1886: Sailing instruction for navigation from Suva to Levuka harbour

“The route from Suva to Levuka is, of course by sea, the distance some 55 miles, and the time oocupied by one of the inter- colonial steamers generally about five hours.
Leaving Suva wharf at daylight the reef protecting the the coast line of Viti Levu is followed round, until a dangerous point, known as Nasilai, is reached.
Nasilai a danger spot for wrecks: On this spot several vessels have come to grief, notably the coolie ship Syria, when some 50 lives were lost, the schooner Conflict, and others, but a beacon has now been erected, from which at night a light is exhibited.
After passing Nasilai a course is steered direct for Ovalau, which now becomes visible, surrounded by the picturesque islands of Loma Viti, or tho central group, amongst which are Moturiki, Naucica, Gau, Batiki, Nairai, Wakaya, and Mokongai.
The entrance to the sea reef opposite Levuka is soon reached.
Steamer arrives at noon: The steamer berthed is alongside the Queen’s Wharf before noon.
Levuka harbour in 1886: The harbour of Levuka is not land locked, unlike that of Suva; in fact, It has more the appearance of an open roadstead, being only protected from the weather on one side, i.e., the westward, by the island itself.
Protected harbour: A well-defined sea route of coral runs north and south, however, at about a mile from the shore, and forms an excellent defence against the swell of the Paciflc, and vessels ride, at anchor in all weathers, with perfect safety, except during the most violent hurricanes, which are happily of rare occurrence, there having been none attended with disastrous consequences for many years.
Two ways into the reef: There are two entrances through the reef, one opposite, and one to the northward of, the town, either of which are easy of access, the former being also marked by beacons, as at Suva. The Queen’s Wharf, at the southern end of the town, is a creditable structure, and affords sufficient accommodation for those who requirements of the port. At the opposite end of the town where the Custom house is at present most inconveniently situated, there is another wharf, which was originally in be Government wharf, but, as in – most ‘ Government jobs, ‘ a bungle was made, and when the wharf was nearly completed it was discovered that there was a coral patch at the end of ie, which would prevent any but vessels of very little draught coming alongside. It was, therefore, abandoned for the present structure”.
The Mercury Supplement, (Hobart, Tasmania)  Saturday 13 February, 1886.  This item appears written by a Levuka resident in early 1886, or late 1885.  It encourages tourism to Levuka, as a rest from an overheated Australia.  Author uses the name “Tasmanian”. Possibly Frederick Langham   Perhaps ship-owner and trader with a long term trading relationship with Levuka and Suva, for at least five years – since 1880.


1819: Peter Dillon now owner and master of the ships in which he sailed

On 22 September 1814 Dillon married Mary, daughter of Patrick Moore, an emancipist businessman and farmer. Marriage and the birth of three children cut him off for some years from the adventurous life of the islands. For two years he was employed in the coastal trade. In June 1816 he moved to Calcutta, from which port he made a number of voyages to the Australian colonies.
George Bayly, Sea-Life Sixty Years Ago (Lond, 1885); J. W. Davidson, ‘Peter Dillon and the South Seas’, History Today, vol 6, no 5, May 1956, pp 307-17. Author: J. W. Davidson Print Publication Details: J. W. Davidson, ‘Dillon, Peter (1788 – 1847)’, Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 1, Melbourne University Press, 1966, pp 306-308

1826: Peter Dillon was sailing in command of his own ship, the St Patrick, from Valparaiso to Pondicherry, when he sighted Tucopia.

‘Thirteen years later ( after 1813) Peter Dillon was sailing in command of his own ship, the St Patrick, from Valparaiso to Pondicherry, when he sighted Tucopia.( Tikopia in the Santa Cruz group) Curiosity prompted him to stop to enquire whether his old friend Martin Bushart was still alive.
Greetings-canoes contain old mates: ‘He hove to, and shortly after two canoes put off from the land, bringing Bushart and the Lascar, both in excellent health. Now, Dillon observed that the Lascar sold an old silver sword guard to one of the ST. PATRICK’S crew in return for a few fish hooks. This made him inquisitive. He asked the Prussian where it came from’.
La Perouse wreck revealed on Vanikoro: ‘Bushart informed him that when he first arrived at the island he saw in possession of the natives, not only this sword guard, but also several chain plates, iron bolts, axes, the handle of a silver fork, some knives, tea cups, beads, bottles, a silver spoon bearing a crest and monogram, and a sword. He asked where these articles were obtained, and the natives told him that they got them from the Mannicolo (or Vanikoro) cluster of islands, two days’ canoe voyage from Tucopia, in the Santa Cruz group’.
‘initials of Perouse’: “Upon examining the sword minutely” wrote Dillon, “I discovered, or thought I discovered, the initials of Perouse stamped on it, which excited my suspicion and made me more exact in my inquiries. I then, by means of Bushart and the Lascar, questioned some of the islanders respecting the way in which their neighbours procured the silver and iron articles’.
Locals report two large ships: ‘They told me that the natives of Mannicolo stated that many years ago two large ships arrived at their islands; one anchored at the island of Whanoo, and the other at the island of Paiou, a little distance from each other. Some time after they anchored, and before they had any communication with the natives, a heavy gale arose and both vessels were driven ashore. The ship that was anchored off Whanoo grounded upon the rocks’.
First ship La Perouse landing crew killed : “The natives came in crowds to the seaside, armed with clubs, spears, and bows and arrows, and shot some arrows into the ship, and the crew in return fired the guns and some musketry on them and killed several. The vessel, continuing to beat violently against the rocks, shortly afterwards went to pieces. Some of the crew took to their boats, and were driven on shore, where they were to a man murdered on landing by the infuriated natives. Others threw themselves into the sea; but if they reached the shore it was only to share the fate of their wretched comrades, so that not a single soul escaped out of this vessel.’
Second ship crew held up beads, axes, and toys: ‘The ship wrecked on Paiou, according to the natives’ story, was driven on a sandy beach. Some arrows were fired into her, but the crew did not fire. They were restrained, and held up beads, axes, and toys, making a demonstration of friendliness.
Chief visits second ship: As soon as the wind abated, an old chief came aboard the wrecked ship, where he was received in friendly fashion, and, going ashore, pacified his people’.
Crew carry stores aboard: ‘The crew of the vessel, compelled to abandon her, carried the greater part of their stores ashore, where they built a small boat from the remains of the wreck. As soon as this craft was ready to sail, as many as could conveniently be taken embarked and sailed away. They were never heard of again. The remainder of the crew remained on the island until they died’.
Laperous Scott, Ernest, 1868-1939 Publisher Sydney : Angus & Robertson, 1912 ; Printer W.C. Penfold. http://www.fullbooks.com/Laperouse.html

1870: Captain Robbie, and the fish god, the Dakuwaqa

“When I came to Fiji the famed fish-god, the Dakuwaqa, was very much a reality. The Government ship, the Lady Escott, reached Levuka with signs of an encounter with the great fish, while the late Captain Robbie, a well known, tall, and very erect Scot – even to his nineties, – told of the sleepy afternoon as his cutter was sailing from his tea estate at Wainunu, under a very light wind, with most of the crew dozing. A great fish, which he described as near 60 feet in length, brown-spotted and mottled on its back, with the head of a shark and the tail of a whale, came up under his ship, almost capsizing it. The crew, instantly awake and concerned, followed the ancient pattern, pouring a strong libation of kava into the sea, which, it would seem, was just the right idea for placating fish-gods; the monster slowly submerged, the breeze gradually gathered the cutter away, its keel dragging along the monster’s back, making the skin pale”.

Ref: unknown. TBA

July 1861: gold rush starts in Otago, South Island of New Zealand

In July 1861, while Bully Hayes was on his voyage to Java, gold was discovered in the mountains and valleys of Otago in the South Island of New Zealand. A rush was in full swing when Captain Hayes returned to Sydney after the sale of the Launceston barque. With cash from his share of the profits, Hayes decided to become a theatrical entrepreneur and to take a troupe of variety artists from Sydney to entertain the diggers on the Otago goldfields. the troupe, known as the Buckingham Variety Company, had, as its leading lady, Rosa Buckingham, a young soprano. Rosa had four brothers in the troupe; they, with their mother, a widow, were well known as “the Buckingham family” of entertainers. Bully also engaged a pair of comedians, Mr and Mrs Glogski, and three male vaudeville performers. As manager, bully booked passages for the artists in a coal barque, the Cincinnati, 445 tons, Captain Ryde. She sailed from Sydney on 6th July 1862, bound for Newcastle to load a cargo of coal, thence to Otago, New Zealand. The accommodation in the collier was far from comfortable. Bully had only been able to get berths in her because passengers who had previously booked had refused to accept the berths offered.
The History of William (Bully) Hayes, Part 2.

1931-34: sightings of the fish-god, the Dakuwaqa

When I came to Fiji the famed fish-god, the Dakuwaqa, was very much a reality. Continue reading

1937: Samoam Fiji dance and music on Naivukulani, Fiji

The taralala is an innovation. I was told that it originated in a simple little kindergarten dance in a mission school and spread, ere long, with great rapidity throughout the Group. There is now an endeavour to suppress it. In itself it is perfectly harmless, but the aftermath is not always without harm. In a large bure we were given an opportunity of seeing it. Continue reading