Sometimes we meet fascinating guests. When meeting Peter at his Cabin he told me about his mission for his holiday. Please enjoy his story.
My Great Great Great Grand-father Desborough CATHERY, a 45 year old widower, arrived in Glenelg South Australia with his 5 children to make a new start, joining the very early pioneers of South Australia.
In my time researching I discovered that Desborough, a widower, and his 5 children arrived aboard the sailing ship ASIA and I was fortunate to find out that the ship’s doctor, Dr George Mayo had kept a diary of his voyage. While much of the diary’s content was mundane, there were two events recorded that nearly resulted in disaster for the ASIA. The first of which occured on 1st April 1839 (no joke) what turned out to be a smaller and faster pirate ship of the Cape de Verde islands that attempted to board the ASIA, however they were fooled into believing it was a convict ship with 200 convict men aboard and therefore not much of any value to them. Still they fired their cannon at the ASIA and very nearly hit the man at the helm before departing and admitting that they were pirates.
The second near disaster occurred as the ASIA approached Investigator Straight and was very nearly dashed upon Cape Borda’s rocks due to our captain (Benjamin Freeman) who was too drunk to see that he had steered the ship towards the rocks. Dr George Mayo recorded the debacle in his diary, as did Henry Hussey who was a boy aboard the ASIA, and who had recorded the event in his later years in a book of memoirs titled ‘Colonial Life and Christian Experience’ (1897).
Now the true hero of the story because of his outstanding leadership in the times of peril, was John Finlay Duff who was himself a ship’s captain and on his way out to join the new colony of South Australian pioneers along with his wife and daughter.
Captain Freeman on both occasions was under the weather having had too much grog and it was Captain Duff who stepped forward and took command of the ship.
Captain Duff was instrumental in the founding of South Australia and in July 1835 he captained the ‘Africaine’ which had been chartered by Robert Gouger and John Brown with around 60 emigrants. It had a considerable cargo bound for South Australia on what has been dubbed the “First Fleet of South Australia”. It had an uneventful voyage and on 1 November 1836 was off the coast of Kangaroo Island, near Cape Borda.
My wish was to someday visit KI and explore the place off Cape Borda that very nearly ended in tragedy for my family and many others who dared to dream of a bright new beginning in what was dubbed at the time, “land of Promise” and it must have been like coming to another world altogether. Such a contrast.
Thinking about it today while sitting in my very comfortable Emu Bay Holiday Home cabin, it made me realise just how much luck has had to do with our current reality. Our ancestors give us more than just their names and their DNA. Their dreams and aspirations have shaped our past, present and future for us, their descendants.
I have fulfilled my pilgrimage (of sorts) and captured pictures of Cape Borda’s rocky shore, showing the serious peril that the old ship ASIA faced, if not for the command of captain Duff.