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Pioneers landing at Port Adelaide
Title : Pioneers landing at Port Adelaide Pioneers landing at Port Adelaide
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Creator : Skipper, John Michael, 1815-1883, artist
Date of creation : 1839
Format : Artwork
Dimensions : 225 x 305 mm
Contributor : State Library catalogue
Catalogue record
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Description :

Watercolour on paper sketch depicting pioneers being carried on the backs of sailors through the shallow waters of Port Adelaide as they land for the first time in South Australia.

The sketch Pioneers landing at Port Adelaide, depicts pioneers being carried on the backs of sailors through the shallow waters of Port Adelaide as they land for the first time in South Australia.

This artwork was borrowed by the Art Gallery of South Australia for the Visions of Adelaide 1836-1886 exhibition in 2005, curated by Tracey Lock-Weir., who suggested

neither the governor, John Hindmarsh, nor many of Adelaide's earliest settlers shared Light's high regard for Port Adelaide's beauty and suitability as Adelaide's gateway, and this first landing site at Port Adelaide in October 1840, parallel to today's McLaren Road, Port Adelaide.

Colonel William Light, comments in a letter, near the Gulf St. Vincent November 22, 1836

My dear Jones If you go to the Adelphi and look at my Chart you will see we are now at Anchor in the Harbour formed by two sand banks opposite the IV and VI anchorages and a most beautiful harbour we have discovered it surpasses every thing we could have expected or even dared to wish for. Nature has done so much that very little human labour and cost [art?] is requisite to make this one of the finest settlements in the whole world.

In this sketch Skipper mocks the conditions greeting early settlers at the first landing site at Port Adelaide. This satirical watercolour shows disembarking passengers being piggybacked by sailors to shore before the construction of the new wharf, and offers an almost grotesque counterpoint to Light's more idealised view of the same location. Skipper's considerable sense of humour comes to the fore in this rapidly executed work which makes light of what must have been the final indignity at what became know as 'Port Misery'. (Lock-Weir, Tracey Visions of Adelaide, 1836-1886, 2005).

Artist John Skipper was noted for his vignettes of colonial Adelaide. Passengers alighting at Port Misery (1839) captures with humour the difficulties and frustrations encountered on landing at the colony. Without a wharf at the port, ships could not reach the shore and so goods were 'floated' to land and people ferried in small boats or were carried. In 1840 David McLaren built the first wharf which extended into the deeper waters of the Port River, alleviating some of the new arrivals' difficulties.

In addition to problems with landing from the ships, for several years prior to the completion of a proper road, newly arrived migrants had to walk the considerable distance to reach the settlement at Adelaide. Migrants with sufficient finances had their goods transported by bullocks, but many carried their possessions or used wheelbarrows for transport.

Early German settler Carl Gustav Schedlich described in his memoirs his disappointment upon landing at Port Adelaide in December 1846:

But speak of Adelaide. O Holy Moses. ...Adelaide was a perfect mudhole... Schedlich continued about the colony All my grand ideas were vanished...we found a priest-ridden, narrow-minded community. Not a sign of intellect or refinement; the country nearly bankrupt, the only industry was the grand Burra Burra copper mine.

Related names :

Skipper, John Michael, 1815-1883

Port Adelaide (S. Aust.)

Coverage year : 1839
Period : 1836-1851
Region : Adelaide metropolitan area
Further reading :

The Flinders history of South Australia. Social history edited by Eric Richards. Netley, S. Aust. : Wakefield Press, 1986

Lock-Weir, Tracey Visions of Adelaide, 1836-1886 Adelaide : Art Gallery of South Australia, 2005

Mudflats to metropolis: Port Adelaide 1836-1986 [Port Adelaide, S. Aust.: B. & T. Publishers, 1986]

Parsons, Ronald Port Misery and the new port (early Port Adelaide) Lobethal, S. Aust. : R.H. Parsons, 1997

Samuels, Brian History and heritage in the Port Centre and inner harbour: notes for a walk around the Port Centre for the Historical Society of South Australia, 22 October 2000 [Adelaide : Heritage South Australia?, 2000]

Internet links :

Australian Dictionary of Biography Online Edition Search Skipper, J.M.

SA Memory Foundation of South Australia 1800-1851 Diary of Mary Thomas

SA Memory, The Foundation of South Australia 1800-1851 Port Adelaide

SA Memory, The Foundation of South Australia 1800-1851 Landing at Port Adelaide in December 1846

Port Adelaide State Heritage Area (SA Dept for Environment & Heritage)



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