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Bicentenary of the piracy that gave Pirates Bay its name.
Early in 2021, while Eaglehawk Neck History Group members were studying a map of Tasmania dating from 1824 they were intrigued to see beneath the name, Pirates Bay, the words: ‘Schooner taken, 30th Jan. 1822’.
‘Seeing the detailed reference to the act of piracy and realising that the bicentennial of this event was coming up within the next twelve months, we decided to look into it further.’ – EHNHG member Ruth Moon.
What the Group discovered is a fascinating story, involving some of the best known convict and free settlers’ names of Van Diemen’s Land: George Meredith, one of the earliest colonists in the Swansea area, had chartered the schooner, called Seaflower, from Anthony Fenn Kemp and Richard Barker. Then there are the pirates, at least six men, including Matthew Travers and Robert Greenhill.
‘Travers and Greenhill were sent to Macquarie Harbour when they were captured. It was a horrible place, but they might have done well to stay there. They escaped, however, with the wrong man: Alexander Pearce, the cannibal convict. Needless to say, they didn’t survive.’ – Ruth Moon.
A third pirate was William Walker, otherwise known as Will Swallow.
‘Swallow got a little further with Seaflower than Travers and Greenhill, but he was eventually captured. This didn’t stop him though. He later did make it all the way back to England!’ – Ruth Moon.
Swallow was one of several convicts being transported to Macquarie Harbour aboard Cyprus when they seized the ship, putting those who hadn’t supported them ashore in Recherche Bay. Then they sailed to New Zealand, the Pacific, and onwards… Eventually captured in England, Swallow told the story of his adventures, claiming to have visited Japan – a country then closed to foreigners. His story was never believed, until just a few years ago, when Nick Russell, an English teacher in Japan, discovered an illustrated account of their visit. It included a painting of a man thought to be Will Swallow himself.
‘We couldn’t believe that these men were the very same pirates Pirates Bay was named after.’ – Ruth Moon.
Realising that the bicentenary of the original piracy was fast approaching, the Group shared their story with the Eaglehawk Neck community, who jumped into action, organising a schooner’s worth of events to commemorate the occasion. These became ‘The Pirates of Pirates Bay Festival’, which will be on in January 2022. The events include:
- A History Talk on the facts of the piracy and the world in which they occurred, presented by James Parker, Dianne Snowden, Malcolm Ward and Craig Brown. This will be held in conjunction with the Festival Opening by Tasman Mayor, Kelly Spaulding (with a small interlude for Devonshire Tea in between). The Opening will also include the presentation of Australia Day awards and a Citizenship Ceremony. Friday 28th January 2022, from 2-4 pm.
‘We want to celebrate our community and welcome new members, but we don’t want to ignore Indigenous history. Tasmanian Aboriginal people have such a profound connection to this place – Eaglehawk Neck, which they knew as teralina. We want to Acknowledge that and invite them to be part of these events as they are an important part of our story. An Aboriginal Elder will Welcome us to Country.’ – Tasman Mayor Kelly Spaulding.
- A brand new theatrical performance, The Pirates, the Unknown Cannibals and the Man Who Changed His Feathers, by the Tasman and Forestier Arts Association Two performances: Friday 28th Jan. 2022, at 7.30 pm and 2 pm on Saturday 29th Jan.
‘The play is going to be great entertainment for all ages, with sea shanties, convict songs and even a polka bringing the historical events and larger-than-life characters to life’ – Producer, James Parker.
- Windeward Bound, the magnificent two masted brigantine, will be sailing into and anchoring in Pirates Bay, to represent the ‘Seaflower’ on the 29th and 30th of January. Details of the opportunities available to the public to join the ship for the 3 day voyage each way from Hobart will be announced soon.
- Pirate Ball and Supper at the Lufra Hotel. Saturday 29th Jan. from 7.30.
‘We’re really hoping people will dress up in their piratical best for this – there will be a prize for the best costume and a lucky door prize too. Barrelhouse are going to be playing and Sidewalk Tango will put on a mini dance performance – all great fun and value at $40 per head, with welcome drinks and a delicious supper.’ – organiser, Heather Henri.
- Pirates Sunday Market and Fun Day at the Eaglehawk Neck Hall, 10 – 2.30 on Sunday 30th Jan.
‘There will be a great variety of stalls, with art, craft and delicious food for sale, a Pirates Bay history display and live music. Michelle Pears will be leading children on an imaginary Pirates’ Treasure Hunt and a spectacular ‘pirate’s parrot’ will visit from Rosedale. The Wooden Boat Guild of Tasmania will have some beautifully restored wooden boats on display. We’re also going to be announcing the winners of awards for best costumes, boats, and a pirate/convict -themed home/letterbox/garden decorating competition.’
‘We’re hoping people will start getting their piratical decorations up throughout January, to get us into the mood for some piracy, but if anyone is unsure where to start, the Dunalley Neighbourhood House will be offering some tips for little and grown-up kids at a Make your own pirate workshop (10am – noon on January 25th). Or they could also get inspiration from a film: The Pirates of Penzance, which the Eaglehawk Neck Film Society will be screening for members on January 22nd 7 pm, at the Eaglehawk Neck Community Hall. Membership can be purchased on the night ($10 for 3 months).
‘There’s also going to be a pirate appearing on Eaglehawk Bay pretty soon, so keep your eyes open! Don’t worry too much though – we’re expecting a contingent of boats to arrive to keep him company over the big weekend. They should make sure he doesn’t create any mayhem or get away.’ – organiser, Heather Henri.
- ‘Finally, to help everyone wind down, or just keep going perhaps, the Lufra Hotel will be hosting a Pirates Happy Hour, on Sunday 30th Jan. from 4pm. There will be rum cocktails, of course, and live music.’ – organiser, Heather Henri.
The Life@Work Conference is City Bible Forum’s annual conference to encourage Christians in the workplace. Since 2013, the conference has been equipping and empowering Christians from around Australia, and the world, for their life and witness in the workplace. Join us for the next Life@Work Conference on Saturday February 19, 2022, “Flourishing in the Furnace: How God uses the daily grind to shape and refine us”
The conference is fully online, so you can watch it at home, or join a local watch party.
Speakers include Michael Jensen, Andrew Laird, Nathan Grills & Amy Brown