Perspectives in media reporting

Old photo of wreck of Georgette

Activity: Compare and contrast recollections and perspectives of the ‘Wreck of the Georgette’.


Watching from the cliffs above was Sam Isaacs, an Aboriginal stockman who worked for the Bussell family on their Margaret River property. He galloped his horse to the homestead and raised the alarm. With ropes in hand, 16-year-old Grace Bussell returned with Sam to see what they could do to help. By this time, most of the remaining passengers had been crammed aboard the third lifeboat.

A news account

1. A journalist with the Inquirer and Commercial News takes up the story:

The boat swamped, they were all in the water, and in the greatest danger, when, on the top of the steep cliff appeared a young lady on horseback. Those who were present have told me that they did not think that a horse could come down that cliff, but down that dangerous place this young lady rode at speed; there were lives to be saved, and, with the same fearless and chivalrous bravery that urged Grace Darling to peril her life for fellow creations, and gave her a name in all English history thereafter, Grace Bussell rode down that cliff, urged her horse into boiling surf, and out beyond the second line of roaring breakers, till she reached the boat where the women and children were in such peril. Her horse stumbled over the rope and she was nearly lost, but managed to get alongside the boat, and then with as many women and children clinging to her and the horse as possible, she made for the shore and landed them.

A man was left on the boat, and he could not get to shore till Miss Bussell sent her black servant on horseback to aid him. So furious was the surf that it took four hours to land 50 people, and every boat engaged was capsized.

Full story:

A storybook dramatisation

2. Sam, Grace and the Shipwreck:Cover of Sam, Grace and the Shipwreck

Extract from the cover of Sam, Grace and the Shipwreck (Gillespie 2011)

Sixteen-year old Grace Bussell was hailed as a hero for her part in rescuing the passengers and crew of the Georgette from drowning. She was called Australia’s own Grace Darling. But the rescue would never have been possible without the guidance and leadership of Sam Isaacs, an Aboriginal stockman.

(The Royal Humane Society awarded Bussell a silver medal for her bravery. Isaacs was awarded a bronze medal at a time when it was rare for Aboriginal people to receive any kind of official recognition.)


  1. Has media reporting changed over time? If so, why? If not, why?
  2. Why does Isaacs not receive the same accolades as Bussell?
  3. How might this be reported today?
  4. Conduct an internet search to see what you can find out about Sam Isaacs.


Gillespie, M 2011, Sam, Grace and the Shipwreck, Fremantle Press, WA.