Georgiana Molloy epitomises the spirit and strength of the early pioneering women and her legend lives on within the region.
Born Georgiana Kennedy in 1805 in the north of England, she enjoyed a privileged childhood and after the death of her father moved to Scotland to live with the Dunlop family. It was here that she received a letter containing a marriage proposal from Captain John Molloy. After considering that she could not remain with her recently married friend Helen, Georgiana accepted the proposal, knowing that Molloy was intending to travel to the Swan River colony.
Before her wedding day was over Georgiana and John began their journey to the new settlement on the other side of the world. Georgiana fell pregnant quickly and endured sickness throughout the six month voyage to Perth.
On arrival in the new settlement the Molloys were granted land by Governor Stirling in the proposed settlement at Augusta and in May 1830 the Molloy's, Layman and Chapman families landed at Flinders Bay.
Just three weeks later Georgiana gave birth to her first child in a leaky tent on the beach. Her only help was a servant who knew little more then she did herself. Georgiana was devastated when the baby died just a few days later. Over the next thirteen years however, she had five daughters who all survived her. Georgiana's only son, John, drowned in a well at only one and a half years of age.
Early settlement in Augusta was harsh as they battled isolation, limited provisions and a strange land of which they had no knowledge. John Molloy was the resident magistrate and was often away leaving the household and small holding to Georgiana to run. Despite the hardship she must have endured, Georgiana continued to delight in music, poetry and reading.
Georgiana's interest in gardening developed after being asked by Captain James Mangles to collect specimens of the native flora for him. Over the following years she became a self taught expert and her meticulously stored samples were used to establish many of the Australian plants in cultivation in England. Georgiana's diaries detail how her obsession with plants and nature grew and expressed a variety of views that were not the accepted norm of that time.
Even after the family moved north to the new settlement at Vasse, Georgiana continued to collect flora samples for James Mangles, with the help of her daughters and aboriginal neighbours, due to her deteriorating health.
Georgiana died at 'Fairlawn', near Busselton in April 1843. After her death John Molloy stayed in the settlement after a visit back to England in 1850 where he was informed of his promotion to Brevet Lieutenant-Colonel. John resigned as Resident Magistrate in March 1851 on the grounds of old age. He died on 6 October 1867 and was buried alongside his wife. The Molloy's eldest daughter Sabina married Matthew Blagden Hale, who became the first Anglican Bishop of Perth.