Clarinda

The 1660 play “The Sea Voyage”, written by John Fletcher and Philip Massinger, is often considered to be little more than a rip-off of William Shakespeare’s better known “The Tempest”. To be sure, both plays contain similar elements: such as beginning with a storm, and featuring both a desert island and castaways at a banquet. But this is not because Fletcher and Massinger were copying the Bard of Avon, as is commonly believed, but because both plays draw upon the same true events.

In 1598, Adrie van Rutger captained a voyage to the East Indies, but got quite badly lost after being blown miles off course by a cyclone. An unwitting predecessor of Janszoon and Hartog, he sailed into Port Phillip Bay believing himself to have discovered a heretofore unknown inlet in approximately the location of modern Albany, West Australia. Here, he encountered a settlement of Amazons, although due to mutual incomprehension, he got the names wrong. Clarinda was the name of the people, not their princess (as was later depicted in “The Sea Voyage”). He did name their land, a stretch of territory encompassing most of modern Mentone, Parkdale and the eastern half of Cheltenham in addition to the region still called Clarinda today, and his journals are known to have been published upon his return to Rotterdam, with an English translation produced at the request of Queen Elizabeth in 1601.

The origin of the Clarinda Amazons remains a matter of considerable debate, although the most widely accepted theory is that they were a breakaway group of shield maidens from the settlers of Bangholme and Seaholme. An alternate theory suggests that they may have been a group of Amazons who washed up in Port Phillip Bay after Deucalion’s flood, having been sent warning by Deucalion’s wife Pyrra. What is certain is that they were extinct by no later than about 1750, and that little sign of them remained to be found when Batman and Fawkner arrived in Melbourne.

Suburbs near Clarinda: