Public Art: Sam Isaacs mural
Artist: © Jack Bromell
Date Unveiled: The Sam Issacs mural was completed in June 2016
Description: A mural in black and white of Aussie hero Sam Isaacs, who along with Grace Bussell, helped rescue passengers from the stricken ship SS Georgette at Redgate Beach, Margaret River. His achievement was legendary.
Location: The Sam Isaacs mural is located on the wall of the Chapel Cafe, Prince Street, Busselton, Western Australia.
On December 1st, 1876 local Noongar Samuel Isaacs and Grace Bussell bravely rescued passengers from the shipwrecked SS Georgette at Redgate Beach. This mural is a tribute to his courage of all Wadandi and Bibbulman people in their country. Words and Illustration by Jack Bromell June 2016
Background to the Rescue:
On the 29th of November, 1876, the SS Georgette left Fremantle carrying 50 passengers. The following day her hull was loaded with large Jarrah logs at Bunbury before setting off for Albany. It is believed the loading of the timber caused structural damage to the hull of the ship, which went unnoticed.
As the Georgette was rounding Cape Naturaliste, the Georgette began taking on water.
Within a few hours, the ship was adrift and slowly limping into Calgardup Bay where it began to break up.
As the drama was unfolding an Aboriginal farmhand, Sam Isaacs, who was walking along the coastline, noticed the SS Georgette in trouble and ran over 20km to the Wallcliffe homestead to get help. Grace Bussell, the 16-year-old daughter of Alfred and Ellen Bussell, on hearing the news, gathered ropes and then saddled her horse before setting off with Sam Isaacs to the stricken vessel.
The two rode their horses down a cliff, into the ocean, and through the surf to rescue passengers & crew. Grace and Sam urged the passengers to grab hold of their horses as they ferried them to shore. Many of the passengers and crew were rescued from their swamped or capsized lifeboats. Sam at some stage was sent to the stricken ship to rescue a man left behind. It took over four hours to rescue all the passengers.
Grace then rode back to the homestead to get help. The survivors were taken to the Bussell’s property where they were given food and shelter. You can read the whole story here… S.S.Georgette.
Who Was Sam Isaacs? :
Sam Isaacs (1845-1920) was born in Augusta in 1845 and was given the tribal name Yebble by his Aboriginal mother. His father was a Native American mariner who came to Western Australia in the early 1830’s on a whaling ship. Sam grew up to be an expert horse and bullock handler.
In December 1876, whilst working as a stockman for Ellen and Alfred Bussell, thirty-year-old Sam saw a stricken ship (S.S.Georgette) from the cliffs of Calgarup Bay near Redgate. Both Grace Bussell and Sam saddled up the horses and rode to the beach to help rescue the passengers.
Following the rescue, Sam was awarded a Crown Grant of a 100acres of land by the State government. He chose a farming property along the banks of Margaret River, not far from the Bussell’s Homestead and named it “Fernbrook”.
Sam cleared the block and then built his own home where he raised his six children. He made his living working on farms and bullock driving at the sawmills of Karridale and Boyanup. The rock where the Georgette sank is now known as Isaacs Rock in his honor.
Sadly, Sam Isaacs died in 1920 following a fall from his sulky. He was returning home after dropping his son off at the Busselton Train Station. His son was heading to Perth to join the 10th Light Horse Brigade.