Robert Alexander Stevenson arrived in Australia at midnight on 14 January 1862, the ship he was aboard, the George Marshall, being wrecked some miles from Flinders Island, for which he made in an open boat of 16 January. He remained there with the other passengers for 11 days, then was taken off in a small steamer to Launceston, then on to Melbourne and then to Sydney.

From here he travelled to Cowra, NSW; he is thought to have had a relative in the town. He remained there basically for the rest of his life, becoming a leading resident and establishing the Cowra Guardian newspaper.

He married Adelaide Pettigrew at Cowra on 14 October 1865. The Pettigrew family came to Britain with the Norman Conquests (the name means 'mall foot' or 'thin leg' or 'crane' in old French, depending on who does the translation. Today the family is spread all over the United Kingdom, and subsequently the world, but Adelaide seems to have descended from the Irish branch. The family's crest is a crescent moon, with the motto: "Sine sol nihil" (nothing without the sun).