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Briefly about the sea voyages:

The decision to emigrate was final. For most assisted emigrants in the nineteenth century there was no prospect of returning home. Very few had travelled far from home and their journeys began with great apprehension. Emigrants’ first decision was when to leave home to meet their ship. It was difficult because few expected a ship [...]

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Posts related to: sea voyages

Week 01 – Setting sail

Model of the ship Duke of York

On 25 February 1836 Captain Robert Morgan sat down in his tiny cabin on board the Duke of York to begin a diary of the long sea voyage to the new Province of South Australia. He was well aware that the journey he faced would be long and perilous, indeed the route to Australia was one [...]

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Week 04 – A fair wind

Sketch of the Cygnet at anchorage, Port Augusta, April 1833.

The middle of March found both the John Pirie and the Duke of York still anchored close to shore in the English Channel, as strong adverse winds and torrential rain delayed their departure still further. But by 19 March the winds had swung around and Captain Morgan prepared his ship once more for sea. His duty called, [...]

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Week 05 – the Cygnet sets sail

After four weeks at sea the poor passengers on the John Pirie and the Duke of York had barely left sight of land. But the capricious spring weather had not finished with them yet, as both vessels continued to battle gale force winds and high seas. The animals on board the John Pirie suffered greatly, and many of the [...]

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Week 12 – Crossing the line

1849 sketch of a sailor trying to catch a porpoise while standing on the bowsprit of the ship

As the Duke of York nears the Equator the crew hopes to have a bit of fun. Crossing the Line ceremonies were common on sailing vessels and often involved ‘King Neptune’ coming on board to ‘baptise’ first timers.  Crew members and passengers might be ‘shaved’ with big mock razors and all by-standers were often doused with water. But [...]

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Week 13 – tensions reach breaking point

Sketch of the Cygnet at anchorage, Port Augusta, April 1833.

This week we catch up with the Cygnet as it approaches the Equator. A bout of bad weather has seen many of the passengers sick and conditions below deck are foul. Boyle Travers Finniss is impatient with what he sees as the ‘apathy’ of the passengers and decides on a thorough clean up, despite the reluctance [...]

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Week 14 – steady progress

Image of a ship's chronometer housed in its wooden box

All six ships are making steady progress, sailing south in the Atlantic. The weather is fine and conditions pleasant, but relations on board the John Pirie and the Cygnet are tense. On the John Pirie the and the ship’s carpenter come to blows over a seemingly trivial matter – the supply of nails, but it seems there is a [...]

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Week 16 – towards Australia

Scene: a fair wind and cross sea

Both the Duke of York and the John Pirie are now steering south east towards Australia, a novelty they appreciate.  Although it brings bad weather and rough conditions, the travellers on the John Pirie also welcome the cooler conditions, after being ‘almost stew’d alive for a Month’. There is an interesting comment here on the trying conditions of everyday life [...]

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Week 18 – the port of Rio

This week we see the Cygnet in Rio Harbour, where it has called to replenish stores and take on fresh provisions.  From the terse comments in Finniss‘ diary we are led to believe that the decision to call at Rio was taken by Kingston, perhaps acting on John Morphett’s advice, but against the wishes of the [...]

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Week 19 – farewells and new beginnings

This week sees the unhappy passengers and crew of the Cygnet still anchored in Rio Harbour.  While Boyle Travers Finniss chafes under continuing delays, the crew mutinies, refusing all work.  Brazilian soldiers come to arrest four of the ringleaders, but the defiant crew insists on a mass arrest.  The captain seeks solace in drink. We finally [...]

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Week 20 – infectious disease

The Duke of York is now in the Southern Ocean, making good progress. It is Captain Morgan’s wife’s birthday and he reflects endearingly on his love for her and his happiness in the married state. On board the Africaine Mary Thomas is not so happy, as she struggles to nurse her sick children in the confined intermediate [...]

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Week 22 – all ships underway

Black and white photograph of an 1833 portrait of Robert Gouger.

All of the fleet is finally underway, but it is by no means fair sailing.  The Buffalo sets off hopefully, after much delay, but is soon back in port ahead of an approaching storm.  This week we meet two new informants on the Buffalo – George Stevenson, who is secretary to Governor Hindmarsh and partner [...]

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Week 26 – the expanding settlement

scene: kangaroo island

On Kangaroo Island The fledgling settlement on Kangaroo Island is now into its third week and it is not a happy place. Samuel Stephens and Captains Morgan and Ross are increasingly anxious about their failure to find an adequate supply of fresh water nearby. Both the Duke of York and the Lady Mary Pelham need to replenish [...]

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Week 27 – a scandal averted

lithograph of a wallaby

At Kangaroo Island Samuel Stephens is gradually settling into a routine, although his habit of rising well before 6 am in the middle of winter cannot endear him to his men. He sends the company stock off to good grazing land near the Salt Lagoon, and selects a portion of land for a more permanent [...]

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