Wednesday, 24 December 2008

1839 - the first Casey Cardinia Christmas

1839 is the earliest account I can find of Christmas being celebrated by settlers with a connection to this area. The account comes from Niel Gunson's book The Good Country: Cranbourne Shire (1). Robert Jamieson and Samuel Rawson had taken up land on the Yallock Creek and began to move cattle to the Station from November 131839. A second trip was made in December and the pair then returned to Edward William Hobson’s Kangerong run at Arthurs Seat. On their journey on the December 23 their evening camp was caught in a sudden downpour. 
Rawson reported that even though they were under the dray, in about five minutes they were all soaked thro, it was so hot we could not bear any clothes on, the thermometer being about 95 degrees everytime I fell asleep I was awoke by Jamieson who was thrashing away with the branch of a tree to keep the mosquitoes off, at that hour the weather changed and it became deadly cold and the rain changed into a mixture of hail, rain and snow…our horses were so cold they could hardly stand, our saddles were like sponges & in this condition we had to ride 30 miles, the rain still descending in torrents (2).

They travelled the 30 miles and arrived at Hobsons, where on Christmas Eve they were wassailed or toasted with a bowl of hot toddy (a drink made from spirits, usually whiskey, hot water, sugar and lemon juice). 
Christmas was celebrated in Old English style with champagne and Rawson wrote we were a merry party that evening sitting in a hut, which a beggar in England would hardly live in, the walls full of holes, the roof covered with bark through the crevices of which a person might have crept with the greatest ease, the floor the natural earth and situated in the middle of the eternal forest whence 18 months before a white man had never trod (3)

Samuel Rawson
Image - The Good Country: Cranboure Shire by Niel Gunson.

Samuel Rawson was appointed an Ensign in the 28th Regiment in October 1838. This Regiment had arrived in Sydney in 1835 and embarked for India in 1842. Rawson went with his Regiment and left Jamieson to manage the Station with Rawson's brother Will. The Station was sold to Henry Moor and Septimus Martin in 1845.

(1) Gunson, Niel The Good Country: Cranbourne Shire (F. W. Cheshire, 1968). Dr Gunson has taken the accounts from Samuel Rawson’s Journals, held by the National Library of Australia. 
(2) Gunson, op. cit., p. 21.
(3) Gunson, op. cit., p. 21.

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