The story of: Thomas & Caroline Grimes and children Isaac (3) and Maria (1)
Speech given by Lynelle Fenner on 17 July 2016 during the 150th commemorations on King Island.
Present at this reunion are Winston Hadley GRIMES (known as Mike) and his wife Beverley Jones, and Hadley's cousin Lynelle Fenner, nee GRIMES - me!
Hadley is the son of Winston GRIMES of Bundaberg Qld, and both he and I are grandchildren of Charles Halford and Mary GRIMES, and great
grandchildren of Thomas and Caroline GRIMES who were on the Netherby.
All of us assembled here are in some way all liked to the Netherby, but once the passengers and crew made it to Melbourne our forebears went their own
way. In the GRIMES case, Thomas aged 30 and Caroline aged 34 with children Isaac 3 and Maria 1 continued their journey on to Brisbane. This in itself
shows the resilience of all our kin: that a 3 and a I year old, having sailed from England, can then survive the weather and exposure they must have
suffered during the period from running aground to their recovery in Melbourne.
After their arrival in Brisbane Thomas withdrew money from the Bank of England and purchased everything they would need for their new life in
Australia. One has to remember in those days there was no Bunnings or the local store to fall back on for things forgotten when in town. They were still bemoaning the fate of their lost plough when recounting their shipwreck story to grandson Walter (my father) generations later. Having lost their worldly possessions on the Netherby, before there was such a thing as travel insurance, everything such as breeding stock, bullocks, seed, grain, canvas, guns and shot, cooking utensils, cloth, and tools were procured and loaded onto drays. Bullocks were hitched and they headed west over the Great Dividing Range to Clifton.
They were allocated two indentured labourers as part of the Qld settlement plan.
I wouldn't like to walk up the Range, let alone with contrary bullocks and loaded drays, two young children and walking stock. There were no formed
roads and the land would've thrown up its own challenges. They selected land in my area known as Spring Creek and put up a tent to live in. By then, it was December 1866 - and yep - Caroline had a baby in the tent! (So she was pregnant for the trip, wreck and walk up the Range. What a gal!)
This was our grandfather Charley, who I was always told was the first white baby born at Spring Creek. (Talk about 'shut the door, anyone'd think you were born in a tent'. . . I wonder if Charley did shut doors on winter days in the lovely home he and Grandma built down the road??)
Thomas and Caroline built a slab hut, and Hadley's father told him they later built a large cedar house that was burnt down in a bush fire. The remains of
the slab hut were still there when I was a little girl and I can remember it clearly. The place was called Coten House, their variation of the cotton they
grew on their initial 195 acre block. As four more children were born, various blocks were added and the family went into mixed farming.
Maria who was born in England and survived the shipwreck and trek to Clifton, died from diphtheria when she was 12. She was buried under the
black boy (Xanthorrhoea australis) trees she loved playing under. When Caroline died, of course she wanted to be buried with her daughter, and when Tomas died much later after his retirement to Toowoomba, his body was brought out on the steam train to join them.
The black boy trees are gone but irises are all over the graves. Charley sold the land a long time ago, but owners permit family to visit the graves. Our
fathers and their siblings planted silky oaks and erected a chain wire fence and a sign saying the family lived at Coten House. The ashes of Thomas'
grandson Bill and a plaque to another grandson (Clarrie Grimes' father Vern) are there in the middle of what is now a cow paddock.
At the entrance to this paddock, near the slab hut site, is a grand old silky oak. Dad said Thomas planted it and Dad propagated seed from it and grew
an avenue of silky oaks to the house I now live in. I certainly can't remember it not being there, but it must have a good spring under it - it's outlasted some of the trees in the avenue.
Over the years, many of the blocks have been bought and sold on, and I live on the remaining original block and own another that was bought by one of
We are told Netherby passengers were '10 pound Poms', their fares supplemented by the English Government to open up land on the Darling Downs. I've been wondering if bureaucracy caught up with those who settled in other places or did the enormity of the tracking-down defeat the powers that be?