Showcasing the pre-eminent art collection in Western Australia

Historic record of colony life to return to WA

16 Oct 2012

The State Library of Western Australia has obtained Mary Anne Friend’s diary - an object of great Australian and Western Australian significance - at a Christie’s auction of Australian Art in London.

Culture and the Arts Minister John Day said the diary purchased for nearly $200,000, included one of the few eye-witness accounts of the establishment of the Swan River settlements at Fremantle and Perth in early 1830.

“I am very pleased that the State Library has been the winning bidder at the auction acquiring Mary Anne’s journal for the State Library,” Mr Day said.

“Items such as this are rarely offered for public sale, so we are pleased the diary will be now kept in a public collection and made available for research and display.”

The journal contains three hitherto unknown and unpublished watercolours of Fremantle which are some of the earliest images of this settlement, as well as two manuscript charts of rivers of the region, probably drawn by Mary’s husband, Captain Matthew Friend.

The section written during January 30 to March 19, 1830 is the most significant to Western Australia and the journal is full of interesting anecdotes about day-to-day life on board ship and ashore, the crew and passengers.  All this recorded information enriches our understanding of WA’s settlement.

The total cost of securing the journal was AUD$196,041. The State Library will pay $115,000 towards the purchase with the remainder coming from the Federal Government through the National Cultural Heritage Account Fund to assist with the acquisition of the diary for safekeeping and display in the State Library’s archive collection.

The Minister said the State Library Foundation also raised money to contribute to the State Library’s allocation.

“The State Government and State Library would like to acknowledge and thank all the partners who assisted with the acquisition of these important papers,” he said. “The library is currently working on the return of the diary to WA so it can be prepared for public viewing as soon as possible.”