The Great Emu War

16939014_418934118448676_5238347523182136791_nYes, I am actually referring to the bird.

Following World War I, large numbers of ex-soldiers from Australia and Britian took up farming within Western Australia. With the onset of the Great Depression in 1929, these farmers were encouraged to increase their wheat crops, with the government promising but failing to provide assistance in the form of subsidies. Wheat prices continued to fall, and by October 1932 matters were becoming intense. The farmers prepared to harvest the season’s crop while simultaneously threatening to refuse to load the wheat.

The difficulties facing farmers was increased by the arrival of as many as 20,000 emus. Emus regularly migrate after their breeding season, heading to the coast from the inland regions. With the cleared land and additional water supplies being made available for livestock by the West Australian farmers, the emus found that the cultivated lands were good habitat, and they began to flock into farm territory. The emus consumed and spoiled the crops, as well as leaving large gaps in fences where rabbits could enter and cause further problems. Farmers relayed their concerns about the birds ravaging their crops, and a deputation of ex-soldiers were sent to meet with the Minister of Defence, Sir George Pearce. Having served in World War I, the soldier-settlers were well aware of the effectiveness of machine guns, and they requested their deployment. The minister agreed, although with some conditions attached:
1. The guns were to be used by military personnel.
2. Troop transport was to be financed by the Western Australian government.
3. The farmers would provide food, accommodation, and payment for the ammunition.

Pearce also supported the deployment on the grounds that the birds would make good target practice. However, it has also been argued that some in the government may have viewed this as a way of being seen to be helping the Western Australian farmers.

Military involvement was due to begin in October 1932. The “war” was conducted under the command of Major G.P.W. Meredith of the Seventh Heavy Battery of the Royal Australian Artillery, with Meredith commanding a pair of soldiers armed with two Lewis guns and 10,000 rounds of ammunition. The operation was delayed, however, by a period of rainfall that caused the emus to scatter over a wider area. The rain ceased by November 2, 1932, at which point the troops were deployed with orders to assist the farmers and, according to a newspaper account, to collect 100 emu skins so that their feathers could be used to make hats for light horsemen. The men traveled to Campion, where some 50 emus were sighted. As the birds were out of range of the guns, the local settlers attempted to herd the emus into an ambush, but the birds split into small groups and ran so that they were difficult to target. Nevertheless, while the first fusillade from the machine guns was ineffective due to the range, a second round of gunfire was able to kill “a number” of birds. Later the same day a small flock was encountered, and “perhaps a dozen” birds were killed.

The next significant event was on November 4. Meredith had established an ambush near a local dam, and more than 1,000 emus were spotted heading towards their position. This time the gunners waited until the birds were in close proximity before opening fire. The gun jammed after only twelve birds were killed, however, and the remainder scattered before more could be killed. No more birds were sighted that day.

In the days that followed Meredith chose to move further south where the birds were “reported to be fairly tame”, but there was only limited success in spite of his efforts. At one stage Meredith even went so far as to mount one of the guns on a truck: a move that proved to be ineffective, as the truck was unable to gain on the birds, and the ride was so rough that the gunner was unable to fire any shots. By November 8 just six days after the first engagement, 2,500 rounds of ammunition had been fired. The number of birds killed is uncertain: one account claims just 50 birds, but other accounts range from 200 to 500—the latter figure being provided by the settlers. Meredith’s official report noted that his men had suffered no casualties. Representatives in the Australian House of Representatives discussed the operation. Following the negative coverage of the events in the local media, that included claims that “only a few” emus had died, Pearce withdrew the military personnel and the guns on November 8.

After the withdrawal, Major Meredith compared the emus to Zulus and commented on the striking maneuverability of the emus, even while badly wounded. After the withdrawal of the military, the emu attacks on crops continued. Farmers again asked for support, citing the hot weather and drought that brought emus invading farms in the thousands. James Mitchell, the Premier of Western Australia lent his strong support to renewal of the military assistance. Additionally, a report from the Base Commander indicated that 300 emus had been killed in the initial operation.

Acting on the requests and the Base Commander’s report, by November 12 the Minister of Defence approved another attempt of military efforts. He defended the decision in the senate, explaining why the soldiers were necessary to combat the serious agricultural threat of the large emu population. Although the military had agreed to loan the guns to the Western Australian government on the expectation that they would provide the necessary people, Meredith was once again placed in the field due to an apparent lack of experienced machine gunners in the state.

Taking to the field on November 13, 1932, the military managed to kill 40 emus. By December the guns were accounting for approximately 100 emus per week. Meredith was recalled on December 10, and in his report he claimed 986 kills with 9,860 rounds, at a rate of exactly 10 rounds per confirmed kill. In addition, Meredith claimed 2,500 wounded birds had died as a result of the injuries that they had sustained. Despite the problems encountered with the cull, the farmers of the region once again requested military assistance in 1934, 1943 and 1948, only to be turned down by the government. Instead, the bounty system that had been instigated in 1923 was continued, and this proved to be effective: 57,034 bounties were claimed over a six-month period in 1934.

By December 1932, word of the Emu War had spread, reaching the United Kingdom. Some conservationists there protested the cull as “extermination of the rare emu”. Dominic Serventy, an eminent Australian ornithologist, described the cull as “an attempt at the mass destruction of the birds”.

Adela

1886 Eruption of Mount Tarawera and the Phantom Canoe

1886 Eruption of Mount Tarawera and the Phantom Canoe
1886 Eruption of Mount Tarawera and the Phantom Canoe

The volcanic eruption of Mount Tarawera in New Zealand on June 10,1886 was one of New Zealand’s greatest natural disasters. The eruption lasted for six hours and caused unparalleled destruction. Located 24 kilometers southeast of Rotorua in the North Island, many Maori villages were located near by. It was also near a natural wonder called the Pink and White Terraces. These were on the shores of Lake Rotomahana and were considered to be the eighth wonder of the world. The Maori name for this natural formation was Otukapuarangi, fountain of the clouded sky, and Te Tarata, the tattooed rock. The terraces were formed as water containing silica flowed down from the geysers at the top of the hillside. The silica solidified into terraces and the water cooled and flowed into waterfalls and gathered in pools below. The White Terrace was the larger formation covering 3 hectares and descending 30 meters. The Pink Terrace below was the larger tourist attraction. The water there was lukewarm and attracted many bathers.

Eleven days before the eruption in 1886, a boat of tourists returning from the Pink and White Terraces saw what appeared to be a war canoe approach. The mysterious boat disappeared into the mists about a half mile from the boat. The witnesses of this phenomenon included a clergyman, who was a local Maori man from the Te Arawa iwi, and renown guide Sophia Hinerangi. The clergyman recognized the canoe as a burial waka. When the chief died, he was tied in an upright position on a canoe and launched into the water. This was considered an omen of doom by the Maori elders. Other signs pointed to an upcoming disaster as there was increase in hot spring activity and surges in the lake level.

Even with this omen, many people stayed in the village at the foot of the mountain. In the early hours of June 10, 1886, people in Te Wairoa were awakened to earthquakes and lightning. There was a large earthquake followed by massive explosions. A fountain of molten rock spewed into the air and there were columns of smoke and ash up to 10 kilometers high. The sound of the explosions were heard as far away as Blenheim, who thought it was an attack by a Russian warship visiting Wellington. For more than four hours, rocks, ash and mud poured over the village and much like the eruption of Pompeii in an earlier century it buried Te Wairoa and several other villages in hot ash and mud.

The Pink Terrace with the White Terrace in the background, a painting by John Barr Clarke (1835-1913) Photo Credit- http://www.bucksworld.com.au/image-gallery/nzvolcanoes/maps/NZMap4.html
The Pink Terrace with the White Terrace in the background, a painting by John Barr Clarke (1835-1913)
Photo Credit- http://www.bucksworld.com.au/image-gallery/nzvolcanoes/maps/NZMap4.html

The Pink and White Terraces sank into Lake Rotomahana. The surrounding lakes and mountains had their shapes changed. Most dramatic of all was the creation of the Waimangu Volcanic Rift Valley. A geyser developed, which was active from 1900 to 1904, and spewed water black with mud and rocks. Waimangu is the Maori word for “black water”. Also formed was Frying Pan Lake, which is the largest hot spring in the world. The human toll was no less dramatic as it is estimated 150 people lost their lives in the eruption. The exact number of casualties has never been determined.

Scientists announced in February 2011 that they believe they found part of the lost Pink Terraces, 60 meters underwater in Lake Rotomahana. However, the loss of life can never be replaced. They should have heeded the spiritual waka.

ER

Sources available on request

Sarah Higgins

Sarah Sharp Higgins in her early 80s Photo Credit: Alexander Turnbull Library
Sarah Sharp Higgins in her early 80s Photo Credit: Alexander Turnbull Library

Sarah Sharp was born on January 30th 1830 in Kent, England. Her mother Mary Ann died when Sarah was an infant, possibly as a result of childbirth and her father remarried when Sarah was about nine or ten. Her step-mother died in childbirth after only a year, the baby dying too, leaving Sarah’s father Stephen with five children to look after. Whilst he was out trying to obtain work, Sarah spent her days with her grandmother, and received a limited education until around the age of eleven where she received lessons in sewing and reading.

Following the death of her step-mother, Sarah’s father applied to join the call for emigrants to the new colonies in New Zealand. The New Zealand Company fronted by Edward Wakefield, were advertising for skilled labourers, joiners, farmers, builders and so on to apply for assisted passage to their colonies in the Nelson area. Stephen Sharp was initially turned down as he was a widower. The company were more interested in young couples, starting out on their married life, perhaps with small children or older couples with grown or nearly grown children who would provide not only the skills but the next generation of colonists. Single people were not encouraged unless they were skilled in a particular area, and came as part of a family unit, perhaps a domestic servant.

Stephen Sharp sought and received assistance for his application, from doctors treating his older daughter, Susannah, who was sick. They sent a letter to the company stating that they were unable to help her further but their medical opinion was that the fresh air in New Zealand would be of benefit to her health. Stephen was accepted and proceeded to sell his belongings to raise his passage and that of his children. He left one of his sons behind and took his other four children and set sail on board the Bolton in 1841. Sadly, Sarah’s sister died on the long journey which took nearly five months, and was buried at sea. They arrived at Nelson in March 1842.

Once there, Sarah, now the only female in the family and so the home-maker, was required to learn the domestic skills necessary to run the home, cooking, cleaning and laundry. She also had to actively participate in trying to cultivate the small patch of land that they had been allocated, in an effort to grow vegetables and cereals. Conditions were quite rudimentary and harsh in their new settlement; houses had to be built, communal buildings and roads, a task for which the young physically able men were employed in the first instance. Sarah took the initiative on her domestic duties and visited local neighbours to watch them cook and perform household tasks and learn from them.

The foundations of the settlement were built on a false premise; the New Zealand Company had made promises of land they had allegedly acquired in a deal with the local Maori population. They sold the land in increments to English prospects, many of whom had no intention of making the journey to claim their holdings. The settlers that did arrive were given this land, whilst the company held out in the hope that further land could be gained. The land was nothing like the rich agricultural land the settlers had been led to believe they would be given, it was swampy and filled with ferns that would need clearing. Huts had been improvised as temporary housing, but were woefully inadequate for purpose and it was left to the newly arrived colonists to improve them.

Lambton Harbour, quite likely where Sarah landed as a settler, and her first sight of her new home.
Lambton Harbour, quite likely where Sarah landed as a settler, and her first sight of her new home.

The company hit further difficulties in 1841 when the British Government stepped in and declared the Treaty of Waitangi, preventing the further purchase of land from the Maori and casting doubt on the legitimacy of that already gained. In 1843, negotiations between Captain Arthur Wakefield on behalf of the New Zealand company and the Maori which intended to side-step the treaty deteriorated leading to the descent into violent confrontation at Wairau during which the daughter of one chief who happened to be the wife of the other, his nephew, was fatally shot. A short but bloody skirmish ensued during which 22 European men were killed as well as three other Maoris. The Chief cut out the tongue of the interpreter, John Brooks, claiming he told lies. Others were injured.

Sarah Higgins witnessed the aftermath of this incident, and recalled it years later in her memoirs. Her interpretation was delivered in the simplistic nature of a child, expressing horror at the incident and how horrific it had been, seeing one of the surviving casualties with a badly broken arm. But what affected her, directly and the group as a whole was the loss of their leader, Captain Wakefield. His death forced the end of employment of the working force. Building stopped, the men weren’t paid and food became scarce. Coupled with their growing hunger and dire situation was the fear that they were stranded thousands of miles from their homeland, with no means of escape, under threat of further attack, and that they faced the loss of their new homes, which they were still struggling to consolidate.

Luck to a certain degree was still on their side. Henry Spain, dispatched by the British government to investigate and ascertain the legalities of the situation – whose reticence in making himself available in due course prior to the Wairau incident – ruled in favour of the Maoris and confirmed that the representatives of the New Zealand Company, led by Wakefield had acted inappropriately and provoked the attack, whether by accident or by a rash show of force. Although his findings astonished the local council, it was later felt that his report erred on the side of appeasing the Maori, and thus preventing the chance of further conflict. As a result, the Maori offered help and advice to the settlers in Nelson, selling them a small amount of provisions where money was available and giving them guidance on where they could find naturally growing fruit, berries and grains. Despite this, many of the settlers including Sarah’s family were forced to move along to another colony, Spring Grove, not too far away, where conditions were viewed to be better, and the chance of employment stronger, and begin again.

The Wairau Memorial commemorating the 22 European dead.
The Wairau Memorial commemorating the 22 European dead.

When the worst of the situation was over, her father was discovered to have skills that were favourable to a farmer in the vicinity, who gave him work as an overseer training and managing his workforce, necessitating his absence from home for six days a week. Sarah went out to work in Richmond with a local family as a live-in domestic help; her employer was of a slightly higher social status and able to employ staff to perform certain chores. Sarah was to remain in this position for over a year, during which time she caught the eye of a young man, Sydney Higgins, who worked as a sawyer in Spring Grove. Sydney and Sarah married in 1849, and set up a one roomed home on their own land which they slowly extended then moved to a bigger home, including a dairy. They had eleven children who all survived to adulthood.

Sarah worked in the home, and in the small dairy that they built up, learning to make butter and cheeses to use and to sell. They grew their own crops and raised pigs and cattle. She took in disabled boarders to raise extra income, and also went out to work assisting a local doctor, until eventually setting up in her own right as a midwife, often assisted by her now grown daughters, during the course of which it is known she delivered around 350 children. Following the death of her husband in 1903, Sarah continued to live independently, although later in a cottage built on land owned by her son, close to his own home. When all her children had left home, Sarah finally learned to write, out of necessity at the age of 74, to enable her to keep in contact with her children. In her 80s she wrote the story of her life.

Sarah Higgins died at the age of 93 in September 1923. Her story, although simple, is a powerful account of life as one of the first settlers in New Zealand at its inception into the British Empire, a life which covered its history almost through to its redefining as a British Dominion, equal to that of Britain herself, in 1926.

Phoebe

Mary Wade

3270358It is thought Mary Wade was born in the Westminster area of London on 17th December 1775, the eldest of four known children of Lawrence Wade and Mary Smith although earlier suggestions claim she was born in 1778 to George Wade and Mary English. Mary had a short life of abject poverty until committing her first crime of robbery at around the age of 8 where she stood accused of stripping the outer clothes from a younger girl, possibly aged around five years old, who she then dumped unceremoniously in a ditch (this ditch could mean anything associated with an outside toilet of the time, which were quite likely to be what was known as an “earth closet” or “midden” which generally described a boxed in effect with a hole cut for a seat, which ran either to an open sewer or a pit, which was manually cleared from time to time. These closets were shared by a number of families living in a street or close). Because of her young age at the time of the offence, Mary was not charged by virtue of not being criminally responsible, however the role of criminal was cast. At around the same time, Mary’s only brother Henry, was born.

Mary spent most of her days working close to the Treasury, as a “road sweeper”. This occupation was as close to a legitimate form of begging that the poorest children could get, earning a halfpence or two sweeping an area of the roadway between two opposing points on the pavements either side, for the wealthier members of London’s pedestrian traffic, commonly ladies who had no desire to step in the inevitable dung left behind by the many horses who trotted up and down the streets daily. It was whilst engaged in this dubious occupation as time passed, that Mary had cause to often see and come to recognise a younger girl, Mary Philips. Mary Wade Sr would later claim that her child had no need to indulge in this pastime, and it was more at the behest of older children who were criminally pre-disposed. By this time young Mary was approaching eleven years of age. Her main companion, one Jane Whiting, a fourteen-year-old fellow sweeper.

Mary Philips was later to swear in court that she knew Mary Wade by sight but did not know Jane. And although testimony conflicts between the three and the additional witnesses including the children’s mothers and the pawn-broker to whom the dress was sold, it appears that on her daily visit to the Treasury “privy area” to collect water in a bottle, eight-year-old Mary Philips was accosted by the two older girls, and possibly a nameless boy, and relieved of her outer frock, petticoats, apron (tippet) and cap. It was also claimed that Mary Wade had commented that she should have put the young child “in the necessary” – namely into the toilet, reflecting her earlier crime. The frock was then sold to the pawn-broker’s assistant in a nearby street for 18 pence. He would state that it was Whiting that sold the gown, but using Wade’s name. Philips also stated that it was Whiting that removed her frock.

The facts of the crime were backed up by the victim’s mother, Jane Forward when she arrived home to find her daughter missing, later to be brought home in darkness by a kind gentle-woman with a light. Details are a little sketchy as to why Mary was out collecting water at the time, something she apparently did at the behest of her mother via “the boy” or “a boy” as she herself testified, yet claiming this boy was her own son, and the brother of Mary. Yet both children had a different name to their parents. (A little mystery!) It seems rather odd that Jane Forward would refer to her own son as “a boy” under oath, yet not know where her daughter was despite having sent instruction for her to collect water.

Nonetheless young Mary Philips agreed that she was neither hurt nor alarmed at the incident and initially felt that the older girls only took her outer frock as a bit of fun. It was only when Jane Whiting “the bigger girl” ran off with the unnamed boy and her outfit, and Mary Wade then relieved her of her petticoats and sundries that she realized she had been robbed. It appears that Mary Wade then fastened the young girl into the privy by means of a piece of string on the outer lock. After raising the alarm, one presumes by way of knocking on the door and shouting, that she was released and taken home. Witnesses testified to the subsequent actions of the girls, including Wade’s thoughts of dumping Philips into the toilet, the discovery of the cap and tippet in Wade’s room and the statement made by the pawn-broker. Another witness stated that Wade had confessed readily to the crime to her and she was able to retrieve the dress and inform the authorities.

At no point did Mary Wade or Jane Whiting appear unduly distressed by their arrest. They were taken to the Bridewell and locked up before appearing in court at the Old Bailey to answer the charge. Despite the seemingly harmless nature of the incident and the possibility that this was a crime born out of necessity – need rather than greed – the Prosecutor charged both girls as adults with the crime of felonious highway robbery, and stated in his summation that to a small child although unharmed, it was “as serious an incident as holding a gun to the breast of an adult”. Both girls were found guilty and sentenced to Death by hanging. Removed to Newgate prison in the common criminals (womens) area, neither were expected a bed, which were reserved for those with money who were incarcerated in a better area of the prison, nor bedding. They remained awaiting their execution in a filthy, rat-infested overcrowded cell with an open sewer for a toilet and nothing more than rough bread, thin broth and water for sustenance.

After two months, rather than being taken outside to meet their fate at the end of a rope witnessed by a large crowd of baying, bloodthirsty members of the population, Mary Wade and Jane Whiting received an unlikely and unexpected reprieve from their sentence in the form of “mad” King George’s recovery from insanity as a result of his suspected porphyria. In March of 1789, Whiting and Wade’s names were put forward in a list of 26 women to receive reductions of sentence or pardons from the King in celebration of his recovery. Their sentences were commuted to transportation to the new convict settlements of Australia. The whole standard by which 18th century sentences was in dire need of overhaul; death was generally only proclaimed for capital offences, including rape, murder or theft of property over 39 shillings in value. Repeat offence or criminal proclivity was also a factor in this eventuality. Mary Wade and Jane Whiting arguably had neither. Despite having their sentence commuted, and many other women having a reduction in term to seven or fourteen years to serve upon arrival, Wade particularly received banishment for life. She would never be allowed to return to Britain.

In the Summer of 1789, they set sail on board the Lady Juliana for the country where they would remain for the rest of their lives. The journey of around 13,000 miles took a full twelve months. To eleven-year-old (or 14-year-old???) Mary, it may have seemed like an adventure. Fresh air, clean water for the first time ever in her short life, only marred by her permanent separation from her family, to have the threat of execution removed from her young shoulders must have been a huge relief. The women were allowed to wear their own clothes whilst on board, and were assigned jobs to do. They had freedom to move, none of them were shackled, their leg irons having been removed prior to boarding the ship. Whilst on their journey, each one of the ship’s crew took one of the convicts as a wife. They ate well and behaved properly. Only five women and two children – young mothers were given the option of taking their children with them, some were pregnant at incarceration and gave birth either in jail or on board – died on the voyage. The remainder arrived safely and probably healthier than they had ever been in their lives.
On the Journey they made stops at Tenerife, Rio de Janiero and South Africa before finally arriving at new South Wales in the early summer of 1790. They were towed past the point at which the Sydney Harbour bridge and Opera House now stand, to be moored at the bottom of the Governors garden. In 1790, his was the only decent brick building in the Port Jackson area. He was expecting a cargo of tools, provisions and equipment. Instead he was greeted by over 220 women, a small number armed with children. His horror was short-lived as until that point women were not a common sight. Over 20,000 male convicts were to be transported to Australia, many of whom would expect to serve a fixed term before becoming free. Women therefore was something of a requirement. The female transportees were assigned for the most part as servants to those who had already been pardoned or otherwise granted their Certificate of Freedom.

Mary Wade was one of those to be chosen to be sent on to Norfolk Island where another colony was established to ease the burden on Sydney. She transferred two months later, on board HMS Surprise, and after surviving the dangerous navigation of a coral reef that surrounded the lush island, Mary became friendly with a fellow convict, Irishman Teague (Edward) Harrigan who arrived in 1791 aboard the Salamander. In 1793 at aged 18 (records of an incorrect birthdate of 1778 as above would lead archives to state aged 14) Mary gave birth to their first child, Sarah followed by William in 1795 and Edward some time afterwards by which point they were living in a tent. In 1806, Harrigan agreed to join a whaling expedition and never returned. At this point it is thought that Mary may well have been pardoned. Norfolk Island seems to have been “evacuated” around 1806 and transports were provided back to Port Jackson by which point it appears that the women had all gained their certificates of freedom.

One notable exception seems to be Jane Whiting, who followed Mary around her various ports of call and “married” a convict herself, called Thomas Kidner having at least two children, Thomas and Ann, but arriving back at Port Jackson still listed in the muster as Convict. All the other women were pardoned or free due to sentence expiry. Her whereabouts between 1806 and 1811 are sketchy although Thomas landed back in Hobart in 1807 with Thomas Jr, however she is listed in the 1810 muster as having received an absolute pardon finally, and in 1811 in Hobart. In 1813, Kidner is known to have signed up for a whaling vessel sometime previously and died in an accident as result. Nothing further is known for definite about Jane’s subsequent movements, although there is a record of Ann’s later marriage in 1812 in Hobart to a Robert Larsom and a request for land grant from a Jane Whiting in Prospect, New South Wales in later 1811, and she appears on interim musters as free from servitude until 1822.

Following Teague’s disappearance in 1806, three years later Mary is listed as married to a Jonathon Brooker, with whom she had a staggering 18 children. They were both pardoned absolutely by 1812, and made a good home for themselves on a large settlement of land by 1822 in Campbelltown. The following year a large bushfire destroyed everything they owned but by 1828 they had recovered despite a small period of being somewhat destitute, and having to apply for assistance, which they turned into an even larger farm of 60 acres. Jonathon died five years later aged 76. Their marriage was said to be a happy one and their large family producing many grandchildren. Mary at this time was only 55/58 years of age. She passed away herself over 26 years later on 17th December 1859 quite possibly her 84th birthday. Her funeral was the first to be held in the local Church of England Church, on St Paul’s Fairy Meadow on land donated by her son. She was buried in the Old Church cemetery, renamed in 1940, Pioneer Rest Park, Wollongong. Rather surprisingly, the Cemetery has been cleared of headstones now and the land has been remodelled into gardens. A part does remain in what is now the Wesleyan Cemetery which was vandalised in 2009, a number of headstones being smashed. A spokesperson noted that several convicts were buried there. Despite an impressive list of notable people, Lord Mayors and pioneers, Mary Wade’s contribution seems insignificant. She doesn’t even warrant more than a mention in the list of known burials, insignificantly recorded as Mary Ann Brooker, born 1772 (incorrect) died 17 Dec 1859 aged 87; no images can be found of her resting place online.

At the time of her passing, Mary had over 300 living descendants spread over some four or five generations. She is known as the “mother of Australia” and has tens of thousands of living descendants including the former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd. Little did Lord Chief Baron know what a huge favour he was doing for young Mary Wade when he convicted her of stealing a little girl’s dress, and set in motion a chain of events that would have a direct impact on the founding of Australia. By sentencing her to death, he set her free to live one of the most inspiring tales of personal accomplishment the modern world has known.

Phoebe