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.