being destitute, but he was forced to take risks and to work hard.  The family home was at Candyup, on the Lower Kalgan River near Albany, but his pioneer pastoral style station was established at Cape Arid, almost 400 miles to the east.  Taylor commuted between there and Albany for more than 30 years, most often by boat but also on foot, horseback and horse-drawn cart or buggy.

Taylor died by way of accident in 1900. He was on his way to vote in the referendum on Federation. Paralysed  on a sandy track 60 miles east of Esperance, it took two weeks to get him to hospital in Albany. A rescue necessarily effected by sea. However, infection must  have taken its toll as within 24 hours of arrival he died.  He was 57, married to Charlotte Gresham of Melbourne, but left behind no children. As his only brother pre-deceased him, also childless, the Taylor name from Albany died with him.

Taylor’s exploits eastwards along the coast brought him into direct contact with a key group of men – also the sons of original settlers – as well as the labouring classes and Noongar Aborigines, all of whom appear to have regarded him with respect and admiration. Even today descendants speak fondly of his memory. Exploration of Taylor’s family background, of the town of Albany’s citizens, those other ambitious sons of settlers and the Aborigines they came to displace, gives tremendous insight to the way of things in the first half of the 19th Century in a remote and little recognised coastal Australian setting.

By following the threads of Taylor’s life the posts contained here throw light upon a wide range of characters – heroes villains and in-between-ers – some of whose names appear frequently in the archives but whose real stories are yet to be properly told. These threads weave the foundation layers of today’s societal fabric and through them we can see just how it was the modern South Coast got to where it is now.

They say history is written by the victors and that may be, but through the incredible capacity of digitisation and the internet, we have opportunity today to resurrect critical elements of the lives of ordinary people and piece them together in a way that gives ownership to an array of Aboriginal, European and mixed-race families whose ancestors endured the brutal hardships of the early settlement period only to disappear into the social and economic abyss which lay beyond.

The View From Mount Clarence is concerned with uncovering the stories of the old Noongar Aborigines, how they lived and how they reacted to the new colonial presence. It’s interested in the deeds of a group of local settlers, the workers they employed, and how they and those workers interacted with the Aborigines.  It is concerned with exploring the tragic passing of the Traditional Aborigine along with the emergence of the New Noongar Age.

If you are new to the blog then take your time and start at the beginning. The background is there. If you have arrived because something in particular has led you here then look around, the posts are categorised and tagged. Categories refer to general themes individual posts are concerned with, for example whaling or a specific individual such as Wylie or George Cheyne. Tags are there to identify lesser themes, people and places individual posts reveal. For example; Alexander Moir, Lindol, Cape Riche and Moorilup would be tagged under the the category George Cheyne. Equally, George Cheyne may be tagged under the Category Captain John Hassell…

The stories of key historical characters including Manyat, Wylie, GeorgeCheyne, Patrick Taylor and John Dunn weave through key periods such as early settlement, the convict era, the swing from wind to steam-powered transport and locomotion, the effect of the discovery of gold and the switch from traditional open field pastoral style sheep-raising to the introduction of much smaller land holdings, the protection of flocks through fencing and the large-scale move into cultivating grain crops. Also, the key coastal pursuits of transport, sealing and whaling, how they impacted on the traditional native people of the country, and how, through disintegration and internal strife, the Indigenous hung on. Many, like Manyat, Nebinyan, Ngailbaitch and Notuman, with remarkable powers of adaptation, courage and resilience.

Take your time and explore. The South Coast’s is a history of forgotten people – Aboriginal, European, African-American, Asian and South Sea Islanders – all confronting an unforgiving era in a place not easily bent to the will of colonial power.