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III

At Twofold Bay I was much interested in the ruins of Boydtown, which is on the bay opposite Eden. It had several tumble-down, uninhabited houses.

About it there are strange and romantic associations. It takes its name from its founder, Benjamin Boyd, who in the forties of the last century was a well-known Londoner, a member of the Stock Exchange, a financier, a banker and company promoter. In 1841 he decided to transfer his activities to Australia. He voyaged in his own yacht, Wanderer, and brought with him the artist Oswald (afterwards Sir Oswald) Brierly. Three steamers and a schooner flying Boyd's personal flag preceded him with stores.

He had founded the Royal Bank of Australia in London, and he opened a branch in Sydney. Then he embarked in the whaling industry, made Twofold Bay the base of his operations, and established Boydtown. Pastoral pursuits were what more particularly attracted him to the locality. He held extensive grazing areas,


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and his intention was to make Boydtown the port for the Monara Plains, to which he made a road.

The beauty of Twofold Bay entranced him, and he believed it was going to be of great importance. Blood-stock was imported. He got Kanakas as shepherds, but neither he nor they knew anything about sheep farming. Wild dogs played havoc among the flocks. Furthermore, the coloured men did not behave themselves. They got into disfavour with the authorities, who insisted on their being deported. Money was spent lavishly. Boyd entered public life. For a short period he was a member of the Legislative Council.

Boyd's operations appeared to be successful for a few years and to promise well. Then a change came about. After seven years heavy losses were reported. The outlook was gloomy. Money for the enterprise had been obtained from the bank he had established, and the bank was compelled to close its doors, whilst the shareholders had to provide nearly £100,000 to meet liabilities incurred by Boyd. An arrangement allowed him to retain some ships and also land at Twofold Bay.

At this time there was a rush to California, where new goldfields were being opened up. Boyd sailed for California in the Wanderer in the hope that he might restore his shattered fortunes, but was not successful. In 1851 he was on a cruise in the Pacific Islands, where he met with a mysterious end. The Wanderer anchored in a small bay off an island of the Solomon group, supposed to be uninhabited. One morning, with a member of the native crew, he went on shore to shoot game.

Later an attack was made by natives on the yacht. There was a hard fight, but they were prevented from


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getting on board. Boyd had not returned. An armed boat crew were sent on shore.

The marks of knees were seen on the ground as if there had been a struggle. There was also gun wadding that must have fallen out of Boyd's pocket. A vigorous search was made, but nothing further was discovered. Boyd could not be found.

The Wanderer set sail. Soon after she was wrecked on the Australian coast.

Statements that subsequently were made caused the belief that Boyd was detained on the Solomon Islands by the natives in order that they might learn from him some of the arts of the white man. It was said that he was taken away and hidden when vessels came within sight. Belief in this theory was strengthened by the absence of any bloodstains on the scene of the struggle. As the islands were approached by sea, natives were often observed (so it was reported) hurrying away a curiously dressed individual as if anxious to place him in hiding. The captive was supposed to be the unfortunate founder of Boydtown.

A warship, sent many years later to the island by Sir William Denison (then Governor of New South Wales), found trees and rocks marked with the word “Boyd.” The natives denied any knowledge of him, and nothing further could be learned as to his fate.

What is told to the visitor to Twofold Bay is mostly vague and legendary. The particulars I have given were related to me in Melbourne by a man who was a friend of Boyd in California.

I went over the deserted ruins of Boydtown. Someone


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has said that the first institution to be established in a new town in America was a saloon, in England a church, and in Australia a racecourse. Boyd supplied not only the American but also the British requirement.

The hotel had what must have been a well-furnished saloon. In one room there was the dilapidated remains of what had been a fine billiard table. The church, which had a substantial tower, was never used. In its vicinity were three or four graves. They were grass-grown, but the tombstones still showed the short and simple annals of those who half a century previously found their last resting-place in Boydtown.

There was what was left of a store, also a building that was Boyd's private residence. There were evidences of streets having been laid out, and other indications of an extensive town having been planned.

On a headland at the entrance to Twofold Bay an excellently constructed lighthouse was erected. We were told it was not allowed to be lighted, as if it were permitted the Government would be under the obligation of keeping it lighted, and there was another lighthouse on the other side of the harbour.

My attention was directed to an old two-story house from which the doors and windows had disappeared. It was perched on a lofty crag like the eyrie of an eagle. It was the home of Boyd's friend, Brierly, the landscape painter. Certainly the dwelling was picturesque and commanded a wonderful view of the sea and the coastal cliffs.

The subsequent career of Brierly was different from


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that of Boyd. He had studied art under distinguished masters, and had two pictures in the Royal Academy when he decided to join Boyd and come to Australia with him. He was then twenty-four years of age. Boyd gave him the management of his whaling enterprises, a position for which the young artist could not have had many qualifications. He made his home at Twofold Bay for five or six years, and probably tried to learn what he could about whaling. His brush was not idle. There is a picture by him in the Sydney Art Gallery, “South Sea Whaling off Twofold Bay.”

The captain of a warship induced him to go for an extended voyage made for survey purposes in Australian waters. That and other voyages unsettled him. He did not return to the solitude of his picturesque Boydtown home, but went to London. A few years later, through the influence of naval friends, he was brought under the notice of Queen Victoria, from whom he received many royal favours, including commissions to paint pictures, also a knighthood. He lived to be nearly eighty. Boyd's vision and enterprise ended in his failure and destruction. It was his comrade, the artist, who prospered.

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