What the sinking meant for the Broadhursts
With the sinking of the Xantho, the Broadhurst's far flung north-west pearling enterprises were robbed of their only link. Charles' plan to use Xantho as a lever to obtain the steamship concession sank with the ship underneath, leaving the way clear for others to introduce the SS Georgette in the role he had envisaged. In hindsight, however, the loss of Xantho actually freed him to concentrate elsewhere and after many failures to eventually become one of Western Australia's greatest entrepreneurs.
Harvesting the famous 'Golden Pearl'
When Xantho sank Broadhurst abandoned the north-west and took all his labourers down to Shark Bay to join the infamous Captain Francis Cadell in opening the pearling industry using 'Malay' and Aboriginal labour. When news of their successes in harvesting the famous Oriental or 'Golden' Pearl spread, a virtual ‘gold rush’, ensued. Broadhurst also opened a store at Wilyiah Mia (Place of the Pearl) becoming eulogised in the press as 'A man in 10,000'. He was appointed to Parliament in recognition of his contribution to the north west, but then resigned in disgrace after failing to pay and repatriate his ‘Malay’ labourers. The scandal was such that the Colonial Office in London ordered an inquiry into the abuses. Broadhurst and Cadell were roundly criticised. The costs of this exercise combined with the loss of his ship threw him into total disrepute and into near bankruptcy. His family would have suffered accordingly.
Guano and the beginnings of the mid-west mining industry
After the Shark Bay and Xantho debacles and after many summonses for non-payment of debt, Charles opened the fish cannery industry at Mandurah and was a great success. He then sold out and went back north in search of new enterprises, this time to commence fishing at the Abrolhos islands off Geraldton. After seeing hundreds of thousands of birds nesting in the islands he found huge deposits of guano (bird fertiliser). Soon he had began mining and exporting it, but though granted a monopoly to the deposit in exchange for royalties payable to the government, again he failed to make the industry a success.
In 1888, aged 26, his son Florance (who had a mercantile education), took control of the company’s export trade. Bringing sound business practices to the industry he made full use of the first monopoly in the State’s extracting industries and became hugely successful and very wealthy, returning massive royalties to Government from the resource. In effect the Abrolhos islands guano industry was the forerunner to Western Australia’s export mining industries.
Charles and Eliza retire to Bournmouth and call their home Karrakatta
After being brought out by Florance, and finally secure in their finances, Charles and Eliza then retired to Bournemouth in England where they lived comfortably, first in a place the called 'The Bungalow' and then in a two story family home they called Karrakatta, which stood until recent times. Some of the children including Catherine (Kitty) went with them. Eliza dies in 1899 aged 60 and Charles dies six years later aged 79.
Florance finds the Zeewijk, makes the State's first archaeological collection.
While continuing the Abrolhos Islands guano mining, Florance Broadhurst's men unearthed the camp of the survivors of the Dutch East India (VOC) ship Zeewijk (1727) on Gun Island. He had them collect the remains and after making a catalogue of them, presented the lot to the State.
In thinking they were from the VOC ship Batavia (1629) Broadhurst had a copy of Onglukie Voyagie vant Schip Batavia, translated and then donated it as one of the State of Western Australia’s rarest literary treasures. When excerpts were published in the Western Mail, the (VOC) wrecks became the stuff of local legend. Described in 1901 as ‘the most interesting things to be seen in the museum’, the relics Florance Broadhurst’s men had collected attracted immense public, academic and political interest. The young Henrietta Drake-Brockman learnt of these wrecks while playing with her childhood friends, the Broadhurst children. As an adult she wrote books on the subject and together with author Hugh Edwards led others to the eventual discovery of the Batavia wreck.
After losing the Abrolhos Islands guano monopoly, Florance suffered a broken arm in a further search for guano on the islands off Esperance. Florance Broadhurst then drowned while fishing on the Swan River due to the effects of of an overdose of laudanum, an opium-based medication that had been prescribed for his continued pain.
Another tragedy strikes the family when after a brilliant career as a London surgeon and accomplished violinist, Charles Henson Broadhurst (on his father’s right in the family portrait) suicided over an affair of the heart. Sarah seated on her father’s knee (in this same portrait) was feted as one of the colony's most beautiful and accomplished young women.
Percy at his mother’s side in the family portrait, became station-master at Roebourne. Reginald, the last child is yet to be born. He became an electrician at Windsor Castle.
'Kitty' the suffragette; one of the founders of the Karrakatta Club
Catherine Elime Broadhurst (the youngest girl) carried on Eliza’s interest in the growing European women’s movement. She joined the St George Reading Circle, a group of 12 early feminists who later formed the Karrakatta Club. It was one of the world’s oldest exclusively female clubs and became the major force in obtaining suffrage (the vote) for Western Australian women ahead of all bar two other places across the globe. Back in London, Kitty became a suffragette, tied herself to the railings of Parliament House in London, was imprisoned for throwing a stone through a post office window during a protest, went on hunger strike and had to be force-fed to keep her alive.
Charles Broadhurst one of Western Australia's 100 most influential citizens
As result of the Museum’s research, Charles Broadhurst was recently recognised amongst Western Australia’s 100 most influential citizens. He is now recognised as the forerunner to the famous early 20th century mining entrepreneur Claude de Bernales, and his modern counterparts Robert Holmes à Court, Laurie Connell and Alan Bond.