5 January 1886 Captain Samuel Sweet
On 5 January 1886 the South Australian Register carried an editorial tribute to Captain Samuel Sweet who had died suddenly at Riverton the day before. The Editor described him as a man of 'kindly disposition .... [who] devoted all his time and great skill to the development of landscape photography ...'. It is not certain when he began his interest in photography, but he was accomplished in the new technique before coming to Australia. Sweet arrived in South Australia in 1866 after spending some time in Queensland and in Sydney. He worked full time as a photographer for three years from 1866-69, before going back to sea.
He was a very experienced seaman having joined the Royal Navy in 1844, serving in China and later, in the Merchant Service, in South America. In 1869 he was appointed Captain of the Gulnare which was to carry men and supplies to the new settlement at Port Darwin. While in Port Darwin he took many photographs of the area and presented an illustrated lecture of his trip on his return to Adelaide. He made three more trips to the Territory over two years, taking photographs each time, but on the fifth trip the Gulnare was lost.
In May 1875 Captain Sweet was master of the barque Wallaroo which ran aground at Port Wallaroo after colliding with a sister ship, the Kadina. A Marine Board inquiry into the incident found that the loss of the barque 'was attributable to an error of judgment' on Captain Sweet's part and he was censured for 'neglect'. While his seafaring days were at an end he continued as a photographer until his death. His visual records of Adelaide and the Northern Territory are invaluable.
Philip Pike, Julian Moore, Captain Sweet's Adelaide, Adelaide, 1983.