My Diary of Our Trip To Australia.
Irene Beales 12/11/1958
It was in January 1958 that we decided to uproot ourselves from Corfe Mullen where we had lived since the war ended in 1948 and make for some sunshine. It was bitter cold and not only that the prospects of work looked pretty dim. We had a little business of our own and it seemed that Steve must work all the hours of day to keep up our commitments, so away went an application to Australia House. We decided to take Mr. Allisons advice and he just gave us his blessing and said there were wonderful opportunities for those who wished to take them and so we applied. On June 10 we heard that our nomination had been accepted. Then on June 26 we had notice to attend the interview. On June 28 our medicals papers arrived. On Monday July 7 we had x-rays. July 17 Interview and medicals. On August 15 notice to say we had passed our medicals. On September 16 we were vaccinated. On September 29 the two small children had their first polio injection and the second one on October 26. Our sailing date arrived 6 weeks beforehand and now here we are and the great day has arrived. All our goodbyes are over and we are on the ship.
November 12 Wednesday We left the Nevilles at 8 this morning and arrived at Southampton Docks at 10.30 am. There weren't many formalities and at 11.30 am we boarded the "Fairsky". well its been a funny day, the ship seemed like a maze when we came on board but now we are beginning to find our way around. We sailed at 4.30 and what a sight, it was a wonderful send off and, there were hundreds of colourful streamers and the band played and it certainly took off any sore feelings one might have had. We have a lovely cabin, and tonight we had a 4 course dinner lovely soup,fish,the choicest & tenderest pork I ever tasted served with browned potatoes salad, beetroot, lettuce & toms, followed by raisin cake, cheese and coffee. And now to bed, the boat is rocking quite a bit but I dare say we won't notice it in a day or so.
November 13 Thursday What a day we would have to start off in heavy seas, sick everywhere & me to, the ship just turned from one side to another, I spent most of the day in bed, Lawrence was bad Steve Shir & Tony got over it quick, I just thank God for sleep. They said it was a lovely lunch and dinner but I couldn't have been less interested.
November 14 Friday Now I've got my sea legs and I can really start to enjoy this trip. The food today has been lovely, for breakfast cereal & bacon & eggs for lunch veg soup, beef with paprika, spaghetti & potatoes, choc ice cream. For dinner thick soup, mutton chops, mint sauce, potatoes and onion and lettuce, rice & custard, cheese and apples. Well that's the food, its been a glorious day and by noon we could shed our coats & enjoy lovely warm sunshine, we have a chair each, costs a pound for the journey, but worth it to sit comfy. This afternoon we sighted land the Portuguese coast, and a lighthouse and now we are about 700 miles from England. The sea is now lovely and calm, we watched it in the moonlight. Tonight the clocks move forward ˝ an hour.
November 15 Saturday What a glorious day this has been, bright blue sky and bright sunshine and we were able to sit without coats on the deck. This morning we saw several ships quite near us, I think this is interesting to see the ships and then about noon the Spanish coast, by 2pm we were coming onto the straits of Gib. and were quite close to Spain & the rock and the Moroccan coast on the other side. It is given out on the loudspeakers where and what we are passing also how far we have come and now we are about 800 miles from home. The food has been excellent again today all I seem to do is eat. Tonight we have seen a short film of Qld. our future abode. I still can't believe I'm on my way & it will be a long time before I see my old friends again. The sea is a beautiful blue & we saw some porpoises . I marvel that anything could be so lovely & I know its all done by Gods hand.
November 16 Sunday This morning our ship was rolling a bit and my head ached. We had a very bad storm between 9 - 11 with thunder and lightning. However it cleared afterwards and we've enjoyed lovely warm sun for the rest of the day. We had a combined service in the grand hall this morning and it was quite good. The Rev. Green, Lutheran Free Church, gave the message, singing from C of E books. This afternoon we had Sunday School and I told them the story of Jonah. I've written letters till I look like letters. The food is again excellent, chicken tonight. We have just walked round the Decks. Well we are a mixed bunch I can see. Now to sleep. I've got a stuffy cold.
November 17 Monday Today has been dull and cold. The sea is quite calm. This morning we were passing the African coast. We saw Tunis and the Sahara Desert and then Cape Bon, a great Rock in the sea covered with green foliage. This afternoon we passed close to the Island Pantaleria, it was a grand sight. We were so close we could see the people and there were fishing boats. One fisherman held up a big red fish to show us. Tonight is a terrible storm, thunder and lightning, and we cannot see Malta. We should be passing it right now. Delicious food again today. Have been talking to a woman going to Brisbane. I've developed a cold, hope it will soon clear.
November 18 Tuesday It's getting warmer now, lovely sunshine this morning, but chilled again this afternoon. Watched the PT lesson on the top deck and decided to have a bash tomorrow. No land to see today, we are nearing the Suez now. The food has been good again. Tonight we have walked round and sat on the deck. The sea is fairly rough but a very warm wind. I've had my hair washed, what a wash and what a price 12/6.
November 19 Wednesday Lawrence's birthday and we are now 70 miles north of the African coast and 270 south. It's been lovely, blue sky and sunshine, 72 deg. and nearing Port Said. Tomorrow morning at 3 o'clock we come alongside, must be up early for this. We just walked up on the decks for an hour. Mediterranean in the moonlight. The food is still good and still fresh fruit. Nothing much else today, only sea and ships, and more sea. Lawrence just pulled a tooth out. 2600 miles from home.
November 20 Thursday What a day, everyone was up early and the excitement was great, and no wonder. We arose at 6.15. We could feel the ship was practically at a standstill and knew we must have reached Port Said. Up on the deck and we were just coming slowly into harbour. What a treat to be really close. We got in about 7, and I shall never forget, as soon as we stopped, out came dozens of boats with their wares. They started a bartering business. You never heard such a row and this went on until we came out about 10.30. They were on the decks with their wares and all over the ship, changing money, selling papers, etc. Port Said was lovely to look at. We were only allowed off if we had passports, but it was a fascinating sight from the boat. Palm trees and a beautiful purple coloured flower, posh cars side by side with horse drawn carriages and a most familiar name on one of the buildings "Woolworths". For hours it has been excitement, we have come halfway down the canal and since 4 o'clock have been anchored just south of`Ishmalia'. We passed by several sort of villages, some with shacks for houses and terrible poverty, and filth. The road runs along right beside the canal and the railway. There have been plenty of cars etc. and trains. At Ishmalia there were up to date buildings side by side with mud huts. Now it is 9.30 and we are still anchored. We've been on the deck. There are some shady looking Arabs walking about the desert, and lots of fish after the bits flung from the boat. We are now 3024 miles from land and today the temp. has been 70 degrees.
November 21 Friday By this morning we had passed through the canal and we're coming down thro the Gulf of Suez. We saw oil wells on the south side and miles of desert and on the north was forbidding mountains. At about noon we passed Mt. Sinai and in the heat Steve says we could understand the Israelites when they were fed up in their wanderings. 40 years in this hot desert, no wonder they grumbled. It's been very hot today, at noon 79 deg. The less clothes now the better. Swimming pool has been full all day. All the awnings are up and everything is done for our comfort and coolness. The air conditioning has been good today. It's beautifully cool inside. We have just sat for an hour in the moonlight. Nothing, only a sunblouse on it's so warm. Food is still good and I'm famished at mealtime’s.
November 22 Saturday It's been very hot today. I've shed all I possibly can. The decks are all covered now, but it's still hot. This morning we had a go at the PT on the top deck. It was good fun and we will do it again. Swimming pool is still choc full. Your should hear the kids when they are in. I haven't been in, no sunshine. Steve had a go today. We are now still in the red sea and coming fast toward Aden. It's lovely in the moonlight. What would everyone at home think of sitting up on the deck at 10 with just a sun top on. The sunset is lovely but only lasts about 10 mins. The temperature today is 84. No land to be seen at all. Plenty of ships and the one Shell BP.
November 23 Sunday It's been an angry sea today and I haven't felt too good. This morning we had church in the lounge. It was enjoyable and this afternoon Sunday School. Not nearly as many attended. Too many outdoor attractions I expect. At about 3.30 we passed a small island and then a formation of great rocks. Soon we shall be in the straits. The temp today 84 deg. We've just been on the deck. It's a terrific wind, gale force. Now back to bed with a bad head.
November 24 Monday At 9 am. this morning we were fast approaching Aden and there was a great air of excitement. We came into the harbour at 11, it was a peculiar sight. Great mountains of grey looking volcanos at the back and quite a pretty looking scene in the fore, but all about it a lack of green. 2 more liners were in - The Strathaven and Cheesan. We wondered it either of these could be carrying Mr and Mrs Holland. We were taken ashore in motor launches, at least that's what they called them. There were quite a few little boats with their wares flocked out to us as soon as we anchored. Only a few minutes and we step on to the quay. What filth, even to start with. Passed thro a sort of hall and here we are. It felt good to be on land again. We started to walk thro the streets. Well I just can't explain. When you enter those shops they just don't stay behind the counter. If you refuse, they follow you up the street. There's muck everywhere. Beggars just squatting in the gutters, poor filthy little kids cling on and say "money sis". Goats just ambling about the pavements, natives in the filthiest clothes trying to sell their colourful goods, and there's no doubt they are colourful and attractive and it's a great temptation not to spend. Then the bazaar, well I just daren't go any further in case I didn't get out. Then we took a taxi into the city of Aden. We passed the Army quarters and European "Downing St". Camels pulling carts and we find such filth and muck in this place we just daren't get out of the taxi. Never would I have believed people could even exist under such conditions had I not seen. What an experience and what a relief to be back on the Fairsky. Thank God I have been brought up in a civilised country. Temp still 84 deg. Now we are on our way again. Next stop Perth Australia.
November 25 Tuesday Still we push on. Not quite so hot today, 79 deg. This afternoon we have passed by the north coast of Samaliland and Cape Gaurdinice, very mountainous and rugged coast. No growth anywhere, one little village right on the shore, looked like tents. Now we are in the Ocean and she's rocking a bit. Today I've had a swim, only managed the corner, dared not think of the water underneath, about 15 ft. of it. Lawrence has been in too. Wonders never cease. I've washed and ironed, now going up for our moonlight stroll.
November 26 Wednesday Today nothing but sea and an angry one at that. Woke up feeling green and didn't go up to breakfast. Bucked up later and got up in the air. Temp today 82 deg. Listened to a talk on Victoria in the lounge. Children had pictures tonight on the deck. Many people sick today.
November 27 Thursday Nothing but sea, but what a beautiful one. A most beautiful blue and as the sun shone on it there seemed to be thousands of diamonds all sparkling, a lovely sight. The temp 85 deg. Lots of flying fish and very hot. A beautiful full moon tonight and the sea is very calm. Just watched the picture que. Two C of E Revs just gone in.
November 28 Friday Today we are down under. At 11.26 this morning we passed over the line. It's been very hot, the temp 86 deg. The sea still very blue and calm. What ceremonies too. This afternoon at 4.30 we had the Equatorial ceremony. Although I didn't see much. They proceeded up the deck led by the band, and with the captives all roped together and surrounded by about half a doz painted and blood thirsty looking men. One of the captives was Robin Ashman. They were caged in big rope cage and each brought out in turn for various charges. Sentenced to punishment in which they used dozens of eggs, cocoa and flour etc. to massage them with or whatever may be the punishment. Then were then showered and after that had to kneel before King Neptune to receive their certificate. Now tonight we have had a special dinner, Chicken Soup, Lobster, Turkey, Tropical Cake, and nuts and wine. Later on will be a gala dance in the Grand Social Hall. Maybe we will have a peep. We are sitting on the swimming pool deck. There is a full moon and it looks surprisingly close. I've managed another swim today and really enjoyed it. We are now about 5 hrs ahead of British time.
November 29 Saturday We started the day off by visiting the Captain's Bridge. There have been organised parties - 8 at a time during the past few days. Now it was our turn and we did enjoy it. It was most interesting to see all the ways in which we are cared for during this voyage. There is every safety precaution one could imagine. The usual routine and then this afternoon we saw land again. I shall never forget such a beautiful night. Picture postcards are no exaggeration. It truly was a wonderful sight and something I'm sure I will never forget. These islands are away in the middle of the Indian Ocean. Some are larger and some just boasting of one palm tree like the real desert island. The last one was a fair size and we circled practically round it quite close. There was a little village with very nice up to date looking houses, set in a sort of cove and it was backed by a denseness of palms. Looked something like the beach the 5 missionaries landed on on that fatal day when they gave their lives. We gave three long blasts from the ship as a greeting and it really brought tears to my eyes. It seems everything is done on this ship that the passengers may see to the best advantage. Everything, and I was touched with that greeting signal to those people on that island. It was a beautiful sight and something I shall treasure in my memory. I saw 2 sharks. Temp today 85 deg. Still very hot. This afternoon a few drops of rain.
November 30 Sunday Tonight I'm browned off, bad head and indigestion. It's been a queer Sunday, the service this morning - was dry and uninspiring, however the Sunday School was well attended. About 15 in my class and they showed much interest. The sea much rougher. Thank goodness when we get there.
December 1 Monday Another day of sea and a pretty rough one again. I'm fed up with sea. Roll on the next fortnight. Everyone bored and anxious to get on with the job. It's getting cooler now and a very heavy storm about 5 p.m. Food still good and plenty of it. Can't read the temp.
December 2 Tuesday Still a choppy sea. Kids are disappointed as they are not allowed in the pool. The water too rough. It's been quite chilly in the wind and I found it too cold in a sunsuit. Done quite a bit of fancy work and feel much better today. We've just had a right good walk up and down the decks a dozen times.
December 3 Wednesday Sea much calmer today, but much cooler. Temp in the 70's. Have done nothing special today. Did quite a bit of sewing. Roll on Sunday and Australia. I've had enough holiday.
December 4 Thursday Very chilly again this morning but warmed up later on. Hardly anyone in the swimming pool all day. However tonight has been memorable. The fancy dress and what a sight. The ideas some of these people had and the work in it. I had a right good laugh believe me. Temp 75 deg. Roll on Sunday and land.
December 5 Friday What a day. Cold drizzle and tonight no moon and stars. Never mind. We are getting near. However there was plenty to do. It's been the children’s fancy dress. We dressed Tony up as a paper doll and Lawrence as ship's plumber. They had a party afterwards and a clown hat and each received a package containing choc, sweets, biscuits and apple. Lots of empty seats in the dining rooms today. Temp 75.
December 6 Saturday This has been a day of expectancy and we are all keyed up knowing that early tomorrow morning we shall have our first look at Australia. We arrive very early in the morning and breakfast is from 5.30 to 7.30. We have been told all we have to do and before we land each must have a medical. We still do not know how long we will be on shore. The sea has been very rough and many places absent in the dining rooms. Thank goodness I've kept my pecker up. It's been bright and sunny with a very strong wind. Temp 75 deg. Now I feel dead tired so to bed.
December 7 Sunday Well what a memorable day. We got our first glimpse of Australia at 5 this morning and although we couldn't see much, we were anchored well off shore, it was quite pleasing. Officials came on board at 6 and then things started to move. At about 9 we were brought onto the decks and it was good. There was a crowd on the side and they were all dressed in colourful summer clothes which made it hard for us to realise it was so near to Xmas. We got on shore at 10 a.m. and had to be back at 12.30 ready to sail. Well it was just lovely in Fremantle. A few minutes after leaving the dock we were on grass with lovely Palm trees and coloured flowers. It felt just lovely to walk on it, but what grass. It felt like a coco mat. We wandered round the town and found the shops full of goods and the prices compared favourably with British goods except for some things. We found a lovely park and had a paddle in the sea. It was beautiful just to see trees and sit on grass and all the time the sun shone down. We had a cup of tea and a welcome at the Scotch Caledonian Club, and now here we are right out at sea again. Tomorrow we will be in the Bight but the weather report is favourable.
December 8 Monday Today we are in the Australian Bight and what a sea. The ship has just gone from side to side. It seems a miracle sometimes that it's not tipped right over. One could never imagine waves such as these. However we've got our sea legs and seem none the worse for this rolling. They've put ropes everywhere for people to hold onto. In the dining rooms, well it's a wonder there's anything left on the table. We've had several big birds following the ship today. Magnificent things called Albatross. The temp much lower only 65 deg. and many have their thick winter coats on. I've had my short one on all day.
December 9 Tuesday Not quite such a rough sea but oh so cold. One woman sitting with her fur coat on. Lots of Albatross following us now.
December 10 Wednesday Only four more days to go and thank goodness. I've seen enough sea to last me for a long time and I long for the quietness of my own little home again. It's been cold again today and quite a bit of rain, raining hard now 8.45, just walked back and forth the deck about 20 times. Had the farewell dinner, Turkey and Lobster, wines, nuts and fruit. Ship still rolling a lot.
December 11 Thursday At last here we are, Melbourne and just outside the docks. It's a long tedious day for those who are getting off. We first saw land about midday and followed the coast line, then about 5 the pilot came on board and since then we have been coming on. Thank goodness we are out of that bight, I stuck it until today and then as soon as I woke I felt queerer and queerer. I have been till about 4, however better now, thank goodness. The lights look very pretty and we hoped to get off for our walk but I doubt it now. It's 9.30. The Strathaven has overtaken us and gone in first. Had a nice letter from Ena today. It's been bitterly cold today, everyone with their winter coats on. More letters tonight and how good to have news.
December 12 Friday What a disappointment. It has poured with rain all day so our visit to Melbourne was what we call a wash out. We went on shore about 9.30. Took a bus into the city and what a place, it was like being in London. There was plenty to buy if one had money and I compared the prices. Looking in a general way I see very little difference to those in England. We came back on about 4.30 and the ship was crowded with new passengers and visitors. One thing we noticed especially in the town, an independent Church with the following - The conditions of Membership in this Church is an acceptance of Jesus as Saviour and a life of conformity to that belief. It cheered our hearts. Now we have seen the send off and what a do it is, thousands of streamers and laughing people, one cannot describe this scene. It just has to be seen to be believed. Now we've only two more nights on the "Fair Sky",we shall be so glad altho we have enjoyed our trip we aren't used to such long holidays.
December 13 Saturday At last it's bedtime and we've only the night to go. We are all packed up and what a day it's been getting everything done. We've all had baths and are nice and clean, goodness knows what we will look like after travelling all night on the train. Still we shall be glad to get on something different to a ship and the trains look very modern and clean. This afternoon we went to the engine room. What a construction. It's good to see these things and to know just what the conditions are where some work. Two were sitting back in the works on tins painting and singing and they looked just like pictures of slave labour. Thank goodness we don't have that. Now we are anxious for the morning. Thank God for safe travel. It's a long way when we look at like maps.
December 14 Sunday Now we've arrived at Sydney and a very beautiful sight it was. The entrance to the Harbour is most dignified and something we shall never forget. There was a great crowd of people at the dock and today was a great breakup of us all. We had to go through the Customs which was very tedious and trying and it was 2 p.m. before it was over. We went for a walk along a very pretty park and then at 4 o'clock we were all (that is the 160 who were going on to Bris.) taken to the station in Double Deckers, where we had a delicious meal, in the refreshment rooms. Then a 2 hr wait for the train at 7.40. During that time we took a short walk into a park from the station and there we heard the Gospel preached in all it's fullness, and what a need. There were old men and women drunk everywhere, never did I see such things and I began to feel glad that we were only passing by. I went and shook hands with these messengers and wished them every blessing. Now we've started our long journey - 16 hours in the train, still we press on toward the mark.
December 15 Monday Today we are in Bris. We arrived at midday feeling just about at the end of our tether. It was such a joy to find Aunty Dolly and Peter there to meet us and we were soon at the Hostel and all tucking in to a good lunch. After this we were shown our rooms and very nice they were. A good rest and wash and then Aunty Dolly took us across the river and we saw a little of the shops in Bris. We were not disappointed and everything seems to come quite up to the standard of what it has been said to be. Everything lovely and clean and no rush and tear. We had a very nice dinner and then all cleaned up and off for an early night ready for an early start tomorrow morning. This is very comfortable here, everything is done for comfort and convenience for us.
December 16 Tuesday We were up early this morning. Breakfast at 7 and a taxi laid on to take us to the station at 7.30. The matron is a sweet woman and came out to wave us off. Our seats were booked on the train and Aunty Dolly was able to be with us which was much nicer. Peter came to see us off and now we know the next stop will be Glen Aplin. We have enjoyed this journey. So many times we'd seen pictures of these trains and now it was really our turn. The journey up the mountains was lovely and we spent lots of time on the little verandah. At 5.30 we are very near the end and my the excitement as we draw in to Glen Aplin station.
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