Biographical entry: Binskin, Joe and Florence (1893 - 1941)

8 August 1893


Joe Binskin was born in Kent, England in 1870, then went to New Zealand as a teenager and joined a trading ship that then wrecked in the Caroline Islands. He joined another ship and made his way to the Solomons, working for Norman Wheatley (q.v.) and subsequently setting up his own small trading station on Bagga Island, just off Vella Lavella's west coast, which he renamed Paradise Island. He became a successful trader with stores at Simbo and Gizo, and he married a Malaitan woman named Unga. They had two daughters, one of whom was five and the other eighteen months old when the entire family was killed as part of a long-running dispute with a Vella Lavella chief named Sito, which involved the death of Jean Peter Pratt (q.v.). In 1909, District Magistrate Edge-Partington (q.v.) tried to arrest Sito, but Sito escape while his wife and two children were killed. Sito killed Binskin's wife and children in revenge. Binskin and the local traders retaliated, to which the government's only response was to tell Binskin to take a long holiday, which he did, to Sydney.

He returned in 1910 and married Norman Wheatley's oldest daughter, Florence (Florrie) (Golden 1993, 231-233), who was born on 8 August 1893. Though educated in Sydney, Florrie spent the rest of her life, including the war years, in the Western Solomons. Despite what had happened on Bagga, she loved the island and called it the 'Island of Dreams'. She raised her three children there: Florence (born 1912), Josie (1914) and Bill (1915).

Joseph Binskin died in 1941, just before the Japanese invasion, and their son Bill joined the Australian Army. Florrie turned down a chance to be evacuated to Makira and took refuge in various villages on Vella Lavella, helping the coastwatchers (q.v.) and other Allied personnel to avoid capture. On her return home she found that she had lost everything, including her personal jewellery, furniture and clothing. The Japanese had also destroyed her trade store, valued at £12,000, her forty-foot ketch Alice and five thousand head of cattle on the plantation. The plantation itself was completely overgrown, but she set herself to restoring her island world and for the first three and a half years lived there alone. In 1952, she formed a relationship with a Malaitan named Jeff and together they were able to restore the plantation sufficiently to make a bare living. She was hospitable and loved to host visitors. She was related to the Wickham, Palmer and Talasasa families. Her grandson Paul Scobie was with her when she died, and she was buried beside her husband on her beloved Bagga Island. (NS 31 Jan. 1972)

Related Party

Published resources


  • Golden, Graeme A., The Early European Settlers of the Solomon Islands, Graeme A. Golden, Melbourne, 1993. Details


  • British Solomon Islands Protectorate (ed.), British Solomon Islands Protectorate News Sheet (NS), 1955-1975. Details