COROMANDEL LIFE 2015 WINTER
can be seen at Mercury Bay Museum.
In 1960 a tsunami briefly exposed the wreck
and more souvenirs were prized away from the
remains. Bill Jeffery, great-great-grandson of
woodsman Robert Fox who emigrated to
Adelaide on the
, was one who
excavated the ship in 1986 to celebrate the
150th anniversary of the founding of Adelaide.
Virtually every year the museum receives visits
from descendants of those associated with the
, from South Australia and as far away as
England and Quebec.
With this intriguing back story it is no wonder
that both the Historical Society and the Mercury
Bay Museum are keen to resurrect and celebrate
This painting by Gainor W. Jackson forms the backdrop to the Mercury Bay Museum’s exhibit.
Note the sailors on the shore to get a sense of the size of the ship, which could transport 300.
Our breakfast being over, then to work we do repair;
Our work it is all pointed out, for every man his share;
There’s roughters and refiners, and there’s jolly sawyers too,
To lop and trim those lofty spars, to load the Buffalo.
When twelve o’clock is drawing nigh, ‘All off!’ again’s the cry,
Then every man lays down his axe, and through the wood does hie;
Our cook has got a dinner that will make all faces shine,
With pork and murphies smoking hot on which we tars do dine.
‘Grog ho!’ is the next cheerful cry, we drink it up with glee;
We light our pipes when time is up and, smoking, go away
Unto the woods to finish well the spars that we began,
And when the afternoon’s expired, then home comes every man.
And when we have our supper got, our barter we prepare,
With shirts and blankets in our hands, to the natives’ huts we steer;
For toki, pigs and murphies we exchange our traps, you know,
For to suit us rakish blades of the saucy Buffalo.
On Wednesdays and Saturdays, at four o’clock we strike,
Each man to wash and mend his clothes whilst he has got daylight;
e’ve extra grog on Saturdays, to cheer up every man;
There’s happy days on board the Buff ashore in New Zealand.
Our ship she is well loaded, and for England we are bound,
Where plenty of good rum, my lads, and pretty girls abound;
Farewell to Tonga ~ Maoris and wahines also,
They will oft-times wish to see again the happy Buffalo.
And now, my jovial shipmates, I will finish my new song,
I hope it is not tedious, nor any way too long;
Long life unto our Captain, and our officers all round,
May we all see many happy days,
now we are homeward bound.
“The Voyage of the Buffalo”
Come all you jolly seamen bold, and listen to my song,
I’d have you pay attention, and I’ll not detain you long,
Concerning of a voyage to New Zealand we did go,
For to cut some lofty spars, to load the Buffalo.
Chorus: Cheer up, my lively lads, to New Zealand we will go,
For to cut some lofty spars to load the Buffalo.
The Buffalo’s a happy ship, from Portsmouth she set sail,
With South Australian emigrants, we had a pleasant gale;
For six long months in Holdfast Bay, our hands did work on shore,
Building houses for those emigrants, which grieved our hearts full sore.
In Sydney we did sport and play with lasses there so fine,
To the Angel and the Crown we went, where we drank grog and wine;
We kept it up both day and night, until we went away,
We spent our money freely, and we always paid our way.
When at New Zealand we arrived, our hands were sent on shore,
Our tents were then all pitch’d well, and provided with good stores;
At six o’clock we all rouse out, then such a precious row,
Come quick and get your grog, my boys, unto the woods you go.
With saws and axes in our hands, then through the bush we steer,
And when we see a lofty tree, unto it we draw near,
With saws and axes we begin to lay the tree quite low,
With cheerful heart strikes every man to load the Buffalo.
Now eight o’clock is drawing nigh, ‘All off! All off!’ ‘s the sound,
All thro’ the trees it echoes loud, and makes the woods resound,
Then every man lays down his axe, and thro’ the bush we come,
To get their jolly breakfast, every man does nimbly run.
n 1836, the HMS
left Chatham, England, carrying a load of settlers – not
convicts – who founded the colony of South Australia.The vessel then continued
across the Tasman Sea to New Zealand, where the crew was put ashore for
months to cut kauri for spars they would deliver back to England.
T.F. Cheeseman, the 2nd Mate, kept a diary into which he pasted this printed
broadside ballad, which he said was composed on board. The diary was donated
by Cheeseman’s son to the Alexander Turnbull Library in Wellington This ballad
shares quite well what life was like for the sailors-turned-Kiwi-bushmen.
“... we felt satisfied that sufficient spars could
be obtained from here to load our ship –
without much difficulty.”
They soon returned on the
to what he
calls ‘the coast of Wakahongiri’ with a timber
crew and the provisions to establish a
temporary logging encampment. They set to
work felling and preparing the kauri,
however, Laslett states that progress was
slow due to stormy weather, insufficient
labour and injuries. On 27 July he writes,
“The weather was altogether unfit to send
the men to work in the forest.” After being
ashore for more than two months, the crew
had secured only 22 kauri spars in all.
On 29 July, the shore party, hearing a gunshot
offshore at dusk, rowed at “risk of life” in the
building storm to the schooner, the
carried a message from Captain Wood stating
had gone aground in Mercury
Bay during the gale. They were to abandon the
encampment and return on the schooner.
(Heavy winds, however, made it necessary to
retreat to Tairua Harbour overnight before they
could make land at the Bay 2 August.)
WHAT BECAME OF THE
AND ITS MEN?
The gale had been unrelenting, and on July
broke loose of one anchor after
another, and Captain Wood ‘intentionally’
beached her to save lives of the crew (see
Wood’s account on previous page).
The stranded crew of the
discharge to work for the NZ government (then
in need of mechanics and artisans), and 26
took advantage of this offer.
Among these was Thomas Duder, boatswain
, who became coxswain of the
refurbished pinnace. (Note, Helen Duder, a
descendant, will play a kauri violin at the
video showing. See page 16.)
Although the ship’s remains lie just off
Buffalo Beach and can be seen from the air
when the water is clear, she has also found
metaphorical anchor in other ports.
Valuables and planking were salvaged. All the
missing anchors except one were recovered
and used on other ships. Timbers were
fashioned into a mayoral chair in Adelaide,
Australia, and several salvaged artifacts – such
as convict irons, handcuffs, ship’s compass –