The Brisbane Courier Saturday 18 August 1866
THE LOSS OF THE NETHERBY.
A good deal of excitement was caused by the receipt of a telegram announcing the total loss of the immigrant ship Netherby on July 15. She was one of the Black Ball liners, of 944 tons register, under the command of Captain Evans. She is from London, but embarked most of her passengers at Plymouth, from which port she sailed on April 13. The excitement prevailed until the receipt of the mails from Melbourne, when we received files of papers from that place, which contained the fullest accounts of the sad disaster. We subjoin the details given by the Melbourne Argus :
We told the story of the wreck in Monday's issue, and there is not much to add. On the evening of Saturday week last the Netherby, 941 tons register, Captain Owen, master, being on a voyage from London to Brisbane, struck on a rock off the south-western shore of King's Island. The weather had been thick, no land was seen, and the vessel having so far missed her way, had got among some highly dangerous reefs, and so went on the rocks. Her condition from that moment became worse and worse, the roar of the surf gave warning of breakers all round, the ship was evidently filling, and the black night over all made up a terrible scene. None on board could tell with any accuracy where they were. Finding the water gaining in the vessel, the captain set all hands to work to get up stores from the hold, but before much had been done in this way the lower decks were flooded, and at last the only thing to do was to wait for the day. The night was passed in great suspense.
The general expectation was that the ship could not live it out; but there was no confusion, and the people were composed. Crew and passengers—and some of the females had been looking for their confinement daily—expected her to go to pieces each minute ; nevertheless, Sunday morning breaking, found them still safe, and the fog lifting, showed them the shore, about a quarter of a mile distant. Even then their look-out was awful, for with sunken rocks, breakers, lines of surf, and a rugged, inhospitable shore before them, the aspect of affairs remained imminently dangerous. As soon as could be, preparations were made to get the people on shore. The ship had five boats, but one broke up before it could be used, and two others were smashed before all were landed, for the weather became stormy.
The getting on shore was at last achieved by fastening a line to the land and working the boats along it like a ferry-boat running on a wire. Even then the boats could not be taken further than the outside of the lines of surf, so the passengers had either to walk waist-deep to the shore or be carried thither. It was raining, too, and when, after many hours, the nearly 500 souls on board reached the land—they were in a wretched plight. There were scarcely any provisions or comforts, no shelter worth speaking of, and, though fires were lit, they afforded but small relief to the poor wet people, with nothing else to defend them from the piercing cold night.
On Monday morning, as we all know, Mr. Parry, the second mate, started with others for the lighthouse, and reaching that point on Thursday, crossed the straits in a whale boat, to arrive in Melbourne on Saturday last. His courageous and invaluable service had all the desired effect, and at 3 a.m. next day the Pharos, and at 11 a.m. the Victoria, steamed off to the relief of the cast- aways.
Meanwhile the people on the island had, in spite of their dangerous condition, man- aged to get along wonderfully well. The ship was almost under water, but many things floated ashore, to their comfort. Among other matters were some sails, and these furnished tents. But the greater number of persons sheltered themselves beneath such impromptu mia-mias as they could manufacture out of the thick scrub. The worst they had to endure was the cold nights and the short provisions. Altogether, about twenty-five barrels of flour, oatmeal, and biscuit floated ashore, and these, though in- jured, were the staple means of subsistence, eked out by a few wallaby, &c., which were caught. There would have been more, but though guns were plentiful powder was scarce.
One boat remained serviceable, and the captain managed to pay visits to the wreck, when all in the way of stores that could be reached was thrown overboard, that they might be washed on shore. It was thus that some cases of preserved meat, wine and beer, and some passengers' luggage were recovered. The meat, which provided but a short allowance, was mainly kept for the women and children, and served out in daily quarter-pound rations. At first, the daily allowance was a quarter-pound of flour, or oatmeal, to each person ; but later it was increased to a half pound. Unless more had been got from the wreck this would have lasted but a short while, for just before relief arrived it was found that the remaining flour was in great part damp and useless. Luckily, good water was found a mile and a half from shore.
It was in this miserable plight that the poor people waited for succour, Captain Owen and his officers doing all they could, and Dr. Webster, the ship's doctor, never ceasing his attentions or care for the general health. Happily, there was no sickness, and the only casualty was a birth, one of the female emigrants (Mrs. Cubbins) being brought to bed of a girl in this desolate spot. We need not describe how well she was attended ; and the fact that she and her infant have arrived
here in good condition, and are safely housed at the Lying-in Hospital, tells its own story.
It was not to be expected that a high tone of cheerfulness should prevail. In the first place, the surrounding scenery was not comforting. Impenetrable scrub, rugged, unsightly, and never-ending rocks, and patches of sand made up the chief features of the country, and the unfortunate folks could only hope success to Mr. Parry. One day the captain went off in the boat to the lighthouse, twenty-eight miles off, which he reached, and there learned of Mr. Parry's arrival, and of his starting to cross the Straits in a whaleboat. He returned with his good news and three bags of potatoes to the little colony he had left, whose hopes of speedy help were thereupon much raised. We believe that, with some exceptions, the passengers and crew be- haved well. On Sunday last, the captain sent 116 of the single men overland to the lighthouse, believing that they would find supplies there.
On Monday morning, however, those left were gladdened by the sight of H.M.C.S. Victoria, which has now added one more to the number of instances of her performance of duties which have reflected honor and credit upon the colony. It was time help came, for the fine weather which had so materially helped to save the cast- aways from destruction could not last long, and with short provisions, and other discomforts, the prospect was a sad one.
The preparation for relief made last Sunday morning a busy one at Williamstown. The Government had decided to send off the Victoria (Mr. Francis, Commissioner of Customs, whose exertions throughout the whole affair have been unceasing, had already given orders for the departure of the harbor steamer Pharos), and volunteers were wanted to make up her crew, and get her ready for sea. The steamer, being only manned by a skeleton crew, under Captain Norman, her old commander, wanted help, and help came. Several of the late crew of the Loelia cutter, late engaged in the marine survey, answered the call, but others declined. The remainder of the men required had to be taken from the naval training-ship staff; and it must be mentioned that at an early period of the preparations Lieutenant Woods, commanding that vessel, with 100 of his boys, rendered great service in unmooring, bending sails, and otherwise getting the Victoria ready for her start.
At 10 a.m. she was ready for sea, having on board large but hurriedly-prepared stores of provisions, wine, &c, blankets and clothing, for the shipwrecked people requiring them. Messrs. Bright Brothers and Co., though the Netherby, a Black Ball liner, was not consigned to them—neither here nor at Brisbane —also sent down a large stock of blankets, clothing, &c. ; but they came, unfortunately, a few minutes too late to go on board. At a quarter to 12 a.m. she steamed off, passed Point Lonsdale at ten minutes to 3 p.m., and proceeded to the eastern side of King's Island, to look for signal-fires that might indicate per- sons on shore looking out for ships which anchor for shelter in such winds.
The weather became squally, with rain, and night had come on, so that nothing was left but for the Victoria to cruise up and down the coast, and wait for dawn. When day broke she stood close in, and steamed along the shore to the south cape of the island, and thence down its western side, till at 10 a.m. the wreck was seen four miles off. In half an hour after Captain Owen had come off in his boat, assisted to pilot the Victoria in through the many sunken rocks all round. She anchored about 300 yards off the wreck, and, the weather being clear and fine, the boats were lowered and sent off, the orders being to bring the women and children first.
Soon after noon the boats began to return, the passengers being brought to them through the surf, wading from rock to rock, and at half-past 2 p.m. the Pharos came up and joined in the work. She had been enabled to get under steam at 3 a.m on the Sunday morning, and with Captain Fullarton in command, and about four tons of fresh stores on board, managed, in the face of a strong flood tide, to clear the Heads at 8 a.m. At 4 p.m. she arrived off Wickham Light, on King's Island, a strong north-west gale blowing, and the weather thick. The fog was such that the lighthouse itself was not discerned, and she was kept waiting on and off all night. At 8 a.m. the weather cleared a little, and the lighthouse, with signals of distress flying from the flagstaff, became visible. Captain Fullarton was then informed by signal that there were men on shore wanting to be taken off, and after some trouble in getting through the surf, three men, passengers from the Netherby, who had walked overland, were got on board. Being informed that the wreck lay S.S.W. of the lighthouse, she proceeded thither, and anchored at half-past 2 p.m. in time to get off sixty men, mixed passengers and crew, from the shore.
Then, Captain Owen having written to Captain Norman stating that the remaining passengers, including most of the cabin passengers, would not leave shore, hoping to save something from the wreck, some stores from the Victoria were landed, and both steamers made the best of their way home. The Victoria, with 230 passengers, arrived at the Railway Pier at 11 a.m., and the Pharos, with 60, at 1 p.m. Captain Owen, with 11 of his crew and 10 passengers, still remain on shore, near the wreck. All the officers are left behind, except Dr. Webster, the ship's surgeon, and Mr. Lockhart, the purser.
The preparations made in Melbourne for the reception of the shipwrecked people were most ample and complete. They were chiefly the work of Mr. L. A. Moody, colonial immigration officer, and the Hon. J. G. Francis. The Exhibition building was hurriedly fitted up with beds and bedding, a huge cooking apparatus, and all the necessaries for turning it into a barrack ; and at the same time the Immigrants' Depôt was pre- pared for the single women. Room was made (with difficulty) for the crew at the Sailors' Home, and it was arranged that if further room was wanted, the single men should be accommodated at the Military-barracks. So much energy was thrown into the work, that at 10 p.m. on Monday night nearly everything was ready.
It was not till yesterday morning that the Victoria was telegraphed, and at 11 a.m. she was at the breakwater pier. Her decks pre- sented a strange sight, crowded as they were with men and women, all showing signs of the hardships they had undergone, though not so much as might have been expected. They had improved since they came on board. The women and children had suffered very much by being thoroughly ducked in their pas- sage through the surf to the boats, and ex- cited the sympathy of every one as they reached the ship. All that was possible for their assistance and comfort was done.
Their clothes were dried piecemeal by the engineers and firemen at their fires ; hot soup was served to them, and wine and spirits administered to those that needed them. Of course, bread and cooked meat were given out to every one who wanted them, and the countenances of the un- fortunate people began soon to lose their forlorn appearance. On their arrival at the pier, Mr. Jeremy, the railway traffic superintendent, was in attendance with a special train, which soon brought its freight to Melbourne. From Spencer-street station the whole of the passen- gers were speedily borne off in cars to the Ex- hibition Building and the Immigration Depot, where they now remain.
While the instances of private benevolence in aid of the ship- wrecked strangers are so rare, we must not forget to record the fact that the owners and drivers of the cars running in connection with the Spencer-street station offered their services in carrying the passengers and such luggage as they had saved, to their destination gratuitously. At 1 p.m. the Pharos landed her passengers, who were all males, in the same way, and they were carried off to the Sailors' Home and the Exhibition Building. One and all speak in terms of extreme gratitude for the humane attentions of Captain Norman and Captain Fullarton, and their officers.
The Exhibition Building, which has been used for so many different purposes, never looked so strangely as last night, when it was turned into a barrack. Already had a certain air of snugness and comfort been given to the place, and the inmates—105 men, 86 women, and 96 children, the single men being put up in the gallery—appeared to enjoy the change from their previous quarters. Hard worked as were all the officials in getting things ready, their labors were materially added to by the unreasonable curiosity of the public and the crowd that beset the building occupied the ceaseless attention of the constables on duty.
We have to record a few instances of kindness by those outside. The Hon. J. G. Francis sent up a case of porter for the women ; Mr. T. H. Hadley sent up a quantity of fruit ; and Mr. Robertson and Mr. Stephens, book- sellers, supplies of new periodicals and news- papers. Mr. Moody will be very glad to receive other contributions, either in the shape of simi- lar gifts, or of clothing. The fifteen single women in the ship have been comfortably placed at the Immigration Depot. It is to be regretted that the effect of their hardships is visible in not a few of the women, and one is already visited with a slight touch of colonial fever. Dr. Kear- ney, of the ship Star of India, and Dr. McGaurin, of the Immigration Depôt, are both in attend- ance, and one of them will remain in the Exhibition Building all night. A good many of the male passengers were to be seen about town at night, and it is to be hoped that they have attended to the very strong warnings against excess which have been given them. The second- class passengers, consisting of three married couples and two children, with a number of single men have been provided by the Government with quarters at Tankard's Temperance Hotel.
As soon as arrangements could be completed, the passengers were afforded the oppor- tunity of coming on from Melbourne to Brisbane. This, however, was not compulsory, and those who elected to remain in Victoria were at liberty to do so. Some 248 decided on coming on to Brisbane, and were conveyed to their destination by the steamship City of Melbourne.
We give a list of the passengers :
Saloon Passengers : Mr. W. Townsend, Miss E. Thomas, Miss Isabella and Mary Townsend, Miss E. Stuckbury, Mr. Erwart Cowell, Mr. Alexander Webster, and Mr. H. D. Vincent.
Second Cabin Passengers: Thomas Dupreny, Edwin George and Victor Townsend, G. F. Springett, George Evans, W. M. Young, H. P. Bluett, Edwin and Selina Gill, Thomas Grimes, Carry Grimes, Isaac Grimes, Maria Grimes, J. C. Vicary, W. H. Atteread, Walter Crawford, Herman Hartenstien, John Wall, Mr. and Mrs. Hall.
Intermediate Passengers: James and Eliza Spencer, S. P. Browne, John G. Dickson, Mr. and Mrs. Starke, Ann Starke.
Steerage passengers : John Le Monier, A. E. Bonner, Alfred and Eliza Seymour, Charles and Maria Denning, James Denning, Henry E. Baily, William Smith, Thomas Haslett, George Massingham, Edwin Bellgrove, Mr. and Mrs. James Drake, James B. Thompson, Arthur Short, Robert Stanley, Mr. and Mrs. John Austin, William Edwin John and James
Austin, Elizabeth Helena and Mary Austin, Sophia Laurence, William Laurence, John Rogers, J. Goldsworthy, Samuel Meager, Mishe Kelly, G. H. Bulpet, Ann Bulpet, George Scand, Alexander Forbes, James Aplin, Mary Aplin, Ann F. and Lucy J. Aplin, Thomas Arkle, Henry Manning, James Yoriton, Rebeeca Yoriton, Henry and Alfred Yoriton, Amelia and Harriett Yoriton, Edward F. Dealty, Charles Parsons, Eliza Parsons, Thomas Parsons, Elizabeth and Lupina Par- sons, Patrick Burns, Robert Hall W. W. Arnold, George and Eliza Snook and infant, R. Sydney, James Reckie, George and Rosina Exton and infant, Thomas Bridges, Edwin Morris, Fanny Morris, Albert E. and Charles Morris, Joseph and Ann Grindall and infant, Mary E. Patmore, James Patmore, Richard Grindall, Sarah Grindall, William, Maria, and Tamar Grindall, Samuel Morris, Stephen New- land, John Pryor, Thomas Martin, Charles Ferris, Richard Drake, Emily Drake, Richard J. and Henry G. Drake, James Rerden, Ellena Rerden, James Phillip and Charles Rerden, Ed- mund Hogan, Ellen Hogan, Michael and Margaret Hogan, Amelia Smith, Robert Nally, Mary Nally, Ellen Reardon, Thomas Lanfer, Louis Nicolas, Richard Brooke, George Huggins, Eliza Huggins, Barry Carley, Charles Barkins, Fre- dericka Barkins, Augusta Dora and Win Barkins, James Sinclair, Isabella Moffatt, Lake and Mary Moffatt, John Hanna, Ann Hanna, Edward and Sarah Hanna, Joseph Frost, Jane Roult, Pierce Demois, Selina Condon, B. A. New, Richard Bodle, Ellen Bodle, Joseph Southerwell, A. W. Darlington, Edward Killham, Thomas Pope, William Sherman, David Pinnick, Elizabeth Pinnick, Albert and David Pinnick, Arthur Lea, Elizabeth Lea, William and Alfred Lea, John Adams, Eliza Adams, Mary A. and John B. Adams, William Lingard, Emma Lingard, Thomas Bradshaw, Charles W. Aldis, John Skerman, Maria Skerman, Ann E. and Walter G. Skerman, James Yeates, John Evans, Edward Pinnick, William Ellis, John Ellis, Henry Fox, Sarah Fox, Henry J. and Charles H. Fox, Walter Yeates, Elizabeth Yeates and infant, Georgo Drayton, George Hart, James Murdoch, A. Huggins, John Robins, John Lobb, Alfred Reay, H. Tink, Wil- liam Packer, Thos. Turner, James Thornton, Mary Thornton, Emily A. Thornton, William Clempson, Ed. W. Shelford, Michael Henry, Mary Henry, George Fisher, William Ward, Henry Hughes, James Rudge, Frederick Skerman, Alice Skerman and infant, William Skerman, Caroline Skerman and child, John Edwards, Emilia Edwards, George Dart, Wm. Cox, Thos. Northfield, Hope Martin, Maria Martin, James Crocker, Michael Hinigan, Mary Hini- gan, Elizabeth Michael and John Hinigan, Thomas Cornell, Charles Korney, Ernest Barry, John Nash, James Pearse, Henry Dawiton, John Jevon, Charles Cook, Charles Tweansville, William Hussey, George Faul, Joseph Taylor, John Allan, George Wiffley, Miriam Wiffley, Walter and Miriam Wiffley, Barry Groom, Lucy Groom, William Barry Lucy and Rose Groom, Thomas H. Robinson, Henry Hard- wick, Stephen Creswell, William Thompson, Francis Brown, John Dotson, Edwin Berry, George Cole, Thomas Jones, Denis O'Connor, Michael O'Connor, John O'Connor, George Evans, Emeline Evans, William Thomas, Alfred R. Barry, A. D. Watkins, Martha Watkins and infant, John Watkins, William Smith, Barry Evans, William Barnett, Ellen Barnett, Mary A. and Wior H. Barnett, Michael Williams, James Burden, Ann Burden, Charles Williams, Julia Williams, Hannah Ellen John and Charles Williams, Henry Copping, Mary Copping, Henry Copping, John Moore, Laundors Copping, Edwin Fagan, Alfred Lee, Robert Jones, Martha Jones, John Shaw, William Schardon, Mary Schardon, Mary and Margaret Schardon, John Thon, Martha Thon, Thomas and Catherine Thon, Alfred J. Austin, George Pope, Thomas Bowler, William Sher- wood, Berry Hirst, James Murphy, Ann Murphy and infant, John Coward, Thomas Ford, Andrew Lea, Mary Lea, David Margaret and Isabella Lea, John Clark, Elizabeth Clark, Annie Eliza- beth and Dorata Clark, Patrick Clark, John Gill, Mary Gill, Thomas Patrick and Ellen Gill, John Keys, Martha Fagan, Mary Fagan, James Malona, Margaret Malona, Bernard Clark, Catherine Clark, William Lennon, Daniel McCarthy, Peter Marshall, William Parker, Thomas Johnson, James Armstrong, John Harris, John McFarlane James Kelly, George Hackney, Thomas Newbrook, Mary Newbrook, Samuel Deakin, Ellen Deakin, Ellan and Elizabeth Deakin, William McKenna, Elizabeth McKenna, Malcolm McKenna, Morris Condon, Mary Condon, Alfred Caroline and Adelaide Condon, Robert Condon, Samuel Harris, William Cumming, Ellen Cumming, William Alfred and Elizabeth Cumming, John Williams, Daniel Nolan, John Nolan, Edward Ganty, Robert Bailey, Thomas Corkill, Thomas Davis, Ann Davis, William Beckworth, Elizabeth Beckworth, Hannah Eliza and William Beckworth, James Coulden, Charles Archdeacon, Elizabeth Archdeacon, Charles Archdeacon,
making in all 413 souls, equal to 356 statute adults.