Finding Family

One woman's obsession with family history.

When recording details about our immediate ancestors, we are never going to know everything. We’re not always going to know the where, what, when and how and it’s our job as genealogists to establish informed theories based on the facts at hand.

There will always be little things that slip through the cracks. Take holidays, for example. Perhaps you had no idea that your Great Grandmother went on a holiday to England until her name was found in the Fremantle Passenger Lists. Other holidays however, without some sort of documentary proof, will remain constrained to the unknown. A quick getaway down south by car (unless photos were taken) will leave no evidence if it’s not remembered or spoken of. It is a thought that is both saddening to the researcher but enlightening to one born into an age of constant documentation of people’s lives. It’s sobering to think that one day my descendants will know exactly when and where I went for coffee and who I was with.

One of the best ways to discover where our relatives travelled is through the photos they do leave behind. In this instance, I was lucky enough to find that my Grandma completed an album full of photos placed in chronological order and labelled accordingly. When Grandma and Grandpa went on a holiday to the north west in celebration of their 25th wedding anniversary, I knew approximately when they went, where they went and some of what they saw. And it all began with a present.


Their 25th wedding anniversary was celebrated on 5 May 1969 so it’s likely they left sometime after this date (which makes sense given the north is extremely hot in summer). They began their holiday as anyone does, by leaving home.

Barratt Ronald Victor & Flynn Audrey [Just leaving for our North West Safari - taken by John Barratt]

“Just leaving for our North West Safari.”

They left North Perth and travelled north up to the Tarcoola Caravan Park.

01 - Tarcoola Caravan Pk Geraldton

“Tarcoola Caravan Pk Geraldton.”

It would appear they made their base here for a short time while they explored some other areas nearby.

03 - Taken over the Greenough River Bar looking out to sea

“Taken over the Greenough River Bar looking out to sea.”

04 - Old Mill. Greenough Flats Wonga Park

“Old Mill. Greenough Flats Wonga Park.”

Grandma and Grandpa had a look at the mouth of the Greenough River, visited the museum at Greenough Flats, travelled to the town of Walkaway and then, back in Tarcoola, went a little further north to Geraldton.

08 - Geraldton


They left Geraldton and again travelled north. They went up to Nazereth House in Geraldton (Bluff Point) and continued up to Port Gregory.

11 - Nazareth House. A few miles north of Geraldton

“Nazereth House. A few miles north of Geraldton.”

On the way back from Port Gregory they passed Horrocks Beach and somewhere after Horrocks Beach, they had dinner by the side of the road.

13 - Dinner here. Coming back from Horrocks Beach

“Dinner here. Coming back from Horrocks Beach.”

After Port Gregory and Horrocks Beach they drove inland to Northampton. A few miles north of Northampton, they pulled over and decided to sleep in the car.

16 - Slept here. A few miles north of Northampton

“Slept here. A few miles north of Northampton.”

They continued further north and reached the 26th parallel (a circle of latitude which passes through Australia).

17 - Unlabelled

From here they stopped at the overlander Ampol Station (it’s now BP) where a turn off (perhaps Denham-Hamelin Road) would take you to Hamelin Bay and Shark Bay. This was not part of their plans so they continued onward to Carnarvon.

18 - The overlander Ampol S Station also turn off to Hamelin Pool & Sharks Bay

“The overlander Ampol S Station also turn off to Hamelin Pool & Sharks Bay.”

27 - The old Carnarvon Townsite

“The old Carnarvon Townsite.”

They made sure to travel further north of Carnarvon to check out the spectacular natural phenomenon, the blowholes.

25 - Blow holes 42 m north of Carnarvon

“Blow holes 42 m north of Carvarvon.”

After their time in Carnarvon they went far inland to Gascoyne Junction. They viewed the Kennedy Ranges from a distance and investigated the Gascoyne River which looked as if it was quite dry.

32 - Gascoyne River Bed at Gascoyne Junction. Ghost Gums

“Gascoyne River Bed at Gascoyne Junction. Ghost Gums.”

From Gascoyne Junction, they travelled south to Cue.

33 - Band Stand. Main St Cue

“Band Stand. Main St Cue.”

34 - Govt Buildings Cue

“Govt Buildings Cue”

On their way south, they had a look at the ghost town, Big Bell. From here, they continued south and stopped to take a photo as they drove in to New Norcia. Their “North West Safari” was drawing closer to an end and this image was the last photo in the album. It may have also been one of the last photos taken before they arrived back home in North Perth.

36 - Coming in to New Norcia from the North

“Coming in to New Norcia from the North.”

Note: there are more photos within the album that have not been shared on this blog post. If you’re interested, these may be shared at a later time on Finding Family’s Facebook page or our sister page, The Dusty Box.

Kangaroo Hunting

Most of my regular readers would be all too familiar with the stories of Thomas Crampton, Matilda Maria Hurst, Matilda’s admittance to Fremantle Asylum and the strange disappearance of Thomas Lisle Crampton (their son). It is a story (and a family) that consumes me.

Throughout 2015 I went to great lengths (including multiple visits to Collie) to uncover additional information about the story. While I have more than what was ever known (including maps!) I am still missing one crucial record; the police report or journal of Sub-Inspector Clifton continues to elude me. Much like Thomas Junior, these early Bunbury Police Records have apparently disappeared without a trace (much to my disappointment and frustration).

Nevertheless, I turn to what is available and I stockpile as much information as possible so that, combined, it builds a bigger picture of the story at hand. Newspapers articles have been a goldmine and the release of Bunbury’s Southern Times gave me a new clue as to the whereabouts of Thomas Crampton when his son went missing.

Mr Crampton was out kangarooing at the time…

An article in the Bunbury Herald elaborated and made mention of a dog that Thomas had recently purchased which had also gone missing at the same time. The detail in relation to the breed of dog has only recently been expanded with the digitisation of the newspaper, The W.A. Record.

Kangaroo Dog

The Kangaroo Dog (otherwise known as the Kangaroo Greyhound or Australian Greyhound) was bred primarily for hunting. Early settlers took the best qualities of the greyhound (speed) and the Scottish deerhound (tougher paws, thicker coat, powerful body and stamina) and bred a dog which could run long distances and would be able to cope in the harsh Australian conditions.

The exact time frame of when the kangaroo dog first came to be has thus far not been ascertained but a search on Trove indicates that advertisements for them were being placed in New South Wales newspapers as early as the 1800s.


Advertising from 1805

In Western Australia, advertisements appear as early as 1833 (when the first newspaper was published) and one particular ad from 1834 indicates that some of the first dogs to arrive in the state were brought over from Sydney.

Just Landed

In those early colonial years when meat was scarce (the settlers often refused to kill their own stock for food) they relied heavily on a diet of kangaroo. The kangaroo dog and its usefulness for hunting therefore became a highly sought after commodity. So much so, that when the WA Government decided to impose a tax on dogs in 1841, the Inquirer responded passionately that kangaroo dogs (specifically those kept by settlers in remote areas) should be exempt.

We are of opinion that the exemption should extend to kangaroo-dogs kept on distant farms for the purpose of hunting; for these animals are as necessary to the out-settler as the horses or oxen with which he ploughs his fields. No establishment “over the hills” is considered complete without two or three of these dogs, and we consider it a very hard case that the settler, who keeps them at once for the purpose of procuring food, and for the protection of his property, should be called upon to pay a tax for them.

Kangaroo dogs also proved useful in Western Australia for more than just hunting kangaroo. In 1840 when the Colony was having issues with their sheep dying after eating the burtonia plant, William Nairne Clark decided to feed the plant (mixed with kangaroo) to a kangaroo dog named Hector. As they expected, the poor dog died from the effects of the plant but, “for the benefit of science” they were able to once and for all prove that the plant was poisonous.

When Sir Thomas Mitchell went out exploring the north west interior in 1847, he took with him several kangaroo dogs. Unfortunately, he underestimated the heat and the lack of water and all the kangaroo dogs died during the journey.

As the years passed the words ‘kangaroo dog’ in articles tended to be preceded with the word ‘valuable’. They had become indispensable to the settlers and the loss of the animal was lamented as a tragedy.

…near the same spot last year a valuable kangaroo dog was also bitten [by a snake] and killed.

Their value however may not necessarily have been simply because of their usefulness at home. They had also become an export with many owners breeding and selling their dogs to the Indian market who considered them to be superior animals.

Moreover the dog itself is an animal of export, and sometimes realizes in the Indian market more money than a horse.

Kangaroo dogs continued to be used well into the early 20th century but tended to be seen more in rural areas. It’s of no surprise that as Western Australia grew and the Colony’s reliance on kangaroo meat diminished, the use of the kangaroo dog went much the same way.

Today they may still be seen in some country areas, often performing similar tasks for which they were originally bred for but, generally, kangaroo dogs are now a very rare breed of dog within Western Australia and Australia.

Kangaroo Dog Poem


To all the readers and followers of Finding Family, thank you for all your support throughout 2015. It’s greatly appreciated. I hope you all have a very Merry Christmas and a safe and Happy New Year with your families. Here’s hoping there’s many more genealogical discoveries in 2016!

Image source: 1954 ‘[No heading].’, The Australian Women’s Weekly (1933 – 1982), 29 December, p. 1, viewed 24 December, 2015,

In the spirit of the Christmas season I couldn’t help but share with you the following article from The Sydney Monitor. Published in December 1836 it would appear that the author was having a rather tough time accepting the Australian heat at Christmas. Longing for the colder weather of England, he came up with a novel idea: change the date from 25 December (in summer) to the 25 June (in winter). They begged the question…

Are we to be for ever troubled with the heat on the anniversary of an event which transpired in winter?

The ridiculousness of such a question (as well as the article itself) had me laughing while reading it and I can only hope that it was written in mirth. For surely they couldn’t have been serious.

Christmas Day

Source: The Sydney Monitor; 26 December 1836; Page 2 (

It’s hard not to have one’s attention captivated by a name such as The Deadwater. Located near Busselton, the name evokes a sense of darkness, mystery and foreboding. Sounding like something out of a pirate movie, it will come as no surprise to find that for years there have been rumours that a mysterious shipwreck was lying hidden beneath the mud.

There have been many accounts given by locals and it was estimated by Frank Gregory in 1861 that it could’ve been there for over 200 years (dating it as being from the 1600s). In 1935, E H Withers of Rathmines wrote in to the Sunday Times to share what he saw:

When I was a lad about 19 years of age, in 1874, I saw at the mouth of the Vasse River (Busselton) the wreck of a vessel in a backwash on the north side, on what was called Reynolds Island. It was under water, but you could see the forepart of the deck and a fluke of an old-fashioned anchor. I was told at the time that it was an old Dutch boat, but no one that I knew could tell me how she got there.

While there are enough eyewitness accounts of The Deadwater shipwreck to suggest that it certainly did exist, it has, to this day, not been found.

In honour of Trove Tuesday, I leave with you one of the earliest accounts of the wreck printed in The Inquirer and Commercial News in 1856.

Dead Water Wreck

For more information please visit The Western Australian Museum’s shipwreck database:

Do you have additional information or stories about The Deadwater shipwreck? If you do, please do not hesitate to leave a comment. I’d love to read more!



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