All this information has been handed down to me from
my people who have gone before me.
And my Brother Henry who was very close to Mum and Dad.
In 1827 the first sailing ships began arriving on our shores with goods and passengers Sailing ships were very important in those early days, but their journeys were often dangerous. Many ships were wrecked on our shores and many people lost their lives.
The story I am about to tell is about one of those ships, that was named the Georgette, and of a 30 year old aboriginal man named Sam Yebble Isaacs who played a major role in the saving of passengers from this ship, with the help of 16 year old Grace Bussell.
Sam Yebble Isaacs was born at Augusta in 1845 he was
the son of a Native American mariner who absconded from a whaler in the
early 1830s, his Mother was a woman from the Wardandie tribe from the Augusta
area. ( He was given the tribal name Yebble by his Aboriginal Mother ).
Grandfather Sam was quite illiterate and could neither read or write, but his education took the form of practical work. He was a noted bushman in his handling of horses and bullock teams and his advice could be depended upon on farming procedures of that time.
Sam Yebble Isaacs seated and friend
In December, 1876, the steam and sailing ship Georgette set sail from Fremantle with a cargo of jarrah timber. It was bound for the Eastern States. A short distance south from Busselton the timber began to shift, and one piece of timber broke a hole in the side of the ship and the water poured in, flooding the engine room, the ship turned towards the shore.
About that time Sam Yebble Isaacs was walking along
the cliff and saw the stranded ship heading for the reefs, Sam knew the
coast line well, he knew the ship was in trouble.
Sam worked as a stockman for the Bussell family so he ran to the homestead for help.
Mrs Bussell was at home with her daughters preparing
for Christmas. The men were away at the time.
Sam burst into the kitchen and told the story of a ship breaking up on rocks, saying help was needed to save the passengers from the ship, when the story was told the women knew the danger, Grace Bussell who was 16 yrs of age at the time said We ll go on our horses. Quick Sam saddle mine and one for your self we must hurry .
They galloped along the cliffs and could see the stranded
ship beginning to break up on the rocks below, they turned their horses
and rode down the rocky slopes and into the raging surf.
This was very dangerous as there was jagged rocks all around on the reef.
The ship was about sixty metres from the shore, and people were climbing into lifeboats, one lifeboat was smashed against the side of the ship and people were thrown into the sea.
People were crying and screaming for help, the cries for help could be heard above the roar of the wind and the sea.
Then the people saw Sam and Grace as their horses carried them towards the ship, again and again the waves struck them trying to sweep them back to shore, but they fought the sea and drew closer and closer to the stricken ship. They were good riders and their horses were strong swimmers.
Jump into the sea and hang onto us and the horses ,
shouted Sam. The people began to jump, some reached the riders and clung
to the mane and tail of the horses and Sam and Graces clothing.
Then the long swim back to the shore, this was repeated over and over until there was no one left on the ship.
Some of the passengers and crew had reached the shore by themselves, most had been saved by Sam and Grace.
On the beach were about 50 men, women and children, they were exhausted, some were injured, and some had drowned.
Later other settlers from the area arrived and helped the passengers and crew back to the Bussells farm, were Sam, Mrs Bussell and her daughters tended their wounds gave them food and a place to rest.
It was a long and tiring day for everyone, especially Sam who had been the main one from the first sighting of the Georgette earlier that day from the cliffs above.
Reports of the wreck of the Georgette and saving of
passengers and crew travelled fast and soon appeared in Australian, English
and American newspapers.
Sam Yebble Isaacs became famous, he and Grace were praised for their brave deed, and both received medals from the Royal Humane Society of England.
Sam also received a Crown Grant of a 100 acre block of land of his selection . This had a frontage on the Margaret River not far from Wallcliffe House. Here Sam set up his home, built a house and cleared most of the block. Between times he worked on any jobs available on fencing, clearing, road works and droving stock: and for a considerable time on swamping and bullock driving on the timber mills at Karridale and Boyanup.
Grandfather Sam raised a large family, John born 1872, Lucy Mona born 1875, James Herbert born 1877, Samuel Andrew born 1879, Frederick Augusta born 1882, Henry born 1883. They were all brought up on their farming property "Ferndale".
Grandfather Sam died in tragic circumstances being
tipped out of a sulky when returning from Busselton after taking my Father
Henry to catch the train to Perth as my Father had joined the Army with
the 10th Light Horse Brigade.
This happened in 1920 when he was 75 yrs of age, near the 19 mile well ( the district later known as Metricup ). His body was taken to Busselton by Mr Albert Ashton and Mr Jim Betts old settlers of
the Margaret district and cobbers of Sam s from the saw milling days at Karridale. He was laid to rest in the Busselton Cemetery.
There is a monument erected in the Busselton Park about
Grandfather Sam, and when the Queen visited Busselton on Friday 31/March/2000,
I being the eldest of the Isaacs family received a invitation from the
Shire of Busselton and The South West Development Commission requesting
my company in the VIP area within Rotary Park for the Official Welcoming
It sure was a great pleasure to be there, I took some documents that I wanted to give to the Queen so when she came past me I held the documents out to her and she said " Are these for me ", I said " Yes your Majesty", and she took them and said "Thank you ", then walked on, so that sure made my day.
Victor Yebble Isaacs
20/07/2000 © Copyright