THE Bega Pioneers' Museum was this year given the bound copies of the Bega District News. This continuing story of the mutiny on the Junior was written by H P Wellings of Eden and was in the January 29, 1945, Bega District News.
IT MUST have been surprising to the mutineers on entering the lake to find not only a few houses but a newly erected hotel. Making the best of their position after they landed, for a couple of weeks they thoroughly enjoyed life at Merimbula, patronising the hotel and thereby no doubt affording Mr Bernasconi, the licensee, much profit.
But their period of enjoyment was soon to end, for on the 9th January,1858, Constable Adam Ballantyne, with Constable Martin both of Pambula, and attached to the Eden Police Force, proceeded to Merimbula and succeeded in intercepting the men as they were attempting to leave in their whale boat.
On searching the boat the constables found several pistols and a revolver belonging to the mutineers. On being brought before the local Magistrate at Pambula, Lieut John Lloyd, RN, the four men were remanded to Eden, as it was realised that being American citizens and the offence committed upon the high seas, it was very doubtful whether jurisdiction extended to Australia.
Coming before the Eden Court on the 18th January, 1858, the men were remanded by Mr G P Keon, P.M. to take their trial in Sydney on charges of mutiny, murder and piracy. The case occupied a considerable time ere a decision was reached, and finally the mutineers were ordered to be sent to America in the vessel they had previously been employed.
The crew of the second boat had been arrested near Port Phillip, the total number now being eight, two having eluded arrest. Four months from the date of the mutiny, the 25th of April,1858, the eight men were placed on board the Junior, under a strong guard, and the vessel sailed for New Bedford, USA.
Captain Gardiner was given command of the Junior, on this voyage and the United States Consul in Sydney, Mr R D Merrill, took the necessary depositions to establish the facts of the outrages and provided the means of sending the mutineers to the United States for trial.
Their trial took place in Boston, commencing on the 11th October, 1858, but not terminated until June, 1859, owing to many adjournments, when Plummer was sentenced to be hanged. The fate of the others cannot be definitely traced. Great efforts were made to secure a communication of Plummer's sentence, and finally a life imprisonment was decided upon.