Diary of a trip to Australia 1897

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Eldershaw, Flora Sydney (1897–1956)

By the same author. Notes An engaging and detailed daily diary kept by an Englishman travelling to Australia, New Zealand, and the islands of Polynesia, which includes chronicles of cricket, earthquakes, and shooting sports. The volume opens at sea on 1 January , with our unnamed diarist taking part in a deck quoit competition. The phrase "read, smoked and slept" sums up the tenor of the voyage out, undertaken with his friends Beattie and Spall. He makes observations of the weather, wind speeds and location giving latitude and longitude and shows an interest in maritime matters.

In June the cruise takes him to the South Sea Islands of Fiji, Samoa, and Tonga, visiting plantations and interacting with the native people; he gives a charming account of an attempt to purchase cigars for two Fijian women. Of particular interest is a list of items both gifted and bought during this leg of the journey, which include a whale's tooth, a Joa wood war club, bow and arrows, and a ceremonial club belonging to Chief Jaraganikoro of Suva, Fiji's capital. On 9 January: "sighted land after breakfast - Kangaroo Island on the approach to Adelaide the first land since Nov 30 saw a bush fire on the island".

With Adelaide as a base he and his companions buy a gun license and after having taken in some of the sights of this "very fine city", visit Meningie on the shores of Lake Albert where they shoot "a lot of rabbits", although this is by no means their only sport: duck, pelican, swan, opossum, kangaroo "no kills" and "brushers" a bushman's name for a small wallaby , all being fair game. As the heat of an Australian summer begins to build he notes that "flys sic are most troublesome, almost eat one up, obliged to wear fly nets over your head". Out in the bush our traveler joins in with a number of local cricket matches: "after noon played cricket" 23 Jan.

Next he takes the steamer Cintra for Melbourne; he goes to Flemington racecourse "a very pretty course, you can see the horses the whole way" , and after "went on the horse round-a-about, which is on the sands by the pier", accompanied by a Miss Robertson; the account is peppered with references to lady companions, among which the entry for 9 March stands out: "evening sat with Miss Tookey in her room, a very pretty girl, 23 years old with about a year".

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There are visits to Geelong and Terang "went on a merry-go-round the only thing there was to do" , "bush races", and a visit to Mount Noorat "a grand view from the top, the mount is a distinct volcano sic". He then takes the Sunderland-built steamer Westralia for Sydney "the entrance to the harbour is very grand" , and notes "tried to get swindled but I being too sharp for them they failed". His time here includes a trip to the Tivoli music hall and theatres, a game or two of tennis and a visit to Manly "a charming place".

On 31 May "Burgoyne persuaded me to come with him to the South Sea Islands" and on 3 June they set sail on the SS Jasmine "shooting at albatross" , heading to Suva, capital of Fiji 8 June: "lovely hot day, nice breeze, sea calm. Knocking about the deck all day.

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