CC Dutton of Port Lincoln

Charles C Dutton

Charles Christian Dutton was appointed Clerk of the South Australian Supreme Court, to be Sheriff of the Province, on 19 May 1838 until 1 January 1839. While living in Currie Street, Adelaide, he advertised on 7 July 1838 for a female servant. If competent she would be paid liberal wages. At the start of 1839 he was out of a job and planning to leave the colony. On 16 February an auction was organized to sell all his property.

However, before that was to happen, he changed his mind and paid 4000 pounds for 4000 acres of a Special Survey at Port Lincoln. In April he bought several town-lots, including numbers 64, which was 20 acres, number 145, which was a water-front block, 272, 288, 293 and 988, as well as a half-acre, lot 148, on nearby Boston Island.

A week later he wrote a lengthy report about the excellent advantages of the harbour of Port Lincoln. It was published on 20 April 1839 in the South Australian Gazette and Colonial Register which introduced it as follows; ALL accounts from the new settlement speak the same language - increasing satisfaction with the port and the neighbourhood. We subjoin a full and exceedingly interesting report which Mr DUTTON, late Sheriff of the province, has handed to us, of an excursion to the interior, accomplished by that gentleman and a party of friends. It is no longer possible to doubt that the country behind Port Lincoln is of excellent quality and available for every agricultural and pastoral purpose.

Adelaide, April 7, 1839
Sir-The many conflicting statements respecting Port Lincoln induced me to proceed in the Dorset in order that I might, by personal observation, form a correct judgment of the capabilities of this harbour and its surrounding country. The declaration of Captain Phillip Mitchell, published in your journal as far back as 1837, appeared to me to be the straightforward statement of an experienced person, who, at one glance, saw and comprehended the numerous advantages which this noble basin presented for the harbour of an extensive province like South Australia.

I had no doubt, therefore, of finding everything as he represented it to be; and most amply have my most sanguine expectations been realised. In an infant colony where labor and the necessaries of life are expensive, the forming of ports, canals, jetties, &c, if not entirely ruinous undertakings, must inevitably retard its progress.

In forming a new settlement, therefore, how necessary is it to fix upon a spot where natural advantages are to be found without being obliged to obtain them artificially by the waste of our main resources-the expenditure of capital and labor. Such facilities for the encouragement of commerce and its concomitant advantages are to be found at Port Lincoln. It was a fine moonlight night when the brig Dorset dropped her anchor within a short distance of the intended town.

There was hardly a ripple upon the face of the water, and the harbour being completely landlocked, formed a placid and extensive lake. Early the next morning I had an opportunity of taking a survey of the surrounding coast. Fine undulating hills, interspersed with rich alluvial valleys stretch along the bay to Curtain Point, which, being a gentle eminence with deep water close alongside, is peculiarly adapted for a commercial town.

The hills do not rise abruptly from the water side, but are sufficiently undulating to allow of houses being built so that all may equally have the advantage of a magnificent view of the harbour and Boston Island. Every parlour window may command a sight of the shipping and the entrances of the harbour; and every inhabitant will have the pleasure of watching the entrance of a vessel which is to bring him friends, goods, or tidings from those he loves and from whom he has expatriated himself-perhaps forever.

Upon the ranges behind the town, terraced vineyards may and eventually must rise one above the other, while the orange, lemon, olive, fig, pomegranate, banana, quince, and pineapple will luxuriate in the deep alluvial deposits which are to be found in the valleys. In the interstices of the rocks is the richest soil, and every one acquainted with the cultivation of the vine will readily appreciate the facilities which the hills about Port Lincoln, being on a limestone formation, offer for forming vineyards.

On the coast fronting Happy Valley, there is a spring of fine water. It is proposed to enclose it with stonework so as to form a fountain and reservoir for shipping to water at, which may be done at a trifling expense. Mr Porter, late of Liverpool, has sunk a well upon one of his half-acre frontages, and has met with a similar spring at the depth of only twelve feet; there is little doubt, therefore, of finding water at a similar depth all along the coast of Boston Bay.

Mr Charles Smith's establishment at Happy Valley is progressing rapidly; he has already erected a hotel, and is now building a house of freestone quarried upon the spot; the stone at present is only a kind of bastard freestone, but as it improves the further they get into the quarry, there is every prospect of coming upon a fine bed of pure freestone in a short time. This stone cuts easily, and hardens by exposure to the weather.

Mr Porter states that he is more delighted with the place every day. This enterprising merchant, of the soundness of whose judgment there can be no doubt, has determined to settle on the spot, which he considers to be the only sea-port of South Australia, and his establishment already begins to make a great show. He has brought a quantity of orange, lemon, bananas, vines, and other rare plants, which are all looking remarkably healthy.

Mr Hawson has also commenced building upon Curtain Point, so that the foundation of a town is already formed. Fish of all kinds are abundant, and mackerel are caught in great quantities. Much as I admire Port Jackson as a harbour, the capabilities of which I had ample time for exploring during a five years residence at Sydney, I readily yield the palm to Port Lincoln.

In having two bold entrances the latter harbour has the advantage over the former, as ships can enter in any weather and at any time without the aid of a pilot, whereas Port Jackson possesses only the narrow entrance with shoal water, and dangerous rocks immediately at the mouth of the harbour, amongst which the most dangerous cluster are the Sow and Pigs [rocks], very difficult to avoid entering during a strong southerly wind.

Boston Bay has also the advantage of possessing rich soil with runs for sheep and cattle immediately behind the town, advantages which Sydney does not possess. If Port Jackson therefore ranks with the first harbours in the world, how high will Port Lincoln stand in the scale when its numerous maritime advantages are sufficiently known to be appreciated.

On the 30th of March I started in company with Captain Hawson, Mr T Hawson, Mr Mitchell, Mr R Stevens, Mr Dennis, Thos Wybell, and Thos Harrison, from the ranges behind Port Lincoln in a SW direction, a range of hills and round topped mountain bearing NW to which the party gave the name of Hawson's Range and Mount Dutton. Our intention was to make Coffin's Bay, if possible that night, where Captain Hawson had been informed there was some fine land with a fresh water river.

The first seven or eight miles we passed over a very fair sheep country lightly wooded with the oak, and then came upon a large lagoon partially dry but with fresh water in holes. There appeared to be a rich deposit of soil fit for agricultural purposes surrounding the bed of this lagoon. After crossing a tract of limestone for about a mile or two, there was nothing but rocky ridges for nearly twenty miles, and we were obliged at last to encamp amongst scrub and sandstone.

A fatiguing journey on the second day over a similar country brought us about midday to an immense barrier of bright sand which upon some of the party ascending they found to extend for about ten miles in ridges to Coffin's Bay. Just before making the sand hills, Dennis, one of the party, was lost, he having strayed from the rest with his dogs hunting kangaroo. We obtained water with some difficulty by digging in the sand, and then proceeded on our route following a native tract at the foot of the sandy ridge.

Just at sundown came in sight of the heads of Coffin's Bay, which we reached early the following morning, and finding plenty of fresh water on the beach, made a hearty breakfast off boiled cockles. Found our missing man Dennis, who was of course delighted to see us. He had made his way across the sandhills to Coffin's Bay.

Proceeded on our route following the course of a salt water creek, and after a short time a magnificent country opened upon us the trees growing in clusters interspersed about a rich park-like flat, in the centre of which there was a large lagoon covered with black swans; being parched with thirst we made towards it, but the water was quite brackish. We followed the creek for two or three miles shooting ducks, which were numerous.

After ascending a slight eminence, a still more beautiful looking country stretched out before us, studded with innumerable salt water lagoons, which are now however perfectly dry. Immense herds of kangaroos were quietly grazing about, but our dogs were too weak to hunt. Made across the immense plains and beds of lagoons which now only intervened between us and Hawson's Range, and encamped for that night without water at the foot of the mountains.

Early the next morning ascended Hawson's Range, and found large blocks of variegated marble, some of them standing six and seven feet above the surface. From the top we had a fine view of the Bay and the surrounding country; saw a great many natives upon the plains beneath us, who were evidently watching our movements with curiosity; Dennis and Stevens, who had not ascended the mountain, made towards them and we followed as soon as possible; four men approached, and were soon upon a friendly footing with us.

Having made them understand that we were in want of water, two of them accompanied Mitchell and Dennis, who agreed to send them back with a supply of water if they found any, and we were then to follow them to the place. After the lapse of about an hour they returned bringing two bottles of water, which after drinking, we were soon enabled to join our companions at the water holes.

An immense body of water appears to run down the sides of the mountain during the winter months, watering the plains below; but it is now only to be found in the fissures of the rocks, though by digging any quantity could be found. Went through twenty miles of scrub the next day in a northerly direction and had to encamp again without water.

Early the next morning we made the hills again proceeding on our course, the country improving gradually and finding plenty of water in holes. About sundown came upon a creek where we found water and a number of natives, who upon hearing the report of the guns scampered off, leaving their spears strewed about the ground. After a short time one of them returned making signs for us to leave the water, but would not allow anyone to approach him.

We followed the course of the creek during the next day for about twenty-five miles, winding through luxuriant walks with fine grass up to our knees. Some parts are evidently flooded during the rainy season, and I certainly never saw finer agricultural ground in New Holland than this tract. The undulating hills which bound the valleys, covered with a fine light soil shaded with gum and she oak trees, are peculiarly adapted for sheep runs, and as wool always partakes of the nature of the soil over which it runs, a fine bright description of that staple may be grown here partaking of the Saxon character, and certainly equal to the Bathurst and Argyle wool in New South Wales, which is grown upon a similar soil.

Any quantity of cattle would find excellent feed in the valleys and water in abundance, at even at this time of the year there are large pools in the bed of the creeks. After a walk of about ten miles on the following morning, still following the course of the creek, we arrived at Mount Gawler, and by keeping along the vallies, reached a beautiful country to the very foot of the Port Lincoln ranges, having been out eight days.

About three miles to the NE of Mount Gawler we found three fresh water springs throwing out abundance of water of the purest quality from the top of mounds covered with verdure. The communication from Port Lincoln to those springs and to the fine districts where the fresh water streamlets are plentiful, is perfectly easy, and a bullock waggon might be taken there without crossing any difficult range.

We fell in with a tribe of natives close to the settlement, and succeeded in bringing one home with us. The result of this expedition has satisfied me that to the northward there is a great extent of good country in the im-mediate neighbourhood of Port Lincoln for agricultural as well as pastoral pursuits, covered with abundance of fine she-oak, which splits exceedingly well for fencing; but that the narrow isthmus between Coffin's Bay consists of nothing but rock, sand, scrub, and salt water lagoons.

We wished much to penetrate still further into the country in a northerly direction but our provisions being exhausted and some of us nearly bare-footed, we were compelled to return. It remains, therefore, for another expedition to strike boldly into the country and ascertain what is to be found among the more distant ranges of the interior. Feeling assured that you will with pleasure make the foregoing facts known to the public through the medium of your valuable journal, I remain, Sir, Your most obedient servant CC DUTTON.

Dutton didn't waste any time developing his property and stocking it with sheep, cattle and horses. In June 1839 he became the local agent for the Egotist, a new local paper. In July the building of his house was started and on 28 September he was appointed Coroner for the district of Port Lincoln. During this busy year his wife Ellen, presented him with a son who was named Charles William. Charles William would later marry Matilda Jane Swaffer on 16 January 1862.

Charles and Ellen also had two daughters, one of whom, Julia Eliza would on 30 January 1865 be married by the Rev Buttfield to Edward Daniel Swaffer, son of long-time publican of the Port Lincoln Hotel, Daniel Swaffer. Dutton had been doing well and was respected by everyone who knew him.

In 1841 Dutton wrote that extensive tracks of sheep country existed in the neighbourhood of Port Lincoln. 'Having just returned from a week's excursion to the N E of Port Lincoln, I think it will be gratifying to those interested in this place to learn, that after leaving the fertile valleys to the north of Mount Gawler, we came upon a large tract of open country, extending about thirty miles along the eastern coast, consisting of extensive plains and undulating hills lightly wooded, and being generally from six to ten miles in width'. Unfortunately, these very plains, hills and open country would soon prove his undoing.


CC Dutton part 2

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