James Wallis – Historical Account of New South Wales 1821 online

James Wallis - An historical account (1821)

James Wallis - An historical account of the colony of New South Wales (1821)

Day Shift – 17/11/2009 – 02:10 PM
Presenter: Carol Duncan
Interviewee: Gionni Di Gravio, Archivist, Newcastle University

Newcastle University Archivist Gionni Di Gravio discusses a recent addition to the University’s Flickr site: Captain James Wallis’ (1785?-1858) An historical account of the colony of New South Wales and its dependent settlements : in illustration of twelve views / engraved by W. Preston from drawings taken on the spot by Captain Wallis. To which is subjoined An accurate map of Port Macquarie and the newly discovered River Hastings by J. Oxley. London : Printed for R. Ackermann by J. Moyes, 1821.  The volume fetches upwards of $30,000 AUD and was photographed by Associate Professor Allan Chawner and prepared for the web by Gionni Di Gravio.

Broadcast Notes:

To access the original images click on the Flickr link here:

To access a text searchable pdf version of the whole work click here:
James Wallis – An historical account (1821) (51MB PDF Version)

Newcastle, Hunter's River, New South Wales

Plate No. V.

Is a View of Newcastle; a settlement beatifully situated on the south side of the entrance of Hunter’s River, which is sixty miles north of Sydney. From hence Sydney is supplied with coal, a good quanlity, a shaft having been lately sunk there; and also with lime, burnt from shells, and with timber of every description. About thirty miles from the sea, Hunter’s River is formed by the junction of three rivers of considerable magnitude. These take their rise from the range of mountains which extend all along the coast; the waters on the eastern side of the range running towards the sea, while those on the western side run into the interior, and are supposed to form a vast inland lake. The scenery on the banks of these rivers is very fine; some parts being low and thickly wooded, while other parts present to the view sloping banks, luxuriant herbage, and majestic trees, scattered in beautiful profusion, and assuming the appearance of a gentleman’s park in England. Black swans, pelicans, wild ducks, widgeons, and many other sorts of water fowl, are found in abundance; and the forests are thickly inhabited by kangaroos and emus; and the harbour swarms with fish. When this land is granted, it is likely to become one of the most fertile settlements in the Colony, as the soil is rich and free from floods, and the navigation good for sixty miles. The entrance to the harbour is difficult: Governor Macquarie has, however, commenced a work of magnitude, and is now occupied in erecting a pier, to extend from the main land to the island called Nobby’s, situated in the channel. This work, when completed, will, by confining the waters to one channel, deepen and perfectly secure the principal entrance. This settlement has hitherto been approprated to the reception of all those culprits who are convicted by the Courts or Magistrates of crimes committed in Sydney, or amy other part of the Colony. (pages 39-40)

Corrobboree or dance of the natives of New South Wales

Plate No. VI.

Is a View of a Corrobboree, or dance, of the natives of New South Wales. The representation of this extraordinary assemblage of savage festivity, as well as the scenery, is taken from nature. The preparation for their dance is striking and curious. They assemble in groups, and commence marking their arms, legs, and bodies, in various directions, with pipe-clay and a kind of red ochre; some of them displaying great taste at their toilet, as in the representation. Their musician, who is generally an elderly man, sings, a monotonous tune, in which they all join, skriking in regular time his shield with a club or waddy. Each dancer carries a green bough in his hand. The beauty of the scenery, the pleasing reflection of light from the fire round which they dance, the grotesque and singular appearance of the natives, and their wild notes of festivity, all form a strange and interesting contrast to any thing ever witnessed in civilised society. The women never dance; and where several tribes meet together, each tribe dances separately. All the principal figures in the foreground are from original portraits: the tall figure, laughing, on the left, is the chieftain or king of the Newcastle Tribe, called Buriejou, —a brave, expert fellow, who has lately presented Governor Macquarie with his eldest son, to be placed in the native institution, as a proof of his confidence in British humanity. (page 40)

Two Black Swans (on Reed's Mistake)

Plate No. VII.

Is a representation of two Black Swans. The View is on Reed’s Mistake, a small harbour about eighteen miles south of Newcastle. A bar across prevents vessels of any burden from entering this harbour. The scenery on this river, called by the natives Bunjarees Norah, is rich, luxuriant, and picturesque. Kangaroos are found here in abundance, as well as wild fowl: the natives are a very firnedly tribe, and excellent fishermen. (pp. 40-41)

Two Kangaroos about six miles from Newcastle

Plate No. VIII.

Is a representation of two kangaroos from nature. The scenery is six miles from Newcastle. A large lagoon, or lake, apears in the distance, which affords fish and roots for the subsistence of a very wild and savage tribe of natives. (p. 41)

View from Hunter's River

Plate No. IX.

Is a View from Hunter’s River. In the fore-ground is a group of natives; on the summit of the hill stand the Government stock-yards, and Christ Church; the first church and steeple ever erected in view of the Pacific Ocean. The situation is very commanding and from the sea is distinguishable at a considerable distance. (p. 41)

3 thoughts on “James Wallis – Historical Account of New South Wales 1821 online

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