The Building of Jarmen Island Lighthouse, 1888
|The Building of Jarmen Island Lighthouse, 1888
|Warden W.L. Owen (create)
|Format and extent:
|This work is free of known copyright restrictions.
|William Shakespeare Hall
|Jarman Island • Cossack
The article is complete, even though it ends suddenly.
The Western Australian Historical Society
Journal and Proceedings
VOL. II. PART XX.
People's Printing and Publishing Co., 38-44 Stirling Street, Perth
THE BUILDING OF JARMAN ISLAND LIGHTHOUSE, 1888.
[BY WARDEN W. L. OWEN.]
In the year 1888 when Jarman Island was first lit, Western Australia, embracing an area of nearly one million square miles, was a Crown Colony, with a population of about 36,000.
It had a coast line of 4,500 miles, which was then very sparsely lighted and imperfectly charted, much of it not having been surveyed since 1855. This made navigation both difficult and dangerous.
The only lighthouses then existing between Eucla in the extreme south and Cape Londonderry in the north, were Breaksea Island, near the entrance to Princess Royal Harbour, on which Albany is situated; Busselton, an open timberwork frame on the mainland, built about 1870, and demolished in 1933; Bunbury, built about the same time and altered to a steel tower in 1903, when electric light was installed; Rottnest Island, 12 miles west of Fremantle, which now has two lights, one at the southern end, built in 1840 and re- placed by a masonry tower in 1896, and the other at Bathurst Point, built in 1903; a lesser light near Arthur’s Head, Fremantle; and Point Moore near Geraldton, an iron tower built in 1878 There were crude timber erections with oil and kerosene lamps, of the hurricane lamp variety, at other points along the coast at Carnarvon, Cossack, Derby, and Wyndham. This comprised practically the whole of the lights available for the guidance of shipping along this lengthy and dangerous coast.
In rough weather communication with Breaksea Island was impossible. In 1886 the Government decided to connect it with the mainland by cable. Mr. (subse- quently Doctor) W. J. Hancock, who was then Chief Electrical Engineer attached to the Public Works Department, was engaged to carry out the work. I remember his telling me of some of his difficulties, not the least of which was running short of solder, which, at that time was unprocurable in the Colony. He had
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2 cou Albany and collect all th ns and melt them down to i enable him to abe i nish She cable. Dr. Hancock was amoaeven ee : ee and gave his services in an Hons ag a y oe e Public Hospital, Perth, for X-ra aE. tele oe about this mineral and alas his hand
- cted, causing him great suffering
1 sufferin time of his death in England two or three yearsiaag oe
Jarman Island is si i z situated 940 miles aaa at the mouth of Butcher’s alee uae Se hit rate ‘oe as it was first known, Tien Tsin Harb ae on ee i. a port of Cossack is situated. It is o be a island, probably 30 or 40 acres in extent one Tae Oe iy slaps a ao The coast facing tie n e€ west side ris l i es almost pe - poe a eye of 70 feet. It consists of oan perse with hornblende, dipping sharply t “ Saas point, where rock, but not so highs One » again out-crops. The valley in |} i ij n etw covered with short stubbly seria, In ‘the dis ont
north-east side, is < SARL, a small area of scrubby bushes four
e empty jam and other
The only place suitabl
e for landing is ] hots Ter on ne south-west ide ewe Be ) o unload all the i ildi i lighthouse and light-keepers’ ae? for bulla
I was at this period resident engin ee Yi poue iN ssbeee jActralia. My Headquarters weed pe une % miles inland from Cossack, its port. I ooo eee . _ Nestoot gene tramway from Cossack pov epeney woe got instructions from the Director Fe dane a and Engineer-in-Chief, the Hon. J. econ of this oniiee "Tt = s noi ae, 1 : cast-iro
i i ot by Chance Bros., of Birminghacell Te oe Pees each weighing several cwt., liehe chamber containing a third power fixed I : : tee ee notices in conspicuous positions in a eae ossack calling for tenders, as there ee Bei ilecall €wspaper. In response I received six. seg vee y a variation of £5 between the highest
west. By a peculiar coincidence, or call it
Building of Jarman Island Lighthouse, 1888 33
what you like, three of the tenderers had put in exactly the same price. In any case, I considered all of them too high. I wired my chief accordingly, at the same time advising him not to accept any of them. I under- took, if he would arrange for me to have the prisoners then in the Roebourne jail, and authorise me to engage a foreman, to erect it myself at less cost than even the
lowest tender. This was in due course agreed to and
now my troubles commenced.
The contractors who had tendered were naturally very much annoyed, the lowest, in his “cups” one day in Cossack main street, addressed me in “language which was frequent and painful and ‘free’.” I could not take it out of his hide as he was an old man, so there was nothing for it but to consult my lawyer
friend, Gus Roe, whose sharp letter brought forth the
necessary apology, thus saving the unpleasantness o*
a slander action.
My first duty was to engage 2 foreman. I had from time to time employed a man named W. E. Stratford. He had been a ship’s carpenter. For some years he had worked in Cape Colony, which he often mentioned, always calling it “Africa” and never “The Cape.” He was a fine stamp of a man, six feet two or three in height, a massive frame, an Abrahamic black beard, a voice like a peal of thunder, and a fist the size of a leg of mutton and the consistency of a ham bone—just the man for the job, for, notwithstanding his immense size and strength, he was, as so often happens with these big men, a goodnatured chap.
We were not long in coming to terms and set off for the island, four miles distant from Cossack, in a good hefty dinghy (which, together with a whaleboat, both good sailers, I had secured for use during con- struction) to select a suitable site for the camp and arrange preliminaries.
The prices of stores were the same in the two town- ships of Roebourne and Cossack. Flour was 12/- the 50lb. bag; sugar 5d. per Ib.; tea 2/- per lb.; tinned fruits 10/6 a dozen; jam 10/- per dozen tins; tinned milk 7/6 per dozen; wax matches 2/- per dozen boxes; Victory tobacco 6/- per Ib. (the only available brand); mutton in the butchers’ shops, 14d. per Ib.; beef 4d. to 5d. per
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Ib. Sheep were only worth 3/- to 5/- each and wool 44d. to 6d. per Ib. The heavier supplies had such prices as: Chaff £10 per ton; spring cart harness £7 per set; riding saddles £6/10/- each; horse collars 1/- per inch; hacks were £8, £12 and £15 per head, and good pack horses £12. Clothing costs were: Dungaree trousers 8/6 per pair; men’s flannel shirts 6/- each; Blucher boots 12/6 per pair; elastic side boots, then the fashion, 14/- per pair. What with the Government’s having contracts with the various tradesmen to supply the jail at somewhat lower rates, and the fish caught by the prisoners, I was able to feed them well for 9d. per head per diem.
It can readily be imagined that none of the unsuc- cessful contractors would render me any assistance, or lend me plant; but this did not seriously incommode me, for I had an accumulation of odds and ends left over from the various works I had carried out in the North- West; consequently what I was short of could be extemporised. The most serious shortage was a wind- lass with which to haul the heavy ironwork from the beach to the top of the 70 feot hill on which the light- house was to be built.
On arrival at the island and after we had decided on the site for the various camps, we climbed the hill and got our field glasses to work. We were fortunate enough to locate a wreck some two or three miles south towards Point Samson We sailed over to it. Ata later date we obtained some teak deck planks and ribs from it, out of which a windlass was made, capable of hauling three or four tons at a time up the steep slope of the hill to the lighthouse site. Stratford, being a resourceful man, filled in the spaces between the spokes of a pair of tram wheels with teak and the wheels were keyed or sweated to the axle. He shaped the wood so that when the wheels stood on end they represented a ship’s windlass such as is used for hauling in the anchor. The lower end of the projecting axle was then let into a teak deck plank firmly embedded in the ground. A rib from the wreck, of the proper camber, was securely bolted to each end of the bed log. The other projecting end of the axle made an efficient hauling machine when a four-inch by four-inch jarrah arm, about 15 feet long, was secured to the upper end of the
Building of Jarman Island Lighthouse, 1888 35
axle. Four men, two at either end of the timber arm, could easily haul heavy loads of material from the bay where it was landed.
Having spare tram rails, fish plates, and dogs, I arranged for these to be lightered over, and laid a tram- way from the beach to the lighthouse site. It was an easy matter to make a trolley, and, having the necessary ropes, the first part of the building operations was complete.
It was necessary, however, to guard against run- aways. The material of which the lighthouse was constructed was cast iron and neither this or the plate glass for the lantern or the delicate machinery for the illuminant would stand much rough handling. At the end of the tramline I built a ramp of loose sand, walled in with bags full of the same material, so that if the rope broke or from any other cause the trolley got away, it would empty itself into this soft bed, thus preventing damage to its loads.
Under Stratford’s supervision, the above work was carried out by the prisoners I had obtained trom Colonel Angelo, the Government Resident at Roe- bourne. I am sure he was pleased to be relieved of the responsibility of looking after such a mixed lot of cut- throats. Water Policeman Hill sailed them over in the police cutter. They were in charge of Warder Paxton. A nice mixed lot they were—Malays, Manilamen, Chinese, and Arabs. None could understand, or they pretended they could not understand, English. Most of them, however, understood the Malay language, which, of course, neither Stratford, the warder or myself did.
Lighthouse construction can be regarded as fairly dangerous work even with skilled labour; but with a scratch crew, such as I had, it was even more so. Not- withstanding this handicap, I am glad to say, during the whole of the time occupied in building this light- house no serious accident occurred. I only remember one or two occasions when a trolley load of heavy ironwork broke away on the tramway; but the sand buffer stop at the end effectually stopped it, without damaging the load or injuring anyone. I attribute this to Stratford’s careful management.
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Cossack, at this period, was the headquarters of the pearling fleet which laid up in Butcher’s Inlet off Cossack during the willy-willy season, which extends from November to March each year. Hence, most of the delinquents were recruited from offenders against the laws governing the pearling industry; and that accounts for their Oriental origin and mixed nation- ality.
As their terms expired they were from time to time changed, so that before the work was completed I had had West African niggers, Australian aborigines and one or two white men, including “Teddy Naughton” who at one time was a wealthy pearler until drink and gambling had brought him low in his old age. (I dealt with him more fully in my book “Cossack Gold.”)
The next business was to erect a derrick with which to lift the cast-iron sections into position and other material for the erection of the tower. Now I appreci- ated, to the full extent, the feelings of those building The Tower of Babel when God caused all engaged thereon to speak different languages (Genesis, chap. XI., verse 7). JI had a practical demonstration forcibly thrust on me.
After considerable trouble we got the derrick upright and the guy ropes duly secured. The pulley at the top required some adjustment. Stratford extemporised a “boatswain’s chair.” I succeeded in making the men understand to haul him to the top by the crab winch.
This job being completed, do you think I could make them lower him down? They would lower him a short way and then haul him up again repeatedly. I shrewdly suspected they did it on purpose (like the proverbial Chinese who “no savvy when he no want”) with “malice aforethought,” and just for the fun of the thing, though I could not detect the semblance of a smile on any one of their Sphinx-like countenances. However, with Stratford’s continued expostulations, not altogether devoid of strong language (hence its absence from this page) from the top and my equally emphatic comments from the bottom, I succeeded eventually in landing him safely.
Once safely on the ground, I said to Stratford, “That will do for to-day. I can see if we don’t address them
Building of Jarman Island Lighthouse, 1888 37
in their own language, or at least some of it, we shall not get much work out of them.”
Knowing George Roe was in Cossack, and that he was an expert Malay scholar, I decided to go ashore and learn from him at least some of the necessary expressions to enable me to carry on the work, and the following is what he taught me. “Mind you, Owen,” he said, “this is not the way it is spelt, but pronounced, so that it is really phonetic Malay” :—
English, Malay. Go forward .. .. .... Piggie de Mukah Go aft .. .. .. .. .. .. Piggie de Blackah Slack away .. .. .. .. Arrier Make fast .. .. .. .. .. Ecat Slack a little .. .... .. Arrier Sedekie Tf ean) ste cee, att a Cero Keep her away .. .. .. ‘Fouroet DOWN GIB) 00 are cee xe cee © eerler jib: Take the rudder .. .. .- Pagung commudie Go ashore in the boat .. Bower schoochie dedarat A glass of water... .... Satoe glass ire menoem Go down .. .. .. .. .. Piggie debower Go aloft ............ Piggie deattas Come here .. .. .. .. .. Merrie desinie Knock off work .. .. .. Bruenthie credger Commence work .. .. .. Moly credger Wumerals.
One .. .. .. Satoe
Two ...... Dowar
Three .. .. Teger
Four ...... Ampat
Five .. .. .. Limah
Six ...... Annum
Seven .. .. Tougon
Bight .. .. Delapan
Nine ...... Sambelan
When we were returning to the island my coxswain handed the tiller over to one of the prisoner crew— Pedro I think—who made a mess of things, and we were capsized. I managed to save my bag with the papers in. The one with the above translation got wet. It still shows sea water stains, but I am able to decipher it. I value it very much, not only for the use it was to me, but as a reminder of one of the many kindly acts of a dear old friend, alas, no more. He died in Mel- bourne a few years ago.
Soon after landing, I took every opportunity to air my knowledge of the Malay language. It had the desired effect. It impressed my hearers. Result, the work proceeded more rapidly and smoothly.
I was delayed somewhat in starting the erection of the tower. The plan showed a heavy cast-iron ring in
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sections simply bolted to the rock with two-inch bolts five feet long let into the rock and grouted with cement. Whoever drew up the specification must have been given misleading information, as he assumed the site was all solid rock. On investigation I found the rock was very broken and totally unsuitable for merely grouting in the holding-down bolts.
In this willy-willy region one cannot take risks. Had this method been adopted, the lighthouse would surely have toppled over when struck by the first of these cyclones. It took me some time to convince the powers- that-be that it was absolutely necessary to use dynamite to blast out this striated rock and replace it with cement concrete. Eventually I got my way and the tower was erected on a wedge-shaped block of concrete in which the holding-down bolts are embedded. This extra expense has been amply justified, for the tower has stood many willy-willies.
One objection to my using concrete was the short- age of fresh water, and the cost of lightering this from the mainland: but [ pointed out that cement sets harder mixed with salt water than with fresh. We had plenty of salt water round us as well as shingle and sand, which made excellent concrete. It will later be observed that dynamite was used for other purposes, perhaps not altogether legitimately.
It will readily be understood that with a mixed gang, such as I had, there were loafers. I had not the power to inflict corporal punishment. A brain wave struck me. After working hours I called out those who were lazy, took them to the beach, made them collect heavy boulders, stack them in heaps about 20 yards apart, and carry them backwards and forwards, under the super- vision of a warder, for an hour. I gave them to under- stand, in no uncertain terms, this would be their job every day, until they mended their ways. This was known as “stone drill” and had an evil reputation among the prisoners. They dreaded this monotonous exercise after a hard day’s work; consequently few repeated their offences.
There was no fresh water on the island. We had to depend on Water Policeman Hill who towed ten casks to us once or twice a week. Nevertheless it was not a
Building of Jarman Island Lighthouse, 1888 39
bad spot to camp. It was not nearly so hot as the mainland, where the thermometer in summer seldom goes below 100 degrees in the shade, for all winds were tempered by the surrounding sea.
A garden was a problem, as we had to be very economical with our fresh water. I remember Colonel Angelo once telling me that when he was Commandant in Tasmania his beautiful vegetable garden was flooded by an exceptionally high tide. Naturally he thought all would be destroyed; but to his surprise, he found the cabbages grew better than ever after their salt water immersion. This induced him to read up the subject. He discovered that cabbage was originally a seaweed and consequently flourished better on salt than fresh water. Thus encouraged, I obtained some seed and succeeded in growing this vegetable with salt water. As the domestic plant has been so long acclimatised to fresh water, in the early stages of its growth this must be used, and it must be gradually educated to salt, which makes it grow much more prolifically than if fresh water only is used.
Eventually the fresh water question was solved, by constructing a large cement concrete underground tank to catch the rainfall from the roofs of the lightkeepers’ quarters which were built later. Though the rainfall was only about six inches a year, very often a quarter or half of this would fall in one day. The galvanised iron roofs of the various buildings considerably lessened the absorption. The water supply also was augmented by the heavy dews so often occurring during the summer months.
I led a regular Robinson Crusoe life. I had a weather- board hut, about 16 feet by 14 feet, roofed with heavy canvas overlapping on either side to form verandahs, and with a boarded floor. This was sleeping and dining room and office. The others were housed in tents. A Cingalese cook, named Sulieman, to whom I paid three pounds a month, looked after me well. For companion- ship I had a very intelligent and faithful big black Collie dog named Tinker, a dear little monkey Jenny, a kangaroo, cockatoo, and a meagre supply of literature. I also had some goats for milk, and the warder had a fox terrier. Later Robb, manager of the Union Bank �
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at Cossack, brought over his monkey, a Jenny also, but bigger than mine. They soon made friends. Every morning at sunrise I took them for a bathe. They chattered at me most indignantly. They clambered up to the top of my head and when I dived it was most amusing to see them swim ashore.
I have heard it said that monkeys drown themselves, as they always swim under water. But my little Jenny swam breast stroke, just like a human being, but Big Jenny, though also swimming breast stroke, swam under water. I used to allow them to run free on the island till dry and then put them on their chains. They loved following me to the lighthouse. Nothing pleased them more than swarming up the guy ropes of the derrick.
What turned out to be an amusing, though it might have proved a very serious episode, caused Robb to bring the monkey, of which he was very fond, to me. She was discovered, by an African nigger, named Louis, who was honest enough to take her and her find back to Robb at the bank, in the main street of Cossack, sit- ting on her haunches counting a £100 bundle of bank notes, just as she had seen the teller do. Robb dare not risk keeping her any longer. He was very fond of her, and consequently could not destroy her. He dare not give her to anyone there for fear she would repeat the experiment, so he brought her to me, and very glad I was to get her, as she made a companion for mine. She subsequently led mine into mischief. She had learned all the vices and none of the virtues of town life. Mine, of course, being a country inhabitant, was naturally unsophisticated. She soon taught her all the deeds she had acquired in civilisation.
On returning from work one day I found my mus- tard, curry powder and ink all mixed into a paste, and over everything white—tablecloth, papers, etc.—were a little monkey’s hand print and a big monkey’s.
Big Jenny seemed to understand the value of money, for though I kept them on the chain, whenever visitors came from the mainland, as they often did on Sundays, and of course went for a swim, if their clothes were left within reach, all the money in their packets was stolen. What she could not hold in her mouth was
Building of Jarman Island Lighthouse, 1888 41
buried in the sand. This happened to George Wright after returning from a swim. We only found two half- crowns in her mouth, but the rest of his money has not been found to this day.
They were very affectionate little animals. They chattered away to each other just like human beings. Little Jenny used to sit on the arm of my chair while I was at.my meals. I frequently allowed her this privilege. I always had an open book in front of me to read during meal times. When she thought I was particularly interested in it, a little hand would stealth- ily stretch out towards my plate. If I turned and looked at her, she would immediately turn her head away with a most disdainful expression on her face, as much as ta say, “Oh! dear no, I wouldn’t do such a thing.” When on the chain they were within reach of one another, and like children often quarrelled. The big one would box the little one’s ears causing her to crv, striking an attitude exactly like the picture one sees of Pears soap advertisement: “You dirty little scrub.”
Occasionally I set them on to each other, just for the fun of seeing them make it up again, which they very soon did. They hugged one another and crooned over each other, just as a human mother does over her baby. They were quite tame and would allow anyone to stroke them, but if I called out “cook ’em Jenny” while the stranger was petting little Jenny, she would immediately bite him. Why, I cannot say; nor have I been able to learn the reason from those who know more about these animals than I do.
The monkeys were intelligent little animals. They knew every boat that passed in and out of the creek, and could distinguish mine from all the others. When running free after their morning dip, they would perch on the highest rock and watch with interest the sea traffic. Whenever I returned from the mainland, they would scamper down to the beach, swarm up my arm, chattering away and trying, in their own language, to tell me all that had happened during my absence.
My dog Tinker was fairly friendly with them; but whenever the fox terrier came near they would get very angry. One day the terrier was interestedly watching them when I let big Jenny off her chain. I was sorry
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afterwards, for immediately she made one spring on to the dog’s back, riding him like a jockey and biting his ear. The poor dog was so frightened, he galloped off like a scalded cat with the monkey on his back still chewing his ear and the dog yelping “blue murder.” It took us some time to catch them and I am glad to say the dog was more frightened than hurt.
Tinker was a particularly intelligent, lovable dog. Whenever anyone talked to him he would turn his head from side to side and look as if he understood every word; in fact, he did. He was one of the few dogs I ever knew could dive. I discovered this accom- plishment by accident. On one of my trips to the mainland, Tinker of course with me, we found a hammer in the boat. When some ten or twelve yards off shore, I hailed the man who was seeing us off and threw it to him. It fell short into about six feet of water. To my astonishment, Tinker immediately jumped out of the boat, dived and recovered it.
Rock oysters abounded on the western shore and at low tide were easily obtainable. My lunch frequently consisted of a small bottle of beer, a piece of bread and butter and oysters. With an oyster opener and a seat on the rocks, the rest can better be imagined than described.
Poultry was very scarce in the North-West at this period, and eggs only rarely procurable. Knowing a man at Cossack had some fowls, I endeavoured to buy a couple of hens and a rooster. Though I offered him up to three pounds for them, he refused to sell. Even- tually he offered to lend them to me provided I returned them when I had finished the lighthouse. This offer I gladly accepted. They did remarkably well on the island as I let them run wild. Regularly I had two eggs a day for some time.
“Cook, what for only one egg?”
“T no find ’em, master.”
I suspected the monkeys, as they are very fond of them. Some days later, however, the cook discovered a hen sitting on thirteen eggs under a bush, so we left her. In due course she brought out thirteen chicks. This I kept a close secret, for I knew if it came to the owner’s ears, he would want them. Next time I went
Building of Jarman Island Lighthouse, 1888 43
to Cossack, I looked him up. After a hard bargain, I induced him to sell me the two hens and rooster for the price I had previously offered. He subsequently heard of the chickens. I believe his language on that occa- sion was unprintable and perhaps it was just as well four miles of sea separated us. My action in this matter may be deemed by some as somewhat mean; but who, in the circumstances, would not have similarly acted.
When we unpacked the machinery, the straw from the cases induced quail to congregate on the island, the scrub before alluded to affording excellent shelter. With the assistance of Tinker and my gun, these birds, nicely grilled on toast made a very enjoyable diet and a welcome change from the everlasting fish and meat.
Fish of all kinds were plentiful in the surrounding sea. Of the edible sort were mullet, whiting, bream, flounder, flathead, garfish, dart, trevally, rock cod, Spanish mackerel, tassel-fish (North-West salmon), Queensland groper, Saip-fish, white-fish, snapper, king- fish and Sampson-fish. Though they could be caught by a line and hook in the usual way, we had not always the time to spare. So I must plead guilty to occasion- ally committing the unpardonable sin of dynamiting them. It was the coloured prisoners’ delight to dive for the stunned fish. Once or twice I joined in, but there were too many sharks also interested in securing the injured game for my liking. These, however, did not deter them, though it did me. When one man came to the surface with only one fish in his hand, on being asked where the other was, he would casually answer, “Big fish get ’em, master.”
After working hours I allowed the prisoners to fish, but not with dynamite, and after dark Sulieman cooked them for their supper. This went smoothly on for some time, and friendly relationships were established between my cook and the prisoners.
One night Sulieman and Assam, the Arab, had a row about a piece of fat (the “fat was in the fire” properly) resulting in the latter running into my camp, about ten o’clock, with blood streaming from his leg, and exclaim- ing “Sulieman stab ’em me, master.” By the time I had bound up the wound, Sulieman had disappeared. ]
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summoned Stratford, Paxton, and the rest of the prison- ers, and a search party was organised.
It was a dark night, so that the task of locating our man among the scrub, rocks, and other physical fea- tures, was no easy task, rendered more difficult by having to maintain the silence necessary to enable us to secure our quarry.
The warder was not overburdened with courage. I doubt, had it been necessary to shoot, whether he could have hit anything as his revolver hand shook so violently, unless the object aimed at happened to move, on the principle of Mark Twain’s “cow which was per- fectly safe when fired at, so long as it stood still, but was hit when it moved.” I had sent him in quite an- other direction and had no idea he was anywhere near me, while Stratford and I searched another part. 1 lifted my head to get a better view. I heard an explo- sion just behind me, and felt the swish of a bullet near enough to my head to make me feel decidedly uncom- fortable.
“Here, Paxton! What the devil are you doing?”
“Oh! I beg pardon, sir, I though you were Sulie- man.”
Needless to say, I ordered him back to his camp and to remain there.
We proceeded with the search. It was not till early morning we found our man.
After breakfast I sailed into Cossack with my prisoner and took him before Colonel Angelo at Roe- bourne. After hearing Assam’s evidence and Sulieman’s defence, the latter was sentenced to three months’ hard labour. The result was I took Sulieman back to the island and he cooked for me for that period without pay. | | ee In allowing the prisoners so much liberty, it was necessary to adequately guard the boats, particularly at night. In addition to chaining and padlocking them securely to ring bolts firmly let into rock, Tinker was chained to them to give us warning should any attempt be made to use them as a means of escape. I doubt, however, whether anyone could get near them as Tinker Was very savage when put on guard; otherwise very docile. This proved effectual, as no attempt was made
Building of Jarman Island Lighthouse, 1888 45
to escape by the boats, though other and more ingenious methods were attempted, of which more anon.
Most of the time I occupied the island the weather was very hot, affecting the Arab, Assam, to such an extent that one morning about eleven o’clock he ran amok. He secured a hefty piece of three inch by three inch jarrah timber and started knocking down all and sundry. A hue and cry was soon raised. Everyone took shelter. Whenever a head appeared, Assam would make a blind rush for it, hoping to crack it.
I did not want to shoot him, as I knew, poor beggar, it was “his misfortune and not his fault,” this kind of disease being peculiar to Asiatics. After consultation with Stratford behind a sheltering rock, we decided to entice him into the open on to the sandy patch. I was then to run out. He would be sure to chase me. When he got near, but not close enough to hit me, I was to fall down quickly and he would trip over me, the others meanwhile keeping very still and close behind him. Directly he tripped over me, they were to rush and overpower him. This ruse, I am glad to say, succeeded. We had another trip to the mainland, but this time it was a patient for the doctor.
One of the aborigines adopted a_ very ingenious method of escape. In this region the natives are a fine athletic race. They have been known to jump over- board from steamers conveying them to Rottnest Island, where their penal settlement then was, and swim twenty miles to the nearest shore; thus escaping their police guards. This one we missed about 10 o’clock in the morning. He had been at work up till then, and as the boats had not been touched, we knew he must be some- where on the island. I mustered all hands and the cook and formed them into a search party. We sys- tematically examined every part of the island. It was nearly sundown before we unearthed him, of course in the most unlikely place.
At the foot of the cliffs on the west side, there is a strip of beach composed of granite boulders from two or three inches up to ten inches in diameter. While walk- ing over this area, one of the men, in stepping from one boulder to the other, noticed the one he landed on give way. On investigation, sure enough we found our
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man. He had dug a hole in the sand with his hands, underlying the boulders, crept into it, and recovered himself with the boulders in such a manner as to make the surface appear as though it had not been disturbed. His intention obviously was to remain hidden till night- fall and then swim ashore.
It was during the summer months that a solicitor named J. A. Delay, recently arrived from England, came up to Roebourne with a view to starting practice in opposition to Gus Roe. He had acted as locum tenens for Mr. Macklin, of the firm of Macklin and Kitson, of Fremantle, while the former went to England on holi- day. I had met him at Fremantle and become friendly with him while I was convalescing from a bout of malaria fever. During the time he was arranging pre- liminaries, I induced him to spend a few days with me on the island. I suggested that he might go fishing, while I was supervising the works, and supplied him with the necessary tackle; but particularly impressed on him to keep his pyjamas on as one easily got sun- burnt in this hot climate, and that burns of this nature, in the tropics, were very severe and often serious.
Imagine my consternation when at lunch time Delay walked into my hut with his jacket off and, turning his shoulders to me, asked: “Are my shoulders red?” “Rather, why on earth didn’t you keep your jacket on, old man?” As a matter of fact he had large blisters right across his shoulders and half way down his back.
Directly after lunch I sailed him to Cossack. I was fortunate enough to meet the doctor (Dr. Frizell), who conveyed him to Roebourne Hospital, where he was confined some little time with erysipelas. This, I think, decided him against staying in Roebourne for, after his recovery and practising for a short time, he left for Singapore. There he joined Mr. Sisson, and the firm of Sisson and Delay became well-known there.
It was pretty lonely during the week, but Saturdays and Sundays generally saw visitors, and very many pleasant fishing excursions we had. Mr. Reginald Hare had succeeded Colonel Angelo as Government Resident at Roebourne. He was a good sportsman. He, with George Wright, then Clerk of Courts, Henry Francis Keep, and Dr. Frizell came over one week-end. We
Building of Jarman Island Lighthouse, 1888 47
decided to sail the whaleboat to Hat Rock, about ten miles north-east, as it was covered with the finest and largest oysters in the district. It is so called because of its resemblance to a gigantic “tall hat.” It stands 15 feet above water level, with fringes of rock at its base, giving it the above appearance in the distance.
It was a calm day, but there is always a swell there, consequently two of us had to remain in the boat to keep her from bumping on these submerged rocks, which are covered with oysters whose sharp edges would soon make matchwood of any craft allowed to surge up against them. Also for this reason it was expedient for the landing party to wear boots, for the sharp edges of the oyster shells would quickly lacerate one’s feet.
We were not long in emptying out the ballast in the boat and loading her up to the underside of the seats with the luscious crustacea, returning to the island with enough to supply (as we did) the whole of Cossack and Roebourne for many days to come.
The main tower of the lighthouse was by this time nearly completed, and most of my Malay prisoners had obtained their liberty, their places being filled by aborigines. The structure wanted painting, but I found the aborigines were useless for this work, as directly the scaffold was a few feet from the ground they were overcome with the most abject fear.
This building was naturally a source of interest to the inhabitants on the mainland. Two sailing ships, the Chiselhurst and Sepia, were lying off the island on one of their annual voyages to load wool. Their re- spective captains were Maitland and Beckett, and as they had extended considerable hospitality to all us Nor’-Westers, I decided to invite them, together with the Roebourne and Cossackites, to a picnic to celebrate the completion of the lighthouse. Captain Tim England, who some years before had been unfortunate enough to lose his ship, was then at Cossack running a lightering business. Among his plant he had a steam launch (motor launches were unheard of at this period). I arranged with him to take as many passengers as he could on this and tow the rest, in dinghies.
It was a beautiful day in May, the cool season, just before the annual races at Roebourne, when all the
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squatters with their wives, families, uncles and aunts, come into Roebourne from hundreds of miles round for a week’s jollification. All expressed themselves as pleased with the outing.
Most of my guests returned to Roebourne from Cossack by buggy, but Dr. Frizell and George Wright had ridden down, each possessed of a horse of super- lative quality, according to their respective owner’s opinion. Comparing notes regarding the merits and demerits of their mounts, of course, led to the usual inconclusive argument, which could only be settled by racing back to Roebourne. They galloped up the main street of that town. The usual congregation of “beer chewers” were assembled in front of the various public houses, among one of which was the sergeant of poilce, who was there to keep order. When these two horse- men rode past at a pace much exceeding that prescribed by law, this evoked the ire of those respectable citizens, who exclaimed: “There you are, sergeant, if we blokes or the likes of us rode down the main street at that pace you would summon us, but being bleedin’ toffs you daren’t summon ’em.” The sergeant, being stung to a sense of duty, duly exercised it without “fear er favour,” and both were summoned to appear before the Police Court to answer a charge of “furious riding.”
Now I do not accept any responsibility for this furious ride, as the liquids supplied at the island picnic were mostly of the soft or temperance kind, though stronger were available for those requiring them, and I am quite sure that neither of my guests had imbibed sufficient of the latter to cause them to muster up enough “Dutch courage” to race for nine and a half miles. However, be this as it may, being ignorant of this episode, next morning I had occasion to see the Colonel on business. On arrival at the Courthouse I found him, with the late Mr. David Forrest, Jee (brother of the late Lord Forrest) on the Bench trying the charge laid against Dr. Frizell, J.P., Resident Medical Officer, and George Wright, Clerk-of-Courts.
The Courtroom had been stripped of its dignified judicial furniture and decorated with flags and bunting for the race ball, which was to be held that night. A table and two chairs had been temporarily provided on
Building of Jarman Island Lighthouse, 1888 49
the raised dais for the use of the Bench dealing with this charge.
The sergeant, following the usual practice, opened the case for the prosecution. The Clerk-of-Courts was with the other accused, Dr. Frizell, who looked most indig- nant, in the place where “the dock” usually stood. The Colonel read out the charge and leaning over the table looking at the place where the Clerk should have been, said: “Mr. Wright, under what section is this charge laid?”
The Colonel suffered somewhat from defective eye- sight. Discovering the clerk was not in his usual place, he looked up and perceived him where the accused usually stand: “Oh! Mr. Wright, please take your place and look up the Act.” And so it went on, the accused and the clerk alternately changing places, and having to look up what punishment he was liable for, if found guilty.
One can well imagine the doctor’s feelings. He was most annoyed, being a dignified justice of the peace and naturally an eminently respectable person.
I gathered from the whispered conversation between the justices that the Colonel looked on the charge as frivolous and was for letting them off, but Mr. Forrest was of the contrary opinion, which eventually pre- vailed.
I sat in Court waiting the Colonel’s convenience, while the above proceedings were taking place. They appealed to my risible faculties so strongly that I could not refrain from interjecting: “Pardon me, your Wor- ships, may I be permitted to say a few words, as I feel in a measure responsible for the accuseds’ behaviour?”
“Certainly, Mr. Owen,” replied the Colonel.
Whereupon I addressed the Court: “Your Worships, as you are doubtless aware, I gave a picnic on Jarman Island yesterday to celebrate the completion of the lighthouse, at which his Worship the Chairman of the Bench was present, and I gather from the evidence adduced that your worships consider that the two accused are guilty of the charge laid against them, and as your worships seem undecided what punishment to mete out, may I suggest that you give each of them one
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Building of Jarman Island Lighthouse, 1888 51
month’s hard labour, as they are both able strong young men, such as I require to paint the lighthouse.”
The result was that the two were cautioned and ordered to pay seven shillings and sixpence costs, that is three shillings and ninepence each.
The sailing ships Chiselhurst and Sepia were still in Cossack Roads. I am sorry to say the latter, during a severe storm, was wrecked and totally lost on reefs south of Rottnest in December, 1896. Captain Savage was then in command, Captain Beckett having been drowned in Cossack Creek some years previously.
Having these ships so near during a large part of the time I was on the Island, with such genial captains, made it very pleasant for me. We frequently visited one another, and this considerably broke the monotony and cheered me in my loneliness. They invariably gave a dance on board during their long stay in port. On these occasions, Captain Tim England was kept busy running backwards and forwards with the “youth and beauty” of Roebourne and Cossack. They were most enjoyable affairs.
This particular year, 1888, it was Captain Beckett's turn to give the ball on his ship. I helped with the commissariat, many of my thirteen (the lucky number in this case) chickens were roosters and fit for the table. I had also eggs to spare. So the supper was pronounced a success,
An amusing episode happened “after the ball was over.” I stayed all night on board the Sepia, and was awakened at daylight by a hue and cry. The ship’s cook and carpenter had taken the only boat left, the others all being ashore with visitors overnight, and disappeared. We climbed the rigging and, with the aid of our field glasses, after some time we located the boat, some five or six miles away close in shore. It appeared to have been abandoned as the sails were flapping. idly in the co breeze. Fortunately the weather was fine and calm.
Poor old Beckett was in a terrible state of mind. We were marooned. We could not signal the police in Cossack because the island blocked the view. How- ever, I comforted him by assuring him that if they had abandoned the boat and gone inland they would have to
stick to known waters, in which case the police would soon recapture them. If they did not stick to the tracks leading to fresh water, well, they would soon perish. I could not get back to the island, so there was nothing else to do but to “contain one’s soul in patience,”
In the course of an hour or two, we noticed signs of life in the distant boat. About noon our escapees sailed up alongside looking very crestfallen and ashamed of themselves. Their shame was considerably accentu- ated by the caustic remarks and jeers with which the other members of the crew greeted them on their re- turn, On searching the boat, we discovered that they had provisioned her in the scantiest manner for such an anticipated long voyage. The only “food’ ’we found was a small quantity of rum in a bottle. They admitted that the bottle was full at the time they left, and was the only means of sustenance they had provided them- selves with, to keep body and soul together. I think what really happened was that they got at the grog while the dance was in progress, and while “the wine was in the wit was out.”
What they had would not have got them far, either in the Australian bush or on sea, especially in the hot North-West. Neither water or solid food of any kind had they taken with them. When they reached the shore they had fallen asleep only waking at daylight, and only then realising the hopelessness of their plight and what fools they had made of themselves. Consequently they decided to return.
Among the several ship’s dinghies was one which Captain Beckett used most frequently to sail ashore in. She was a most cranky contraption. When sailing with him on one occasion—I wouldn’t risk my life a second time in her—I strongly urged him to get rid of her. “You are certain to lose your lite in her if you don’t,” 1 said, little realising that my prognostication would come true. He quite agreed, and said: “I intend to get rid of her before the next voyage.” Alas, poor chap, he didn’t, and sure enough the next year, while sailing from his ship to Cossack, between Jarman Island and Reader Head, she did capsize. He had an apprentice with him, whom he told to swim ashore and get assist-
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ance, saying he would be all right. The boy left him straddling the upturned boat. Unfortunately, when assistance did arrive, they found poor Beckett face downwards in the water. quite dead. It is supposed he had heart failure, which is quite feasible, as he was a very stout, short-necked man.
The beacon on Reader Head spit wanted attention. One calm evening as the tide was out, I essayed to wade across on the narrow rocky bar over which water, about a foot deep, ran swiftly at low tide. So swift was the current that one could only walk slowly, and had to be careful to firmly plant each foot before lifting the other. ‘The bar having a rough surface necessitated the wearing of rubber shoes. There was deep water on either side of this bar. Imagine my consternation when, half-way across, | saw a big shark. It looked a mile long through my “scared vision”; but I suppase it wasn’t more than ten or twelve feet. It was useless to run either backwards or forwards, for the current would certainly wash me right into its mouth. I advanced more cautiously, with my heart in my mouth, my hair on end, and cold shivers down my spine. Fortunately for me the monster either must have had his supper or did not see me, as he never moved, though he was only ten or fifteen feet away.
I reached the spit at last and, after resting awhile to still the beatings of my palpitating heart, I finished my inspection. JI was not game to return by the same route. I had no desire to tackle my friend either with four-ounce gloves, even had I them, nor yet with bare fists ; consequently, I signalled the island to send a boat, and returned on the opposite side of the bar to where it was.
One fine calm morning, the sea as smooth as glass, I was at the top of the lighthouse and noticed a disturb- ance some considerable distance out to sea. Through my glasses I noticed it was circular in shape and mov- ing slowly towards the island. Eventually it passed within a quarter of a mile. I could then make out it was caused by dozens of sharks swimming round and round in a circle of, I should say, 20 or 30 yards in diameter. In the centre were two sharks swimming side by side. Every now and then one of these two
Building of Jarman Island Lighthouse, 1888 53
would make a dash, apparently for liberty, then the others would snap at it and drive it back. After a short interval, the other would similarly act, with a like result, the whole mass slowly moving along. I watched them till out of sight, but what the phenomenon was I never discovered, nor could any of those to whom I mentioned the incident explain it. Apparently the two in the centre were delinquents of some sort, and were being punished for their offences by the rest of the shark family, or were they interlopers condemned to be devoured by the visited shark family.
During the Christmas holidays, various picnics were arranged by those on the mainland, Jarman Island attracting its share. Depuch Island, about 30 miles north-east, appealed to the more adventurous. It was only a barren rock, with precipitous cliffs, on which I doubt if it were possible to land: but the fishing was exceptionally good and consequently appealed to those possessing large and staunch boats. Nicol Bay about 15 miles south, the land surrounding which was gener- ally known as “Poverty Flat,” was another favourite place. It had the advantage of being reached either by land or sea.
The North-West Mercantile Company (formerly Farquhar, McRae and Co.) had stores at both Cossack and Roebourne and possessed two ninety-ton lighters, named respectively after the above townships. This company was managed by A. W. Anderson, a good- looking, fair, genial, hospitable man, whose wife and pretty daughter so ably helped him in his social activi- ties. He organised a male picnic to Depuch Island, chartering both lighters to convey his guests there. He filled his craft with choice spirits, both human and liquid. Among them was James Barrett, solicitor, who was then practising at Roebourne, having previously tried his luck at Perth and Geraldton. When setting out the weather was all that could be desired. At this time of the year this region is subject to what are collo- quially known as “cockeyed-bobs.” It blows very hard while they last and very little warning is given of their approach, as they often come out of a cloudless sky.
Everything went well till Depuch was reached. In the evening, just after dinner, the lighters being an-
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chored about a quarter of a mile off the island, a “cock- eyed bob” suddenly struck them. They threw out additional anchors and a kedge. All except the latter dragged, causing the lighters to drift within 150 yards of the rocks. Everyone prepared for the worst, and made ready to swim to land.
Barrett, who had “dined not wisely but too well,” had retired below to his bunk. Anderson, noting his absence, asked where he was, and, being informed, went below to warn him of the danger they were in.
“Barrett, Barrett, wake up, get on deck, hurry!” “What’s the matter?” “We’re drifting on the rocks.”
“I’m afraid I don’t know anything about a boat. If I came on deck I’m afraid I should only be in the way. When we get on the rocks, I'll leave.”
He promptly turned over and went to sleep again.
Fortunately the last kedge did hold and, the storm quickly subsiding, nothing further happened.
Cossack contained some notable pioneers, some of whom had died before my arrival there on March 12, 1887. An epidemic of measles had carried off Farquhar McRae, who, with Fred Pearse, ran a store under the title of Farquhar McRae and Company. This business afterwards became the North-West Mercantile Com- pany, in which W. D. Moore and Co., of Fremantle, had a large interest; Alec Pead and Dan Chapman, licensee of the Weld Hotel, all big, strong men. But this com- paratively mild and infantile disease is much accentu- ated in this tropical climate.
Some of the leading citizens there on my arrival were William Shakespeare Hall, generally known as “Shakey Hall,” who claimed descent from the immortal bard; J. P. Furlong, postmaster; Vernon Birch, Customs Officer; Robb, manager of the Union Bank; Dick Eaton, licensee of the White House Hotel; Mrs. Chapman, widow of Dan, licensee of the Weld Hotel; H. F. Keep, shipping agent; A. W. Anderson, manager of the North- West Mercantile Co.’s store; Andrew Thompson and Ebenezer Martin, both carpenters and builders: Mrs. Pead, widow of Alec, whose culinary attainments en- abled her to maintain the best boardinghouse favoured
Building of Jarman Island Lighthouse, 1888 55
by pearlers; Captains Brown, Larkham, Riddell, and others; Miss Bessie Rouse, schoolmistress, who later married Laffer, a mate of Moon at the time he was murdered by Hines on the Pilbara Goldfield; Mrs. Platt, one of whose numerous daughters married William White, lightkeeper on Jarman Island.
“Shakey” Hall had a quarrel with another well- known settler named Fauntleroy, who did not take it seriously. However, when his dog had pups he named them all after the members of “Shakey’s” family— “William Shakespeare,” “Hannah,” “Aubrey,” “Ernest” and “Joy.” Everyone treated this as a joke, and took a delight in addressing each of these pups by their re- spective names. During Faumrtleroy’s life-time, “Shakey” was ignorant of this joke which Fauntleroy had played on him. After his death, he learned of it and waxed very wroth, declaring he would go to Roe- bourne, where Fauntleroy was buried, and defile his grave. Needless to say he never did.
Poor old “Shakey” came to an untimely end some years later. He was very fond of sea bathing and a strong swimmer. Early every morning, summer and winter, into the creek opposite his house he went. He was found face downwards in three feet of water, quite dead, evidently heart failure.
Practical jokes were a very popular form of amuse- ment as business was not nearly as brisk and strenuous as now-a-day; consequently many leisure hours were spent in devising means of pleasantly occupying them. The devil I’m afraid prompted the commission of many.
Cossack consists of one long straggling one-sided street, the houses built on the edge of Tien-Tsin Har- bour, generally known as “The Creek,” and facing it. “Nanny Goat Hill” is a precipitous rock, about 100 feet high, a little distance from it at the southern end, over- looking the township. The flimsy wooden “houses of parliament,” naturally situated at the backs of the houses, were within easy reach of the Creek.
On the occasion of a ball, some jocular youths, orga- nised by two well-known identities, whose names obviously are suppressed and who were past-masters in the art of practical joking, conceived the brilliant idea, during the progress of the ball, to remove these struc-
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tures and tip them into the creek where the tide was ebbing, floating them out to sea. After accomplishing their nefarious object, they retired to the top of Nanny Goat Hill and waited for daylight to see what would happen. The consternation of the early risers can better be imagined than described, as well as the amuse- ment of the perpetrators. They were never actually discovered, only suspected. The episode went down to history as “So-and-So’s Willy-Willy.”
James Owen Brown was an agent there, a great wag and fond of indulging in this form of sport. His cottage was situated on the beach, about a quarter of a mile from the main street. To reach it one had to wade through loose heavy sand. During his many and often prolonged absences on business in the township, Malays, Chinese, and niggers ensconced themselves in the cane lounges on his verandah. He complained to policeman Pearl, who was an elderly stout man, without avail. This practice and Pearl’s inactivity—no-one hankers after walking in loose sand with the temperature over 100 degrees in the shade—annoyed Brown. He decided to get even with Pearl. Before leaving his cottage he stuffed his old clothes with straw to represent lay figures, deposited them in the various chairs on the verandah, walked into the township, met Pearl and drew his attention to these figures, which in the distance looked just like real human beings. “There you are Pearl, look at them.” “I’ll soon shift them,” said Pearl, and immediately proceeded at a fast pace across the sandy waste, puffing and panting, only to discover the hoax on arrival. Brown was not visible for many days thereafter, though Pearl searched high and low.
The lighthouse completed, the question of quarters for the lightkeepers arose. These I built of stone, with semi-circular galvanised iron roof covered on the out- side with four inches of concrete to ensure coolness. Though it accomplished this end, the roof was not a success, as the moisture from the sea air condensed freely on the inside iron lining causing it to drip. These quarters have since been replaced by more commodious premises.
Wood and water were a problem, as fresh water was unobtainable by sinking. The latter difficulty was
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overcome by constructing a cement concrete under- ground tank of ample capacity to collect rain water from the roofs; but wood for fuel still had to be lightered over to the island, as there was no plant growing there of sufficient size to supply this want.
Now commenced a lengthy correspondence about appointing lightkeepers. It took some time to convince headquarters that. two were necessary, as the lamp re- quired winding up every two hours. While finality was being reached, Stratford, with the assistance of Warder White kept it going.
William White, who had acted as warder of the prisoners, sought my influence to get him appointed. He had been a sailor and was a very steady man, a teetotaller and non-smoker, and in very way suitable, but those senior to him had first to be considered. Water Policeman Hill was first offered the post at £90 a year, but refused it. Eventually Efford, assistant lightkeeper at Fremantle, was appointed, and White his assistant at £84 per annum. Later White Married Miss Platt, a Cossack girl.
Two years later when I was revisiting the North- West in company with Mr. F. W. Martin, then Railways Maintenance Engineer, our duties took us to Cossack, and White sailed us over to inspect the lighthouse.
“Well, White! How is your wife and family?” “Very well, thank you, sir.”
“Let’s see, how many children have you now—three or four is it?”
“Oh no sir! Only two, and one on the stocks.”
White had wonderful luck. On one of the many occasions when Hill brought him water, the Melbourne Cup was discussed.
“Oh, Hill! Here’s a sovereign,” he said, “buy me a ticket in Tatts.” Result, he won the first prize, £8,000 odd. Had the sweep filled he woud have won £10,000.
At this time I was back in Perth at headquarters. Needless to say, lightkeeping no longer interested him. He came to ask my advice as to how to invest his money. I advised him to buy a farm in the Bunbury district, for farming was a paying occupation in those
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days, but said he: “I don’t know anything about farm- ing.” .
“Never mind, you can engage a man who does at £3 or £4 a week, and ride round with him to see he does his job.”
He did not take my advice. Various land agents in Perth persuaded him to buy land, and he lost money. Eventually he bought or leased a beer house in Fre- mantle and, in conjunction, kept sailing boats for hire. But these ventures, I am sorry to say, were also un- successful. From time to time he came to see me; but I haven’t seen him for years. The last time I met him he was very depressed.
“What’s the matter, White ?”
“Oh, sir, the likes of me ain’t fit to have money, I haven’t the brains to look after it. I’m only fit to be a working man.”
I finished the lighthouse on May 14, 1888, having previously advised the Government that it would be ready to light on that date, and the following is the notice which appeared in the “Government Gazette” :—
NOTICE TO MARINERS.
Notice is hereby given that from the 16th May, 1888, a Fixed White Light of the third order Dioptric will be exhibited on Jarman Island, Cossack, N.W. Australia, on the spot where a beacon has_ hitherto been standing. The Light will be shown from sunset to sunrise from a circular iron tower in Latitude 20 deg. 39m. 06s., South Longitude 117 deg. 13m. 21s. Fast, and will be visible all round the horizon for a distance in clear weather of fifteen miles.
The tower is painted, the lower half Red and the upper half White, the centre of Lantern being ele- vated ninety-six feet above high water, the height of the tower from base to vane being fifty-one feet.
The Light hitherto shown on Reader Head will be discontinued from same date. (Signed) J. Arthur Wright, Director of Public Works.
I had taken photographs as the work proceeded and one at completion. I sent the developed negative to
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a photographer in Roebourne for him to print copies, sending one to Mr. Wright. After he received it, imagine my indignation on receipt of the following telegram from him: “Thanks for photograph of light- house. Are you sure it is perpendicular, as it does not appear so from the photograph?” When I showed this to Stratford, he danced on his hat and let out a volley of unprintable language, ending up by going on the spree for a week. The fact was the photographer used “to look at the wine when it was red” and had very carelessly mounted the print, which he had not cut square,
Before | employed Stratford on lighthouse construc- tion, he was under me as foreman carpenter on the two- foot gauge tramway from Cossack to Roebourne, which is 9$ miles long. The goods trucks were obviously not the heavy vehicles usually used on bigger gauge rail- ways. The motive power was the useful horse. The journey per passenger train occupied 14 hours, goods traffic of course taking longer. To accelerate this speed, a brain-wave struck me—Why not sail? I procured a stout bamboo mast and rigged a square sail which I could haul in and slack away to keep the wind when curves were negotiated and the direction of the altered line necessitated my doing so. It was a great success when there was wind, reducing the time usually occu- pied in accomplishing the journey by half.
Meeting my friends Captain Mayne, Inspector of Pearl Shell Fisheries, and Gus Roe, I said: “Now you old shellbacks, you may know something about sailing on the sea; I’ll show you how to sail on land.’ As both were anxious to reach Roebourne speedily, off we started, there being a good breeze, and reached there in little over half an hour.
A few days later, while at the terminus, imagine my consternation at seeing Stratford sailing in at a terrific speed. He had an iron telegraph pole, weighing several hundredweights, as a mast and a double-size main sheet, He told me he had attained a speed of between 20 and 30 miles per hour. I promptly put the stopper on this, as neither the wheels or gauge would stand this strain for long. I had no desire to see or hear of an accident happening to either Stratford or the men in his charge.