South Australia - Lost at Sea Before it Began?

By History South Australia, PRNE
Sunday, March 27, 2011

ADELAIDE, Australia, March 28, 2011 - A near fatal episode is about to strike the new Bound for South Australia
blog - the on-line program re-enacting the first nine voyages from England to
establish the Province of South Australia. This innovative project is
attracting worldwide coverage, with thousands of followers from around the
globe tracking the vessels and their voyages.

Although only in its fifth week, the project has already uncovered some
little known and surprising facts about the original voyages. Most surprising
is the fact that after more than one month at sea the first two vessels have
barely left the English Channel. Pounded by unrelenting seas and fierce
storms the Duke of York and John Pirie have struck out time and time again,
only to be beaten back to shore.

This ordeal reaches a climax in the coming week's episode when the vessel
John Pirie is almost lost at sea during a storm that was so ferocious those
on board described it as a 'perfect hurricane.' An excerpt from the captain's
letter conveys the gravity of the situation clearly '…at 2 A.M (Monday
Morning) a tremendous sea broke on board of us, which completely overwhelmed
her in one solid body of water, I then for some time gave up all hope of ever
seeing her rise again, she being to all appearances at the time going Down,
in consequence of the great weight of water on her decks…'.

History SA Chief Executive Margaret Anderson said 'we have two accounts
of what it was like to be on the John Pirie during this terrible storm. Both
are incredibly graphic. When I first read these accounts I kept thinking that
if an experienced sailor like Captain Martin was terrified by this storm,
imagine what it must have been like for the passengers, all new to the sea.
What a traumatic way to begin a new life!'

The journey to South Australia was far from romantic, and in this case
almost ended before leaving England. It is interesting to consider the likely
consequences had the John Pirie indeed sunk. Would the Province of South
have sunk with it?

Bound for South Australia is a digital re-enactment of those nine voyages
made between February and December 1836. It presents a range of original
source material, including captains' logs, letters and diaries kept by those
on board, and passenger lists. Brought together for the very first time,
these sources combine to produce real life accounts of these early South
Australians - their hopes and fears, their excitement at the adventure, their
moments of terror as they encountered the awesome power of the ocean.

In weekly episodes subscribers and visitors meet the people, and hear
about their experiences in their own words.

Passage onboard the fleet is open to everyone. The journey can be joined
at Weekly entries will be posted on
the website, or subscribers can receive email updates and notifications of
new posts, or follow the action on a twitter feed.

    What: Bound for South Australia website
    Where: Head to the website:
    When: The first two vessels have set sail

    Media Contact:

    Kearin Hausler
    Marketing Co-ordinator
    Phone: +61-8203-9868
    Mobile: +61-423-294-883

    History SA
    Torrens Parade Ground
    Victoria Drive
    Adelaide SA 5000
    Phone +61-8203-9888

Kearin Hausler, Marketing Co-ordinator, Phone: +61-8203-9868, Mobile: +61-423-294-883, khausler at; History SA, +61-8203-9888

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