you're reading...
Australian History

On this day (Australia): In 1815, Captain James Kelly set out on circumnavigation of Tasmania, during which important observations were made on the resources of the west coast

Captain James Kelly

On 12 December 1815, Captain James Kelly set out on circumnavigation of Tasmania, during which important observations were made on the resources of the west coast.

James Kelly, Australian mariner, explorer and port official, was born on 24 December 1791 at Parramatta, New South Wales. He was probably the son of James Kelly, a cook in the convict transport Queen, and Catherine Devereaux, a convict transported for life from Dublin in the same ship.

Kelly was first apprenticed as a seaman in 1804 and sailed in vessels engaged in the sealing and sandalwood trades as well as making a voyage to India.

In 1812 he was chief officer of the full-rigged ship Campbell Macquarie on a sealing voyage when the ship was wrecked on Macquarie Island. He became the first Australian-born master mariner with voyages in the sealing industry and general trade between Hobart and Sydney.

In 1814, he was master of the Henrietta Packet, a schooner owned by Thomas William Birch, carrying passengers and cargo between colonial ports.

In December 1815 Kelly left Hobart in command of an expedition to circumnavigate Tasmania using the whaleboat Elizabeth . The party made the official discovery of Port Davey on the south west coast, and on 28 December of Macquarie Harbour on the central west coast.

Features within the harbour were named the Gordon River after the owner of the Elizabeth and Birchs Inlet after Kelly’s employer and sponsor T.W. Birch. Birch was granted a monopoly to exploit Huon Pine on the west coast as a reward.

Birch gave a differing account to the commission of inquiry into the state of the colony in 1820. He said that Port Davey was discovered while on board the Henrietta Packet and that Kelly had discovered Macquarie Harbour after proceeding along in a boat from Port Davey.

Kelly also gave evidence to the same commission, and did not mention any discoveries, or contradict the account of Birch.

In November 1817, commanding Birch’s Sophia, Kelly sailed on a sealing venture to New Zealand and entered Otago Harbour. With him was William Tucker who had settled in the area in 1815 and was returning.

The harbour chief, Korako, would not ferry across Maori from Whareakeake, two miles north along the coast, where Tucker had established himself, and whose people now wished to receive their returning Pakeha’s gifts.

A few days later, when Kelly, Tucker and five others went in a long boat to Whareakeake they were at first received peaceably but then attacked. Tucker, Veto Viole and John Griffiths, Kelly’s brother-in-law, were killed and eaten.

Kelly returned to the Sophia still lying in the Otago Harbour and now distrusting Maori there attacked them destroying canoes and burning the “beautiful City of Otago”, which he said had 600 houses. 

Whareakeake became known as “Murdering Beach”. Kelly probably exaggerated his revenge but did kill some people and destroyed some property.

Unknown to him he had walked into a pre-existing feud the precise cause of which only became known to historians with the discovery of a manuscript in 2003 which gave the long missing Maori side of the story.

In May 1819 Governor Macquarie confirmed Kelly’s appointment as pilot and harbourmaster at the Derwent River. In December 1821 as master of the Sophia he assisted in transporting convicts to the newly established penal station at Macquarie Harbour, and in 1825 he helped to set up the secondary penal station on Maria Island.

Business interests, mostly in whaling, banking and insurance, saw him resign from Government service in the late 1820s.

Kelly’s wife died in 1831 and two sons drowned in 1841 and 1842, respectively. He was financially ruined by the economic depression of the early 1840s and spent most of the remainder of his life back in the employ of the port authorities.

He died suddenly in Hobart on 20 April 1859, survived by only three of his ten children.

Kelly’s name is perpetuated by a number of geographical features including Kelly’s Steps in Battery Point, Hobart, Kelly Basin at Macquarie Harbour, Kelly Island off Forestier Peninsula and Kelly Point on Bruny Island (later renamed Dennes Point).

Source: Wikipedia

About Craig Hill

Teacher and Writer. Writing has been cited in New York Times, BBC, Fox News, Aljazeera, Philippines Star, South China Morning Post, National Interest, news.com.au, Wikipedia and others.


No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

If you liked what you just read, click "Subscribe" to become a follower of the Craig Hill site. You will receive an email each time a new post is published.

Join 15,358 other followers

An archive of all my old posts

Follow me on Twitter

Most Recent Posts Post on My Blog About China: China News

China’s new aircraft carrier Fujian: Hit or miss 

China’s new aircraft carrier Fujian: Hit or miss 

While the United States was wrapping up its Valiant Shield 2022 exercise on 17 June, China launched its third aircraft carrier with all the fanfare. The launch was postponed twice due to logistical and technical issues. The aircraft carrier has been named Fujian with the hull number 18. It has been under construction at the world’s largest […]

In Beijing’s BRICS summit, Putin is back on the world stage

In Beijing’s BRICS summit, Putin is back on the world stage

When Russian President Vladimir Putin dials into the virtual BRICS summit hosted by Beijing on Thursday, it will be his first time attending a forum with the heads of major economies since launching an invasion of Ukraine earlier this year. For Putin, this could offer a welcome picture: his face beamed onscreen alongside other leaders […]

U.S. not seeking to create “Asian NATO,” defense secretary says

U.S. not seeking to create “Asian NATO,” defense secretary says

The U.S. Defense Secretary emphasized partnership as the main priority for the American security strategy in the Indo-Pacific during a keynote speech on Saturday. However, Lloyd Austin stressed that the U.S. does not seek to create “an Asian NATO.” Austin spoke for half an hour at the First Plenary Session of the Shangri-La Dialogue 2022 […]

Why Chinese warplanes are ‘playing chicken’ with US allies

Why Chinese warplanes are ‘playing chicken’ with US allies

Chinese warplanes are targeting US allies in a high-stakes “game of chicken” over the Asia-Pacific that risks spiraling out of control — raising the risk of an incident that could spark war. That is the view of analysts who warn increasingly aggressive maneuvers by Chinese fighter jets — accused of endangering both Canadian and Australian […]

Has China lost Europe?

Has China lost Europe?

In April and May, as Russia’s war in Ukraine entered its third month, China sent a special envoy to meet with officials in eight central and eastern European countries. The timing was not coincidental: in the two months since Russia had launched its invasion, China’s standing in Europe had sunk to new lows. European governments […]

Xi’s re-election: Opportunity for the world, curse for China

Xi’s re-election: Opportunity for the world, curse for China

China is gearing up for the 20th National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party to be held later this year. According to the consensus view, President Xi Jinping’s historic bid for a third term as the party’s General Secretary is assured. The Chinese President and General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), Xi Jinping, doesn’t have much […]

China: A political view

China: A political view

I read Dr Mohamad Zreik[2] interesting and comprehensive article on the growth of China’s economy. It has come a long way since the days of Mao Tse Tung and the days of his communist experiment, the Long March, when millions died. The years that followed Mao set the path from which the economy took off […]

Math books outrage China with ‘ugly, sexually suggestive, pro-American’ images

Math books outrage China with ‘ugly, sexually suggestive, pro-American’ images

China has ordered a nationwide review of school textbooks after illustrations deemed ugly, sexually suggestive and secretly pro-American caused public uproar. The news has alarmed some experts and parents who fear the campaign is turning into a political witch hunt and represents an unnecessary tightening of the country’s already stringent censorship of cultural publications. The […]

Why Biden didn’t mean what he said about Taiwan

Why Biden didn’t mean what he said about Taiwan

The White House has been left scrambling a little after President Joe Biden suggested on May 23, 2022, that the US would intervene militarily should China attempt an invasion of Taiwan. The comment, which Biden made during a trip to Japan, was taken by some observers as a deviation from the official US line on […]

United States outmanoeuvres Russia once again? 

United States outmanoeuvres Russia once again? 

In a recent briefing, the US Director of National Intelligence (DNI), Avril Haines warned, “I would characterize it as the Russians aren’t winning, and the Ukrainians aren’t winning, and we’re at a bit of a stalemate here.” So, where is the Russia-Ukraine war heading? What is Russian President Putin planning next? Is Europe ready for […]

%d bloggers like this: