Saturday, November 29, 2008

The Pearling expedition- part 2

On February 2 1869, the ‘Pilot’ returned to Port Walcott. Allan Hughan reported that the pearling had been unsuccessful, and they sailed eastward along the Kimberley Coast on February 5. While the Pilot was at Port Walcott, Robert Sholl reported that he had received a note from " Mr Hughan, the owner, who complains that 'Anthony' (also known as 'Coppido'), having stolen black women, places the lives of innocent white men in jeopardy. He has been unsuccessful pearling and goes Eastward."
The Pilot appears to have voyaged along the Kimberly Coast as far as Camden Harbour.
On April 17 1869, the ‘Pilot’ returned from King George Sound. A few days later a drunken row was reported by police as having broken out aboard the ‘Pilot’.
On April 24 1869, it was reported in the paper that the ‘Pilot’ sailed from Port Walcott for Fremantle.
By May 8 1869, the ‘Pilot’ was back again in Fremantle with 15 bags of pearl shells. The Perth Gazette and Western Australia Times reported: " May 8: Pilot, 83 tons, Harris master. From Port Walcott. Passengers Mr and Mrs Hughan, Miss Hughan and Master Hughan and G.McCullum. Cargo: 15 bags pearl shells." The reference to 'Miss' and 'Master' Hughan is an obvious mistake-it should have read the 'Misses Hughan'. In the same edition was an article headed "Nichol Bay". It read "We have later intelligence from the North Settlement by the 'Pilot', the vessel belonging to Mr Hughan , who fitted her up with diving apparatus, but we regret to hear that in consequence of the strength of the tides, it proved of little use."
Allan Hughan and Charles Broadhurst went their separate ways after the failure of their diving experiment, and on May 29 1869, the ‘Pilot’ sailed for Melbourne, carrying six crew, 5 cabin passengers and two mails.
Almost a month later, on June 28 1869, the ‘Pilot’ arrived back in Melbourne after stopping at Victor Harbour, S.A., en route.No extra passengers were on board, but cargo included 1 case of plants for Dr. Mueller; 10 tons pearl shells; 20 bales of wool; 20 tons raspberry wood.
Of interest is the case of plants for Melbourne botanist Dr.Ferdinand Von Mueller. Allan collected plants for the Doctor wherever he travelled throughout Australia, and his trip to W.A was no exception. He even had a plant named after him by Von Mueller after bringing it back from Western Australia-Verticordia hughanii, or Hughan's Feather Flower. It is a red-flowering shrubby bush, grown only in Western Australia and very endangered.

On Wednesday, July 7,1869, a report in the Port Phillip Herald read as follows:

"DISCOVERY OF PEARLS- It would appear that diamonds, emeralds and rubies are not the only gems to be found in Australia.Mr. Hughan, who has just arrived from Nicol Bay, Western Australia, has brought with him several of the finest pearls that we ever recollect to have seen. One of them, which is about the size of a pea, is valued at between two and three hundred pounds, and several are nearly as large. The pearls will, we understand, be left with Mr. Crisp and with Mr Walsh for the inspection of those interested in such matters."

The next trace of Allan and the 'Pilot' came on September 6 1869, when the Port Phillip Herald reported that the Pilot sailed from Melbourne bound for Levuka, Fiji. On board were Allan Hughan, Mr Beaver, Mr. Minute, Mr J Reed, Mr Scott, Mr Stewart and Mr Wecker. It is not known what the actual purpose was of this trip, and as Phoebe Hughan and the girls were not named on the passenger list it can be assumed that they remained home in Melbourne for the remainder of 1869.
The Argus newspaper of Tuesday, September 7, 1869, records the following in their shipping intelligence:
"Cleared Out- September 6
Pilot, 84 tons, E. Flinn, for Levuka(Fiji). Passengers- cabin- Mr. John Reid.Piggot Brothers & Co, agents.
EXPORTS:Pilot for Levuka(Fiji). 5 packages tobacco;97 casks 21 half barrels ale;68 casks stout; 2 bales woolpacks; 35 cases old tom; 33 cases geneva; 17 cases whiskey; 2 quarter-casks 52 cases brandy; 2 quarter-casks wine; 10 cases champagne; 20 cases claret; 44 cases preserved provisions; 6 casks vinegar; 5 cases bitters; 1 case show cards; 33 cases drugs; 5,000 bricks; 1 case ploughs."

The Victorian Index of Outward passengers to Interstate & Foreign Ports has the following list of passengers for the Pilot sailing from Melbourne to Levuka, Fiji, in September 1869:

Mr Beaver, aged 20
Mr Houghton aged 30 (sic; this is Allan Hughan)
Mr. Minute aged 45
Mr. J. Reed aged 35
Mr Scott aged 24
Mr Stewart aged 29
Mr Wecker aged 30.

Further investigation has revealed that the Mr Scott who was on board the Pilot was in fact Andrew George Scott, who would in later years become better known as bushranger Captain Moonlite. On May 8, 1869, Scott had disguised himself and robbed the Mount Egerton bank of about 500 pounds worth of gold. He managed to turn the blame away from himself by implicating the local schoolmaster and the bank agent he had robbed, and left the colony of Victoria, via an excursion to Fiji and Noumea on board the Pilot with Allan Hughan, before setting himself up in Sydney as a "gentleman". More about Mr A.G Scott later.....

By October 28, the Pilot was in Noumea. The newspaper Le Monituer, from Noumea, reports that the English schooner-brig, 'Pilot', 90 tons, captained by E. Flinn, had arrived in Noumea from Levuka, Fiji, in a trip taking eight days. Mentioned at the head of six passengers of the Pilot was Allan Hughan.

It appears that the Pilot made several local trips to islands around New Caledonia, including Lifou, the largest island of the Loyalty group, northeast of the island of New Caledonia. Allan's pearling days were not quite over, as the Pilot returned from one of these excursions to Lifou with a load of 60 tons of mother-of-pearl shells, the value of which was estimated to have been about 15,000 Francs.

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