The View From Mount Clarence

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

Glen Candy, Candyup and the Lower Kalgan River

Originally published 14 April 2014:

” Every breath Patrick Taylor took filled him with joy. Having just turned twenty-seven, he had not only survived the voyage to the Swan River Colony but reversed his condition in the process. He was religious, had always believed, but since meeting Mary Bussell the glory of God had surpassed all expectation. ‘He’ was everywhere. Visible. Palpable. In every single thing. “


Candyup from the west side (640x480)
Looking south-east across the Lower Kalgan toward Mnt Boyle and Glen Candy, the hillside location of Patrick Taylor’s home. In later years the southern flank and then the district became known as Candyup. Taylor’s house passed to his son, Campbell, and was then sold. It burnt to the ground in a bushfire in 1940.


The name Patrick Taylor is recognised in Albany through its association with an historic town cottage, but Taylor and his family spent the vast majority of their time at Glen Candy, his homestead above the Lower Kalgan River.

The Kalgan had been renamed from the old French river by Alexander Collie in 1831, after Mokare led Collie on a hugely influential expedition to the river’s headwaters at Moorilup, better known today as Kendenup. But first, a little about who exactly Patrick Taylor was.

Kirktonhill Manor (330x219)Taylor’s family were churchmen, provosts, parliamentarians, Navy & Army officers and merchants; educated, wealthy landowners based in the North-east of Scotland not far from the royal Balmoral Castle. They lived in a mansion house known as Kirktonhill. Patrick’s mother died around 1811-12 and his father in 1816, leaving he and his surviving siblings wealthy orphans. Taylor’s father was a trader in Jamaica, heavily involved with the business of slavery. He made a huge fortune.  Before commencing his Scottish family, Patrick’s father married a slave woman and had at least three children whom he sent to England for education. Patrick Taylor, his siblings, stepbrothers and stepsister lived off their inheritances.

Image above right: The Taylors lived at Kirktonhill House, Marykirk, near Montrose, on the north-east coast of Scotland. Patrick’s father married a Jamaican slave named Polly Graham before commencing his Scottish family. Patrick Taylor had two older stepbrothers and a stepsister of African slave heritage.

Detailed information about Patrick’s father’s career are available at the William L Clements Library at the University of Michigan. Click here to go the finding aid.

Patrick’s older brother George inherited the house and lands of around 2000 acres and continued to live there while Patrick set out to establish himself at the Swan River Colony. The two corresponded until both were in their 60’s. Patrick had gone to school in England, apparently bronchial and often unwell, to the point some didn’t expect him to survive the sea voyage to Australia as a grown man. His family connections brought about his awareness of James Stirling’s Swan River Colony when he was in his twenties and the opportunities it presented appealed to him. His father having made such a vast fortune abroad, to my mind almost certainly inspiring him. Patrick decided to avail of the dry climate and promise of prosperity and set sail a frail single man in 1833.

He spoke with an English accent, he wrote poetry, was deeply religious and had a philosophical bent. He spent his time aboard the James Pattison cerebrally engaged, allowing his wealth to take care of everything else. On board ship he had servants who tended his needs. He spent his time courting the affections of  a young woman who’d brought aboard a hive of bees. The woman’s family had settled at Augusta and was headed there with her mother. Also aboard was the newly knighted Sir James Stirling and other later-to-become prominent citizens of early-Albany, including Thomas Brooker Sherrat and an ex-naval lieutenant, Peter Belches, who was returning to the colony to live after first sailing to the Swan River with James Stirling in the Success in 1827 when Lockyer was dealing with the fallout caused by the sealing gang at King George’s Sound.

I imagined Taylor coming into his own on that sea voyage, fated as a moneyed settler by the Colony’s leading citizen, regaining his health as the sea air cleared his lungs and the temperature slowly climbed, revelling in the captured presence of both a genuine candidate for marriage (whose affections were returned) and a God who seemed to have brought him into his arms and shown him the wondrous nature of the world and his destined place within it.

The fact Taylor was a researchable subject aside, his story attracted me because of all that but also because he changed. Patrick lived until he was seventy but, after alienating his wife and family and despite being in their company when the time came, he effectively died alone.

On arrival at Albany in May, 1834, he had wealth estimated at £12,000 – £14,000; about A$2.75M in pure standard of living terms today. The annual income he derived from that wealth he said himself was £1,200, a relative figure today of $250, 000. His name is well known because of the much promoted old wattle and daub cottage he left to his daughter Catherine Louisa (Kate). Patrick Taylor’s Cottage is amongst the very first houses built in Albany but it wasn’t Taylor who built it of course; he was rich, so he bought it pretty much on arrival.

The Patrick Taylor Cottage museum at Albany as it is today
The Patrick Taylor Cottage museum at Albany as it is today.

Patrick Taylor’s Cottage was built by John Laurence Morley who had acquired land in India during his career with the East India Company. Morley came to Albany with his 20 year old wife, Mary (Bricknell),  after feeling starved of opportunity at the Swan River. He was still in his twenties when he sailed down in 1831. Morley was accomplished and energised, seeking out various government positions in town while building and maintaining private interests. He built various houses.  In 1835 he sailed back to India to sell his property there, returning with a dozen of his Indian servants who continued his house building business in Albany. Morley was granted 4000 acres at Moorilup, the good agricultural land at the head of the Kalgan River, now known as Kendenup.

In When Patrick Taylor Met Charles Darwin I imagined Morley leading Taylor out to Mokare’s Kalganup where Morley had land, some of which he actually sold to Patrick. In the story, Morley has landed cattle at the large harbour and is driving them out to his holding on the Kalgan. He has invited Patrick to come for the ride, so he can see the site up for sale himself. Morley has his Indian labourers with him who are intent on keeping the cattle in check. Patrick, on the other hand, is daydreaming.

” The sky was pale, almost washed out, and, as the sun shone through unimpaired, he wondered what it was that stole its colour. The sea itself loomed dark yet tame and its cool promise seemed an alluring thing in the still gathering warmth. The fragrance of eucalyptus and peppermint trees hung in the air, mixing with the dry scent of bark and dust while the sweet pungency of horse and cattle dung wafted backwards into his path. In the trees he caught glimpses of wildly coloured birds. Glaring green and blue parrots, great white feathered cockatoos, dancing wagtails and heavy, gnarly beaked crows. In the sky gulls choked on their own cries as if the presence of men and cattle were a thing of immense alarm.


‘Mr Taylor!’


‘Yes, what?’


‘Mr Taylor, sir. You are letting the cattle go away. The country is wider now sir, you cannot stay so far behind. Please sir, Mr Taylor, will you be pushing up now.’ “


At this point I’ll briefly introduce two key persons of that period. The first is Sir Richard Spencer, a disfigured semi-retired naval officer who Stirling coaxed from his family haunt at Lyme Regis, Dorset. Stirling appointed Spencer Government Resident and offered him the government farm at Strawberry Hill (below the north face of Mount Clarence), which Spencer bought. The Spencer history at Albany doesn’t have anything new to offer these pages, suffice to say the family and their servants, when they arrived in 1833, doubled the settlement’s population. In so doing, Spencer’s three daughters and coterie of maids and servant women set the hearts of the local bachelorhood a-flutter.


A watercolour of Spencer's Strawberry Hill Farm. The painting was made around 1840 by Laura Trimmer, a niece of Arthur Trimmer who married Mary Ann, eldest of Sir Richard's three daughters. Laura Trimmer was around 14 when she visited the Sound.
A watercolour of Spencer’s Strawberry Hill Farm. The painting was made around 1840 by Laura Trimmer, a niece of Arthur Trimmer who married Mary Ann, eldest of Sir Richard’s three daughters. Laura Trimmer was around 14 when she visited the Sound.


In the story, Patrick and Morley are leaving the settlement, rounding Mount Clarence heading toward Middleton Beach.


‘They’re fine girls,’ Morley said. ‘All of them. I’m surprised you’re not interested.’
Patrick reined his horse to a halt. ‘My affections are well known,’ he laughed. ‘I’m the one surprised. Are you really not aware?’


‘But, who else is there?’


‘Must she be here?’ asked Patrick.


‘Ah, on her way then. From Scotland?’


‘Not so distant,’ said Patrick. ‘Not nearly so far.’


The track to the farm called Strawberry Hill ran between a large granite boulder which Patrick, quite suddenly, took to resemble the shape of a dog’s head. A blood hound sniffing the air, he thought. Other high but less rounded boulders dug into the hillside. Smoke spiralled upward from behind the unusual boulder. The horses and conversation of the passing men drew the attention of two native children who appeared for a moment on one of the well-worn paths which wove between the rocks and trees. One of the children, a boy of four or five years, held a long stick. When he saw Patrick looking he drew it back, feigning to spear his horse. The boy’s face was alive with joy, his teeth wide and white beneath an oozing nose. Patrick felt a twinge of unease and thought, for a second, something had settled on his collar. There had been a corroboree a few days previous, something to do with a visiting tribe, and he wondered were these children and their family -no doubt nearby- part of that group? He threw a hand at his neck to try and catch the irritation.


Morley sunk his heels into his stirrups as he shifted his weight, then raised and pressed them into the horse’s ribs. ‘Perhaps one day I might learn the lady’s name?’ he said riding on.


Patrick called after him. ‘It’s Bussell. Mary Yates Bussell, and there’s no sweeter heart in all the wide world.’


The second key personality is probably Albany’s most enduring historical character, George Cheyne. Cheyne and his wife, Grizel, arrived at the Swan River early in 1831 but (like Morley and others) moved to Albany when they found all the best land around Perth already taken. Cheyne was a prolific and aggressive trader. He bought three plots at Middleton Beach and nine prominent Stirling Terrace sites off the newly surveyed Albany Town Plan, completed by Raphael Clint and signed-off by our good friend J.S. Roe.  He became involved with Morley and either bought or exchanged land for part of Morley’s grant at Moorilup. Cheyne added to it so that his holding at Moorilup grew to 19 000 acres. As part of his exchanges with Morley, Cheyne also took a thousand acre plot along the Lower Kalgan.


Hand drawn by Dunston West, a plan of the early lots north of Oyster Harbour. Taylor 's lot was at the top of the hill and he called it Glen Candy. This gave rise to the wider area being called Candyup, a Noongar derivation of the original. Acceptance of the name Candyup in referring to Glen Candy reflects the close relationship the Taylors grew to have with the Menang who also lived there. Patrick Taylor's mixed race family background may have influenced his attitude toward living alongside the Aborigines.
Candyup Graphic by D.A.P. West. Image courtesy Albany Library


Hand drawn by Dunston West, the above is a plan of the early lots north of Oyster Harbour. Taylor ‘s lot was at the top of the hill and he called it Glen Candy. This gave rise to the wider area being called Candyup, a Noongar derivation of the original. Acceptance of the name Candyup in referring to Glen Candy reflects the close relationship the Taylors grew to have with the Menang who also lived there. Patrick Taylor’s mixed race family background may have influenced his attitude toward living alongside the Aborigines.

Digory Seargent Geake was another early arriver who took up land along the Lower Kalgan. Others included Henry James Townsend and a man by the name of Drake. By 1837, Taylor, Drake, Townsend, Morley, Cheyne and another settler, Captain Thomas Lyell Symers, all owned land in the district. Taylor, Geake, Townsend and Symers built houses and set out to live there while keeping other houses and businesses based in town.  Taylor called his plot Glen Candy for reasons that are not clearly understood, other than the suggestion of his Scottish heritage. All who took up along the banks of the Lower Kalgan did so because they saw it as the most desirable sub-local real estate which of course meant their investments were more likely to be safe.

The Oyster Harbour area had been eyed from the time of Edmund Lockyer as agriculturally superior to that around the larger Princess Royal Harbour. During the garrison period, Lockyer wrote;


“. . . went to the French River accompanied by Captain Wakefield to examine the ground on its banks. Though by no means good it is better than that at the settlement and on arrival of settlers and an increase to the establishment, farming and agricultural concerns must be carried out there…”


Collie made four limited excursions around the Sound in 1831 in the company of Mokare. In the Autumn of 1832, Collie and Manyat made a far more influential trip to the Porongurup and Stirling Range district by following the Kalgan to its source. By that time Collie had it in his mind that the river was called Kalganup (believed to mean place of fish, though also recorded as place of many waters) and Yamungup (the meaning of which is not known). Collie’s naming of the river as the Kalgan in his report of that trip resulted in the name being adopted by proceeding writers, explorers and officials.

Wyndham - Albany 1838Prior to that, in the wake of the departure of the N.S.W. contingent, James Stirling and John Septimus Roe had made their first journey to the Sound together. While there they made various excursions, including one up the old French River which Roe surveyed and divided into the agricultural lots drawn above.

Opposite: The Kalgan River running into Oyster Harbour from Roe’s map. Stirling and Roe considered relocating the King George’s Sound settlement there but the South Coast’s topographic short-comings imposed themselves and, for want of anywhere better, the original site prevailed.



From Donald Garden, pg 38-9, Albany:  A Panorama of the Sound from 1827.

“ The desirability of placing any new settlement near a river and good agricultural land tempted him (Stirling) to move ‘Frederickstown’ away from Lockyer’s site in Princess Royal Harbour. The better land around Oyster Harbour, plus the fact it had two rivers flowing into it, made it appear a much more suitable place. The Kalgan he found especially attractive and a new townsite, named Wyndham, was set aside at the present Upper Kalgan. However, probably because Oyster Harbour was too shallow, Stirling left the settlement where it was.”


When Patrick Taylor met Charles Darwin is set in 1836, the year before Taylor married his shipboard sweetheart, Mary Yates Bussell. Mary was the ship’s bee-keeper, sister to the Bussells of Augusta and Cattle Chosen, the homestead at Vasse, now known as Busselton.

By ship’s beekeeper I mean Mary brought a hive aboard the James Pattison. Together with Patrick, she watched the numbers dwindle as the ship sailed on through the various oceans. Mary and her mother were the last of the Bussell family to make for the  Swan River Colony. The Reverend William Bussell, Mary’s father, had died unexpectedly in 1820, leaving the family in difficult circumstances. The Reverend’s congregation clubbed together and with that and a staged income from his insurance policy, the family decided to emigrate to Stirling’s promised land. On arrival, Mary’s brothers also found the Swan River bought up so took up Stirling’s suggestion to establish at Augusta, about a hundred miles north of Albany, on the west coast. From there they graduated further north to a locality on the Vasse River near to where it meets the sea at Geographe Bay. The brother’s had a hard time of it, barely surviving in an environment they could hardly have imagined. Mary and her mother went to live at Cattle Chosen when they arrived but Patrick pursued his heart’s desire through letters of love and devotion and soon enough, when he had looked about the Sound and begun building at Glen Candy, came calling with his proposal.

During the period between June 1834, when The James Pattison arrived at King George’s Sound, and September 1837, when Taylor married Mary Bussell in Fremantle, Patrick joined a couple of exploration groups and journeyed out into the hinterland. An 1835 trip led by the once again returning J.S. Roe, took him up the Kalgan to the Hay River with Henry Townsend,  Peter Belches and others. Patrick also joined an expedition which travelled to Perth overland, via York, in early 1837, before the Spring wedding. Each of these trips took with them Aboriginal guides, a tradition which had begun as early as 1828 and persisted.

Patrick’s guide on the treck to Perth in 1835 was Kartrull, also known as Jack Handsome.  Handsome also appears in the whaling records from 1836 onwards as well as the diaries Mary Taylor kept after the marriage. Mary Taylor’s diaries reveal a life of close association with the Aborigines of Oyster Harbour and King George’s Sound. In what remains of the diaries, she question’s Patrick’s habit of hiring the Aborigines for too much or too long a period.

The below table lists the local and regional explorations launched from Albany between 1827 and 1835. The Kalgan River features prominently.


Now, on to Charles Darwin. . .

Darwin Beagle Voyage
The Beagle touched at Sydney, Hobart Town and King George’s Sound on its westward journey through the southern seas.

The yoyage of the Beagle was an epic five year global circumnavigation at a time when Western Europeans were still completing their much longed-for map of the world.  That the Beagle called in to King George’s Sound at all is, if nothing else, confirmation of the significance of its geographic location, but also one of those bugs in the mind’s of anyone with an ounce of affection for historical Albany. It itches and irritates a sense of failure on the part of the town to make more of a name for itself. What was so wrong with the settlement on the Sound?


The Beagle only made three stops in Australia. The first at Sydney, the second at Hobart Town and the the third at Albany. On first finding out about this historical curiosity I was as thrilled as anyone. Here, on the surface of it, was something the whole South Coast could happliy hang its hat on. But alas, neither Darwin nor the Beagle’s commander, Captain Robert Fitzroy, were impressed. Darwin said;


” We staid there eight days & I do not remember since leaving England having passed a more dull, uninteresting time. The settlement consists [of] from 30-40 small white washed cottages, which are scattered on the side of a bank & along a white sea beach. Everywhere we found the soil sandy & very poor; either supported a coarse vegetation of low brushwood & wiry grass, or a forest of stunted trees. The general bright green colour of the brushwood & other plants viewed from a distance seems to bespeak fertility; a single walk will, however, dispel, any such illusion.”


Captain Fitzroy, didn’t have much positive to say either.


“A few straggling houses, ill-placed in an exposed, cheerless situation, were seen by us as we entered the harbour; and had inclination been our guide instead of duty, I certainly should have felt disposed to put the helm up, and make all sail away from such an uninviting place….. “


Darwin and Fitzroy attended a large corroboree at Spencer’s Strawberry Hill Farm on the night of March 7th. The gathering was between what Darwin called The King George’s Sound men and a neighbouring tribe he referred to as the White Cockatoo.  Both enjoyed aspects of the show. Fitzroy said about it;


“Much of the dancing was monotonous enough, after the first appearance, reminding me of persons working in a treadmill: but their imitation of snakes and kangaroos, in a kind of hunting dance, was exceedingly good and interesting. The whole exhibition lasted more that an hour, during most of which time upwards of a hundred savages were exerting themselves in jumping and stamping as if their lives depended on their energetic movements.”



Opposite:ADarwin in 1840 portrait of Darwin aged 31. He had just turned 27 when the Beagle anchored at Princess Royal Harbour.

Darwin wrote about the corroboree too, as he wrote about the many different native people’s he met on that voyage. About the Albany Aborigines, he said;


“The second grand advantage is the good disposition of the aboriginal blacks; it is not easy to imagine a more truly good natured & good humoured expression than their faces show. Moreover they are quite willing to work & make themselves very useful; in this respect they are very different from the other Australian colonies. In their habits, manners, instruments and general appearance they resemble the natives of New South Wales. Like them they are very remarkable by the extreme slightness of their limbs, especially their legs; yet without as it would appear, muscles to move their legs, they will carry a burden for a longer time than most white men.”


Darwin was less complimentary about the appearance of the Aborigines. I don’t want to revisit those old characterisations, trotted out so freely by the writers of the day, and have decided not to include them. That may be an escape from the more challenging aspects of revisionism but I also think excluding cruel language used in the past is a revision in itself.  I think its just plain decent to avoid the severity and heartlessness of that old language.


Darwin Aborigines Corroboree - possibly Albany 1836 (520x339)
Darwin attended a large Corroboree at Albany on the night of March 7th, 1836. This is an 1890 re-drawing of a sketch he made. Darwin’s original does not indicate the place or time he drew it, but it is likely to have been influenced by his experience at Albany.


Patrick Taylor was born in March 1807, Charles Darwin in February, 1809. In the story, When Patrick Taylor Met Charles Darwin, both men are not yet 30. I set it up that the hard working but romantically minded Taylor, who is enjoying the happiest, most optimistic period of his life, meets Darwin at the beach. Taylor and Morley are driving the cattle along towards Oyster Harbour. Morley is concerned with the task at hand but Patrick is intrigued by the presence of the young scientist, and he stays a while to engage in conversation.


” ‘What do you make of it, then?’ said Patrick


‘Of what?’ said Darwin


‘Of our little paradise here,’ said Patrick, expectantly.


‘There are many such shelters about the world,’ said Darwin. ‘The Sound is large and the harbour useful, but the entrance is too narrow. Access relies too heavily on wind direction.’


‘Minor details, Mr Darwin, consider our whereabouts. This is the largest and finest harbour west of the great cliffs. We are exactly located for passing ships between the eastern settlements and everywhere else. China, Batavia and India are more readily accessed from here than the east coast too. Did you see Morley’s labourers? He brought them from India himself.’


‘Sydney is in a far greater state of advancement than here,’ replied Darwin. ‘Hobart too. You are right however, strategically speaking. But I have reservations as to the nature of the country here. The soil is poor. It’s acidic. You will struggle to grow anything and what’s more there is little fresh water at the settlement. Barely a stream.’


‘Yes, but is has beauty, do you not think?’


‘I’ve lost the ability to see beauty in the same way as most people,’ said Darwin. ‘It doesn’t come to me in the shape and colour of things, but in the richness of life and I see little here that will nourish a population of any size.’


‘Ah, but you have not seen Kalganup,’ said Patrick. ‘Nor the pastures at that river’s head.’


Darwin looked down the beach toward Emu Point. Morley’s cattle appeared a wavering grey smudge. ‘I do not doubt there are pockets of arable land, as there are even in a desert, but I hesitate to see a man drive cattle down a beach away from his settlement. It seems an unnecessary burden.’ “


The Tasmanian Dung Beetle helped Darwin develop his theory of natural selection.
The Tasmanian Dung Beetle helped Darwin develop his theory of natural selection.

Patrick is troubled by Darwin’s pragmatism and can’t bring him around. This irks him and he begins to dislike Darwin. The conversation, inevitably moves toward providence and the absolute acceptance by Taylor of the Almighty God. Darwin’s scepticism persists and Taylor is set on edge. As the two men walk down the beach Patrick’s unease begins to manifest itself in his doubts and he finds himself quite suddenly faced with two overwhelming senses of insecurity. The first is his wealth, which is trusted to a financial agent in Britain with whom his brother George has contact. The second is his love for Mary Bussell which he begins to realise has pulled him into a state of reckless ecstasy.  In a matter of moments he is beside himself with fear and trepidation, Darwin representing the founding of them and as a result someone whose company he can no longer bear.


” Patrick was reminded of Miss Mary and clasped the back of his neck. The jangling nerves there migrated to his hand, transferred through his wrist and vibrated the length of his arm. He saw Miss Mary in his mind’s eye, that grave inner self she had revealed to him broadening into her warm smile. But the smile stretched and her gums appeared and she began to laugh and frolic, loosely, while other laughing faces from aboard that ship crowded in and around. Those bees then, those bees which started the voyage in their thousands, swarmed about him. Those disappearing bees he could not stop thinking about, thinning like a cloud of steam. And then, as like the dawning of some terrible truth, rose the image of his brother. Long supportive, unduly caring George who had played down his illness, who suggested and encouraged his move to the colonies, who stood and waved his handkerchief as the small boat rowed away to the vessel at anchor; who had stayed behind in the fullness of his own health to manage their combined fortune. “


A few years later Patrick Taylor discovered a large part of his money had been embezzled by his financial agent. He was never the same again.

2 responses to “Glen Candy, Candyup and the Lower Kalgan River”

  1. mro19079 Avatar

    Do you know what happened to the Indian servants that came out with Morley? Did they return to India or stay in Australia. Also, Colebatch mentions that a prospective settler set out from India with over 40 servants but the ship sank in the Bay of Bengal. Do you have any information about them?

    1. Avatar

      Yes, I have some idea on both questions.

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