Shipwreck Databases Western Australian Museum


In 1865 the Calliance had an ignominious end, along with the hopes and dreams of the Camden Harbour Pastoral Association settlers it carried. They had embarked in Melbourne to be part of an ambitious and foolhardy attempt to settle the country of the West Kimberley area. On 22 December 1864 the Calliance was nearing its destination of Camden Harbour when it struck a reef near Adele Island. The Captain was able to get the ship into the harbour after lightening its load, and the passengers disembarked and their belongings were unloaded. The ship was then moved nearer the shore for attention but on the 5 January 1865 she was blown ashore and began to break up. One of the passengers, Captain Edwards, took the cutter from the Calliance and went to Timor, along with the second officer and 3 crew. Here they were able to borrow a boat that could take survivors away from Camden Sound. The two boats were on their way back to Camden Sound, when they were overturned by a squall. Some of the crew managed to right the cutter, but inside the schooner Captain Edwards had drowned in his cabin. They retrieved his body and stopped at New Island to bury the body which by then was decomposing. They could not carry this out as they were driven away by a group of Aborigines, so the body had to be thrown overboard. This hostile contact with Aboriginals seems to have been a mark of the settlement. As well as the settlers losing their stock to the inclement conditions of the settlement, Aboriginals were taking livestock and stealing boats as well. It does not seem as if the settlers made any serious attempts to become friendly with the Aboriginals, perhaps because the settlers were too busy trying to make the best of what rapidly became a disaster. The land was not as it was represented and not at all suitable for the purpose of cultivation and grazing sheep. There is no doubt the Aboriginals may have been of some help if friendly contact had been initiated and maintained, after all, they were managing to survive in the harsh environment. The arrival of the settlers must have been a windfall for the Aboriginals, when the settlement was abandoned much was left behind and examination of the site shows that the Aboriginals found good use for ceramics and glass, working them for tools and weapons. The associated Aboriginal tribe is possibly the Worora.

Associated Tribe Worora

Contact Evidence Verified

Type of contact Confrontational

Year 1865

Location Camden Harbour

Source European