Tuesday, August 09, 2016

Gracetown

Grace of Perth Daily Photo and her husband P were very kind to us when we visited Perth. Grace may or may not have tried to convince us that Gracetown was named after her. As much as we think the lovely Grace should have a town named after her, apparently Gracetown in Western Australia was not named after our Grace. Unfortunately for us Grace is having a short sabbatical from the world of blog, but never mind.

Hero is a word often used to describe someone who has kicked a winning goal at a football match. No doubt there will be heroes who will win medals at the Olympics, who have done nothing more than win a competition. No, this Grace of Gracetown fame really was a hero, or heroine if you prefer but I don't.

When we visited Western Australia earlier this year, our Margaret River coach tour took us to Busselton and we were impressed with the what is now the holiday town south of Perth. Busselton was founded by the prosperous Bussell family in 1832.

Grace Bussell was born in 1860 and lived at the pioneering family's homestead, Wallcliffe House.

An Aboriginal stockman in the employ of the Bussells, Sam Yebble Isaacs, spotted a sinking steam ship, the SS Georgette, in Calgardup Bay on the Western Australian coast some twenty kilometres from the Bussell homestead. He rode his horse hard back to the homestead and only sixteen year old Grace was at home. Together on their horses they raced back to scene. Unfortunately Sam's role was not fully recorded, but I expect he too was a hero.

Grace rode her horse at speed down a steep cliff and into the raging surf and out beyond the breaking surf where people from the sinking ship desperately clung to her horse, her clothing, whatever they could grip and she ferried them to shore. She (and Sam?) worked for four hours in the raging seas, bringing around fifty people to safety. Although some people had drowned before Grace and Sam arrived, none did once they began the rescue.

Pretty good effort by a sixteen year old lass, I think, and in my mind a true hero, along with Sam and perhaps their horses too.


Grace was awarded a silver medal and a gold watch by the Royal Humane Society and her 'black servant' was awarded a bronze medal and a grant of 40 hectares of land near the Bussell's home. Not only was Gracetown named in her honour, so too was the town of Lake Grace and even in the Canberra suburb of Cook, there is a street named after Grace. Grace later married an admirer of her heroic effort and went on to raise her seven children. Grace died at the age of 75 in 1935.

18 comments:

  1. Hero is one of the most overused and I think misused words in our language. Over the next little while I will be ranting at the screen everytime I hear about our olympic heroes. I don't think it is my almost complete disinterest in sport talking.
    Grace and Sam were indeed heroes. Thank you for the education.

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    1. EC, I agree and I am not really interested, although when Sister was here and the tv was on, I did catch some of men's gymnastics, which unsurprisingly, I did find interesting.

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  2. Interesting as UK TOO HAS A historic heroine of the sea....she was called Grace too
    Grace Darling

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    1. John, I used four different sources to write this and each one also referred to your Grace Darling.

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  3. Don't know much about famous people of Australia. But hopeful I don't insult you are any of Australia..Like American icon or heroes. After you do some research they have anther side to them....I believe this fall my son and his wife will be visiting your country and New Zealand.
    If I touch any sensitivity...I'm sorry.
    Coffee is on

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    1. Dora, there is an expression used in Australia, cultural cringe. Australians are always seeking the approval of the rest of the world because we think we are inferior. I hope your lad and his wife will enjoy themselves.

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    2. I will never understand this cultural cringe. We're as good as everybody else.
      It may have started because the original white settlers were convicts, but that was a very long time ago and we should have got over that by now.
      We are not inferior! Just far away.

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  4. Anyhow one my friend two of her kids name from our local town...Her son Bonner is from Bonners Ferry and her daughter Melody middle name Meadow is after a creek.

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  5. Wow! How inspirational. Thanks for sharing.

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    1. Inspires you Sandra. You will get very wet.

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  6. Women could achieve great success in the late Victorian era, if only they were allowed. Go Grace! I hope her daughters were ambitious.

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    1. Hels, there are so many questions in my mind about the story, but we can't do more than take it on face value. The daughters of Grace probably raised some good children and that is a high flying achievement.

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  7. thanks for sharing it was very interesting

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  8. A heroic rescue effort indeed.

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    1. River, not sure I would have done that at the age of sixteen. Yeah, just not sure.

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  9. What an uplifting tale of two extremely courageous people; talk about grace under fire.

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    1. Cranky, Grace by name and by nature.

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