Gracetown is a small settlement located on Cowaramup Bay, north west of Margaret River.
The whole area from Busselton to Augusta is rich with scenery and well established tourist attractions.
Gracetown is fairly quiet and laid back compared to the larger towns in the area and it is a great place to relax and enjoy nature.
Unfortunately it was the site of a tragic cliff collapse near the beach which killed several people.
BEWARE of overhanging rocks, take a beach umbrella for shade and do not seek shelter in overhangs.
Gracetown was originally planned as a caravan park and camping ground in 1957 but was not surveyed until 1961. It eventually managed to get gazetted as a town in 1962.
Stewart Bovell (the Minister for Lands in 1962) named the site in honour of
for her part in saving passengers from the wrecked ship Georgette at Calgardup on
December 1st 1876. Although just 16 at the time, Grace, along with
rode her horse into the surf helping passengers from overturned lifeboats safely back to shore.
The press made much of Grace's part in the rescue but Sam Isaacs (who saved at least as many people as Grace) was largely ignored; possibly because he was an Aboriginal 'servant'.
Also mostly forgotten were John Dewar and James Noonan who saved a number of women and children who went into the sea when a lifeboat from the Georgette capsized further north along the coast.
One of the survivors of the sinking (Mrs. Annie Simpson) wrote:
'Just then another big wave struck the lifeboat and threw it against the ship's side. It broke clean in half from end to end, and I shall never forget the awful screams that went up. All in a few seconds
we were struggling in the water, and it was then that most of the lives were lost. I floated out on my back, saw the broken boat turn over and float away, and saw the Georgette for the last time.'
Two women and five children drowned when this lifeboat was smashed against the ship.
Although it is stated that Sam Isaacs (1845-1920) was an Aborigine, research suggests that he was in fact half Negro. His mother, Nunika, was a member of the Nyoongar people but his father,
Saul Isaacs, was a Negro who had jumped ship from an American whaler. Nunika had been promised to a tribal elder and when it was found that she was having a relationship with Saul, he was
speared and she was forcibly taken back to the tribe. She was already pregnant and gave birth to Sam - his tribal name was Yebbel.
At the age of three Sam's mother died and he was an outcast amongst the tribe; Ellen Bussell took pity on him and took him in.
For his part in the rescue (he originally ran about 20 kilometres on foot to raise the alarm) Sam was granted a block of land and he went on to marry Lucy Walters and had six children before he
died in an accident after dropping off one son who was on his way to Perth to join the 10th Light Horse Brigade.
TALL TALES AND TRUE
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BUILDINGS OF NOTE
State : Vasse
Federal : Forrest
Postcode : 6284
Local Government : Shire of Augusta - Margaret River
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