World History & Research Reports

AUSTRALIAN HISTORY: Ernest Roberts Soldier, Labour Politician & Member South Australian House of Assembly


AceHistoryDesk – Ernest Alfred Roberts (21 February 1868 – 2 December 1913) was an Australian politician and soldier who was a Labor member of the South Australian House of Assembly from 1896 to 1902 and 1905 to 1908 and then the Australian House of Representatives from 1908 to 1913.


Ace Press News From Cutting Room Floor: Published: Dec.02: 2023: History Today News: TELEGRAM Ace Daily News Link

Roberts also served as an officer in South Africa during the Second Boer War, with South Australian colonial forces in 1900 and Commonwealth forces in 1902. From 1904 to 1908 he was the editor of The Herald, a left-wingnewspaper published by the United Labor Party (ULP).

Roberts also served as an officer in South Africa during the Second Boer War, with South Australian colonial forces in 1900 and Commonwealth forces in 1902. From 1904 to 1908 he was the editor of The Herald, a left-wingnewspaper published by the United Labor Party (ULP).

Born in London and schooled on the island of Guernsey, Roberts initially followed his father into the merchant marine, and after briefly living in Queensland he moved to Port Pirie, South Australia. There he worked on the wharves, was active in the labour movement, and was a member of the town council. In 1893 he ran unsuccessfully for the seat of Gladstonein the House of Assembly as an independent Labour candidate. On his second attempt in 1896 he was elected as a ULP candidate, and was the youngest member of the assembly. He cemented his position at the 1899 election. In late 1899, he crossed the floor and contributed to the defeat of the ministry of Charles Kingston, attracting sharp criticism from some parts of the ULP.

In 1900, Roberts served in the Second Boer War in South Africa as a lieutenant with the 4th Imperial Bushmen’s Contingent raised from South Australia. After its arrival in June his unit was involved in several engagements, including the relief of the garrison at Elands River.

In December, Roberts, considering the fighting almost over, asked for and received permission to return home, and resumed his seat in the assembly. Post-Federation, Roberts helped raise a unit of the Australian Commonwealth Horse and served with it as a captain in South Africa in 1902. The main operation of his unit was as part of a large-scale concerted “drive” to push the remaining Boers to surrender, and Roberts personally took the surrender of more than 190 Boers, along with the capture of a similar number of horses. Roberts’ term in the assembly expired while he was absent in South Africa, and he did not contest any seat at the 1902 South Australian state election. From 1904 to 1908 Roberts edited The Herald, and he successfully ran for the seat of Adelaide in the 1905 state election. He was re-elected in the state election of 3 November 1906. He was vice-president and then president of the ULP in 1907–1908, and was also a member of the council of the South Australian School of Mines and a board member of the Adelaide Co-operative Society.

When a by-election was called for 13 June 1908 in the federal division of Adelaide following Kingston’s death, Roberts ran as the Australian Labour (Labor from 1912) Party candidate and won the seat, then retained it in the 1910 federal election. Roberts represented the minister for defence, Senator George Pearce, in the House of Representatives, and also while Pearce was overseas in 1911, and was appointed as an honorary minister later that year. He retained his seat at the 1913 federal election, but soon after a fierce parliamentary debate on 2 December 1913 he collapsed and died from a heart condition. He received a state funeral attended by 6,000 people. The loss of Roberts – considered a highly capable and up-and-coming member of the ULP – was felt intensely by his political comrades, along with his fire, energy and enthusiasm. In 1917 a monument was erected over his grave at West Terrace Cemetery in Adelaide, which The Advertiser newspaper described as “emblematic of the untimely end to [his] brilliant career”.


Early life

Ernest Alfred Roberts was born in London on 21 February 1868, the son of John Henry Roberts and his wife Sarah Ann née Woodford. His father was an officer in the merchant marine. Ernest attended school on the island of Guernsey in the English Channel off the coast of Normandy. He followed in his father’s footsteps and became a sailor before settling in Queensland in 1886. Two years later he moved to Port Pirie, South Australia, where he obtained work as a wharf labourer. Described in his entry in the Australian Dictionary of Biography as “[a] radical with exceptional abilities as an orator and organi[s]er”,[1] Roberts was closely involved in the formation of a local workingmen’s association, becoming its inaugural secretary. He also assisted in the establishment and management of a local cooperative bakery in Port Pirie, and was a member of the town council in the early 1890s. On 27 August 1892, Roberts married Bridget Marie Collins, with whom he had a son and three daughters.

Early political career

In the 1893 South Australian colonial election, Roberts contested the two-member seat of Gladstone in the South Australian House of Assembly – the lower house of the South Australian parliament – as an independent Labor candidate, losing narrowly but gaining 30.0 per cent of the votes.[1][2] Undeterred, Roberts contested the same seat in the 1896 election as a United Labor Party (ULP) candidate, and was successful, coming second with 30.8 per cent of the votes, after the incumbent independent Alfred Catt.

At 28, Roberts was the youngest member of the assembly, but he quickly became well-known for his advocacy for the early closing of factories to reduce working hours, and for improved working conditions for sailors. A local weekly magazine, The Critic, described him as a “swollen-headed young man” who was “as caustic as he is clever”. In 1897 Roberts was a member of the state royal commission into the waterworks proposed at Bundaleer near Jamestown in the mid-north of the state. He strengthened his position at the 1899 election, and was returned first with 40.2 per cent of the votes, relegating Catt to the second seat. The premier of South Australia, Charles Kingston, had been obsessed for a long period with reducing the ability of the South Australian Legislative Council – the colony’s upper house – to amend or reject legislation, but his reforms[7] – aimed at widening the franchise to all households rather than a set amount of property value[8] – were repeatedly voted down by its members. Kingston governed with the support of the ULP, and his supporters became concerned that his preoccupation with the issue would lead to him seeking a fresh election, with an uncertain outcome. When liberal faction leader Thomas Burgoyne sponsored a motion against Kingston in November 1899,[7] Roberts, along with his ULP colleague Alexander Poynton and others, crossed the floor of the assembly, causing Kingston’s ministry to fall by one vote.

Roberts was sharply criticised for his part in bringing down the Kingston ministry, including at a meeting of the Labor Regulation League, which almost unanimously passed a motion stating that the action of Roberts and Poynton in crossing the floor was “an act of political treachery” The attacks on Roberts continued, the editor of The Herald, the trade union–run weekly magazine, joining the trenchant criticism and rejecting Roberts’ explanations that he had not been a member of the Parliamentary Labor Party at the time of the vote and had not attended the relevant caucus meeting, and was not pledged to maintain solidarity with Labor. Roberts later justified his actions on the basis that the Kingston government was insincere and not likely to carry out the reforms it had promised.

Soldier and journalist

Although Roberts initially opposed the sending of South Australian colonial troops to the Second Boer War in 1899 on the grounds of cost and necessity,[13] combined with his impression that it was based on sentiment and not a true spirit of loyalty, his position altered in response to British defeats, and in early 1900 he volunteered for the 4th Imperial Bushmen’s Contingent raised from South Australia, and was commissioned as a lieutenant. At his farewell, he stated that he had volunteered to show solidarity with the mainly British uitlander migrant workers in the Boer republics, to broaden his experience and strengthen himself for political battles to come. He was criticised at the event for leaving his electoral district and for breaking away from the Labor Party during the fall of the Kingston ministry. He vigorously defended himself, and his explanation was met with loud cheers from the crowd.[11] He also stated that colonial troops were now needed to maintain the solidarity of the British Empire. The contingent, which consisted of two mounted squadrons commanded by Lieutenant Colonel James Rowell, embarked on the transport Manhattan at Port Adelaide on 1 May 1900. After picking up a squadron of Western Australian troops at Fremantle, the ship stopped at Beira in Portuguese Mozambique, and Durban in the Colony of Natal, before disembarking the troops at Port Elizabeth in the Cape Colony on 19 June. Upon arrival, the South Australian and Western Australian contingents were joined with a Tasmanian squadron to form an Australian mounted regiment of about 400 troops, under Rowell’s command.

Soon after its arrival, the regiment escorted a convoy from Kroonstad to Lindley in the Orange Free State. Attached to a battalion of imperial yeomanry commanded by British Colonel Arthur Montagu Brookfieldsupported by some artillery, the regiment escorted a convoy drawn by steam tractors, leaving Lindley on 23 June. The convoy was regularly sniped at by Boers, but the troops, supported by the guns, drove them off each time. On 2 July Brookfield’s column joined the command of Major General Arthur Paget for operations against the Boer commandoes led by Christiaan de Wet between Lindley and Bethlehem, also located in the Orange Free State. This larger force was also subjected to frequent sniping by the Boers. As the force approached Bakenkop hill on 3 July, the Boers held their ground instead of withdrawing, and Brookfield used the guns to disperse them. To conserve ammunition, Brookfield ordered the guns to cease fire, but about 100 Boers took advantage of the situation, crept through a cornfield and rushed some guns. In response, an artillery officer called upon the commander of the South Australian squadron to charge the guns and recapture them. Without waiting for the rest of the squadron, a dozen men led by Lieutenant Edwin Leane responded immediately, charged and the Boers fled, the guns being recaptured by the squadron. On 4 July Brookfield’s force captured a ridge that dominated Bethlehem.

Bethlehem was captured on 7 July, in which 300 South Australians and Western Australians of the regiment participated, the Tasmanians having been detached to Pretoria. De Wet and 2,000 of his troops escaped north, and the regiment pursued them to the Reitzburg hills as part of a force under Brigadier General Robert George Broadwood. Engagements followed at Palmietfontein on 16 July and Stinkhoutboom on 24 July. In the latter action, the regiment and some irregulars caught up with some flour-laden wagons of de Wet’s rearguard and the Boers struck back to protect the precious supplies, killing four Australians. The Boers were able to break contact and continue their retreat. Under Broadwood’s command the regiment continued to pursue de Wet into the Transvaal, but by that point half of the South Australians were on foot, as their horses had died. The pursuit was called off. This period included operations through Oliphant’s Nek and the Magaliesberg Range, as well as the involvement of the regiment in the relief of the garrison at Elands River.

On 29 November, the regiment was involved in fighting at Rhenoster Kop under Paget, and was then attached to the command of Colonel Herbert Plumer. In December, given his view that the fighting was almost over, Roberts obtained permission from the British commander-in-chief to return home to his parliamentary and civic duties. He embarked on the cargo liner Aberdeen at Cape Town on 7 December, and arrived in Adelaide via Melbourne on 5 January 1901. The rest of the contingent embarked on 5 July 1901, came ashore at Port Adelaide on 27 July, and was disbanded shortly thereafter. For his service with the 4th Imperial Bushmen’s Contingent, Roberts was issued with the Queen’s South Africa Medal with four clasps.

Roberts returned to his seat in the assembly, but then helped organise a further South Australian contingent for the Second Boer War, a company of the 2nd Battalion, Australian Commonwealth Horse (ACH), which was authorised on 6 January 1902. Roberts was appointed as a lieutenant and as the battalion adjutant, and embarked at Melbourne on the transport St. Andrew on 12 January, disembarking at Durban on 10 March. While at sea on 26 January, Roberts was promoted to captain. Upon arrival, the Victorian contingent of the battalion joined with the company Roberts had helped raise from South Australia, and a smaller contingent from Western Australia, to form the battalion,[24] which was commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Duncan McLeish.

The battalion was sent by rail to a camp at Newcastle in Natal.[26] After training and inspections, between 6 and 10 April the battalion continued on to camp near Klerksdorp where it was allocated to a brigadecommanded by Lieutenant Colonel Beauvoir De Lisle, itself part of a column commanded by Colonel Alexander Thorneycroft, and under the overall command of Lieutenant General Sir Ian Hamilton. Hamilton’s force, numbering 20,000 mostly mounted troops, was tasked to destroy the Boer forces commanded by Koos de la Rey. De Lisle was particularly impressed by the 2nd Battalion ACH. On 23 April, the brigade was part of a general move through Paardeplaats, Hartebeesfontein, Palmfontein and Boschpoort, during which they mostly burned crops. This was followed by a “drive” by the entire force departing from Noitverwacht towards the Hartz River commencing on 7 May, on a frontage 80 kilometres (50 mi) wide.[29] The battalion advanced through Joubert’s Rust on 8 May, Rapoli and Boesman’s Pan on 9 May, and Bodenstein, Wonderfontein and Kaal Platts on 10 May. This brought the drive to the border between British Bechuanaland and the Transvaal. Significant numbers of Boer troops were observed ahead of the advancing battalion, but no fighting took place. On the night of 10 May the Boers unsuccessfully attempted to break through the line of advancing troops. On the following day, a Boer commando approached under a white flag, and Roberts rode out, bringing in 191 prisoners and over 200 horses. Another 52 Boers surrendered to other elements of the battalion. The drive was called to a halt at 15:00 on 11 May, when it reached the Kimberley to Mafeking railway line, and the commander-in-chief of British forces, Lord Kitchener, telegraphed his appreciation to Hamilton for the efforts of his troops. Across the five days of the drive, only one Boer was killed, and no Australians were even wounded.

The battalion returned to Klerksdorp on 21 May, and after peace was concluded on 31 May, remained there until 20 June. Hamilton congratulated the Australians for playing a “distinguished part in the closing act of the war”. The battalion then rode to Elandsfontein, arrived there on 25 June, handed over their weapons and equipment, and entrained for Newcastle on 29 June, arriving there the following day. On 5 July, the battalion entrained for Durban, and embarked on the transport Norfolk the next day. The ship departed on 8 July, arrived at Albany, Western Australia, on 25 July and Adelaide five days later. The troops were paid off and discharged on the day of their return. Roberts did not receive any additional medal or clasps for his service with the 2nd Battalion, Australian Commonwealth Horse.

While he was away in South Africa, Roberts’ term in the assembly expired, and he did not contest a seat at the 1902 South Australian state election on 3 May, the seat of Gladstone having been abolished in a redistribution. From 1904 to 1908 Roberts edited The Herald.

Later political career

Roberts was a candidate for the four-member seat of Adelaide in the 1905 state election on 27 May, and finished second with 13.0 per cent of the votes. The election brought the Price-Peake government to power, a minority government under the ULP premier, Thomas Price, working in a coalition with the Liberal independents led by Archibald Peake. In late 1905, Roberts founded the South Australian Government General Workers Association.[36] Roberts actively supported the coalition government. Continuing deadlock over franchise reform for the upper house led to another state election on 3 November 1906, at which Roberts was elected third in the seat of Adelaide, with 18.5 per cent of the votes. The Price-Peake coalition government continued to rule after the election, but the Liberal independents had coalesced into a party before the election, the Liberal and Democratic Union, which governed alongside the ULP.[38] Roberts was a member of state royal commissions in 1906 and 1908, inquiring into the affairs of produce merchants and into wheat-marketing practices in the state respectively. He was vice-president and then president of the ULP in 1907–1908, and was also a member of the council of the South Australian School of Minesand a board member of the Adelaide Co-operative Society. On 5 September 1907, the Hundred of Roberts – a constituent division of the County of Jervois land administration unit – was proclaimed in honour of Roberts.

When the incumbent member for the federal division of Adelaide and former premier, Charles Kingston, died on 11 May 1908, a by-electionwas called. Roberts won the 13 June by-election as the Australian Labour (Labor from 1912 Party candidate against the independent Anti-Socialist Party candidate Alexander McLachlan, receiving 51.2 per cent of the votes. Roberts retained his seat in the 1910 federal election, again defeating McLachlan, and received 63.3 per cent of the votes.[42] As the minister for defence, George Pearce, was a senator, Roberts ably represented Pearce in the House of Representatives. Roberts was the acting minister for defence in 1911 while Pearce was visiting the United Kingdom for the 1911 Imperial Conference, and following the death of fellow South Australian Lee Batchelor, Roberts was appointed an honorary minister – essentially a minister without portfolio – from 23 October 1911, as part of the second Fisher Ministry. He retained his seat at the 1913 federal election of 31 May, increasing his share of the votes to 66.1 per cent.

Death and legacy

Minutes after speaking in a fiery debate at Parliament in Melbourne on 2 December 1913, Roberts collapsed and died. He reportedly struck his head on the base of a stone statue of Queen Victoria when he collapsed. He had suffered from a heart condition for a long time. He was survived by his wife and four children. His wife Bridget formed the first Labor women’s branch in South Australia at Prospect in 1913. Roberts was buried in the West Terrace Cemetery after a state funeralattended by around 6,000 people.

On 13 January 1917, a monument erected over his grave was unveiled. It consists of a broken column of white Angaston marble, which was “emblematic of the untimely end to the brilliant career of the deceased legislator”. The unveiling was attended by the premier, Crawford Vaughan, the speaker of the House of Assembly, Frederick Coneybeer, the state secretary of the ULP, and federal and state legislators. At the base of the monument was the inscription “He died at his post.” The monument was paid for by subscriptions received by the Labor Regulation League at their meetings, and was draped with the Union Jackand Australian flag before being unveiled by Roberts’ successor in the federal seat of Adelaide, George Edwin Yates.

According to his entry in the Australian Dictionary of Biography written by City of Adelaide archivist Robert Thornton, despite Roberts’ almost diminutive stature, he was a fiery, energetic and enthusiastic man who rarely missed a day in parliament. Although he confided in private that he suffered an “unconquerable inward nervousness”, Roberts was outstanding in parliamentary debates, highly skilled at quick and witty responses, and expressed himself readily and at length. The quality of his parliamentary speeches was comparable to those of his contemporary Billy Hughes. At the time of his death, Roberts was widely considered one of Labor’s most capable members, was continuing to develop his political skills, and his premature death was much mourned within Labor. The Bulletin – an influential weekly magazine – observed that Labor had lost “one of the pluckiest men” it had ever known.


South Australian House of AssemblyPreceded by

James HoweMember for Gladstone
Served alongside: Alfred CattSeat abolished Preceded by

Bill DennyMember for Adelaide
Served alongside: 
William David Ponder
Lewis Cohen
James Zimri Sellar
Succeeded by

William David PonderPreceded by

Lewis CohenMember for Adelaide
Served alongside: 
Bill Denny
William David Ponder
James Zimri Sellar/Reginald Blundell
Succeeded by

Edward Alfred AnsteyParliament of AustraliaPreceded by

Charles KingstonMember for Adelaide
1908–1913Succeeded by

George Edwin Yates

Editor says …Sterling Publishing & Media Service Agency is not responsible for the content of external site or from any reports, posts or links and thanks for following as always appreciate every like, reblog or retweet and comment thank you


Historical ~ Shepparton Australia 🇦🇺


Shepparton is a city located in the Goulburn Valley region of Victoria, Australia. It is situated approximately 181 kilometers north-east of Melbourne, the state capital. The area has a rich history that dates back thousands of years to its original Indigenous inhabitants.

Before European settlement, the Shepparton area was inhabited by the Yorta Yorta people, who had a strong connection to the land and the Goulburn River. They lived a semi-nomadic lifestyle, relying on hunting, fishing, and gathering for sustenance.

The first European explorers to visit the area were Hamilton Hume and William Hovell in 1824, who passed through the region on their journey to Port Phillip Bay. However, it wasn’t until the 1830s that European settlers began to establish permanent residence in the area.

The town of Shepparton was founded in 1850, named after Sherbourne Sheppard, a local pastoralist. The area quickly grew as agriculture became the primary industry, with the fertile soils of the Goulburn Valley proving ideal for farming. Wheat, dairy, fruit, and vegetable production became the mainstays of the local economy.

In 1871, the arrival of the railway line connecting Shepparton to Melbourne further facilitated the growth of the town. This allowed for easier transportation of goods and people, boosting trade and commerce in the region.

Over the years, Shepparton continued to develop and expand. In the early 20th century, irrigation systems were introduced, allowing for increased agricultural production and the establishment of orchards and vineyards. The town also became a regional hub for services and infrastructure, attracting more residents and businesses.

During World War II, Shepparton played a significant role in supporting the war effort. The town’s industries contributed to the production of essential goods, and the RAAF established a training base nearby.

In recent years, Shepparton has continued to evolve and diversify its economy. The city is now known for its vibrant multicultural community and is recognized as a major center for food processing, manufacturing, and retail.

Today, Shepparton is a thriving regional city with a population of over 50,000 people. It is known for its beautiful natural surroundings, including the nearby Goulburn River and the picturesque Victoria Park Lake. The city also offers a range of cultural and recreational facilities, including art galleries, museums, and sporting venues.

Overall, Shepparton’s history is one of growth and adaptation, shaped by its agricultural heritage and the contributions of its diverse community.

World History & Research Reports

AUSTRALIAN HISTORY: How a new play is leading the push to return an historic convict-sewn quilt back to Tasmania

A quilt artwork.
The National Gallery of Australia says the quilt is in an “exceptionally fragile state”, which is why it is not often on display.(National Gallery of Australia)

AceHistoryDesk – In a backroom of the National Gallery of Australia, an historically significant quilt is in storage.


Ace Press News From Cutting Room Floor: Published: Nov.24: 2023: TELEGRAM Ace Daily News Link

  • In short: There are calls for a historically significant quilt sewn by convict women to be put on display in Tasmania, instead of staying in storage at the National Gallery of Australia.
  • The Rajah quilt is comprised of more than 2,000 individual pieces of fabric and was hand-sewn by women convicts on board the Rajah, a ship which travelled from England to Tasmania in 1841.
  • What’s next? The quilt is currently in storage, but being prepared for an exhibition at the National Gallery in Kamberri/Canberra in 2024. A Sydney-based playwright says her latest production has been written deliberately to push the sentiment to “bring it home” to Tasmania.

It is adorned with flowers, birds and other shapes sewn/embroidered into the yellow-faded quilt.

Sewn in 1841 by convict women on Her Majesty’s ship Rajah as it made its way to then-Van Diemen’s Land (Tasmania), the quilt was presented to the governor’s wife, Lady Jane Franklin, upon the ship’s arrival.

It’s had its own journey since then and was lost for almost 150 years, before it reappeared in an attic in Scotland in 1987.

While the quilt is now at the NGA in Canberra, there are calls to bring it back to Tasmania.

A quilt artwork.
The National Gallery of Australia says the quilt is in an “exceptionally fragile state”, which is why it is not often on display.(National Gallery of Australia)

The women were given sewing materials and taught how to quilt by Elizabeth Fry, who formed the Quaker group, the British Ladies Society for the Reformation of Female Prisoners.

At a time when prisons were focused on punishment — with both harsh physical and mental punishment being meted out at the island’s Port Arthur site — Elizabeth Fry was convinced she could help reform some of the prisoners.

Historian Christina Henri said Fry gathered a group of women to help her.

“Elizabeth Fry gave to all of the convicts a bag, she called it a bag of useful things, and it provided the convict woman with everything that would help them.”

A woman holding a quilt.
Christina Henri with a replica of the quilt.( ABC News: Luke Bowden )

The Rajah Quilt is believed to be the only surviving quilt made by convict women aboard the 50 ships that came to Van Diemen’s Land.

Dr Henri said Fry’s efforts enabled the women to learn the skill of sewing.

“That was just the most amazing thing,” she said.

“She gave the convict women these materials, not just to learn the skill but to be able to earn money for themselves and to be able to make something that would be useful to them in their domestic life.”

The Rajah Quilt 1841 at Quilts exhibition.
The Rajah Quilt, pictured while on display in Canberra, should be brought back to Tasmania, a playwright says — and she has written a play to “push this sentiment”. (ABC News: Giulio Saggin)

Dr Henri said her efforts were remarkable given the convict women were more generally treated as though they were the “scum of the earth”, it being considered “easier to keep them at the bottom of the pile”.

“They were certainly referred to by historians and many people at the time as whores and prostitutes, which of course the more you read about them, the more you find that these were generally impoverished women who found themselves in circumstances that led them to the situations in which they then found themselves imprisoned.”

Three female performers in costumes with a quilt.
Cast members in rehearsal for Cate Whittaker’s play Jane Franklin and the Rajah Quilt.(ABC News: Kate Nickels)

Calls to bring artwork home

The NGA said the quilt, which is made up of over 2,000 individual pieces, is in an “exceptionally fragile state”, which is why it is not often on display.

Its next showing is scheduled for 2024.

The textile was acquired by the NGA in 1987 after it was discovered in an attic in Scotland.

“Any handling of the textile can cause pressure on the seams and can lead them to split,” an NGA spokesperson said.

Cate Whittaker seated in a theatre.
“Its size is also prohibitively large and the final textile doesn’t sit flat which has an impact on display and storage.”Cate Whittaker.(ABC News: Kate Nickels)

Sydney-based playwright Cate Whittaker is leading a push to bring the quilt back to Tasmania through her latest theatre production, Jane Franklin and the Rajah Quilt, at Hobart’s Theatre Royal.

“It has been written deliberately to push this sentiment to bring it home,” she said.

While Whittaker acknowledged the fragile condition of the quilt, she said it uncovered a rare glimpse into the life of women convicts.

“These women [were] not fools. Victims of economic circumstance, yes, but not fools,” she said.

“That’s why it’s so important to display it — it’s evidence to us … that these women were extremely clever.

“We tend to belittle what women’s crafts are, yet this great beauty that they created together, there must have had a lot of synergy and cooperation — I think that’s the beauty of it.

“To hide it away with an excuse that it’s just too frail — It’s like people who don’t touch books and they drop apart by the time you open them.”

A quilt.
“We can’t hide something that’s the spirit of these women.”A replica of the quilt, on display at Hobart’s Theatre Royal.( ABC News: Luke Bowden )

Dr Henri also supports calls for the quilt to be homed in Tasmania.

“The National Gallery is an exceptional place for it to be, but the quilt has got such an association with Van Diemen’s Land,” she said.

“It would be very appropriate, whether it was housed at the Cascade Female Factory or whether it was housed in the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery.

“I think it would be very, very special.”

Editor says …Sterling Publishing & Media Service Agency is not responsible for the content of external sites or any reports, posts or links. Thanks for following. As always, I appreciate every like, reblog, retweet and comment. Thank you

A quilt.
“We can’t hide something that’s the spirit of these women.”A replica of the quilt, on display at Hobart’s Theatre Royal.( ABC News: Luke Bowden )
Australian History

AUSTRALIAN HISTORY: Epic 1970s raft journey from Ecuador to Ballina still holds world record

men stand around a raft and make it  lots of people watch
The rafts were assembled in about two and a half weeks.(Supplied: Ballina Naval and Maritime Museum)

AceHistoryDesk – It’s a salty tale of odyssean proportions, yet most Australians are unaware of the adventure of 12 men, three balsawood rafts, two monkeys, and a couple of cats that in 1973 became the world’s longest raft journey.


Ace Press News From Cutting Room Floor: Published: Nov.20: 2023: ABC North Coast News: TELEGRAM Ace Daily News Link

Two of the Las Balsas rafts at sea with sails up, 1973.

The trio of rafts travelled 14,000 kilometres across the Pacific Ocean from Ecuador to eventually and accidentally arrive at Ballina on Australia’s east coast.

It wasn’t the first time long-range raft travel had been tested in open seas — in 1947, the Kon-Tiki, skippered by Norwegian explorer Thor Heyerdahl, sailed 8,000km from South America to the Polynesian Islands.

Spanish explorer Captain Vital Alsar wanted to double that journey and bolster Heyerdahl’s theory that the ancient civilisations of South America could have traversed the Pacific in such a way in the past and potentially populated its islands.

Mr Alsar attempted a trip in 1970 in a single raft, but wanted to attempt the feat with three rafts travelling in formation.Two of the Las Balsas rafts at sea, 1973.

Captain Alsar recruited a crew of 11 men from Canada, the United States, Chile, Mexico, and Ecuador. 

Original crewman Fernand Robichaud from Canada said the crew faced storms, a lack of drinking water and doldrums, but it was the monkeys — a departing gift from the locals — that were the biggest regret.

“Monkeys are too much like humans. They watch you tie ropes, but in the middle of a storm he can be trying to undo one of your ropes because he thinks he’s helping out,” Mr Robichaud says.

“So they can be incredibly annoying and dangerous, especially when I caught one trying to throw our compass overboard. We only had one compass.”

Seven-five year old Fernand Robichaud holding a boat oar
Fernand Robichaud, 75, is once again behind the oar as he returns to Ballina to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Las Balsas landing.(ABC North Coast: Elloise Farrow-Smith)

There was a lot at stake.

“We had one little two-man rubber dinghy, that’s not a life raft for 12 people,” Mr Robichaud says.

There were no life jackets onboard.

Female of the species

The balsawood rafts themselves had high buoyancy, due mostly to a little-known fact about the female balsa tree.

Ron Creber at the Ballina Maritime Museum is the custodian of the only surviving raft from the voyage.

Ron Creber is the curator of the Ballina Naval and Maritime museum standing next to one of the Las Balsas raft
Ron Creber says the balsawood was harvested under a full moon.(ABC North Coast: Elloise Farrow-Smith)

“ Most people remember balsawood from when they were young children. They made planes and built boats out of very light timber; that particular wood that we use to make those models is the sapwood,” he says.

“The tree is actually a hardwood, but it has a very large sapwood around it.

“The trees that they had to use were female trees, which they had to cut down at the full moon because the sap content then is at its highest and keeps it afloat.”

men stand around a raft and make it  lots of people watch
The rafts were assembled in about two and a half weeks.(Supplied: Ballina Naval and Maritime Museum)

The crew travelled into the Ecuadorian forest and felled the logs, floating them downriver to the local port.

There they made models before constructing the full-sized rafts.

“That was a very good idea to practice on models beforehand because they managed to build those rafts in about two and a half weeks,” Mr Creber says.

At the mercy of the current

The journey’s 50-year anniversary is being celebrated at the museum this week.

Mr Creber says sailing the boat would not have been as easy as other marine craft.

two rafts
Two of the Las Balsas rafts make their way up the Richmond River to Ballina.(Supplied: Ballina Naval and Maritime Museum)

“ They didn’t have a rudder, they had keel boards and they go through the logs. [The crew] could move them slightly up and down and they could move the sail to port and starboard to adjust their course.”

Fernand Robichaud has spent a lot of his life on the sea but said sailing on a raft was unique.

“It’s not like you can pull it in the harbour and then take off again, it’s pretty much one direction.”

The journey mostly relied on the current that sweeps across the Pacific.

Crowd gather on the shores of Richmond River looking at one of the rafts
Crowds watch as one of the Las Balsas rafts makes its way to Ballina.(Supplied: Ballina Naval and Maritime Museum/David Harrison)

The original plan was to arrive at Mooloolaba in Queensland.

After six months at sea, the crew indeed sighted their destination, but before they knew it the three rafts were picked up by a different current and were travelling south.

As the rafts travelled in the shipping line there was much discussion about where to end the journey safely.

With the help of the navy, the rafts were towed into Ballina.

Monkeys not the only hazard

Mr Robichaud believes the crew was lucky to survive the journey.

“We could have easily lost people. All the time you’re by yourself on the sail everybody else is sleeping and you just do the wrong move or you get a wave on the side you can easily get dragged overboard,” Mr Robichaud says.

The safety backup was a rope that hung off the back of the rafts.

One of the adventuring sailors taking a break on the roof of the hut on the Las Balsas raft.
One of the adventuring sailors taking a break on the roof of the hut on the Las Balsas raft.(Supplied: Ballina Naval and Maritime Museum)

“ If you don’t grab that rope when you fall overboard it’s bye-bye because there’s no way in the world you can turn the raft around and pick anybody up,” Mr Robichaud says.

Then there were storms.

“We were in the eye of a cyclone once. There were some interesting moments then,” he says.

A monkey looks at a camera as it sits under shade of a hut on a raft
The crew faced waves of more than 12 metres in height.One of the ill-fated monkeys from the 1973 Las Balsas expedition.(Supplied: Fernand Robichaud)

And the monkeys?

“Sadly, one got caught in between bins during a storm and got crushed,” Mr Robichaud says.

“The other one got an infection and we didn’t really know how to fix it.”

But the cats and the men lived to tell the tale.

Editor says …Sterling Publishing & Media Service Agency is not responsible for the content of external site or from any reports, posts or links and thanks for following as always appreciate every like, reblog or retweet and comment thank you

men stand around a raft and make it  lots of people watch
The rafts were assembled in about two and a half weeks.(Supplied: Ballina Naval and Maritime Museum)
Australian History

AUSTRALIAN HISTORY: Beowa National Park name change to remove reference to slaver Ben Boyd part of ‘truth telling’, elder says

A tall stone tower on a cliff, surrounded by shrubs.
The ceremony was held near Boyd Tower.(ABC South East: Chris Sheedy)

AceHistoryDesk – After years of lobbying the state government, traditional custodians have gathered to celebrate the removal of the name of Scottish slave trader Ben Boyd from a national park on the NSW far-south coast.


Ace Press News From Cutting Room Floor: Published: Nov.12: 2023: ABC South East NSW News: TELEGRAM Ace Daily News Link

On Saturday, Thaua and South Sea Islander elders joined together to officially mark the changing of the park’s name to Beowa National Park, in honour of the orca, or killer whale.

The animal has strong links to the Thaua people, who believed when a person died they were reincarnated as an orca.

While the park’s name and signage was changed this time last year, Saturday’s ceremony was an important moment for traditional owners, and for the relatives of South Sea Islander people who were brought to Australia as slaves in the 1800s.

In 2021, 50 years after Ben Boyd National Park was created, then Liberal environment minister Matt Kean agreed to change the park’s name, after historian Mark Dunn proved Boyd had been involved in creating an Australian slave trade.

A tall stone tower on a cliff, surrounded by shrubs.
The ceremony was held near Boyd Tower.(ABC South East: Chris Sheedy)

In 1847, Boyd brought 65 men from Lifou Island in modern day New Caledonia to work on his properties near Eden.

They either died, vanished, or escaped to Sydney in an attempt to get home, which lead the British colonial government of NSW to ban the practice.

“It is clear from the expert historical analysis, that Ben Boyd’s association with ‘blackbirding’ should not be reflected or celebrated in any way in our national parks,” Mr Kean said, at the time.

An Indigenous man wearing sun glasses and a hat speaks at a mircophone.
Uncle Steven Holmes speaks to the crowd at the newly re-named Beowa National Park.(ABC South East NSW: Chris Sheedy)

Truth-telling about Australia

Thaua Elder Uncle Steven Holmes said Saturday’s ceremony was part of a process of truth-telling about Australia’s history.

“The islanders thought when they came here they would be coming to a land of freedom, but they were put straight in chains and shackles,” Mr Holmes said.

“My ancestors suffered the same fate, and many of them, and also islanders are buried here.”

The ceremony took place at the site of Boyd’s Tower, a five-storey sandstone tower built by Boyd in 1846, marking the entrance to his vast, commercial empire.

Mr Holmes said the area also held a sacred burial site, where his ancestor Budginbro, who personally knew Boyd, and his son Oswald Brierly were buried.

An Indigenous man in traditional dress and white body paint, with a group of children also in traditional dress.

“ If we build a memorial it will only get vandalised, so we’ll leave them in an unmarked grave where they can rest,” he said.

“Racism is still here, and this name change will help explain our culture and the suffering of our ancestors.”

He said while he had hoped the park would be named Thaua National Park, he was working with the state government on further name changes of locations along the coastline.

waskim pic
Waskam Emelda Davis speaks to the crowd of onlookers on Saturday.(ABC South East NSW: Chris Sheedy)

Family members stolen from their homes

Chairwoman of the Australian South Sea Islanders, Port Jackson group and Sydney City councillor Waskam Emelda Davis told the crowd about her personal connection with blackbirding.

“My grandfather was 12-years-old when he was stolen from the island of Vanuatu, and my great-great grandmother was 14 when she was stolen,” she said.

“We’re still unpacking that history, and there’s alot to grapple with and understand.

“It all started with Ben Boyd, illegally, who brought our people to Eden to slave alongside our First Nations families and Maori mob, who were also part of the atrocities.”

Eden Local Aboriginal Lands Council chairperson BJ Cruse, who has held the position for the last 39 years, said the name change was part of protecting heritage.

A crowd shot of people watching the ceremony, with dignitaries at the front.
Waskam Emelda Davis, with BJ Cruse and his father Pastor Uncle Ossie Cruse.(ABC South East NSW: Chris Sheedy)

“ I didn’t see that it was fitting for such a devious, cruel, disrespectful and insensitive person like Ben Boyd [to] have the honour of having such a beautiful part of Mother Earth named after him,” Mr Cruse said.

The NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service’s South Coast branch director, Kane Weeks, described the day as “significant”.

“It’s a very emotional day,” he said.

“We are telling the story of Benjamin Boyd and what he did to Aboriginal and South Sea Islander people.”

Editor says …Sterling Publishing & Media Service Agency is not responsible for the content of external site or from any reports, posts or links and thanks for following as always appreciate every like, reblog or retweet and comment thank you

A tall stone tower on a cliff, surrounded by shrubs.
The ceremony was held near Boyd Tower.(ABC South East: Chris Sheedy)