Monday, June 21, 2010


15 June 2010


Exploration of the history of the area was the theme today.  We took a tour to Victoria Settlement as that was the only way we could get to see it. It is 25km away and access is by boat only.

It was the third and longest lived in settlement that the British tried to establish in this part of northern part of Austrlia to protect its interest in this region. Before the British, Macassans travelled to this area of Asutralia from Suilawesi in search of sea slugs. This formed the basis of a flourishing trade between Macaasans and China.

At 8.00am we gathered near the boat ramp at Black Point for our trip down to Port Essington. The boat just powered through the water – thump thump thump. It took about 40 minutes to get there.

What an isolated place for settlement! Our first glimse of it was what remained of the jetty. Through the trees we could see the ruins of the hospital. The settlement was established in November 1838. What a time to arrive from England to face a hot monsoon season. Their clothes were not suitable for the climate. They must have melted in the heat. Apparently the village sprng up very quickly as they brought some ‚prefab‘ buildings considered essential for the settlement from Sydney. They had a Government House and church that no longer exist as a cyclone destroyed most of the settlement a little more than a year later. So what is feft:
- the Magazine,

- five cottages that were the married quarter

- the foundations of the Quartermaster’s store that initially was the first hospital in the settlement

- the blacksmith’s forge

- the well
- the hospital kitchen

and foundations of the hospital wards

- the hospital dispensary

- Original Quartermaster’s store

- the bakery

- the Lime Kiln

- the cemetery

-and finally the jetty.

From the seventh year the settlement went into decline due to its isolation, oppressive conditions, climate and in large part to malaria. The settlement was finally abandoned in November 1849. A new settlement was then established in what is now Darwin.

It would have been a very hard life here for garrison members and their families. Most of those who died here did so as a result of getting malaria and in those days they did not know what it was nor how to cure those who got it.

Besides its isolation the settlers enjoyed million dollar views.

The jetty ruin now has an interesting root structure establishing itself on it.

After the 3.7 km walk through the settlement it was time to leave. We had a bit of ‘fun’ leaving as the men had to help push the boat out due to the low tide.

As we passed a headland there was a huge croc sunning itself on the sand.

The boat turned around and went towards the shore as the croc turned around and made its way quickly to the water.

By the time it got in the water the boat was a the shore. It was scarry to see that once it was in the water we could not see it anywhere even though we knew it was within metres of us. Only the tracks were left in the sand that it had been there.

As we made our way back to Balck Point we enjoyed the passing shoreline which was constantly changing.

Just past Black Point a customs ship lay at anchor so we went out to it.

At midday we were back at Black Point in time for lunch and a relaxing afternoon.

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