1810 -1853







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Robert Dale (son of Major Thurston Dale) was born in Winchester, Hampshire in England in 1810. He was made an ensign in the 63rd regiment in 1827. He arrived at Swan River aboard HMS Sulphur and acted as a temporary government surveyor.

Lt. William Preston led an expedition on the 9th of September 1829. He was joined by Ensign Robert Dale - who would go on to explore much of the hilly area to the east of Perth.

Preston was unimpressed by the country over the scarp but within a month Dale returned trying to trace the source of the Helena River.

Dale's men walked in to an Aboriginal camp and while the Aborigines were very surprised and initially appeared aggressive, they quickly settled down and led the explorers to a number of water sources before vanishing back into the bush.

Much later on Dale was to be involved in a confrontation with some very hostile natives (near Lake Monger) and was to bare two spear wounds for the rest of his days.

Dale's efforts to open up territory to the east did not go un-noticed by the Governor and Stirling praised him highly, then rewarded Dale with a large grant of land on the banks of the Avon River.


Dale was then re-assigned to the Garrison at Albany where he put his interest in exploration to good use again before becoming a Lieutenant in November 1832.

F.C. Irwin wrote of Dale: "Among those to whose enterprize [sic] and exertions the colonists are indebted for very valuable information respecting their territory, it would be injustice to omit the name of Lieut. Dale, of the 63rd regiment, who has been engaged, perhaps more than any other person, in exploring the interior at Swan River and King George's Sound." (The State and Position of Western Australia, Commonly Called the Swan-River. Frederick Chidley Irwin)

Dale acted as A.D.C. to Irwin and when authorities in Britain made Dale's staff position redundant, it was Irwin who got wind of the decision and gave Dale a new position doing surveying work.

The 63rd regiment was due to be transferred to India in 1833 but Irwin and Dale seem to have decided not to join them.

They left W.A. in October 1833 sailing aboard the Isabella. Dale took with him the smoked head of local Aboriginal tribesman Yagan. Dale sold his commission in November 1835 and became a timber merchant in Liverpool.

Some of the earliest remaining images made of the Swan River Colony were courtesy of Robert Dale.


Painting by Robert Dale
Painting by Robert Dale


Dale's name has been connected with the Leeds Mercury affair and he is suggested as a possible author of the article that was written claiming that a Dutch colony had been found in the interior of Australia.

Although Dale retained some property in Australia (near the town or York) he was never to return to the country and he died of T.B. aged only 41 in Bath, England in 1853 (1).

(Footnote: Mount Dale and Dale River were named after Robert Dale and the Helena River was named after Robert Dale's sister.)

(1) One source quotes Dale's year of birth as 1812 and year of death as 1856. Some articles say his birth month was October others say November which appears to be correct.




1810 - Born. (Baptismal records show his date of birth as 14 November. Thanks to Sally K. for this additional information.)

1827 - Made an ensign in the 63rd regiment on October 25th.

1829 - Departed England for Western Australia in February.

1829 - Appointed assistant to Surveyor General John Septimus Roe.

1829 - Joined an expedition led by Lt. William Preston on September 9th.

1831 - Six week expedition with George Moore and 19 others during October-November.

1832 - Appointed aide-de-camp for Captain Irwin.

1832 - Dale purchased a vacated lieutenancy.

1833 - Returned to England.

1835 - Sold his commission.

1835 - Became a timber merchant in Liverpool on November and promoted the use of jarrah wood.

1851 - Travelled to Mexico.

1853 - Died of tuberculosis on July 20th.


Links to more information:


Robert Dale

The Secret Agenda of Western Australian Explorer, Robert Dale (1809-1853)

Robert Dale b. November 1810




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