Buckley's Cave - a non-trivial hideout for a practical thief (7 photos)

Category: Nostalgia, PEGI 0+
21 June 2024

This guy escaped from prison and is said to have spent many years hiding in this cave on the coast.

Different stories have their own heroes. This one is interesting for its love of life and unconventional way of thinking. William Buckley, according to the official version, was convicted of knowingly receiving a bolt of stolen fabric. He claimed that he was carrying it for a woman and did not know that it was stolen. He was sentenced to deportation to Australia and hard labor for 14 years.

He sailed on HMS Calcutta to the Sorrento colony at Sullivans Bay. He realized that it was time to move on from the ill-fated settlement when, in 1803, he learned about transportation to a convict settlement in Tasmania. Which didn't bode well. Making his way around the bay (Melbourne did not exist until the 1830s), he managed to do so quietly and avoided capture.

Australian Aboriginals

Then he joined the Wathaurong tribe. The Aborigines of Australia accepted him and respectfully called him the Wild White Man. It is believed that at this time he lived in a cave located under what is now Point Lonsdale Lighthouse on the coast. Today this coastal cave is known as Buckley's Cave.

Point Lonsdale Lighthouse, with Buckley's Cave in the lower left corner

Buckley Cave

32 years later, Buckley came to John Batman's camp near St Leonards on the Bellarine Peninsula. A tattoo of his initials, WB, confirmed that he was the same convict who escaped in 1803 and was long presumed dead.

Frederick William Woodhouse. Meeting of the first settlers with Buckley, 1861

Buckley received a pardon and for two years acted as a mediator and translator between whites and Aborigines. But the appointment to a cushy position and the legalization in society were overshadowed by the fact that William felt that he lacked the trust of both parties. Disappointed, he went to Tasmania, found a job and even got married. He died in 1856 at the age of 76. Ironically, a man who had gone through so many life turns died by simply falling off a stationary cart.

The film “Buckley’s Chance” was made based on Buckley’s adventures.

Buckley's extraordinary story of survival is today remembered in the classic Australian proverb "Buckley's chance", which is equivalent to our "chance in a million" and indicates the almost impossible success of something. But there's always someone like Buckley to break the rule.

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