Townsville or hell!
Charles Fleming's 1883 emigration diary

Stories index 

Diary of an emigrant leaving Scotland and about to proceed to Queensland Australia.

 Friday July 20th 1883

We left the quay of Glasgow about 11 o’clock am and proceeded down the Clyde to the tail of the bank with the tender and got on board our ship, Eastern Monarch registered at Lloyds at 1706 tons burden we were on board about 4 o’clock pm we had dinner on board about 5 o’clock then the tug boat came alongside when we were entertained by a sea song by the sailors they were weighing the anchor and we moved of R. Redpath and I was on deck till far into the night and saw the last of Grenoch far astern.


Saturday 21st July 55.9 N 6.5 W

We up again by daylight the tug was with us still about 7 o’clock and were still going slowly in the evening we saw a little incident between the Captain and one of the sailors. The Captain told him to do something and he would not do it and the sailor offered to fight him the Captain said no more about it but went to his cabin and returned with a revolver in his hand and said he would shoot the first man that disobeyed him that soon quietened him about the Irish Channel and as it was very rough most of the passengers are sick. Sailed 80 miles today.


Sunday July 22nd 54.24 N 5.15.W

We have slept very little all night. About 4 o’clock in the morning we were wakened by a fearfull move on deck and the water washing our vessel. As I was wondering what was wrong I heard the Captain call out all single men on deck to turn about the ship there being a thick mist at the time were almost ashore before they knew. Being among the breakers but we got her turned about in time all right although I heard the sailors say we had a close shave. We had Service on board at 11 o’clock by the Doctor, The wind is blowing Northwest and we are steering Southwest. We have sailed 210 miles today.


Monday 23rd July 52.25 N 5.20 W

We are making very little ahead. We are almost in a dead calm it is rather a life

This nothing to do but lie about the deck and read and smoke. We got tobacco to buy on board and we have dancing on deck every fine evening and there is plenty of music on board. We have sailed 129 miles today.


Tuesday 24th July 50.22.N 7.25 W

The wind is rising and we are going splendid. We saw another ship about the same size fifteen miles of us this morning and we passed her in five hours time.  We have sailed 145 miles today.


Wednesday 25th July 47.13 N 9.5 W

A fair wind and sailing pretty fast, steering southwest. Sailed 201 miles today.


Thursday 26th July 41.2 N 10.39W

The wind the same but very light going about 6 miles an hour. We had a concert and there was some good singing and reciting on the whole. We ha a very good evening. We sailed 130 miles today.


Friday 27th July 42.44.N 11.59W

The wind is risen a little and we are sailing in the Atlantic about three days. We have sailed 166 miles today.


Saturday 28th July 40.35N 13.57W

The wind is still the same, the days are getting short here now it is dark at six o’clock. We had a concert among the sailors, and we had some good songs. We have sailed 156 miles today.


Sunday 29th July 38.43N 15.12W

WE had service on deck today and keeping still fine weather and we have sailed 160 miles today.


Monday 30th July 35.21N 17.10W

A fair wind and we are going along splendid, and the married people had a concert tonight, so we spent a very good evening. We have sailed 189 miles today.


Tuesday 31st July 32.43N 18.31W

We are about 120 miles from the West Coast of Africa and it is getting very hot in the middle of the day. We sailed 172 miles today.


Wednesday 1st August 30.24N 19.35W

We have no twilight here when the sun goes down it is dark in fifteen minutes. We shall cross the line sometime next week and we expect it pretty hot. We sailed 150 miles today.


Thursday 2nd August 28.49N 20.11W

A nice steady breeze. We are going about 9 miles an hour. We sailed 100 today.


Friday 3rd August 26.54N 21.35W

The wind the same. We have splendid weather. WE have had only one shower of rain since we started. The single men had a concert tonight and it was very good. We sailed 153 miles today.


Saturday 4th August 23.18N 23.3W

It is very rough here now. There is any amount of flying fish about here; they are about the size of an ordinary sized herring with wings like a swallow. We got up to a vessel going to Melbourne today but we left her behind in a few hours. We have sailed 212 miles today.


Sunday 5th August 20.28N 24.34W

We had service on deck today by the Captain and the ship bell tongued just the same as at home. We have sailed 189 miles today.


Monday 6th August 18.8N 25.35W

Still fine weather. We are 62 miles east of St Unlanio on the North West coast of Africa. We have sailed 152 miles today.


Tuesday 7th August 16.17N 26.56W

Almost becalmed and very warm. The glass stands 82 degrees in the shade. We have sailed 126 miles today.


Wednesday 8th August 13.49N 26.48W

The wind has risen a little and we are going along slowly. Still very warm. We have sailed 149 miles today.


Thursday 9th August 12.31N 26.3W

It is dark now at half past six and still very warm. We have sailed 89 miles today.


Friday 10th August 8.38N 26.22W

The wind has risen and it is blowing a strong breeze now and we are all going about11 miles an Hour. We have sailed 234 miles today.


Saturday 11th August 5.57N 23.5W

Sunday 12th August

Still going along with a good wind. We had service on board as usual. There was a birth on board, which still adds to the number of six hundred immigrants, and all are in good health. We have sailed 11th 220 12th 238 miles for the two days.


Monday 13th August 2.58N 22.35W

A fair wind still making good our way. The sailors had a concert on deck tonight and there was some good singing. We have sailed 151 miles today.


Tuesday 14th August 0.45S 35.42W

We crossed the line today, with a good wind going at the rate of 11 miles an hour. A very unusual thing here the sailors say that sometimes they lie about here for a week. It is very hot; it is burning the skin of our faces. The sailors had know fun as their usual custom in crossing the line for fear of any disturbance among the passengers. We have sailed 229 miles today.


Wednesday 15th August 2.2S 28.5W

WE are sailing along at the rate of ten miles an hour. Still very warm. We have sailed 220 miles today.


Thursday 16th August 4.54S 29.16W

Splendid weather but very hot for the sun is right above our heads. I set a bottle on the deck and the sun struck right down in the bottom of it. We sailed 185 miles today.


Friday 17th August 8.7S 30.8W

A splendid morning heat still increasing. We hailed the Clipper ship ‘Alert of Boston’ bound for Calcutta with a cargo of ice today. I have just been washing my shirts and hanging them out to dry. Sailed 201 miles today


Saturday 18th August 11.14S 31.24W

A good breeze blowing. We have had a good night of it with what the sailors call the ‘dead horse’. As you don’t know the meaning of it possible, I will explain it to you. When the sailors sign for the voyage they get a months pay in advance so they consider they work a month for nothing and when the month is up the ‘dead horse’ is rought for. So they rigged up a pretty fair specimen of a horse up. Made with a barrel and old sails and ropes mounted on the gun carriage with one of the sailors on its back dressed as an old man with a white beard about three feet long. He was pulled around the deck two or three times. And then to the cabin door and sang till they got grog, and then they sold the horse for 26 shillings, which was bought by the young men, and then it was burnt up in the rigging, and that finished the nights fun. We have sailed 201 miles today.



Sunday 19th August 14.15S 31.34W

It is just a month today since we lost sight of land and as we have lost four hours in our time it will be bedtime with you at home when we are at our tea. We got about 700 miles over the line. We had service as usual on deck this morning. Sailed 180 miles today.


Monday 20th August 18.1S 31.8W

A light breeze we are going ahead very slow. There has been another birth on board. We have sailed 228 miles today.


Tuesday 21st August 20.35S 29.36W

We have passed the Island of Trinidad today. It is an uninhabited island in the middle of the Atlantic said to be two thousand miles from Scotland. We have sailed 178 miles today.


Wednesday 222nd August 22.40S 28.25S

We have sailed 140 today.


Thursday 23rd August 23.33S 28.14W

Fair almost becalmed. We have seen a shark this morning about sixteen feet long he went around the ship twice and then disappeared. We have sailed 56 Miles today.


Friday 24th August 25.22S 29.16W

Going along very slow. We have sailed 196 miles today.


Saturday 25th August 27.00S 29.14W

A slight breeze. We passed a barque boat bound for Sydney. Still very warm. We have sailed 98 miles today.


Sunday 26th August 29.16S 28.56W

The wind is risen and we are going about 6 miles an hour. We had service on board as usual. We have sailed 136 miles today.


Monday 27th August 31.16S 26.14W

A good steady breeze, it is either rising a little. We have sailed 186 miles today.


Tuesday 28th August 32.45S 21.37W

A strong wind, we are going about eleven miles an hour. The waves are coming over the vessel and the wind blowed away one of the jib sheets. We have sailed 252 miles today.


Wednesday 29th August 33.18S 18.47W

A good steady breeze, the weather is beginning to get cold now. One of the single men fell down the pathway into the hold of the ship. A fall of about twenty feet, we all thought he was killed, and the Doctor was sent for but he came to his self a little and he was able  

to get up in a few moments. But he got a severe shock with a day or two in hospital. We passed an emigrant ship today bound for Melbourne. They signaled to us that they had a death on board. We have sailed 196 miles today.


Thursday 30th August 32.34S 14.18W

Weather is very cold and a heavy sea running. We have 182 miles today.


Friday 31st August 33.13S 10.3W

A steady breeze blowing. The Captain caught an Albatross this morning measuring seven and a half feet from tip to tip. We have sailed 196 miles today.


Saturday 1st September 33.3S 7.12W

A slight breeze blowing, weather still getting colder. One of the single men got eleven shillings stolen from him today. We have sailed 168 miles today.


Sunday 2nd September 34.36S 3.52W

Wind the same, we had service on deck at 10.30 am as usual and again at 6.30 in the evening. Weather very cold. We have sailed 178 miles today.


Monday 3rd September 36.22S 0.7W

The wind shifted behind us during the night and is blowing very hard. There is a heavy sea running and the ship is rolling so bad that we can hardly get footing on deck, and down in the hold the forms and mess dishes are flying about in all directions. We will sit down to our dinner all right, but the dinner runs away before you know where you are. We have sailed 232 miles today.


Tuesday 4th September 38.3S 5.18E

Passed a very disagreeable night, for between the rolling of the ship and the tin dishes flying about I hardly slept at all, weather still stormy, heavy showers of hailstones and the sea breeching over us. Still flying before the wind. We have made the longest run ever we have had yet. We have sailed 275 miles today.


Wednesday 5th September 39.51S 10.33E

Still blowing hard sailing about twelve miles an hour. You may guess how hard it is blowing when the sailors got up the fore top gallant sail this morning and it was blown away in ten minutes. We have sailed 258 miles today.


Thursday 6th September 40.45S 16.24E

Weather much the same but not so much sea. On having nothing new to take up our attention we rigged up a bat and ball and wickets and had a regular game of cricket. The only bother we had our ball went over board every two or three minutes. But for all that we passed a very enjoyable afternoon. We have sailed 270 miles today.


Friday 7th September 40.2`S 21.2E

The wind has fallen a little, but it is very cold with a little rain and hailstones. We are about four hundred miles from the Cape of Good Hope, which is the nearest we have been to land since we passed the Island of Trinidad. We have sailed 213 miles today.


Saturday 8th September 39.23S 22.2E

The wind has shifted right ahead of us during the night and we are making very little headway. We have sailed 70 miles today.



Sunday 9th September 38.13S 24.18E

The wind still ahead and blowing very hard, sea it has risen a good deal since yesterday. We shipped some heavy seas, the waves coming right over the forecastle and down the hatch every now and then. We had no service on deck as usual owing to the seas coming over the side of the ship. We have sailed 126 miles today.


Monday 10th September 40.28S 25.10E

Wind still ahead, rolling us about fearfully. We sailed 140 miles today.


Tuesday 11th September 42.20S 26.31E CARGO SHIFTED

Blowing a regular hurricane and the ship rolling fearfully as one of the single men was walking along the deck his foot slipped and he fell striking his head against a spar he was picked up and carried to the hospital where he lies in very poor condition. About 11 o’clock we were startled by a fearfull rumbling down in the hold. One of the constables went and informed it and going down below found that the cargo, which consisted of steel rails, had shifted. So you may guess we were in a dangerous position. As every moment we expected they would go through the side of the ship. The ship was immediately hove-to and the sailors sent down to secure the rails though it was a dangerous job. The First Mate got his foot hurt. The passengers got a fearfull fright and the sailors looked very serious. So it was a wonder we got through at all. There was a fearfull mess among the boxes. Smashed, down among the rails.


“ For the wind began to howle

And the ship began to rowle

And a fearfull hurricane did blow

For it shifted all our stuffin’

In our bold ship ruggie muffin

And we all thought

To the bottom we would go.”

We have sailed 131 miles today


Wednesday 12th September 43.23S 27.56E

The wind fell during the night but the ship is rolling heavily. Yet they had to get the cargo secure for this time, so if another gale springs up it will be a bad case for us as the ships rigging is pretty far smashed up, we have only made 85 miles today.


Thursday 13th September 41.51S 32.35E

A fair breeze has sprung up again. We are going along about 11 miles an hour. The sailors are very busy with the rigging. And everybody seems to be in good spirits again. We sailed 218 miles today.


Friday 14th September 41.30S 38.2E

A fair wind, sailing about the rate of eleven miles an hour. We have very cold weather since we passed the Cape, about as ever I felt at home. We have sailed 245 miles today.


Saturday 15th September 40.58S 43.54E

The wind is still blowing very hard. We have sailed 269 miles today.



Sunday 16th September 40.54S 48.14E

The wind has fallen a good deal since yesterday but as we are in a strong current we are getting on well. We had no service on deck today owing to the cold weather. We have 196 miles today.


Monday 17th September 41.53S 52.20E

Fair wind but very little sailing about nine miles an hour. It has been warmer today than we have felt it this last three weeks, and as we are still sailing East we expect it to get warmer every day now. We have sailed 191 miles today.


Tuesday 18th September 42.9S 57.40E

The wind still fair, sailing about twelve miles an hour. As we are sailing pretty steady today the Doctor ordered our boxes to be got up today that we might see the extent of the damages that had been done by the sails shifting. My one came up all right. But there was about three dozen of them broken. The Captain said the ships Company would not be responsible for them. But the Doctor said he would see it all right at the end of the voyage. We have sailed 238 miles today.


Wednesday 19th September 41.41S 63.45E

Blowing a good breeze. Sailing along very fast, if we keep going on at this rate we will be at Tasmania in ten or twelve days. We have sailed 272 miles today.


Thursday 20th September 41.20S 69.8E

The wind falling a little. But we are going along pretty steady. We have sailed 216 miles today.


Friday 21st September 41.9S 74.32E

Still sailing along jolly if this wind keeps up we will be in Queensland in less than three weeks. We have sailed about One thousand seven hundred miles this last seven days. We have passed some large pieces of wreckage this morning and what we took to be a large boat floating bottom upmost. It looked as if there had been a wreck somewhere about. The wind is still fair. We have sailed 260 miles today.


Saturday 22nd September 41.14S 80.8E

Wind has falling a little during the night but as we are in a strong current, we have sailed 236 miles today.


Sunday 23rd September 41.3S 82.54E

Almost becalmed very little headway, as there is a heavy ground swell on the water. The ship is rolling heavily but I don’t think there is much fear of the cargo shifting again as they have got it pretty well secure now. Owing to the current we have sailed 125 miles today.


Monday 24th September 41.28S 86.1E

The wind has risen a good deal since yesterday and we are going ahead pretty well now. We have sailed 246 miles today.


Tuesday 25th September 42.30S 93.2E

A fair wind and flying along at nearly the rate of fourteen miles an hour. We have the highest score today then ever we have had yet. We have sailed 318 miles today.


Wednesday 26th September 42.36S 98.10E

The wind has fallen a little but we are still going along very fast. We have not much pleasure on deck, as it is always wet weather just now. We have sailed 227 miles today.


Thursday 27th September

The wind has fallen a good deal and we are almost in a dead calm. It is a very fine day we have sailed 242 miles today.


Friday 28th September 43.40S 108.51E

The wind has risen a little, sailing about twelve miles an hour. I heard the Mate say that we would be landed in about fourteen days from now, we are in the Longitude of Australia now, being about five hundred miles South of Cape Leeuwin on the South West coast of Australia. We have sailed 246 miles today.


Saturday 29th September 43.50S 114.36E

Wind still fair but not so strong as we had it yesterday. I think we have been very lucky all through the voyage. There has been no trouble to speak about all the time, as we have had no deaths on board. The number of emigrants has increased, there having been three Births since we started. We have sailed 231 miles today.


Sunday 30th September 44.6S 121.10E

Wind still fair and sailing along very steady. We have gotten every stitch of canvas on that the ship can carry. We have sailed 283 miles today.


Monday 1st October 44.14S 128.25E

Wind blowing harder than ever and we are flying along splendid. I expect we will be round Tasmania in about three days and if we get a fair breeze from the South we will go up to Townsville in about seven or eight from now. We have sailed 316 miles today.


Tuesday 2nd October 44.0S 133.59E

 The wind kept up well all night but it fell a little towards morning, so that we are making very little headway now being almost becalmed. The Captain caught a large bird today called a Mollio, measured about seven and a half feet from tip to tip. We have sailed 240 miles today.


Wednesday 3rd October 43.47S 137.6E

The wind still fair but very light and that we are not going very fast. We have sailed 135 miles today.


Thursday 4th October 44.27S 142.22E

Wind still fair and blowing pretty strong, I expect we will see Tasmania tomorrow. The Captain said if the wind was still fair and weather good he would steer as near as possible, so that we might get a look of land again. We have sailed 228 miles today.



Friday 5th October 43.42S 147.30E

I was wakened about five o’clock in the morning by the cry of someone shouting ‘land on the Port bow’. I got up as soon as possible and you may guess that after being over seventy days at sea without seeing land, we were happy to get another look at it. I got up on deck, the first thing that I saw was a long range of mountains stretching far away to the Eastward, of which Cradle Mountain was the highest being ten hundred and sixty nine feet above the level of the sea. As we sailed along the coast we got a better view, but as there was a great number of rocks we could not get within fifteen miles of the land. So we were near enough to see any sights of habitation. We kept sight of it all day and after it got dark we saw a light shining on the East Coast, which we took to be a lighthouse. I expect the next land we see will be Queensland, which weather permitting will be in about seven or eight days from now. We have sailed 228 miles today.


Saturday 6th October 42.32S 149.42E

I got up this morning and had the last looks of Tasmania, as there was still a portion of the East Coast visible. We are lying almost becalmed then but as they were a breeze sprung up from the South West during the forenoon we soon lost sight of it altogether, We have sailed 120 miles today.


Sunday 7th October 38.32S 152.20E

A strong breeze blowing from the South East and we are sailing ahead pretty well. There was a child died yesterday night with the Measles and the body was committed to the deep {ONE] This morning the Doctor reading the funeral service. It cast a gloom over the ship for a short time, but it was soon forgotten. There is a good few cases of Measles aboard in the meantime but they are mostly all children. As the weather is warmer now we have service on deck today for the first time this last six weeks. We have sailed 268 miles today.


Monday 8th October 35.32S 153.40E

The wind is not blowing so hard as it did yesterday but we are still making good headway. The Doctor caught a large Mollio this morning measuring over seven feet from tip to tip. And an Albatross measuring ten feet two inches and five feet from bill to toes. It was the prettiest bird ever I saw in my life. We have sailed 191 miles today.


Tuesday 9th October 34.59S 154.19E

Almost becalmed and making very little headway. We saw some large shoals of porpoises this morning, some of them coming within a dozen yards of the shipside. I got on deck after breakfast, I saw smoke proceeding from a steamboat as we suppose bound for Melbourne from New Zealand. Being the first steamboat we have seen since we left Glasgow. We have sailed 46 miles today.   


Wednesday 10th October 32.17S 154.56E

The wind has freshened up a good deal since yesterday and we are going ahead pretty well now. As we are now getting near our journeys end there is a good deal of betting going on as to what day we are to land, which I expect it will be about the middle of next week, as we have only nine hundred miles to go now. We have sailed 164 miles today.


Thursday 11th October 29.3S 154.58E

The wind blowing a little stronger than it did yesterday and we are going along pretty well today. We have sailed 194 miles.


Friday 12th October 27.40S 154.50E

The wind is completely fallen today and there is not a ripple on the water as far as we can see. The weather is getting very warm now. This evening one of the sailors and one of the passengers stripped and jumped over the side into the sea. They enjoyed a refreshing bath, but it was rather risky job as there is any amount of sharks about here. There was another birth on board today which makes a total of five {FIVE} since we left Glasgow. We have sailed 83 miles today.


Saturday 13th October 27.25S 154.50E

The wind has freshened up a little today but it is almost ahead of us, we are not going along very fast. Yet we sighted the Islands of Stradbroke and Morton this morning which is the first sight we have had of Queensland. For though they are islands there is very little dividing them from the mainland. As we are only a few miles off Brisbane we see a good few steamboats sailing along the coast. We could distinguish the passengers on deck. We have sailed 43 miles today.


Sunday October 14th 26.10S 153.3E

Still sailing along the coast. It is so wearisome now as we are in sight of land. And I expect we will be in sight of it all the way now, as we are still sailing along the coast and we saw thick clouds of smoke rising in several places, which we suppose was the bushes on fire. We saw a good few porpoises swimming round the ship today, the sailors tried to catch some of them but they were either to quick for them. The wind being right ahead of us we have got to tack every now and then for fear of running ashore which is rather tiresome work as every time we tack we lose rather than gain anything. The wind is blowing pretty strong against us. We only made 80 miles today.


Monday 15th October 25.48S 153.59E

The wind is still ahead of us, and blowing pretty hard. We are making very little headway. We are still in sight of land this morning but as we are too far inshore to clear Sandy Cape we had to tack away out to sea again and by doing so we lost about as much as we had made all night. So that we are in a bad position, as we are lying becalmed, as we only made 32 miles today.


Tuesday 16th October 25.22S 154.42E

The wind is still ahead of us and e are tacking about as usual and making very little of it. It is too bad this as we are within forty eight hours good sailing of our destination and yet we can hardly get out of the bit having only made 47 miles today.


Wednesday 17th October 24.53S 154.30E

The wind fell during the night and we are in almost a dead calm. As the sun was very warm during the forenoon and the sea was so calm several of the crew and passengers jumped overboard and had a good bath. But it was very dangerous as the sea is swarming with sharks here about and the sailors caught one only about an hour after they came out of the water. We have made the smallest run today that we have done since we started having sailed but 30 miles.


Thursday 18th October 24.26S 153.45E

There is a light breeze blowing today but as it is ahead of us we are going along very slowly. We have sailed 68 miles today.


Friday 19th October 23.28S 152.45E

A fair wind at last but still very light so that we are not going along very fast, yet the sailors are all very busy cleaning, painting and varnishing and making preparations for going into port. If the breeze continues we will not be long now. We sailed 60 miles today.


Saturday 20th October 31.42S 150.57E

The wind still fair and we are going along pretty well now and if this breeze keeps up we will be in sight of Townsville by Monday first so that we will have made almost as short a passage as any ship has made yet, for had we been bound for Brisbane we would have been landed in eighty four days, and Melbourne in seventy eight and expect we will make Townsville in less than a hundred days, which is considered a pretty fair passage, as we have nearly eight hundred miles above Brisbane to go we are now inside the Great Barrier Reef, said to be the largest Coral Reef in the world, as it extends over five hundred miles along the Australian Coast. We have sailed 152 mile today.


Sunday 31st October 20.28S 149.22E

The wind is still fair and keeping up pretty well. We had another death {TWO} about four o’clock in the morning and another {THREE} at ten o’clock in the forenoon. The bodies were both committed to the deep during the forenoon. Both of them were four years old and the Doctor did read the funeral service. We have passed several islands today called Sir James Smith group. We have sailed 114 miles today. 


Monday 22nd October 19.31S 149.2E

Wind still fair but not blowing so strong as it did yesterday. We passed Cape Bowling Green this afternoon and sighted Cape Cleveland before it got dark so I expect we will be anchored in Cleveland Bay by tomorrow. In sight of Townsville, we had another two deaths {FIVE} during the night and their bodies were both committed to the deep at seven o’clock in the morning, the Doctor reading the funeral service as usual. We have sailed 92 miles today.


Tuesday 23rd October

The wind keep up pretty well all night and we anchored in Cleveland Bay in sight of Townsville at eleven am on Tuesday 23rd October after a passage of ninety four days which is considered a very short passage. The Pilot came aboard during the forenoon and he told us we were not expected for fifteen days yet. We had another death {SIX} aboard this morning of Typhoid Fever, which makes a total of six deaths since we started and five births. If we had landed at Brisbane we would have had only one death. The Doctor came off in a steam launch in the afternoon and examined our papers. But we will not know if we will have to go into Quarantine or not until the Commissioners come aboard, which I expect will be tomorrow forenoon. The last of our sailing 74 miles. I hope we are not put in Quarantine for I am getting tired of the porrage and Trakel in the mornings. There is ten at our table and it is my week for taking all the meals down to the table and washing all the Trakily and greasy dishes and there is nothing but cold water to wash them with. So you will have a good guess what they are like. I started today and scoured them up some fire ashes. They thought they were at home again. They said that I should have been washer up all the voyage. But I thought I was on long enough, I had the first week and the last, they did not get much the first week.



As the stars are in the heavens high

The waves are on the sea

And the first three nights I was sick

And far away from thee.


Now as I look and fondly gaze

And far above the foam

I se that little kindly star

That I have seen at home.


And as it points the lonely way

Across the stormy deep

It shines above my pleasant home

And those that are asleep.


And though the winds may howling roar

And fierce the billows rise

Yet still the proud ship lifts her head

And like a bird she flies.


I am not only tired of the porrage and trakel, but I am tired of picking the lice of my shirt in the mornings. As it is a common thing every morning with all the young men after breakfast. We are a great deal busy on the ship now then what we were at first. Both married and single keeping the vermin down some days they are all the crack. They were on an old school master; he had them from the very first. He came from Glasgow he was married and had five children. They were two of the boys stopped down in the young men’s hold. The Doctor was told first week on them, so they had to go to the Doctor and get themselves cleaned. The Townsville people is treating us very bad. It is three days now since we anchored and we are not a bit further forward. [26th October]. It is fearfull disheartening, I think they are going to keep us out on the ship we all die like a lot of rotten sheep. There was an American ship called ‘The Warrego’ loaded with passengers anchored today about a mile off us. Which had sailed from Plymouth, it was twelve o’clock when they were anchored and they were all off before dark. That put us in a worse state still after being three days anchored. I believe they are thinking they are worse trouble on the boat than what it is, but if they keep us much longer here they soon will be plenty. There was two little sisters died {EIGHT} today. That was all the family the mother had. They were the prettiest girls on the boat. They were both put into one coffin and they were taken across on a small boat to the Magnetic Island and buried there. There is a small steamboat comes across every morning with fresh beef and bread, and it is always a great race to the ship’s side to hear if there is any word about us getting off. So when Robert Redpath and I looked over the side today we had a talk with a young man we knew at Leith. He came out with the ‘Warrego’ and got a start the very first morning. He was telling us that they were going to a meeting tonight in Townsville about what they were meaning to do with us. There is another death {NINE} on board today, which is the oldest person we have had died yet. She was a young woman of eighteen years of age. She was taken over to Magnetic Island and buried there. The Commissioners has come to us this morning and we think it is time too. So they told us the Townsville people was all against us getting into town, as there was fever on board. So they said we would have to go on Magnetic Island till we are all clear of the fever. So we was told that the steamboat would be over from Townsville tomorrow to take us over. So we was happy to hear we would be getting off the water again although we are not getting into the town. We was all the same as if we had found a fortune. So the sailors started the afternoon and got up all the boxes to be ready. It is a week today since we anchored [30th October] and it has been a wearisome week. We have all gotten landed on Magnetic Island today [31st October] and we had some fine walking about. There is just one white man and his wife and one black man and he has four wives and each one has a child each, they just have some branches gathered together and stuck in the ground for covering for their heads. They have scarcely any clothes on at all; they just lie among the sand like pigs. The first night we was on the island there was a good few of us with them till far on in the night, there was one of the young men playing the fiddle to them and they were all dancing. They were all as happy as kings.


 The white man he has a splendid garden and he has some fine fruit in it. He takes all the fruit to Townsville. I heard at home that fruit was plenty out here, but it is not true. The fruit is dearer out here then it is at home, the oranges is two shillings a dozen. There is plenty of wild figs on the island but they are not worth the eating. We are all liking the island well they are plenty of fresh beef and potatoes and we get as much as we can eat. It comes across from Townsville every morning, I think they are as happy days as ever we will have in Australia. I can’t swager over the houses we have to stop in as they are just tents. If there was much rain coming we would get a proper drowning. There is four or five in each tent. We have fine sport burning the bushes at night and when the fire gets low we start and make some coffee for ourselves before we go to bed. We always sit down and have a good supper, as we always have plenty of bread and butter; we never need to go hungry to bed on the island, as we had to do many times on board the ship. There is any amount of snakes on the island, as we was sitting at our dinner today there was one creeping over my legs. We was not long in killing him, he was about three feet long. There is a word come across from Townsville today that we have to be all prepared to go into Townsville Depot tomorrow. We have been eight days on the island [1st November] altogether and we could stayed another week fine but we thought it was to good for to last long. But it was bad enough, the last night we were on the island it came a fearfull thunder storm, the lightning something fearfull. Our tents was just the same as if they were a lamp burning the whole night. They were so much lightning and the rain came something fearfull. We could not lie in our beds, we had to get up and sit on our trunks and get our bedclothes round about us. The water was running about four inches all over the ground. And as we was leaving the island in the morning there was a great many of them had their trunks down to the seaside to be ready for the boat in the morning. And as there was some of them not very good owing to the rails shifting they got everything wet that was in them. It was the heaviest rain ever I did see. There was two boats came over from Townsville about nine o’clock in the morning and took us all over but three or four families which they considered their children was not right clear of the fever. We arrived in Townsville about ten o’clock and I think it was the drunkenest place ever I was in. And it takes some money to start and drink here for anything you like to call for it is sixpence a glass. Suppose it is a glass of beer, you can get the same in home for three ha’pences, brandy is the same. After we had a look through Townsville we thought we would go over to the Depot and see about some dinner. As the Depot is at the other side of the ferry, we have to go across in a small boat. It was about twelve o’clock when most of the passengers were there, some of them went and asked the master of the Depot if there was any dinner for us. He said there was nothing for us till five o’clock. So it was a fearfull change from the island. I went right over to Townsville again and had a proper good dinner and then I had a walk up and down Townsville, it is not a large place. I think I was through it all in one hour’s time. I went over to the Depot again and as I got over some of them was just asking the master of the Depot for beds to sleep on, he said he had no beds to give us. That the passengers always brought there ship beds with them, but with all the fever being on the ship we was not allowed to take them off the island. So we just had to lie down on the floor all round about the house. Some of them coming in drunk and vomiting on top of us. It was ten times worse

Cook all our own meals. I had three days of it and I thought it was long enough.


Andrew Turner




Berwick Shire



SS Eastern Monarch at anchor

Stories index 

© Copyright Jim Fleming 2002.
This page created on 30 June 2004.
Last edited on 16 Mar 2011.
Click here for information on contacting the web master.