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27 July 1836 ‘Governor Wallen’

 27 July 1836 ‘Governor Wallen’

The first official settlers in South Australia arrived in Nepean Bay, Kangaroo Island on the Duke of York and John Pirie on 27 July 1836, five months prior to the arrival of Captain Hindmarsh on the Buffalo. On stepping ashore they were met by an unofficial settler in the form of a middle-aged man clad in wallaby skin, moccasins and fur cap. His real name and origins are steeped in mystery. To the new settlers he was known as Governor Whalley or Wallen and it was rumoured that he was an escapee from Van Dieman’s Land. Another version stated that he had left a whaling ship in 1816 and had led a Robinson Crusoe existence with other odd fugitives and some Aboriginal women. Wallen continued to live and farm on the island, but was in Adelaide in 1856 when he died suddenly at the age of 62 years. Following his wishes his body was returned to the island and he was buried in the old cemetery in Kingscote.

G. Edith Wells, Cradle of a Colony, Island Press, 1978, pp.25-29.

Tags: Governor Wallen or Whalley

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