Left London September 19, 1848, accompanied by wife .............. ship "Fortitude" commanded by Captain Christmas, .......................... Surveyor .........................
by the Government Agent, after which we were towed by a steamboat for some distance after which she left us sailing with fair wind. Saw Brighton and the Isle of Wight, Margate, Ramsgate and Deal, at which place the Pilot leaves us. Soon came in sight of Dover with its fine old castle and white cliffs, and now take a last view of Old England.. Soon came in sight of Madeira, a majestic sight, after which we came to Porto Santo, also the Canary Islands, and the Island of Palma.
Most of the passengers suffered severely by seasickness for near a fortnight. Considering the vast number of children they recovered first and all appeared in good health and spirits. The different lighthouses had a pleasing appearance, something like the planets. We are now feeling sensibly the difference in the climate - the air much softer and continues gradually to increase, We are making rapid progress in our voyage.
In passing the Bay of Biscay we had one little squall which made sad havoc among the crockery, which created much laughter. Certainly the middle deck in which we live much resembles a little town, especially when lighted up at night by lamps, and the continual noise of children and buzz of adults - sometimes it is termed like building the Tower of Babel - confounding of languages.
We are now come into the trade winds, and experienced some calms, and certainly no one would conceive how smooth the sea is at such times, like the River Thames. We now see shoals of porpoise and some flying fish, which certainly are very curious. We caught one. The size is about that of a herring. The evenings are now becoming splendid - the air so totally different to that of England.
We are allowed the poop to promenade through the kindness of the Captain. Some are singing, others playing on different instruments and dancing, but the latter was not suitable to the taste of feelings of most of the passengers. It was declined. A day and Sunday School is formed for the children. The church Prayers are read by the Captain every Sunday morning at half past 10 o'clock for the sailors, and those of the passengers that choose to attend, after which our minister, the Rev'd Stewart held a regular service, and great attention was paid to the same.
After this time a young shark was caught, three feet long, the passengers all wishing to catch a glimpse. The weather is now becoming hot, the thermometer standing at 86 in the shade. A Danish ship comes alongside bound for England. Our captain inquired if he would take letters for the passengers. He replied in the affirmative. What a bustle it instantly caused. Every pen and ink was set in motion as only a few minutes were allowed for the purpose. Some in the bustle had not time to seal them; others were thrown into the sea in getting them into the boat. Some were most fortunate in having written previous.
Soon after this many passengers are beginning to feel the affects of the heat, by loss of appetite and prostration of strength. Mrs Slaughter, a highly-respectable draper's wife, died, having a few days previously been delivered of a still-born child. She was committed to the deep the following day. The funeral service was read by the Captain. The sailors all dressed in their best clothes, the decks clean swept, and the service was one of great solemnity. A heavy bag of shot was fastened to her feet to sink to the bottom. She left an affectionate husband and eight children.
We caught a shark about 7 feet long - not full-sized. As soon as it was known a general rush was made to catch a sight. It showed amazing strength. Many hands were required to pull it on deck, where it displayed much violence, dashing itself against the deck until it was disposed of by knives, cutting off its tail where most off its strength lies, then its head, after which he was opened , when we found a large piece of pork belonging to one of the passengers which had been hung alongside the ship a few minutes previous. It was taken out as perfect as when put out, and much to the satisfaction of the loser. We have now been becalmed ten days. An American whaler is close to us putting out her boats, manned for the purpose of exercise in the manoevres. Several other ships have been daily in sight.
The weather still continues calm. We are able to make scarcely any progress. Today we saw a number of young whales. They came within gun shot. The Captain fired his rifle, but to no purpose.
A fresh breeze has now sprung up, after a calm of three weeks. Again we came up with the American whaler and another barque and schooner. Another woman died in hospital after being delivered in childbirth 9 days, died rather suddenly from excitement. Her remains were committed to the deep in 12 hours after her decease. An impressive service delivered by the Minister.
We are still in company with several ships, wafted on by a good breeze. A whale of considerable size came close to our ship and spouted up the water.
We passed the equatorial line with a delightful breeze, without being the least inconvenienced by heat.
The weather still very fine - ship going at the rate of ten miles an hour. We have not seen any other ship for several days. Although under a vertical sun we are not in the lest inconvenienced by the heat.
Nothing has occurred for several days, but this morning we saw another ship at a distance, and we are progressing on our voyage as well as can be expected. The weather has been very much cooler for some days past.
Our old friend, the American whaler, sent her boat alongside. An officer came on board to hear when we left England, and what news we brought out. They had taken five whales, and had 60 tons of oil, besides sending 60 home by another ship. It was quite a novelty to have a strange boat come alongside, and caused no little excitement amongst us.
We have just passed the latitude of the Cape of Good Hope, the weather still proving very favourable.
The "Ajacks" immigrant ship bound for New Zealand came up with us within half a mile, but being towards night they merely gave us three cheers and passed on.
About this time we caught several albatrosses, which caused much amusement. Some measured 9 feet from tip to tip of the wings, having three joints in each wing.
The wether beautifully fine, wind fair, going at 8 or 9 knots an hour. Today we came to the island of St. Paul, which is a barren an dreary spot standing our of the sea and about 5 miles in extent, and unhabited.
We had a stiff breeze for 48 hours, which gave us a good shaking, and did some considerable damage among the crockery, but it came from the right point for our passage.
We are again visited by a calm. The weather most delightful and the setting sun at night was one of the most splendid sights ever witnessed. Sea had the appearance of glass of various colours.
Contrary winds for some days, and the emigrants getting discontented at the progress made.
Christmas Day arrives and we are once more favoured with fair wind, and our excellent Captain uses his utmost endeavour to make us all comfortable as far as practicable by giving us a double allowance of rations, sugar, butter, flour, suet (?). etc., likewise a half pint of excellent punch to all adults, which proved very acceptable, and we only wanted the roast beef to fancy we were in Old England. We drank the Captain's health on deck with 3 times 3. The day passed off with much hilarity.
The wind again favourable, and we are going on our course rapidly.
Wind unfavourable - continues two days. Reached Bass's Strait on the 3rd towards night, with a stiff breeze and hazy, which caused some anxiety on part of the Captain, as we could not see land. He sounded and found 55 fathoms, which proved satisfactory, and we proceeded on our course; the next day to our great mortification we had an unfavourable wind, and we were beating about the Straits amidst the rocks of amazing size, and the promontory of South Australia. Various small islands.
Passed some very large rocks, very much like old castles in ruins.
We again favoured with fair wind and have got through the straits. Continue to sail rapidly for a few days, and saw the first land of Australia in the distance.
We are once more disappointed in having contrary wind - quite a stiff breeze. On the 12th we lost upwards of 20 miles, which put us in rather bad spirits, when being only about 300 from Moreton Bay. Yesterday we saw an immense forest and mountainous land behind it, which had a very grand appearance.
We are now becalmed, and to our great disappointment are going backwards - 18 miles since yesterday - which makes very many of our passengers discouraged and impatient, but I consider we have much cause for thankfullness having still a plentiful supply of good food and water, and nearly all in the enjoyment of good health. The weather still proved unfavourable, so much so that we lost 50 miles in 3 days, but on the 18th we were once more favoured with fair wind.
We are now coming to Moreton Island, where we expect to take a pilot, and much anxiety is experienced by all, especially the Captain, who had never been on this coast before, on account of the many sandbanks and shoals.
To our utmost joy we saw a little boat coming towards us. Although at first it appeared only a speck, upon the nearer approach we hoped it was the pilot, and certainly it was, rowed by his four men, and what delight was pictured in every countenance. We all instantly felt our minds relieved and that all was safe, especially when he informed us that we should reach Moreton Bay the following day. We cast anchor at evening opposite the pilot's residence, which is a very pretty residence about a mile distant from our ship. We heaved our anchor again next morning at 5 o'clock with cheerful countenances and cheerful faces, greeting each upon our safe arrival.
The Health Officer and two other officials came on board and made their inspection, and upon leaving stated we might expect to land in about two days.
The boat arrived having the intelligence which was little expected that we were to perform quarantine on Morton Island, the opposite side of the bay, and that Government would provide fresh provisions for us, and that tents and wigwams were to be erected, and on Sunday we began to land, and a most pleasing sensation once more to tread on terra firma. The island is about 25 miles in circumference, sandy soil, but well covered with trees, some of great dimensions, which confirm there being a different soil beneath the sand. It is also well watered by springs of beautiful water and a vast quantity of wild fowl are there. It is also very mountainous, which gave is a very beautiful appearance, and the climate most salubrious, with a beautiful sandy beach, so that a number of persons like ourselves might spend a fortnight very agreeably indeed. Our ship is also anchored about three quarters of a mile from the beach, and the boats are daily coming to us and they are getting in their stock of fresh water. We have plenty of bathing - frequently night and morning.
Diary on board the "Fortitude".
Arrived in Moreton Bay January 20th, 1849.