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Letters from Mary Mease
Title : Letters from Mary Mease Letters from Mary Mease View More Images
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Creator : Mease, Mary
Source : D 4006 (L)
Place Of Creation : Australia
Date of creation : 1851
Format : Letter
Contributor : State Library catalogue
Catalogue record
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Description :

Extracts from papers kept by Mary Mease, some written to relatives, during a voyage from Liverpool to Sydney in the Woodstock 9 March - 11 October 1851. Letters describe conditions at Port Adelaide and Adelaide. Letters are in typescript form only.

Click here to see the catalogue record for the extracts from the diary.

Mary Mease was born in 1829 at Stokesley, Yorkshire. She voyaged to Australia on the way and stopped at Port Adelaide. It was to be a short stay for cargo off-loading but due to the extremely poor road into Adelaide, the job took longer and the ship remained for a few months before heading back out for Sydney. In that time Mease wrote many letters back to family in England telling of her experiences of South Australia, including staying aboard ship in fear of travelling the 5 mile voyage in a small boat to the mainland, encounters with natives, dangerous journeys into Adelaide where she explains it was lucky if the horse and carriage remained unturned on account of the terrible roads, and general descriptions of the Kapunda mines, early streets, houses, vegetation and farm land. Mease eventually went on to Sydney and also married Rev. J. Barnier of Sydney. Below is an extract of a letter to 'Janey' from 'Polly' (Mease's pen name) written 24 July, 1841.

Adelaide is a very muddy place. There are no highways, and though the Port is 7 miles from the Town, and there are omnibuses and spring carts going every hour, yet they all make their own way, splash-dashing across the country as well as they can. We got to Town very well, and enjoyed ourselves very much while there; but coming back to the Port we all turned over into the mud. None of us were hurt, excepting Mr. Creichton, whose lip was cut. The mud is very soft, and the people were very kind in helping us up, for we were beside the halfway house. All the comfort we got there was, that it was a very common occurrence; but you would have laughed if you had seen us all in the mud. Mr. Creichton fell flat on his face; Mrs. Stephens and I laid down on our sides; and I am sure you would have been amused if you had seen me standing and Mr. Creichton washing the mud off me as well as he could with a horse pail, and his own face three inches thick! Altho' none of us were hurt, Mrs. Stephens and I were very much frightened.

Click here to see Pioneers Landing at Port Adelaide sketch by Skipper.

Mease described the harsh conditions facing farmers in a letter 2 August 1851:

It is very queer looking land. I asked if it would grow anything but carrots, the soil seemed so light. I should not recommend farmers to come to Adelaide; for the land that 6 years since was sold for 6 shillings and acre is now 5 pounds. And besides before it can be cultivated it has to be cleared of the brushwood and stumps of trees. The person at the Mountain Hut told me that he got some person to buy him the land he lives on before he came out from England, and that he bought labourers with him; but when he arrived he found he could not have possession for two years. When he landed in Australia he had a thousand pounds in the Bank, and before he got possession he had not a penny in the world, and he was obliged to take to shoe blacking.

More accounts of difficulties in travelling to Adelaide 2 August 1851:

I was up at Adelaide again yesterday. We did not get turned over, but we had to get out for fear of it. Riding over a ploughed field is thought good road. Sometimes we go about half a mile, all in the water, jolting up and down, so as if we did not hold fast we should bounce out. Sticking fast and throwing over are thought nothing of. One man was bragging that he had not turned over for three days, and he had gone to Town twice everyday. I thought such a ride would just suit you. Sometimes the driver stops his horses and stands up to see where he must go next; then shakes his head and turns back to find a better road. A great deal of land is wasted for want of a proper direct highway; for I am sure there is more than a mile in breadth so cut up that no cart can get along. An omnibus goes twice everyday, and it always either turns over or sticks fast.

Related names :

Woodstock (Ship)

Coverage year : 1851
Period : 1836-1851
Place : Port Adelaide, Adelaide
Region : Adelaide city,Adelaide metropolitan area
Further reading :

Colwell, M and Alan Naylor Adelaide: an illustrated history, [Joslin, S. Aust.]: McP, 1981

Gibbs, RM A history of South Australia Adelaide: Balara Books, 1969

Jones, Helen In her own name: a history of women in South Australia from 1836 Rev. and updated ed. Kent Town, Wakefield Press, 1994

Kwan, Elizabeth. Living in South Australia: a social history, Netley, S. Aust.: South Australian Government Printer, 1987

Internet links :

State Library of South Australia, General Information Factsheets Online Women in South Australia

State Library of South Australia, General Information Factsheets Online Shipping and passenger records

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



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