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Chart of Port Adelaide, South Australia
Title : Chart of Port Adelaide, South Australia Chart of Port Adelaide, South Australia View More Images
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Creator : Light, William, 1786-1839
Source : Chart of Port Adelaide, South Australia [cartographic material]
Place Of Creation : [Adelaide]
Publisher : Survey Dept.
Date of creation : 1839
Format : Map
Contributor : State Library of South Australia
Catalogue record
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Description :

Chart of Port Adelaide covering part of LeFevre's Peninsula and Torrens Island and showing detailed topography of the Port River and surrounding landcover.

Several buoys are already laid down and a number of places are marked on the map as follows: A the landing place at Holdfast Bay, B the Old Landing Place (Port Misery) at the lower edge of the map, C the New Landing Place or Inner Harbor as it is now known. Several locations are D: adjacent or in the North Arm south of Torrens Island these are all represented as future locations for the port. E immediately adjacent to the North Arm is considered a suitable anchorage for the largest vessels. O is at the entrance to the river and is noted as a very good anchorage outside the outer bar.

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William Light's selection for the site of Adelaide was dependent on finding a good harbour. After a considerable search in which he had to reconcile actual locations with vague reports from whaling captains, as well as examine Kangaroo Island and Port Lincoln, he finally identified the Port River as a suitable harbour in November 1836. The first ship to enter the Port River, the Tam-o-Shanter was also the first casualty as it grounded on the outer bar to the river. It was however refloated. In 1839 the decision was made to move the harbour downstream to C the site of the present Inner Harbor.

The references under 'Remarks' demonstrates the hopes of the Colony to provide anchorage of visiting vessels along the river and access further up to the city of Adelaide. It includes accompanying text providing navigational directions to those sailing the Gulf of St. Vincent and entitled: 'Directions'.

Mary Thomas, daughter of early pioneers and printing press operators, Robert and Mary Thomas, often referred in her diary (PRG 1160/6, p. 42) to Aboriginal people, who had made a great impression on the young migrant. There were still many Aboriginal people living traditionally around the Port area at this time. Please note, the language used to describe Aboriginal people is not appropriate today;

Mar. 31, 1846. ....(near the Port) Some few natives have been paying us a visit lately. Cow-eeta (?) was one who seemed to be a civil, quiet man. Another was a woman named Coonartoo.... We made an arrangement to go see the blacks in the evening. At the time appointed Mr. Wilkinson left home with Mrs. Skipper and my sister Helen, preceded by Mr. Skipper, Mrs. Wilkinson, and myself. We all walked down to their wurlies, which are erected at a place some distance from the town. On arriving at this spot we could not help admiring the splendour and wildness of the scene, as we stood surrounded by, I should think, four or five hundred natives and among large trees of which some [were] half hidden by the darkness, while others were partly illuminated by the native fires and, by throwing out their broad shadows, appeared in bold relief. The fires, by which we were guided to their place, were numerous and appeared to be made in circles to some degree of uniformity. Instead of having them crowded together they left good spaces between each. After visiting the blacks belonging to two or three different tribes, we went to another part of the ground, where we found a large number of natives assembled and making preparations for a corroboree, which we waited to see. The result was very gratifying. A great number of blacks ranged themselves with scrupulous regularity in a sitting position so as to face the dancers. These consisted of the Moorundee tribe and their corroboree was intended to represent the stealing of a wife from another tribe. The whole scene was well acted, and what especially delighted me was that they kept such true time with foot and voice. Although I have often heard the corroboree I never discovered anything in the shape of a song so nearly resembling vocal music as that we were favoured with. I should think that there were about 150 of the Moorundee tribe dancing, and the number of spectators was afterwards swelled by several natives from Encounter Bay who not in general being on friendly terms with those from Moorundee, kept their spears in their hands instead of laying them down. Besides these we saw some from Kapunda.

Related names :

Light, William, 1786-1839

Tam-O-Shanter (ship)

Coverage year : 1839
Period : 1836-1851
Place : Port Adelaide, South Australia
Further reading :

The Adelaide Review, July 2004: The Light myth by Chris Bowe

Couper-Smartt, John. Port Adelaide: tales from a "commodious harbour" Port Adelaide: Friends of the South Australian Maritime Museum, 2003

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

Parsons, Ronald. Port Misery and the new port: the early Port Adelaide Magill, S. Aust.: R.H. Parsons, c1977

Dutton, Geoffrey Founder of a city: the life of Colonel William Light, first Surveyor-General of the colony of South Australia: founder of Adelaide, 1786-1839 Melbourne: Cheshire, 1960

Johnson, Donald Leslie The Adelaide city plan: fiction and fact Adelaide: Wakefield Press, 1986

Langmead, Donald Accidental architect Darlinghurst, N.S.W.: Crossing Press, 1994

Internet links :

State Library of South Australia, General Information Factsheets Online, Mapping sources for SA history

SA Memory website, Foundation of South Australia, 1800-1851: Letter written to George Jones

Wikipedia: Port Adelaide

Exhibitions and events :

State Library of South Australia: Mortlock Wing exhibitions. Wooden Walls and Iron Sides August 2004-



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