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White Wings Vol II. Founding Of The Provinces And Old-Time Shipping. Passenger Ships From 1840 To 1885

The Oriental

The Oriental.

First ship to sail from London, and second to reach Port Nicholson, was the Oriental, 506 tons, Captain William Wilson, by which 155 people came out, 62 being males and 93 females. Among prominent passengers may be mentioned the Hon. Henry Petre (son of Lord Petre), Major Hornbrook, Mr. Francis Molesworth (brother of Sir William Molesworth, Bart.), Mr. George Duppa, Mr. W. B. D. Mantell (son of Dr. Gideon Mantell, an eminent geologist), and Mr. Dudley Sinclair (son of Sir George Sinclair, Bart., M.P.).

Sailing from Gravesend on September 15th, 1839, and Deal six days later, she called at the island of Santiago, Cape Verde Group, and that was the last land seen until on January 22nd she entered Port Hardy, that being the day the Aurora reached Port Nicholson. Some natives seen here advised them there was a pakeha on the island, and they set off in their canoes to fetch him, spreading their blankets for sails. The man was Maclaren, the whaler who brought a letter left by Colonel Wakefield ordering the ship to Port Nicholson. The wind blowing strong into the harbour, it was three days before the Oriental got out, and even then she just escaped going ashore on the rocks called Nelson's Monument.

It was not until the 29th that the ship was off Port Nicholson, and then the wind failed. Captain Wilson was a good deal perplexed by the long line of rocks that runs right out from Sinclair Head, and next day he sent the mate away in the cutter to investigate. Of course the mate soon discovered the entrance, but there was no wind, the weather was thick, and there was a strong ebb tide, so the anchor was dropped. The following morning Colonel Wakefield came out in a ship's boat, bringing with him a pilot. Though there was a head wind, the Oriental beat into the harbour, and at 6 p.m. on January 31st, 1840, she dropped anchor off Somes Island, receiving a salute of guns from the Cuba and the Aurora.

Then began the work of disembarking. For a few days the weather was rough, but on the 3rd of February a fine spell set in. It was decided to settle the new arrivals on the banks of the Hutt River, about a mile up from the mouth. On the 5th the disembarkation started in real earnest. The ship's boats were used to take the heavy stuff up the river, but the bulk of the passengers tramped to their new home, over a roughly-made page 19 track, carrying in their hands or on their backs such light things as they could manage. By the 15th of the month all the cabin passengers, who had until then lived aboard, moved ashore, and by March 6th the last of the cargo was out.