Thursday, August 6, 2009

Albany Western Australia

We have made the arrangements to install some computers at an aboriginal drop-in centre in Albany. Albany has a quaint colonial feel to it with many old original buildings still in good repair.
We will be heading down south on Monday morning and hope to be in town just after lunch.

When we lived in Bicton, we were the second owners of a large colonial house built by a Scottish emigrant in 1897. In the house was his diary of his voyage to Australia in 1888. I have reproduced a part of his diary pertaining to the ship's first landfall on Australian soil at the port of Albany. It makes for an interesting read. The observation he made about aboriginals and their skin problems is similar to some native people in Papua New Guinea where skin fungus problems are quite common. The long time taken to 'coal' the ship was because the coal had to be transported to the ship at anchor by small boats. The ship was the Orient Line's SS Ormuz.

Thursday, a splendid day and we are now in sight of Australian land and what a great commotion it causes on board ship, all eagerly eyeing it with such a relish as we have not seen land for nearly three weeks.
In the evening we had a lecture on Temperance by Mr Booth the Temperance orator who gave a first class lecture and afterwards invited all to come forward and sign the pledge and get a piece of blue ribbon attached to their button hole, but only half a dozen availed themselves of the opportunity.

At twelve o’clock tonight we anchored at Albany, after which we retired for the night. Friday, beautiful weather still, when we got up we find them busy coaling the ship, which takes a very long time when compared to other places on the route. It was expected that they would be through at 5 o’clock in the afternoon, but instead they got through at 12 at night. The notice was posted up that passengers could go ashore till 5 o’clock and which a great number did. Albany is a very young place at present, but it is a very pretty little place you would almost think that they had just cleared away as much of the bush as allowed them to build as all the rest seems nothing but bush and sand. There is also a good deal of granite Rock, same as Aberdeen granite but much softer. The shops here are very neat and clean and they also sell their goods at a very moderate price, fruit being very cheap.

The people here are principally English, we took on about two dozen passengers who have left it owing to it not being well enough developed yet for their businesses or trades. There are a number of aborigines here who are about the most miserable looking creatures man looked on, being covered with some kind of a skin.

Charles Darwin also visited Albany in 1836.

The 'Beagle's' final port of call in Australia was the infant settlement of Albany, on the southern coast of Western Australia. Darwin was not very impressed with Albany as it was then. But he and/or Covington did manage to collect some zoological specimens that were new to science, including a non-marsupial bush rat, two fish (namely the longhead flathead and the common jack mackerel), and 48 insect species.

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