Shipwreck Databases Western Australian Museum


The Mountaineer was a cutter that had been involved with the sealing trade along the south coast of Australia. The ship was wrecked at Thistle Cove near Esperance on 24 March 1835 and the three crew and six passengers survived and got to shore in the whale boat. They encountered some Aboriginals there who ‘were quite civil and did them no injury.’ The group then made for Middle Island in the Recherche Archipelago, where the Captain knew there was a group of sealers. After arrival, some of the group went on to Albany but siblings James and Dorothy Newell remained on the island, James to be a deckhand and Dorothy as the mistress of the infamous John Anderson. ‘Black Jack’ as he was known ruled the island as a despot. It was a place that had attracted a number of unsavoury characters, who were known for the kidnapping of Aboriginal women and murder. James Newell, along with another young man, James Manning, decided to leave the island. After a while, Black Jack agreed but gave them no assistance, virtually marooning them on the mainland 650kms from Albany. They eventually got there, due in large part to help from Aboriginal tribes when they were at their weakest. According to their information these Aboriginals were from the White Cockatoo, Murray and Hill Men tribes. The Resident Magistrate in Albany at the time was Richard Spencer. He rewarded the Aboriginals for their kindness by issuing them a small portion of flour each and also gave a duck frock to the two who were the most helpful.

Associated Tribe White Cockatoo, Murray and Will-Men (?Wudjari and Goreng)

Contact Evidence Verified

Type of contact Helpful

Year 1835

Location Thistle Cove

Source European