Reg Watson

New Norfolk woman’s place in Australian history

TASMANIAN historian Reg Watson has produced an engaging YouTube video telling to story of Betty King, who is believed to be the first white woman to set foot in Australia when the First Fleet arrived from England in 1788.

Published last week, the video was filmed at the Back River Cemetery just outside New Norfolk, where Betty was buried in 1856. Betty arrived in Sydney as a convict, served her time on Norfolk Island and later relocated to New Norfolk.

At the time of her death, Betty was reported to have been the first white woman carried ashore in Sydney, and later research suggested she was also the last survivor of the First Fleet. Mr Watson’s video has had 250 views in its first few days.


  1. My father Leon O’Donnell initiated this story over 20 years ago he tried time and time again to try and raise some interest in this story. How sad it is that he passed away with no recognition for the many times he published stories in the Gazette on not only Betty King but The Young Irelanders, ikey Solomon and so much more. I know the story of Betty King, my father has been telling it for years Reg.

    1. Your dad was the champion of so many of our local stories, Kelley. I believe it was he who convinced Reg of the truth of Betty King’s claim to fame some years ago.

  2. Thank you Damian I certainly hope if Reg publishes this story he gives dad the recognition he deserves.

  3. Thanks Kelley, Yes I knew Leon well and worked with him on various mutually interested subjects, one being the story of Betty King. I have worked on her story now I would say for forty years and had my first work published on her decades ago. Leon and I came together because of such stories with another being Thomas Francis Meagher, Irish exile to Van Diemen’s Land. Indeed Leon purchased my book on her. I give credit to Leon, a man whom I much admired.

    1. Thankyou Reg Watson as I said before dad tried for years to raise interest in the community about this story, to no avail, so sad that now he has passed he doesn’t get to see his years of research and fact finding become something real. Hopefully in years to come this town will show him the recognition he so truly deserves.

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