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The Hunt for Black Jack Anderson

One of the islands of the Recherche Archipelago may help shed light on the life and history of what is believed to be the only known pirate associated with Australia. Archeologists are seeking clues to uncover the mystery of Black Jack Anderson in a limestone cave. During the early nineteenth-century, Anderson robbed whaling ships that passed his island. He also kidnapped and killed some of the locals. In this article, you will learn more about the pirate and the recent efforts to learn more about his existence.

There have been many different ways to describe Black Jack Anderson. Some say he was terrifying and full of ire. Others say he was full of charisma and had passion in his heart. During the early 1800s, Anderson was known to rule the islands and waters in the Recherche Archipelago region. Because of this, he holds the title of being Australia’s only known pirate. The people of Esperance are quite familiar with the life and wrongdoings of the pirate, but not many people beyond the island are familiar with Anderson.

A cave located in bay on the south side of Middle Island has attracted the attention of archeologists who believe Anderson frequented the site. The remote island is the largest of its kind in the archipelago. The island is situated close to open ocean waters that reach all the way to Antarctica. It has been nicknamed Black Jack’s Bay and is only accessible when the weather is good. Otherwise, you may not survive the treacherous conditions of the Southern Ocean.

The cave in question has chambers and tunnels that take explorers deep into the ridge. Local legends say the space could have been used to hide the loot of Anderson. The pirate was an American that came to Australia to hunt for seals and whales in the Southern Ocean along with other Americans and Europeans. However, he took a turn for the worst and started to roam about the waters around Middle Island , robbing the boats and ships that passed by. To make matters worse, he also had a reputation for killing local Aboriginal people and kidnapping women that he made live with him as his servants and followers.

Evidence of this mayhem is shown in newspaper clippings from the past that warned people of a band of pirates in the Recherche Archipelago. Anderson was able to grow his small gang of thieves by using his personality to attract followers. He came to the region for sealing, but used violence and force to take a different career path.

In September of 1835, there were transcribed copies of declarations made in Albany courthouse that show Middle Island was “in the possession of John Anderson, a master of a sealing boat”. The pirate was accused of stealing money from seamen and forcing them to give him their profits or face being murdered. The Perth Gazette reported in October of 1835 that Anderson and others shot and clubbed Aboriginal men to death and took their women as their own. His ruthlessness showed no mercy , he’d even separate mothers from infants still clinging to their breasts , right after their husbands and fathers were murdered.

Anderson is believed to have been buried somewhere on Middle Island after members of his crew revolted and killed him.