About Me

Hi, I am  posting this blog book about the melancholy fate of the barque Charles Eaton. I became fascinated with the story about 27 years ago and have been researching it off and on ever since. Admittedly there have been long periods when the research sat gathering dust in a box, while the original photocopies and print-outs turned yellow with age. Initially it was difficult to find fresh material on the subject, but with the advent of the Internet age the task has gotten a whole lot easier, largely thanks to our wonderful libraries in Australia. I would particularly like to thank the National Library of Australia and the State Library of Victoria for their superb online catalogue material. The  State Library of New South Wales contributed material for some of the earlier research and their resources continue to be  invaluable.

I did manage to purchase an antiquarian book/pamphlet by William Wemyss for a bargain price but the offer of an original publication of the John Ireland book was too expensive for my tiny budget. Also useful was a photocopy of the account of the D’Oyly family by William D’Oyly Bayley, which I bought from the American Library of Congress. D’Oyly Bayley had a print run of 100 copies for his doctoral research and I am guessing that the Library of Congress copy is the only one in the public domain if you can afford the photocopy. Fascinating reading.

More recently (February 2019) I managed to buy a painting of the original Sion Hill manor at Kirby Wiske in North Riding, Yorkshire. It has always been assumed that no visual record of the original manor existed, so tracking down the only painting of it was great fun for me, if perhaps tedious for everyone else who are entitled to think: “Yeah but so what?”. Sometimes you have to indulge the researcher for their moments of sheer triumph and pleasure. Tracking down and buying 15 original water-colour sketches by Sir Charles D’Oyly was also a personal pleasure that will have to be indulged I’m afraid. This blog is not a commercially viable project, as I am sure you will agree.

Getting this blog taken up by the National Library of Australia in 2014 for their Pandora Archive, at their instigation, was also a moment of joy for me because it hadn’t occurred to me that anyone apart from myself would actually be interested in it. This blog will die when I do, so it’s nice to know that a blog copy will live on, hopefully in perpetuity, via Pandora. One can dream.

Most of the research material has been acquired from excellent primary and contemporary sources, eye-witness accounts and the like. Where it has been possible to do so, I have aimed for corroboration from other relevant and reliable sources. It was a hard slog in those early days when we had to rely on microfilm, visits to libraries all over Australia and extraordinary persistence — but by golly it was worth it. The journey alone gave me pleasure and satisfaction of the kind that you can’t always get to the same degree in the research-friendly Internet age. The fun side of it was mine to enjoy.

The blog runs to about 85,000 words, which is typical for a non-fiction book, so you might want to dip in and out. That’s okay, I do it all the time. Most of the images are part of my own collection, purchased over the aforementioned 27 years. The remainder were acquired from Wikimedia Commons and are in the public arena. Collecting antique lithographs and paintings is a hobby that I inadvertently acquired along the way and that has been a separate joy on its own. One of the side benefits of being a bit of a history enthusiast, I guess.

I have been amazed at the number of international readers that the blog attracted. More than 100 nations are represented on my reader’s list and that’s pretty cool. Clearly maritime history is a genre with no language boundaries, especially when Google does the translating for you.

While researching the material for this blog I stumbled across a number of fascinating stories from Australia’s past that have been either completely forgotten or have been buried for a very long time. I had hoped that one day I would give at least some of them the decent airing they deserve but I know now that is unlikely to happen.

It is never possible to draw a line in the sand where history research is concerned. If you have some additional information or corrections that you think I might like (and I will!) I would love to hear from you via a comment. I used to publish my email address but you end up getting trolled by online abusers with nothing better to do with their time.

I have used WordPress.com for my blog but it may not suit everyone. The Internet has no respect for intellectual property or copyright. In that respect WordPress is no different to Facebook.

Charles Eaton tomb

The author at the remains of the “Charles Eaton tomb”, Pioneer Park, Botany Bay Cemetery, in 1998. Photographer Carmel Williams. The pioneer graves and the tomb were washed into the sea in the 1960s during sudden and serious soil erosion caused by a fierce storm, but at least some headstones and this tomb base have survived. My thanks go to Carmel for having the patience to take me there for a visit on a particularly wet and stormy day. The red roses may well have been the first floral tribute for a very, very long time. The header photograph was taken by my sister, Coral Hansen, of Mandurah in W.A.

14 thoughts on “About Me

  1. Hello Joycelin

    Sorry I missed your comment from way back in July last year. I am still doing a bit of writing but everything seems to be a bit of never-ending ‘work in progress’. Maybe it will all come together one day.

    Best wishes


    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hello Gayle

    Thank you for your very kind comment. Of course I don’t mind you including a link to my blog within your gallery. There is fascination and haunting beauty in the remains of old shipwrecks. I went and had a look at your blog and I think your marine art is lovely. Hopefully some readers of my blog will also follow the link you provided and check it out. Best wishes for your forthcoming exhibition in February-March 2016.


    On 1/29/16, Charles Eaton: Wake for the Melancholy Shipwreck


  3. Hi Veronica. I love your blog of Charles Eaton – The Wake for the Melancholy Shipwreck. It is of particular interest to me because next week I launch an exhibition at the Gold Coast City Gallery called ‘The Last Fleet’ (6th February – 27th March 2016) in which are two encaustic paintings of two anchors – thought of as being from the Charles Eaton shipwreck. I hope it is ok for me to attach a link to your blog within my gallery that has the two anchor paintings, and I also have a blog about it and have shared it on Facebook. I found your account most interesting and it answered many of the questions that had been forming in my head about what happened to the two boys after they were rescued. My website is http://www.gaylereicheltart.com if you are interested in seeing the two anchors that I have painted and that will be included in my exhibition. If you have any updates about the Charles Eaton, I would be extremely interested in hearing. Thank you for posting such an interesting and informative blog.


  4. Good day! Do you know if they make any plugins to assist with Search Engine Optimization? I’m trying to get my blog to rank for some targeted keywords
    but I’m not seeing very good results. If you know of any please share.


  5. I’m extremely impressed along with your writing talents as smartly as with the format
    on your blog. Is this a paid topic or did you customize it yourself?
    Anyway keep up the excellent quality writing, it’s
    uncommon to look a nice weblog like this one nowadays..


  6. Hi Veronica,
    I love your book already and have only read bits in the first chapter. I will find time to read it all. Thank you so much for liking my Memoir short stories – The Hillside Find. I will be posting as much as I can and would love to continue to have feedback from superb writers like you. I admire the tenacity you have put into your research here and hope to learn as much as I can from your reads. Joycelin Leahy


  7. Sorry for the delay in getting back to you. Many thanks for providing the sources of your information. Incredibly valuable for an island which has so little recorded about its people and their way of life


  8. Hi David and Sue

    The description I have given of the women is actually a composite from many sources collected over many years. What I can do is clear up the information provided by Owen Stanley. He does mention two sightings of the women (Discoveries in Australia vol. I), but What you may be looking for is Lieut. Augustus L. Kuper’s ‘Journal of a voyage to Timor Laut, the Arrou Islands &c., in Her Majesty’s Brig “Britomart,” March and April 1839’. It was published in the Sydney Herald, 22 July 1839, pp 1-2. In it, Kuper gives two accounts of sighting the women:

    ‘None of the women showed themselves, I accidentally saw two on going underneath some of the houses to make a bargain for some birds, but they ran away when they perceived me. they had a great many ornaments, both on their ancles [sic] and wrists, but no other dress than a kind of wrapper from the waist to the knees.’ (p.1)

    ‘ I landed in the afternoon to try for stock and vegetables, and was very well received by the natives, who appeared delighted at our paying them another visit. I went up to the village and was surprised to find that all the women came out to see us, none being visible on our former visit. There were a great number of them, and amongst them some very fine looking girls, all wearing large bright brass ornaments round their ankles. The uniform dress for young and old was a dark coloured wrapper reaching from the waist to the knees.’ (p.2).

    There is also a reference in his journal to the ‘ rings on their arms of ivory, ebony or shell’.

    Other sources have mentioned the fine silver jewellery manufactured by the Tanimbar islanders and principally worn by the women and the polished conus shells. As to the length of the garment, Kuper does only mention that it reached to the knees so it might be wise to stick to that for his time period. It was also worn to the ankles but I can’t for the moment find the exact reference. Photographs and postcards from a later period do indicate that by the end of the 19th century the women were wearing longer skirts.

    I hope all of that is some help to you.



  9. Dear Veronica,

    We are textile historians and are currently working on the ikat weaving of Tanimbar. In your Chapter 7, The Tanimbar Connection, you list two quotes about the costume of the people of Oililet village. The first, about male costume, is derived from Owen’s account in ‘Discoveries in Australia’. The second describes female costume: “The women and girls were uniformly dressed in dark wraps reaching to their knees or ankles, etc. etc.” It is not clear where this information comes from – it seems that Owen’s party never got a good look at the local women. Would it be possible for you to give us a reference?

    Best wishes

    David and Sue Richardson, Nottingham, UK.


  10. Hi Will,

    Thank you for your nice compliment. Much appreciated. I share your interest in Tanimbar and I gather that a lot of other people are starting to show an interest as well, especially since Indonesia is well on the way to becoming a powerhouse nation. We should all take the time to learn more about it and that includes its history. I enjoyed reading your webpage very much and I will provide a link on my blog. I gather you write fiction grounded in historic fact and would love to read your book when it is published, either in print or as an ebook on my Kindle.


  11. Hi, Veronica,
    Terrific blog! I’ve stumbled across this as I’m busy writing a book about Timor Laut / Tanimbar (see my little site tanimbar.org.uk for my earlier Tanimbar enthusiasms — although that site is now very old). Although it’s not exactly a book about history, I’ve become sidetracked by the story of Joseph Forbes. So this is filling some intriguing holes in my knowledge of the history of Tanimbar’s relations with the various colonial powers in the 19th Century, so thanks for all your hard work. If and when the book appears in print, I’ll send you a copy!
    All the best,


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