‘The Year Was .. 1814’
As promised in the last edition, we are going back to the beginning of the timeline (and earlier) to examine and feature certain major local events, families, individuals and structures which have lead to the establishment and development of the region. Some information will be repeated from the earlier editions, but it is hoped we will discover many more interesting details. For the first part of the ‘The Year Was..’ edition, we are going to start at 1814 as a point in time where key events and people have lead to the significant founding of Tambourine Station. We hope you enjoy:
Thomas Collins was born in 1790 in the village of Rode in eastern Somerset, and first sailed into Port Jackson in 1814 at age 24 years as a Junior Officer of the crew of the ship “The Three Bees”. The vessel was launched at Bridgwater in 1813 and her first voyage was under Captain John Wallis with a crew of five officers and 43 non-commissioned officers and privates was to transport 219 Irish convicts to New South Wales. She gathered her convicts from Ireland and then sailed to Falmouth where she left in convoy under escort of HMS Niger and Tagus on 8 December 1813. They parted about a month after and the Three Bees continued on in company with Catherine who was also transporting convicts. Three Bees arrived in Sydney Cove on 6 May 1814 with 210 convicts, nine having died on the passage. Governor Macquarie wrote that all convicts on both vessels were treated well but that they had “been embarked in a bad state of health” and as such had “not been so fully attended to by the Examining Surgeons as Humanity demands” and noted that “out of those landed, it has been necessary to send fifty five to the Hospital many of them being much affected with Scurvy”.
Not long after Three Bees arrived at Sydney Cove and scheduled to return to China, she caught fire and was destroyed. It was reported that “After the 210 convicts were all disembarked a fire was discovered on the ship at 4.30 pm on 20 May 1814. It was later thought that the fire was caused by candle snuff being dropped on oakum when an officer and boy had entered the hold. It soon became apparent that the fire could not be fought and so Three Bees was cut loose from her moorings and the other ships in the cove maneuvered to avoid the ship. At 5.30 pm the first gun exploded on board and a swivel ball smashed into the parlour of the house of Captain Piper, hitting only a writing table. The ship drifted onto Bennelong Point and shortly after her magazine exploded.” Lloyd’s List reported on 14 October 1814 that Three Bees was a total loss.
Thomas Collins could then have returned to the regular run to China at that time, but was so captivated by the natural beauty of the Sydney Cove and also by the discovery that Australian waters abounded in whales. This made a lasting impression and significant in that he then went on to seek to wealth and a career in Australia. He became a Captain, and in 1822 commanded the “Regalia” to the newly discovered Macquarie Island. He was, for a period, an officer in the Indian Navy, spending his periodical leave ashore in the village of Road, Somerset, some six miles from Bath, and as a result, in 1826 married Sophia Pamela Danvers (a descendant of Sir John Danvers, one of the signatories to the Magna Carta), then aged 18 years old, the village belle, a beauty and the toast of Bath. From 1825 Captain Thomas Collins had been commanding his own schooner the “Elizabeth” in a number of commercial joint ventures with Robert Brooks. Thomas and Sophia then decided to move to New South Wales and set sail in the schooner, on its third voyage, to Australia. Their first child, Thomas Danvers Collins, was born in Sydney on 27 December, 1827. The infant did not survive, and his parents returned to England in the same ship. Leaving again to return to Sydney, they sailed early in 1829, and their second son, James Carden Collins, was born at sea off Teneriffe on 25 February 1829. The “Elizabeth” embarked on its first whaling voyage in 1829, returning to Port Jackson after 541 days with 360 tons of sperm whale oil. From this and a number of subsequent whaling expeditions he became quite wealthy. Throughout their married life, Sophia sailed across the world five times, raising a young family under conditions that would appall most mothers today, with the added grief of losing three of their eight children. The Captain finally began to tire of the seafaring life and took up land at Maitland. When his family returned to Sydney in 1842, he had moved further northwards to Queensland, and settled on a property on McIntyre Brook on the Darling Downs. To this property, he gave the name of Cooloomunda, or, as the ‘natives’ called it, ‘Kabbathemani’.
Around the 1840s Tambourine was part of the 50,000 acre leasehold ‘Telemon’, which was originally owned and lived upon by George Moccatta. Messrs. Whiting and Hicks held the Tambourine lease portion, (thought to be called ‘Tchambreen’ at the time), of which they sold a part to Dugald Graham who formed Tabragalba in 1846. (‘Tabragalba’ is thought to have meant ‘place where big nulla nulla was found’. A nulla nulla is an Aboriginal club or hunting stick used in hunting and fighting.) In 1845, Robert Tertius Campbell, although recovering from bankruptcy, had taken over the Telemon license capable of carrying 1800 cattle and 12,000 sheep. He also purchased the Melcombe/Maroon 20,000 acre run at a lowered price, reduced reportedly due to a number of Aboriginal attacks at the time. Captain Thomas Collins’ son, Carden Collins, in later years, remembered the ‘natives were troublesome’ and that it was a series of fights for most of the way, when on arrival in Sydney, Carden then aged 13, with a short period of preparation accompanied his uncle, William Weeks, (son of a celebrated doctor in Kent), on an adventurous journey of over 400 miles to join his father in Queensland while the rest of the family remained in Sydney for a while
After spending several years on the Cooloomunda property, Captain Thomas Collins sold the property and purchased the Telemon station on the Upper Logan River, south of Brisbane, from Robert Tertius Campbell in about 1849. The Melcombe/Maroon runs were also transferred to Captain Thomas Collins in the same year. Tambourine Station was then founded by his son (James) Carden Collins not yet 20 years old. Captain Thomas Collins subsequently lost most of his fortune due to a downturn in the economy and a decline in whale numbers. He died in 1866 at Nindooinbah.