CAMPBELL - RAOUL ISLANDS' ASSOCIATION (INC.)
Air Vice-Marshall A. H. Marsh, C.B.E.
C. M. Clark
|I.R. Bailey||J . Caskey|
|G. MacLean||Mr M. Butterton|
|P. Ingram||Mr C. R. Taylor|
|J. Clinch||Mr I. S. Kerr|
|V. Sussmilch||Mr A. Bacon|
|E. de Ste Croix||Mr H. Hill|
|P. Hughes||Mr H. G. Carter|
GPO Box 3557
Copies of earlier newsletters available on request.
MESSAGE FROM THE PRESIDENT
REUNION is the word, WELLINGTON is the place, SATURDAY 27 SEPTEMBER is the date!!
Yes, we are definitely having another Reunion this year but of a different type from last year's sit-down dinner at the White Heron.
This year we plan to run the thing ourselves, having a buffet dinner in the Conference Room of Challenge House in the heart of Wellington. We will have much more room and opportunity to circulate and meet old friends, we will keep speeches to a minimum, and the cost of grog before and after the dinner will be included in the initial charge, which should still be less than what it cost last year.
However, the precise details will be announced later. The important point to note at this stage is the date -Saturday 27 September. The Annual General Meeting of the Association will be held that afternoon.
Now don’t laugh!!! This is DEFINITELY the last Newsletter we will be sending to non-financial members. The only reason we have relaxed our decision this time is our desire that as many as possible should know about the Reunion.
You who have not paid a subscription should remember that you are receiving these Newsletters per courtesy of your colleagues who have been prepared to pay. The Association does NOT receive Golden Kiwi handouts, Treasury assistance or Moscow gold!!! So please cough up. A mere $2.00 is the sum. Send it to The Treasurer, P.O. Box 3557, Wellington.
Since the constitution was changed to allow Associate Member¬ship we have been delighted to receive application for membership from a number of old friends of the Islands. We welcome Dr J. de Lisle (Assistant Director of the Meteorological Service), Fred Kinskey (Ornithologist at the Dominion Museum), Dr Janet Brown (our only lady member) and Dr McDougall (of the Civil Aviation Medical Directorate), Alex Glover (also Medical), Dr C. A. Fleming (Chief Paleontologist in the Geological Survey), Bill Hughes (M.O.W. Buildings Inspector), John Falconer (Meteorological Service) John Fahey (Civil Aviation Stores), Peter Saunders (formerly A.O. Gen.), and Keith Masters (M.O.W. Electrical Overseer), Dr Adams, Colin Green, Dr Falla, Dr J. Gabites (Director, N.Z. Met. Service), Alastair Jones and Gwen Kendrick.
The Committee is pleased to announce the election of Herb Carter and Henry Hill as Honorary Members of the Association. These two very well known stalwarts of the N.Z. Meteorological Service have endeared themselves to Campbell Islanders over many years for growing the vegetable plants which mature in the short subantarctic summer and provide fresh greens for the otherwise canned diet. They have put tremendous work and thought into this project, as every Campbell Islander knows. We are honoured to have them in our Association.
At this time of year when midwinter is being celebrated our thoughts naturally turn to the hackers who are currently guarding our beloved islands. We send our warmest greetings to every expedition member on both Raoul and Campbell and also to ex¬ Islanders in the Antarctic.
NEWS FROM THE ISLANDS
Going back over the past two months to mid April, saw the arrival of the Canadian registered yacht 'Red Gurnet', a 34ft. cutter on its way to New Zealand from Vancouver. They arrived just on dark, anchored off the beach at Low Flat, and came ashore in a rubber raft, getting overturned in the boiling surf in the process. The crew consisted of a husband & wife, the latter being seven months pregnant. They were pleased to see land and new faces after being at sea for 60 days, and were within 300 miles of Auckland, before getting blown back to 200 miles north of Raoul by the big southerly buster that sank the fishing boats off the Chatham's.
They stayed with us six days, rested, well fed, fished, goat shooting and a little sight seeing, then had a fast trip back to New Zealand, with favourable winds and a little of our mail on board.
About this time we also had two fairly rare visitors arrive on the island, and they are still with us. One is a White Faced Heron, alternatively called a Blue Crane we believe, and the other is a Harrier Hawk, (Kahu). The Heron seems quite happy living in with the hens, while the hawk spends mostof its time circling above the grassy areas of Low Flat.
On the morning of Thursday May 22, we were rudely interrupted from the breakfast table by two crisp rifle shots just off the tennis court. Then the top of a mast glided by. This was the. United States yacht ‘Maiawa’ from Honolulu to Auckland. Crew were - Hal Conway, owner skipper, Gary Dalton, and Ward Fischer. Ward was a Kiwi employed by Ministry of Works and hitching a ride home after working up at Rarotonga for seven months. Radio contact was established and the yacht directed to the Fishing Rock anchorage.
Then on Saturday morning we saw two sails disappearing down the east coast behind Meyer Island. Later in the morning a trip was made out to Boat Cove to see if they may have called in there. Lo and behold, there were three yachts all anchored together, swinging gently on the slight swell. This was indeed an impressive sight, and possibly the first time that three yachts had been in Boat Cove together, and four yachts at the island together - the Maiawa was still over at Fishing Rock. These new arrivals were New Zealand yachts returning home at a more leisurely pace after competing in the Auckland to Suva race. They were - 'Castanet', 'Coruba', and the 'Rosina ', with a combined crew of eleven. Ten of the yachties came ashore, including Penny Whiting, one of the two girls in the race, back to the Hostel for lunch on the lawn in the sun, a little sight-seeing, orange picking, then back to Boat Cove at dusk. Some of the Raoul boys went aboard the yachts for a little reciprocal hospitality, and arrived home much later, and much happier for the conviviality. The three yachts left in a blaze of lights in line astern - a tremendous sight - at 8pm. This news reached the 9 PM New Zealand Radio News on Saturday.
On Sunday six of the boys on Raoul went out on the ‘Maiawa’ and powered around Meyer Island, the Herald Islets, down the east coast of Raoul, past Boat Cove to D’arcy Point, then onto Smith Bluff, where we dropped anchor and had lunch. Two of the yacht crew members put their dinghy in and one landed and shot three goats. Various stops were made for fishing, until we had covered the stern with Kingfish. From Smith Bluff up anchor, hoisted sail, and crossed Denham Bay, rounded Hutchison Bluff, and back along the northern coast to Fishing Rock. The sensation of motion, controlled by man's command of the elements is tremendous, and surely this experience will remain a wonderful memory. Not every Raoul Islander has the opportunity of circumnavigating his home for a year in this fashion.
During the brief stop at Smith Bluff we heard the weekly call, this time from Relda Familton, who was handling the 2ZB Request Session in Bas Tubert's absence. As Relda correctly envisaged we were really living it up in the grandest style, with the odd can to wash down the picnic lunch.
On Monday the 'Maiawa' sailed around from Fishing Rock to Boat Cove, where they anchored overnight, departing for New Zealand on Tuesday 27. The three remaining boys took this short trip down the east coast of Raoul as far as Boat Cove, thus giving everyone the opportunity of a little sailing on 40 feet of real luxury.
But the excitement of visitors did not stop there. Next on the scene was a Japanese fishing boat sighted just off Low Flat and flying a Medical Distress Flag.
It was late in the afternoon and, instead of the usual radio communication with new arrivals, six of the Fijian crew dived over the bow and swam through the surf to Low Flat. It wasn't long before advice had been obtained from Wellington, and a medical kit and aid was back on board the fishing boat. You can imagine one of the difficulties with Japanese officers, Fijian crew and Raoul Island Kiwis. The Captain and the medical case (a Fijian boy) spent the night ashore and were joined by eleven of the crew the following day. Sightseeing and a visit to the orange orchard were the main features of their visit. At the same time some of the Raoul boys visited the ship and were amazed at some of the fishing equipment and in particular at the sight of an 8001b 10ft Black Marlin which was hanging up in the freezer. The crew returned to the ship which left in the hours of darkness with their search lights lighting up the hills and coastline.
The islands population once again was reduced to normal after reaching twenty two on two different occasions.
On 11 June the arrival of the Navy survey vessel Lachlan with 2 boatloads of cargo and 3 bags of mail was a welcome sight. This was followed up by an airdrop on 19 June, from a DC3 with another 8 bags of mail that somehow had missed the Lachlan's departure. After establishing RT contact with the aircraft it was learned, that Lex Rapson, (C.R.I.A. member and Met. man Ohakea) was on board for the ride. It was his first visit to Raoul since 1947.
Mid-winters day was a good occasion for exchanging greetings with McMurdo, Scott Base and Campbell Island.
The future looks particularly good also. A recent phone call from Mr George Poppelton (ex leader Campbell Island) indicated the possibility of a visit from the yacht Finnicterre. The Lachlan is on its way to Suva and will be calling in again on its return trip to take off mail about 17 July. After this the end of the year is just around the corner and it will be time to welcome the new incoming party.
Mr Brian Smith the Officer in Charge at Campbell Island, has forwarded the following article by radio telephone for inclusion in this the next edition of the Newsletter.
This is a very different period on which to report news in comparison with the last two, full as they were of people coming and going along with a number of visits from ships.
The First day of March gave us the final visit of HMNZS Endeavour together with a dose of Campbell Island weather to remind the Navy that their earlier visits were the exception and not the rule. 84 knots at the harbour entrance and 50 plus while at anchor. However, loading of both antipodes expeditions and balloon project gear went smoothly despite the rather damp conditions.
This, was a "Big” day for the Island population census with 13 men departing and 2 returning. We bade farewell to both of the parties which had been with us for a short but enjoyable spell and welcomed back Barney Maguire and Mike Bell who had returned to us after overhaul via Scott Base. Needless to say many and varied were the tales that these two produced in the days to follow and we very much enjoyed the hundreds of slides that they had taken on the "holiday”. A strange feeling persisted for quite some time after the sudden reduction in population; many times a day we would gaze about a room and realize that this little handful of men was the lot - one always had the feeling that the others were about to come through the open doorway but we soon settled down and began to enjoy the peace and quiet.
Most of the month was spent on getting as many of the outside job's out of the way as possible before the onset of winter, and in this we were largely successful. A barbeque down on the wharf celebrated the passing of our halfway mark as evident the next morning where aquatic growth appeared to have spawned a large number of Leopard cans. Who got a wet gumboot and how ?
April was another month that passed very quickly with a lot achieved. Painting dominated the programme; the wharf area is slowly taking on a new appearance with the colour scheme of white with green facings and roofs. May also was a statistically poor month for weather; sunshine gave us 6.5 hours, compared with the monthly average of 21 hours, and rainfall, days of snow, hail etc were above average. However, we have plodded along and still managed to achieve a good deal and keep everyone occupied.
A party at the end of the month celebrated two thirds of the year gone. It seems to us as though we are almost home, which of course we are not, but the thought keeps us going and many times in a week talk gets around to what type of car to buy.
The last few days have brought the chill of winter with them. For three or four days we had fairly deep snow lying down to sea level with Saturday the 3rd giving the heaviest fall, low tempera¬tures, and consequent freeze up of water pipes. Nevertheless it was a welcome break from winter routines and allowed such escapades as building snowmen, snowball riots and the ever-popular photography.
We were very disappointed to learn that due to economic cut back in the "States", the 'Eltanin' would not be visiting us this winter, but this was later offset by the news that the RNZAF had agreed to supply us with an airdrop.
The time of writing finds us therefore in a cheerfully optimistic frame of mind looking forward to the airdrop and mid-winter day festivities, with the confidence that the last 3 months will fly by.
PHOTOGRAPHIC DISPLAY & COMPETITION
At the Association’s first Annual General Meeting on Saturday 14 September 1968, Bruce Goffin put forward the suggestion that the Association should hold a photographic competition to coincide with the next Annual General Meeting and Reunion on Saturday September 27. This suggestion met with the approval of those present at the A.G.M. and the matter was left in the hands of the Committee.
The feeling of the Committee is that the emphasis should be placed on an exhibition of photographs rather than a photographic competition, though some prizes may be awarded to the best entries.
Peter Ingram has the unenviable task of keeping the Association's archives. "He would be pleased to receive photographs of past expedition parties, historic, scientific or human interest events on the Islands etc for the Association's records. If any member has photographs which he feels are not suitable for an exhibition but likely to be of some interest to Peter, he should forward these also.
The actual form that the exhibition will take has not yet been decided but it is thought that photographs will be exhibited in several categories. Some of these could be as follows - humorous, historic interest, Scientific, scenic, human interest, general.
Wherever possible negatives should be forwarded so that enlargements may be made. In cases where a negative is not available and the photograph is worthy of exhibition arrangements will be made to have the shot re-photographed and blown up. Any member who has the facilities for enlarging and/or mounting photographs should contact the Secretary if he is willing to offer his services in this work. Likewise members willing to title exhibits should notify the Secretary as soon as possible. Each entry submitted should be accompanied by a descriptive background to the photograph including if possible, information and indications of the type of camera used and whether or not the photographer also processed the shot and if not the name of the expedition member who did where applicable.
Further information on the photographic exhibition will be published in the next bulletin.
Please send your work to the Secretary as soon as possible.
Campbell - Raoul Islands Association and Antarctic Society members combined for a mid-winters social on June 21 at the Parnell Lawn Tennis Clubrooms. Out of the eighteen present, ten were from the Campbell-Raoul Association and all agreed it was a successful gathering. We were still going strong at 1am.
Three films were screened during the evening. The first called 'Adams Island' showed the wildlife of this unspoiled island in the Auckland, in crisp clear colour. Photography was excellent.
Next film called '140 Days Under the World', gave us a view of the activities of New Zealanders in the Antarctic. Also an excellent colour film.
The third film entitled '50 Degrees South' was a real old classic, taken during a servicing trip to the sub Antarctic Islands in 1947 in the 'New Golden Hind'.
In between films there was plenty of time for yarning, drinking and enjoying a fine supper.
We felt that the evening was well worth while and another gathering will probably be held next year.
On Saturday 28 June, the Association held its second film evening in the lecture theatre of the Meteorological Office at Kelburn.
One hundred people attended a most successful function.
Films on Raoul Island, Campbell Island, Macquarie Island, Antarctica and Adams Island were shown to an appreciative audience. Judging by the buzz of conversation between films, they proved to be of great interest to all.
The President, Colin Clarke, welcomed our members and friends from "town and around" and thanked the N.Z. Met. Service for the use of the theatre. The films were wittily introduced by Pete Ingram.
Supper was served after the films. This opportunity was taken to renew old friendships and to wax lyrical over the "good old days".
Our grateful thanks to all who worked hard for the success of the evening, especially the ladies.
Arrangements are under way for a similar film evening to be screened in Christchurch. Notices to members in this area will soon be mailed.
PERSONAL PROFILE (By I.R. Bailey)
We have on the Committee of the Campbell - Raoul Islands Association a member whose name will be more familiar to those of you who knew, Raoul Island in the pre-war days. His name is Jack Clinch, a resident of Wellington and a very valuable member of the Committee. A quieter, more unassuming man you would never find and yet his experiences on Raoul must encompass some of the most exciting and remarkable events that could be told.
Jack has served with the Post Office from 1920 to 1960 during which time he spent five years in Fiji concerned with communications and coast-watching duties. Most of his years have been spent in Wellington on coast-station work at the overseas radio-terminal in the G.P.O. Even now - although a superannuate, Jack is still very active with a position in the Army Department.
Jack has prepared for us a brief article on his expedition to Raoul. There remarkability of this trip is not easily disguised by his modest, or "matter of fact" way of writing and is most noticeable when comparing this journey with any present day expedition to Raoul Island.
* * * * * * * *
In July 1937, I was invited to join the original survey party, then known as the Kermadec Islands Expedition, as radio operator and met. observer and, being of an adventurous age, I found myself a few days later in Wellington where I met the other members of the party - J. E. Anderson (P.W.D., leader), Alan Henderson (Lands & Survey), Ted Davison (External Affairs), Leo Stanaway and Darky Edmonds (P.N.D.). Here we were briefed on the topography of Raoul Island, its flora and fauna and possible landing points. We left Wellington by the M. V. "Maui Pomare" on 12 .July, our camping-gear, provisions and radio gear securely packed, in wooden barrels - some 70 odd in number and anchored off Oneraki early on 16 July in a gentle swell. The plan was to approach as near as possible to the beach in the ship's boat, shoot a line ashore with the barrels attached and haul them on to the beach, a plan that was not altogether successful. Most of the lines fell short but finally one or two did make the distance and the heavy haul began. In the rising swell some casks broke loose and were washed up or carried out to sea. Seeing the casks labelled "K.I.E.” prompted the humorous remark from one of those ashore that "they must have come for a long stay - they have plenty of kai with them", a remark more prophetic than he probably realised. Later in the day the personnel were landed at Fishing Rock in a rather hazardous operation as it involved leaping ashore on the crest of a wave. It was then, that we met the local residents. Bruce Robertson, bearded and barefooted, and Alf Bacon, a man in his sixties also barefooted and fitter than most men half his age, myself included, and dog "Taipo". Also living on the island were 5 men, who, I understand, were an advance party in a land settlement scheme. These returned to N.Z. on the return trip of the "Maui Pomare". We have arrived but prospects were not bright. Night was coming on, it was raining and that part of our gear which came ashore, was strewn all along the coast from Fishing Rock to Fleetwood Bluff. The wind and swell had by this time increased to such an extent that further unloading was out of the question and the "Maui Pomare" resumed her journey to Samoa with some of our supplies still aboard. That night we were the grateful guests of Bacon and Robertson, sleeping on the floor of their nikau whare and dining on locally produced foods. I might add our several stomachs reacted in much the same way to the unaccustomed fare. Much was learned that first evening from Bacon, who was a mine of information on the Island's recent history and its inhabitants, having lived with the Bell family as a boy and again early in the century. Next day a start was made packing the more urgent items of our gear to the camp site in a hollow on the Eastern side of Bacon's whare and erecting tents for sleeping quarters. A start was also made on a partly canvas and party wooden walled lean-to, the corrugated iron roof of which provided us with water. Then followed two torturous weeks packing supplies from the beach to camp in the hot sun by which time the "Maui", on her return trip to N. Z., had arrived to complete unloading. Enough radio gear had come ashore for me to get on the air and contact in morse, was made with Wellington on the second day and later with the "Maui Pomare" on low power. Having settled in, the survey work was commenced and some sort of routine was possible.
In spite of the rats and the blowflies, which had a special preference for our blankets for breeding, life was very pleasant although luxuries were few, if any. Early in the piece we tried our hands at home-brewing, not very successfully, I'm afraid. F'ollowing a Bacon recipe the process involved cooking the root of a native plant, resembling a cabbage tree, in a huge hangi for 48 hours and a week's fermentation. Although claims were made for it as an intoxicant, I do not remember anyone becoming under the influence. For our next attempt, the ingredients were imported from N.Z. Unfortunately, allowance for the warmer climate was not made in the fermentation and the result was more akin to vinegar than ale. After that, interest was lost in home-brewing. The landing of supplies and mail continued to be a problem - the facilities at Fishing Rock and Boat Cove not coming until 2 or 3 years later. On occasions, we were to see a boatload of supplies and mail approach to within a few yards of Fishing Rock, only to find unloading impossible and the attempt abandoned for another month. At the end of six months the bulk of the survey had been completed and the key members of the party had returned to N.Z. In the months that followed tragedy was to strike on two occasions. Two of our number 1ost their lives - victims of the sea. These events were a grim reminder of the dangers of the sea, particularly on an open coast. I have also unpleasant recollections of a severe hurricane which hit us about this time. Our camp, being sheltered, escaped undamaged but the high winds played havoc with the Island's vegetation. I was joined by another Post Office operator, Norm Trustrum, now in the Department of Civil Aviation, some time later. My first year on the lsland soon passed and I was prepared for a long stay. Unfortunately, a persistent toothache forced me to ask to be relieved and I regretfully left Raoul nearly two years after I arrived. I was not to see the development work on roads, buildings and landing facilities, a start on which was made a few months later.
ON THINGS HISTORICAL
In the second installment of Ian Kerr's history of CAMPBELL ISLAND, he goes on to recount the movements of the early sealers around Macquarie and Campbell Islands and gives us an idea of the prices paid for seal products and the quantities of the mammals killed for this purpose. Readers are referred to the 3rd Newsletter issued, for the account of discovery of Campbell Island by Frederick Hasselburgh in January of 1810.
PART 2 : Sealers of the Early Years
When a new sealing ground was discovered, particularly if it was a small island, the discoverer and the ships owners were naturally very secretive about it, for once the whereabouts of the new field was generally known the uncontrolled slaughter that followed quickly reduced the number of seals to an unprofitable level. On the return of the "Perseverance" to Sydney from the Bay of Islands in April, 1810 Hasselburgh and Campbell & Co. appear to have been very successful in concealing the fact that Campbell Island has been discovered. The return from Macquarie Island in August, however, must have created a stir. First of all, the ship was back much sooner than normally would have been expected; then, she was short-handed and an advertisement for 10 or 12 able hands for a sealing and whaling voyage appeared in the next issue of the Sydney Gazette. We can be sure that the other merchants and master mariners in Sydney were agog to find out what it was all about, Certain too, is it, that the news leaked out, for four vessels not belonging to Campbell & Co. were at Macquarie Island before the end of the year, and one of them at least, also visited Campbell Island. All these ships could hardly have found the islands without more precise information than their general direction, so it seems obvious that some member of the company of the "Perserverance" must have turned his knowledge to good account.
The first of these other vessels to set sail for the islands was the New York brig "Aurora” on 19 September 1810, about a fort¬night after the "Perseverance's" departure. The “Aurora” visited both Macquarie and Campbell Islands, and then made a fast passage of sixteen days direct from Campbell Island back to Port Jackson, arriving there on 30 December 1810. As the “Perserverance” had not yet arrived, Captain O. F. Smith broke the news of· the fatal accident (Newsletter 3) at Campbell Island. He also gave out the first public announcement about the two islands, their position and a brief description of each.
From March 1811 to the end of 1812, only three ships are known, with certainty, to have called at Campbell Island. The first was the “Mary and Sally" (Captain Feen), which left Sydney on 12 April 1811. After spending a few weeks at the Derwent, she sighted Macquarie Island in June or early July, but, blown to the east, was unable to beat back. She, therefore set course for Campbell Island and there landed an oiling party of six men, the second group to take up temporary residence. The "Mary and Sally” then succeeded in reaching Macquarie lsland, left a sealing gang and returned to Sydney on 27 November 1811. Towards the end of the year, some three or four months after the "Mary and Sally's" departure and about the beginning of the sealing season, five of the men en Campbell Island set off in a boat, presumably to look for seal colonies, and were never seen again. The second “occupation" of the Island had ended with a second boat tragedy. The only survivor, Henry Neale, a cooper, was rescued by W. Stewart of "Cumberland”. He was “in a very debilitated state brought on 'by despondency, but very quickly recovered”. The "Cumberland" had left Sydney on 27 November 1811, was at Macquarie Island early in 1812 and at Campbell Island a little later. She arrived back in Sydney on 12 June.
The only other vessel in this period known to have been at Camp¬bell Island was the '''Concord'' (Captain Garbut), which after her third visit to Macquarie Island, sailed with a good cargo on 10 March 1812 calling at Campbell Island for wood and water. The Island's harbour afforded good shelter but strong gales were experienced. The first published description of the Island available to navigators was apparently supplied by Garbut and it appeared in the 1816 edition of The Oriental Navigator. This volume containing tables and descriptions was companion to The Complete East India Pilot which was a large volume of charts. The first sketch map of Campbell Island appeared in the next edition of the Pilot and was probably also supplied by Garbut. The features named were Perseverance Harbour, North (North East) Harbour, Hook 's Keeys (Dent Island), and Monument Harbour (North West Bay). Another possible visitor in March or April 1812 was Captain Grono in the "Governor Bligh” which was reported by Holding of the "Perseverance" to have sailed eastward from Macquarie Island.
From 1813 to 1820, Robert McNab (Historian : The Old Whaling Days, Murihiku. and the Southern Islands, & etc.) collected no reference to Campbell Island and it is believed that the Island was indeed infrequently visited, if at all. In the next eighteen years, 1821 to 1838, only eight calls at Campbell Island and Macquarie Island were specifically mentioned. The "Elizabeth and Mary” sailed from Sydney 29 October 1823 for Campbell and Macquarie Islands, arriving back at Sydney on 19 April 1825, and was again reported as having. left Auckland Island 7 August 1825 for Campbell Island.
The "Perseverance" sailed from Sydney on 7 September 1828, for Macquarie and New Zealand and was subsequently wrecked at Campbell Island. The “Elizabeth and Mary” picked up the crew and returned them to Sydney on 22 September 1829. The “Venus” was known to have tried the sealing grounds of both islands in 1831 and the New Zealander called at Campbell in 1835 leaving a party of three men and a woman there who were found by Balleny in 1839.
It is an extraordinary coincidence that the ship which discovered Campbell Island should have been wrecked there nearly nineteen years later. This wreck is, moreover, the only one known to have occurred on the islands shores. Two reports of the loss of the brig exist. The "Australian” in September 1829 reported that the "Elizabeth and Mary" had brought intelligence of the loss of the "Perseverance" for whose safety "great fears have been entertained …. for some time past. Two of the crew were unfortunately drowned ….. the residue have arrived on the “Elizabeth and Mary". This report does not state where the wreck occurred but the Sydney Gazette names Campbell Island as the place and October 1828 as the month. The Gazette stated that the crew was saved. No account of the wreck, or the crew was given. One supposes that shipwrecks in those days were so common that they were scarcely news.
We have now come to the end of the sealing era, in fact, some¬what beyond; the regular trade virtually finished about 1827. What was the commercial importance of sealing and what quantities of seal¬skins and oil were obtained from these two islands ? Before attempting to answer these questions it will be convenient here to discuss briefly the unfortunate creatures that were so ruthlessly hunted down. Seals belong to the Order, Carnivora, flesh eating mammals with sharp teeth. Those carnivores with legs modified into flippers are grouped under the heading Pinnepedia, and this group is further divided into three families: Walruses, eared seals, and true seals (without external ears). There are only four species of seal that frequent the subantarctic islands of New Zealand and Macquarie Island. The Fur Seal and the Sea Lion, the female of the latter species is sometimes called the Sea Bear; belong to the family of eared seals; while the other two species, the Sea Elephant and the Sea Leopard, are true seals. The Sea Leopard is only an occasional visitor to these islands and New Zealand, and was of little importance commercially.
The hunters' principal quarry was the fur seal for its pelt which was marketed in England, China and New York. In the first decade of the 19th century the price fixed by the merchants for determining the shares of the crew ranged from about five shillings to ten shillings a skin while the value in London seems to have been ten to fifteen shillings in the early years of the century and twenty to thirty shillings later. Of' almost equal, and at times greater, importance was the oil obtained from the blubber. Adult males of the smaller species yielded five to six gallons each and the largest of the elephant seals as much as 125 gallons. The merchants' price per ton of about 250 gallons was up to £30. The skin of the sea lion was of use only as leather and its value was about half that of the fur seal.
It has usua1ly been assumed that Campbell Island yielded as much in the first two or three years as Macquarie Island. As early as 1821 Charles Hook, Campbell's partner, giving evidence before Commissioner Bigge in answer to the question, "At what islands was the greatest quantity of seals taken?" said, “Macquarie Island and Campbell Island, Kangaroo Island (Great Australian Bight) and those in Bass's Straits." Much more recently, Turbott in The Antarctic Today says, "Hasselbourgh, the discoverer of Campbell and Macquarie, took 15,000 skins on his first visit to the former island in 1810." The evidence now available places a quite different complexion on the importance of Campbell Island. It is estimated that in the two years following the discovery of Macquarie Island about 150,000 seal skins and 500 tons of oil were taken from the southern seal fisheries. Macquarie Island has been definitely identified as the source of 95,000 of the skins and 265 of the oil and it is quite clear that a large proportion of the remainder must also have come from that island. Only 47 tons of oil are known to have come from Campbell Island.
From 1813 to the beginning of 1820 there appear to have been only two vessels engaged exclusively in the sealing trade, the "Elizabeth and Mary” which had been sold to Underwood in 1812 and the "Governor Bligh" belonging to Messrs Jones, Riley and Walker.
The "Elizabeth and Mary" made about fifteen trips to Macquarie Island in this period. The short durations of the voyages preclude the possibility of unrecorded calls at Campbell Island on most occasions.
The "Governor Bligh" from 1813 to February 1821 made six or seven voyages (but they were cruises of some length and lasted a year or more) which brought in over 50,000 skins all told.
From 1820 on there was a big increase in the number of ships engaged in the trade. For the first two years Macquarie Island was still its mainstay and elephant oil rather than skins the bulk of the cargoes. Many of the new arrivals were much larger ships than the "Elizabeth and Mary" of 75 tons and the "Governor Bligh" of 100 tons, and they took larger gangs and were able to stow more cargo. For example, the "Midas" (430 tons) brought back to Sydney in 1822, 300 tons of oil. Several others brought in over 200 tons.
In 1823 and the following years still more ships arrived on the scene. Some of these, including several American ships no doubt came looking for fresh fields after the rapid denudation of the South Shetlands grounds discovered in 1819. In these years, New Zealand, Auckland, Campbell and other islands were again heavily drawn upon. Both fur and hair seal skins were now being obtained but the quantities were not generally great, 2,000 to 4,000 per voyage. The largest number recorded was 13,000 taken by the New York schooner “Henry" in 1823 from the Auckland and adjoining islands. As the total number was probably not much in excess of 20,000 per year, Campbell Island's contribution could hardly have exceeded one or two thousand a year.
The trade seems virtually to have come to an end before 1830. Morrell, for instance, in January 1830 could find on Auckland Island not a single fur seal and only a few sea-lions. Seven years before the island had provided a large part of the "Henry’s" cargo of 13,000 skins. It can generally be said, therefore, that there was a marked decline in sealing activities from 1812, two years after the islands of Macquarie and Campbell had been discovered by Frederick Hasselburgh, and that a partial recover was experienced in the 1820's. The number of Sydney owned ships in the trade in 1824 was certainly greater than in 1815. Among them was the "Perseverance" which, after her voyage to Foveaux Strait in 1813 with Williams, was laid up and acted as a hulk. She was purchased by J. Underwood and refitted for sealing trade in 1823. Perhaps indicative of the final decline is the fact that she was offered for sale again, or charter, in 1828, just prior to her being wrecked at Campbell Island.
'The Sea and the Snow' by Philip Temple. Published by Cassell, Australia.
To sail South and turn port when the butter melts, is almost a fair method for the North American yachtsman to locate the balmy Bermudas. But to sail South into the furious fifties until the butter freezes, grope around and find an island fifteen miles in diameter in incredibly bad weather, requires extraordinary skill from the captain and co-operation from a very determined crew.
Here then is the story of a private expedition in 1964 to Heard Island, 53 South and over two thousand nautical miles from the south-western tip of Australia. The conveyance was a sixty-three foot schooner, the 'Patanela', under the command of an English solo yachtsman, 'Skip' Tilman. Expedition leader Major Warick Deacock had been with ANARE in 1963 when an unsuccessful attempt had been made on Heard's highest point, Mawson Peak, nine thousand feet above the turbulent surface of the Southern Ocean.
Campbell Islanders of the 1964/5 party will recall that crazy southern summer when we swam from the end of the wharf, I got a surfer's suntan from many happy hours pottering in the garden and hardly a fluid once of diesel was required to heat the hostel. Well to our West, five men camped and climbed a mountain at the same latitude as us, in such discomfort and high state of fatigue, one wonders what makes the mountaineer tick. Philip Temple gets the reader successfully ticking in this direction with his well told account of this expedition.
Heard Island is a mountain called Big Ben, of which Mawson Peak is its highest point. The surface area and gradient of its slopes are similar to Ruapehu. Float this mountain to a position far enough South to have glaciers reaching sea level, surround it with a storm grey sea ten degrees colder than Campbell's and cap it in the low scud and nimbostratus of the fifties and there is the challenge.
Back to sea level, Temple goes on to give a wild life scene that is interesting to compare with Campbell Island. And looking back, no matter how much you enjoyed being briefly associated with such an environment, there was perhaps a little feeling that you never stopped to analyse. The author puts his finger on it in the concluding paragraph to one of the last chapters ….."the prions mimed in the azorella, the skuas stalked them, the penguins paraded and squabbled. The seals moulted and slept, irritated not awed by our presence. Though we laid claim to the land and the mountain we were a rare, migrating species with a delicate grip on existence. They were the true children of Heard".