THE WRECK OF THE NETHERBY.
(From the Melbourne Argus.)
As only 320 of the 450 castaways from the ill-fated immigrant ship Netherby were brought on to Melbourne by the steamers on Tuesday morning, the Victoria, Captain Norman, and the Pharos, Captain Fullarton, were dis patched from Hobson's Bay, on the same evening, in order to bring up the remainder of the people, some of whom bad reached the Lighthouse on King's Island, while the remainder were located at the scene of the wreck in Fitzmaurice Bay, to the south-west of the island. Notwithstanding that the Victoria left a full hour and a hall after the Pharos, the latter was passed when only nine miles outside the Heads, and at eight o'clock the following morning the Victoria was signalling to the Lighthouse with reference to the shipwrecked people known to be detained there.
A reply was made that the party had arrived all safe, but as Captain Norman could not send his boats into Victoria Cove the men were much too tired and foot sore to attempt the march to the Yellow Rock, a distance of twelve miles down the coast, and where, as the surf was not so great, it was intended to effect the embarkation. The two steamers, therefore, moved away further south ward, and anchored under shelter of New Year Island, as at this time a fresh breeze was blowing, and it was impossible to perform any coast work owing to the surf which rolled in on to the rocky stores of King's Island.
The Victoria and Pharos consequently dropped their anchors, intending to remain under lee of New Year Island during the day, but as the signalman at the Lighthouse had telegraphed that the men were too bad to proceed on their journey, Captain Norman considered it prudent that Dr. Webster, the Surgeon Superintendent of the Netherby, should see those of the passengers who had left the wreck, if such were possible. Dr. Webster therefore, with another gentle man volunteered his assistance, and having been landed on the shore of the island, a distance of nearly sis miles, proceeded to track the distance to the Light-ship, which was calculated :it about twelve miles, but according to the route which they adopted, must certainly have amounted to about twice that distance.
Upon reaching the lighthouse, late in the afternoon, they found that the party of 117 which had left the wreck on the Monday morning previous, had only arrived a few hours before, and many of them only that morning. The poor fellows before leaving had served out to them rations on a liberal scale sufficient for three days' sustenance, but through hunger and fatigue they had disposed of all their stock of provisions in two days, and left themselves without food. When the vanguard of the party reached the lighthouse, and reported that the rest were coUpon ing, Mr. E. N. Spong, the superintendent, at once, with the most praiseworthy promptitude, rode along' , the route, carrying with him a bag of
Upon reaching the lighthouse, late in the afternoon, they found that the party of 117 which had left the wreck on the Monday morning previous, had only arrived a few hours before, and many of them only that morning. The poor fellows before leaving had served out to them rations on a liberal scale sufficient for three days' sustenance, but through hunger and fatigue they had disposed of all their stock of provisions in two days, and left themselves without food. When the vanguard of the party reached the lighthouse, and reported that the rest were coreaching the lighthouse, late in the afternoon, they found that the party of 117 which had left the wreck on the Monday morning previous, had only arrived a few hours before, and many of them only that morning. ing, Mr. E. N. Spong, the superintendent, at once, with the most praiseworthy promptitude, rode along' , the route, carrying with him a bag of biscuit.
So soon as he was seen advancing, the poor fellows, worn out with hunger and fatigue, rushed at him and eagerly held out their hands for the preferred biscuit. The stragglers were all met and relieved in a similar manner. At the lighthouse station every care and attention was paid to the comfort of the shipwrecked -people, not only by Mr. Spong himself, but also by his three assistants. A number of the most respectable of the lot was quartered in the superintendent's own house, while others were similarly treated by the three assistants, who not only gave up their own rooms, but put themselves to much trouble and end great inconvenience, which in every instance, I am afraid, was not repaid by the recipients of so much real kind ness and true hospitality.
A small chapel and the telegraph station was filled with men, so that one and all had quarters alike comfortable and commodious. The King's Island lighthouse is virtually under the control of the Tasmanian Government, although provided for jointly by the Governments of Tasmania and Victoria. The stores for the use of those employed in minding the light, are furnished only twice in the course of the year, and it is perhaps a fortunate circumstance that the half-yearly supplies had only recently been received, so that the superintendent could well furnish liberal rations, showing well that our own Government would recoup him in ample time before the stores were required for use by those for whom they, were intended.
Here then the passengers had everything they wanted, and if they were not contented with their lot, then all I can say is that they ought to have been; at any rate before leaving they presented Mr. Spong with a written testimonial, thanking him for his kindness. The Victoria, in the meantime, finding a convenient break in the weather, proceeded to the scene of the wreck. In rounding the south west coast it required the greatest care and attention on the part of Captain Norman to avoid the very dangerous rocks which appeared almost hidden in his very midst.
The scene of the wreck was passed, as there was nothing to indicate its whereabouts. Not a vestige was to be seen of the vessel, she having broken up on the Monday previous, soon after the steamer had left She had been literally impaled on a rock, and it was only the quantity of railway iron contained in her hold that induced the vessel to hang together for so long a time as it did. When the break-up arrived, there was a general scatter, and a miscellaneous assortment of cargo and luggage was washed all along the beach for the whole distance within the small bight where the vessel struck. Champagne, sherry, pickles, clothing of all sorts, and articles of every description were all strewed along the surface of the water, and around the numerous rocks which form so prominent and disagreeable a feature on this part of the island. The ship had completely disappeared, and the debris was as though the whole thing had been blown up with a charge of gunpowder.
Skirting this small bay, which is almost protected by a terrace of works, and supported on either side by dangerous reefs, was the camp of the unfortunate people, who, on the 15th of July, were cast upon this desolate part of the earth, after encountering the perils of the sea in a lesser degree during the ninety and more days which the passage had occupied. Tents and huts had been erected for the accommodation of the party, partly constructed of canvas from the sails, and boughs from the trees. Some uniformity of construction was adopted; streets and avenues were formed, and many of the tents were reallv well made, and looked exceedingly comfortable. An arrangement similar to that followed on board was carried out with regard to the classification of the passengers, and tolerably good order was preserved.
Every exertion was made to save property from the wreck, and a good deal of luggage, principally belonging to the cabin passengers, has been recovered. So snug and quiet was the spot on Thursday last that the Victoria, not seeing the stranded vessel, passed the place, and it was only afterwards when a signal was made, that the place was found. The Victoria at once commenced the embarkation of the people on the island. In consequence of the dangerous rocks, and the heavy surf running over them, the boats were unable to come within some distance of the shore.
The ladies, therefore, had to be handed across by the sailors, who bore their gentle burthens in a species of sedan chair, held high up in order to prevent their garments from becoming saturated with the frequent seas which swept over the rocks. After the ladies had all been safely placed in the boats, and on board, a quantity of luggage, which had been gathered together on the island, was brought off and stowed away — everything, as a matter of course, being very wet.
The names of the cabin passengers who were on board the Netherby, and who came up in the Victoria, are : — Mr. Townsend and family (two girls and three boys), Miss Thomas, Miss Stutchberry, and Mr. Webster. In the second cabin were and Mrs. Hall. Mr. Parry, the second officer, and one seaman, remain at the wreck in charge of the cargo, which, amongst other things, includes three locomotive engines and several tons of railway iron under order for (he Queensland Government. Captain Owen, the master, and Mr. Jones, his chief officer, left with the passengers, who numbered 187, distributed in the Victoria and Pharos.
It is astonishing, however, the Netherby contrived to get into such a position with rocks all around her, but from observations made by the lighthouse-keeper it appears that there has lately been a strong set to the southward, as several vessels have with in the last fortnight been found down among these islands. On Thursday morning only, a large passenger ship was so close to the vicinity of the New Year Island, that when she found out her mistake, upon the clearing away of the fog, she speedily bore away to the N.E. A similar course was taken by a barque the day before the Netherby struck.
The Government throughout has acted with the greatest promptitude, and thus been the means of alleviating the misery of some hundreds of unfortunate people. Mr. Spong--, the light house-keeper at King's Island, is like wise entitled to great praise for the humane efforts which he displayed. The whole of the passengers are now brought on to Melbourne, and any further matter will be for the Government of Queens land to deal with. The Victoria made a fine passage of ten hours, and the Pharos, which left at the same time, will arrive this morning. A special train and several cars were in waiting this morning to convey the passengers to the quarters provided for them at the Exhibition Building.
(From Monday's Argus.)
ARRIVAL OF THE S.S. PHAROS.
The Government steamer Pharos, which has taken an- active part in the relief of the shipwrecked sufferers of the ship Netherby' arrived in the bay from King's Island at an early hour on Saturday morning. The Pharos having landed about seventy of the passengers of the Netherby on Tuesday last, proceeded at once to fill up with coal and extra provisions ; left Hobson's Bay at half- past six p.m. the same day, under the command of Captain Fullarton ; and arrived off Cape Wickham Lighthouse at half past eight am, on Wednesday.
Captain Fullarton signalised to the lighthousekeeper, and was informed by him that 120 passengers from the wreck had arrived, and were then ashore with him. The surf being too heavy to bring passengers off, the Pharos ran for Franklin Roads, preceded by the Victoria, and anchored there at half-past ten a.m., a fresh gale blowing from N.W. through the night, and heavy rain, with light squalls prevailing at the time. The weather on Thursday morning was fine, with light wind from the S.W. The Victoria got underweigh for the wreck, and the Pharos steamed to the lighthouse for the purpose of bringing off the passengers, but found the surf too heavy for landing with safety.
The Pharos signalised again, and in return was informed by the iighthousekeepcr that that the sickness had considerably decreased, but that a number of the passengers were still unable to walk, and that he also wanted a boat and stores landed at the lighthouse. The Pharos then signalised that both steamers were going to the wreck, and would return to the anchorage at night; also, that all passengers able to walk were to be down abreast of New Year's Island early next morning. Captain Fullarton then ran down to the wreck, and saw the Victoria going through the reefs. The Pharos steamed in close to her, and tho Victoria signalled ' Stand out to sea, and wait for us.'
The Pharos accordingly steamed out, and lay in a position to guide the Victoria clear of the reefs. At six pm, both steamers in company ran up to New Year's Island, the Pharos anchoring at halt-past nine p.m. At daylight on Friday morning fires were reported on shore. The Pharos then weighed, and steamed over towards the landing place at King's Island. The Victoria also steamed over. The boats of both vessels were lowered, and brought sixty passengers on board, several being lame, and two or three complaining of diarrhoea. Captain Fullarton landed, and saw Mr Spong, the lighthouse keeper, who was very anxious to have a boat left with him in lieu of the one lent to Mr Parry, the second officer of the Netherby. The stores which were used he did not care so much about.
To relieve his anxiety, Captain Fullarton agreed, in the event of his being able to get another boat from Captain Norman, to lend his best whaleboat and gear. All the passengers were shipped by eight am , and both steamers ran up to the lighthouse, reaching it about noon. The whaleboat of the Pharos was then sent alongside the Victoria to take on shore provisions in lieu of those used by the shipwrecked passengers. The boat's crew returned with the Victoria's gig at two p.m., and both vessels immediately started for Melbourne, the Pharos' entering the Heads at half-past seven p.m., and anchoring in Hobson's Bay at half-past two a.m., on Saturday morning.
At six a.m. the passengers were routed out to breakfast, steam was got up, and the Pharos ran up the Yarra to Melbourne Wharf, arriving there about eight o'clock. The passengers were then landed, and sent to the Exhibition Building. All of them were able to walk on shore, and only one man complained of a slight attack of sickness.
The Argus of Tuesday says :— -l This morning we will see the last of the Netherby passengers, as they are to embark at noon, per steamship City of Melbourne, employed by Messrs Bright Brothers for the purpose Those who choose will of course' remain, but how many will elect to stop here is not yet ascertained. Yesterday was the last day of distributing clothes; and the committee have spent about £500 on new garments, so divided them that every man had a good new fit-out of thoroughly serviceable clothes, which included coats, hats, waistcoats, trousers, boots, socks, flannel shirts, pocket handkerchiefs, and towels, and the women were each presented with a warm shawl in addition to the other garments of which complete sets were given them on Friday and Saturday last. We hear that we may soon expect Mr Parry and his seaman companion back again, when doubtless the former will be met in the way he has so richly deserved. The total amount collected for the shipwrecked people has been we believe, about £700, but it is not likely that all of it will be spent
With all the glory of her recent achievement, in saving the shipwrecked passengers by the Netherby still fresh about her, many of our readers will be surprised to hear that H.M.C.S. Victoria is on the point of being devoted to a work which will render impossible her future employment in such service, and also incapacitate her as a means of defence, She is to be transformed into a marine survey vessel, her guns are to 'be landed, her outfit changed to suit her altered circumstances, and she is in fact to be dismantled. The matter is of such importance to the general, and especially the commercial community, that it is well to remind the public of the circumstances of the ease.
The s. s. Victoria has now been eleven years in the Victorian service; She was built at the instance of Sir Charles Hotham, and since then has repeatedly performed work which has tended greatly to raise the credit of this colony. During the latter part of the Russian war she was the chief defence of Melbourne, and then and since her missions of mercy have been numerous. Her expense was, however, so great, that when no danger from without was apprehended, she was put on a greatly reduced footing, and kept with merely a skeleton crew of twenty persons, men and boys, who nevertheless kept her in excellent order. But for her being fit to go to sea at about ten hours' notice, the deliverance of the Netherby passengers would have been rendered nearly impossible, seeing the short duration of the fine weather which enabled her to near the iron-bound shores of King's Island, unapproachable during the present gale. Engaged on the work of the marine survey, she will not be available in a case of sudden emergency, and the only other steamer at the disposal of the Government is the Pharos, which is too small to do what the Victoria has done, and has yet been pronounced by Commander Cox, R.N., late chief of the Admiralty survey party here, to be equal to the service for which the Victoria is now destined.
It is not to be forgotten, too, that the Admiralty survey party is now reduced to very attenuated proportions. Owing to the departure of Commander Cox, and the death of the lute Mr. Bourchier, his first officer, Mr. Stanley, late of the Admiralty survey in Queensland, has taken command here for the present, till a qualified officer arrives from England to assume the lead, and the staff of surveyors is thus reduced to two. At the same time, the appliances are to be increased at an enormous and most expensive rate, and at a season of the year when boats can only be used at comparatively rare intervals.
The question of the s.s. Victoria as a defence is, perhaps, the one which is most deserving consideration. It was but the other day we announced that she was transferred to the control of the Local Military' Department, for the express purpose, not only of a defence, but as a means for assisting in the eduucation of the boys of the Naval Training ship, and the gunners of the Naval Brigade. This was the announcement made by the Government to Parliament when the vote for the Victoria was taken, and it was then distinctly stated that the vessel was to be considered as one of the national defences. Such was in direct accordance with the strong re commendation of Commodore Seymour, and especially Commodore Sir William Wiseman.
The latter officer, in a very elaborate paper on Victorian defences, stated that the Victoria would ' be a valuable auxiliary to future defences, and should be regularly maintained in good working order,' This was written not two years ago, and now there is every prospect of an European war, which will make every means of defence doubiy valuable. This strong advice from such a quarter has hitherto kept the Victoria from being wholly dismantled, and it was but the other day that the hon. Treasurer of the colony intimated the probable formation here, according to the provisions of the act just passed by the Imperial Parliament, of a naval reserve force, of which this vessel would be the centre.
A vote of £4,000 was taken with that object. Since Sir William Wiseman left, our defences at the seaboard have been in no way increased, except by mounting a 40-pounder Armstrong in the bows of the Victoria, to be used as a pivot gun ; and hence the expected transfer of the vessel to a service which will entirely change her character, may be said to involve considerations of the gravest import.