Brisbane, QLD

Sunday, May 3, 2009


Wednesday 2nd February 1949

Weather glorious today. Hot but not too much as there is a strong breeze. Children’s sports on deck today. Saw dolphins leaping from the ocean. We are about 20 degrees below the equator. Have got a lovely tan by now, but some passenger’s skin burns when only 20 mins in the sun, even when it is cloudy.
David went to visit the Captain’s bridge. He steered the ship, saw compasses and all the other instruments.
Clocks on again I hour.
Lost David and found him sound asleep, fully dressed, but with his pillow and blanket on a hatch at 1:00 am.

Thursday 3rd February 1949
Cooler than what we have been used to lately but still warm enough.

Friday 4th February
A little cooler but hot in the sun. A lot of excitement as it is the children’s farewell party at 2:00 pm. All looked lovely in party dresses.

(I'm in the middle and David is on the right ) 
All 500 lined up and marched around the decks following the pipers in kilts. It was a beautiful sight. The main dining hall was decorated with flags, hundreds of balloons and the tables were beautiful. There were 2 huge birthday cakes, cream cakes and fancy cakes. After tea there were games and a concert with prizes. Each received a packet of sweets and a chocolate. The captain made a speech and gave them each a signed menu.
Clocks on again. Everyone is excited as it is only 1000 miles to Freemantle.

Saturday 5th February 1949
(The first day there is no entry written. I do remember the party, I was much happier now as I had learned my way around the ship and had made a few friends. I can remember we were all very excited, a party with 500 kids! There was heaps of delicious party food and lots of fun and games.)

Sunday 6th February 1949
Awake at 5:30 and looked out to see AUSTRALIA in the distance.

The pilot climbs aboard to guide us into Fremantle.
We are there at last and we are excited because we can go ashore today at Freemantle the first stop since Aden. Everyone was up and dressed by 7:00 am to pass the doctor before landing. Lots of people on landing stage to meet passengers. Finally we got on shore about 11:00 am. It was 90 F degrees and very hot. Everyone beautifully dressed on shore in summer attire and all looking very bronzed.
Got a bus to Perth. Peculiar buses, no conductors. Really beautiful city. Walked around and looked at the shops then took a taxi ride around King’s Park.

Kangaroos, pineapples, palms, gorgeous flowers and lovely bungalows with coloured tile roofs. Wide clean streets. Everything is spotless and all the buildings look brand new. We visited Perth University where there was a pond absolutely teeming with goldfish.
 Mum, Dad David and me in King's Park Perth 1949

 The goldfish pond in the University grounds.

Lovely food. 7/6 for all our lunches. Bought fruit.
Back at 5:00pm. Very tired but had an enjoyable day.

Monday 7th February 1949
Watched the coast of Australia. White sandy hills and cliffs looking like snow. Rather cool.

Tuesday 7th February 1949
Lazy day. Melbourne passengers are packing ready to disembark. We had talks from emigration officer and padre. Some saw whales. Dancing in the evening. Clocks on.

Wednesday 9th February 1949
Only 5 more days, so we are looking forward to landing in Sydney now. As the clocks are put on again we slept all afternoon.

(Sadly mum’s diary of the voyage finishes here, even though we stopped in Melbourne and landed in Sydney on Sunday 13th February 1949. I can only guess she was so excited to have arrived and on the brink of a new life that the diary became unimportant. However, I have her photo album with captions and my own memories to help me piece together my parents first years of their struggle, hardships and fun in establishing themselves in their new homeland.)


  1. Great story, Diane. You need to continue now telling your story about life in Sydney, how mum and dad built the house in Loftus. BB

  2. Yes! Mum! PLEASE keep going! let's hear about those early years in Sydney. You were true pioneers! I have enjoyed her journal, the photos and your blog so very much!!!
    More, more!
    Carol xxx

  3. What a great read, Diane! Your mother's diary is a perfect little slice of post war life and the photos are a delight, too. Thank you so much for sharing it with us all.


  4. Hi Diane, thank you for letting us read the diary. It was fascinating. I think your mother had so much to absorb once she arrived, there was no time to continue or perhaps she just wanted to write about the voyage. It would be nice to hear more about the settling from the view of a child, you. The photos are irreplaceable. I have lost many of mine.

  5. Yes I agree, great story and what shines through is the enthusiasm....

  6. That is truly an amazing journey and story. Thank you so much for sharing it with us.

  7. I could almost feel the excitement myself reading this last entry, and it is a pity it was the last. I can imagine that from my own experience, a diary was probably the last thing on her mind most days, setting up a new life and all.

    Thanks for sharing this with us, it was lovely!

  8. Hi Diane
    Greetings from Young, the Riverina district of NSW.
    Have been showing my mother your wonderful blog, she was astounded at the diary of your mother. Also she was fasinated with all your entries of travels, get togethers and of course the food displays. You would be fasinated here with a pair of rabbits, one an obviously escaped white and brown one and a bush mate. This morning they had their "kittens" on display in the grounds of the hospice. I counted 6 of them - 4 spotted and 2 bush ( wild) coloured. Your camera would be working overtime. The trees of a morning and filled with screeching galahs - 100's of them for about 5 minutes - then they part - 1/2 going one way and the other half going the other. As they say -" you can take the boy out of the country, but you can't take the country out of the boy". ie: me.

  9. This is one incredible adventure. I would love to hear about those early days in your new home. It's all been a fantastic read. Thanks Diane.

  10. Hi Diane, what a fascinating account of a journey undertaken by so many under the £10 passage as I remember it in my childhood in Ireland when so many emigrated to Australia. I guess it is a time in history that will live long in the memories of those who made the trip but not everyone has documented it so well as your m other. I wonder what camera did she have? was it a box brownie or something more sophisticated? She has some great ones of you and David. Such a change now all the gap year kids taking off to Oz for the year and it is the new rite of passage. I travelled but as a development worker/volunteer which gave me a great opportunity to see the world - albeit poorer countries.
    THanks for sharing these posts with us all. Also thanks for your comment on my post - I will reply on my blog.

  11. I have absolutely adored these posts- sad now that they're over. Love the photos and what a remarkable journal AND journey! Thanks so very much for sharing this with us - loved it!

  12. She finally arrived ! It's sad for me that she stopped writing, it's like reading a book which ends in the middle lol ! I hope you remember well your parents start in this new life and new country and please continue to write !

  13. We had friends who left England in the 50's for Australia. We never heard much about their journey, so it was nice to here about yours. Thanks for sharing.

  14. Diane this is amazing! It's so fantastic you have your mum's diary and the photos to go with it. What an amazing keepsake, one to pass down for generations to come.

    I hope you have a fantastic weekend!

  15. Sad that the diary came to a sudden end on arrival in Australia but what a wonderful insight to your journey there. Looking forward to more on the early years. Diane