State Records Archive
Title: Journal of W.P.C. Delfs (730) from 10 – 13th Dec while taking provisions and mails to Dorre and Bernier Islands from Carnarvon
Keywords: Ernest Delfs; Robert Lack; Dorre Island; Bernier Island; Dr Frederick Lovegrove; Lock Hospitals; health
Journal of WPC J E Delfs
1908From the 10th to the 13th of December
Left Station at 6am for cutter Genesta. Boarded cutter at 7am. Left anchorage at 8:15am for jetty anchored off jetty at 8:45am. Took aboard per dinghy 10 sheep, 1 bag vegetables and effects of Robert Lack (cook for Doree Island), also mails for Island. Left at 11:20am for Doree Island under double reefed mainsail, staysail and small jib. Wind blowing fresh from S.W. At 3:20pm the wind having increased the jib was taken in. At 6pm anchored in Bush Bay, blowing strong from S.W.
At 6am blowing hard from S.S.E. At 9am the wind having moderated a start was made for Doree Island under double reefed mainsail and staysail, the wind having veered to South. At 11:40am wind dropped and the vessel was becalmed till 1pm when a light breeze came in from the S.W. A reef was taken out of mainsail and the squall jib set. At 4:30pm the wind having freshened causing a choppy sea the jib was taken in. At 5:50pm anchored under seaweed bank off white beach landed on Doree Island went ashore at 6:20pm with Mailey[?], returned to Cutter at 7:15pm.
At 6am blowing fresh from South. At ? landed 3 sheep and effects of Robert Lack. Saw R Fielder head carpenter who stated everything was going on satisfactory and that the framework of the building are up. No complaints. Returned to cutter at 10:30am. At noon left for Bernier Island under ? mainsail and staysail, wind moderate from SW. At 4pm anchored at Bernier by ? had landed the remaining 7 sheep, mail and vegetables in food order.
At 6am light breeze from south blowing, at 8am went ashore for mail. Saw Dr Lovegrove. No complaints. Received mails and returned to cutter at 9am. At 10am left for Carnarvon under reefed? mainsail, staysail and swell jib. Moderate S.W. wind blowing. Anchored in Tegs Channel at 2:15pm, all correct. R Talbot passenger from Bernier. Wm Henrietta Assistant.
Dr Frederick Alexander Lovegrove was the nephew of Dr Thomas Lovegrove, the Principal Medical Officer of WA. He was the medical supervisor on Bernier & Dorre Islands from 1908 – 1910, after which he went to Tambellup, where he was the general practitioner for many years.
Quote from Daisy Bates, The Passing of the Aborigines, Chapt 9:
Dorre and Bernier Islands: there is not, in all my sad sojourn among the last sad people of the primitive Australian race, a memory one-half so tragic or so harrowing, or a name that conjures up such a deplorable picture of misery and horror unalleviated, as these two grim and barren islands of the West Australian coast that for a period, mercifully brief, were the tombs of the living dead.
For more information about the Lock Hospitals on Dorre & Bernier Island, see Jade Stingemore’s PhD Thesis entitled Surviving the ‘cure’: life on Bernier and Dorre Islands under the Lock Hospital regime. It is available for open access download at the University of Western Australia Research Repository.
Jebb, Mary Anne. The Lock Hospitals experiment: Europeans, Aborigines and venereal disease. Studies in Western Australian History, No. 8, Dec 1984: 68-87.