Matthew Flinders came. He cast his keen eye around the narrowing Gulf as he ventured north. He inhaled deeply and took the warm salty air into his lungs and drank in the vista. A pod of dolphins surfed on the bow-wave created by his robust sloop, The Investigator.
The Nukunu people, the first peoples of this land, observed this particular visitor as it encroached on their ancient shores.
His vessel beneath him and faithful to his command, Flinders gave the order to set aloft more canvas and he could hear her timbers and her sails sing. She inhaled deeply too and sighed as her sails captured clean air and pushed her effortlessly forward across the shallows of the Gulf.
Muddy rivers, ‘Tarparrie’, and mangrove flats framed the backdrop of an ancient range as the molten sun sunk below the horizon to the west; the purple haze on the hills in the east, a sight of beauty.
And after Flinders they came….Eyre, Horrocks and Germein….they saw change.
The first vessel to navigate ‘Tarparrie’ was the schooner rigged John Pirie. It carried a precious cargo; she was laden with sheep from Bowman’s Run. Earlier in 1836 she had sailed from England for South Australia, the smallest of 9 ships, just 19 metres long.
Now her true work began. On this voyage the sound of ropes and canvas, of cloven hooves on timber decks; and the baaing of sheep, a symphony, flowing and moving like a river.
These days the MV Reliance her 1200 ‘horses’ powering her along in a following sea and dolphin surf her wake on her starboard side. She is 16 metres long. The coxswain pulls back the revs and her throaty engines drop back an octave as she reaches the pilot boarding ground. This diesel fuelled symphony is in stark contrast to those who came before.
The Marine Pilot skilfully boards the foreign flagged ship. It too is carrying a precious cargo. The modules on her deck are strapped down, soon to be released and will be laid down in their final resting place behind the Nyrstar gates. This is Change.
The MV Reliance her engines now quiet but still warm and with heavy lines securing her to the wharf she lays alongside, quietly proud. She is proud because she knows her name is a fitting tribute to Matthew Flinders as it was also the name of the first vessel of Flinders’ command.
She wonders what Matthew Flinders would think of the change… moving like a river… things are gonna change, change, change... that’s one thing that stays the same.