The story behind The Sound #4

On October 25th 1826, the Astrolabe left for Port Jackson with four Breaksea Islanders aboard as crew. According to the testimony of Breaksea Islander William Hook,(34) the next day some Menang men approached John Randall, the boatsteerer from the Governor Brisbane, to go muttonbirding on Green Island, a tiny verdant island in Oyster Harbour. John Randall and James Everett instructed two sealers, Edward Edwards and William Hook, to take the Menang men out to the island and strand them there.

 The Sound, by Louis de Sainson, depicts the crew of the Astrolabe atop Mount Adelaide. Green Island is just north of the channel into Oyster Harbour.

The Sound, by Louis de Sainson, depicts the crew of the Astrolabe atop Mount Adelaide. Green Island is just north of the channel into Oyster Harbour.

At dawn on the morning after the Menang men were marooned, four sealers went inland armed with cutlasses and guns. They were away all day and returned with four Menang women in the evening. Two of the women escaped that night, despite being tied together by their arms. The sealers then drew straws for the remaining two women. Samuel Bailey drew a long straw, as did George McGuiness. In the morning the sealers took the women out to Breaksea Island, ostensibly to imprison the captured women and escape Menang retribution.

The following day Randall sent Hook, Edwards and four other men to Green Island with a keg of water and as they approached the island, the Menang men rushed the boat. The sealers returned to the shore of what is now called Emu Point. Four ‘fresh hands’ rowed out to the island again, taking with them guns and cutlasses. When they arrived at Green Island a fight ensued between the sealers and the Menang men. Someone fired a gun but the Menang men persisted. The second shot killed one of the Menang men, who fell face-first into the water, “blood spouting out from both his sides.” (35)

On the third day of the marooning of the Menang men, Randall went out to the island himself. To illustrate the previously amicable relations and subsequent betrayal, Hook described the scene as: “At first the Natives hid themselves; but on seeing Randall who was a great favourite with them, they came out and kissed him.” (36) Randall took the four surviving men aboard his boat and left the dead body on the island. He was said to have intended on taking the men ashore at Emu Point but sealers later told Lockyer that “the shore was lined with mobs of natives and they could not in safety land these men on the main.” (37) It seemed that the ‘Natives’ were no longer ‘incapable of harm.’ Randall and the sealers took the Menang men to Michaelmas Island instead and abandoned them there, leaving them “making great lamentations.” (38)

Footnotes

34 The following recount of events is by William Hook, as recorded by Major Edmund Lockyer in his correspondence to the Colonial Secretary Alexander Macleay. Lockyer, H.R.A. III, Vol. 1, p. 473.
35 Lockyer, H.R.A. III, Vol. 1, p. 473.
36 Lockyer, H.R.A. III, Vol. 1, p. 473.
37 Lockyer, H.R.A. III, Vol. 1, p. 484.
38 Lockyer, H.R.A. III, Vol. 1, p. 473.