TRANSCRIPTION OF DIARY OF MR. CHARLES A. COOPER


(leaving London to emigrate to Melbourne, Australia aboard the SS Ionic with wife Amelia (Millie), Children Louisa Mary (Mary age 8) and George (age 6). Transcribed by Charles Cooper's grandson Mr Geoff Cooper and our most sincere thanks for sharing it with us all.

Note: Some minor editorial amendments have been made in an attempt to maintain continuity and overcome some problems of deciphering the handwriting.

Thursday September 10th 1885
At 3.00 pm we got on a train at Fenchurch St. and about 4 pm arrived at Tilbury. A waiting tender conveyed us to the S.S.Ionic bound for the Antipodes. After the usual farewells which are better if never carried out as it only gives another tug to the better side of one’s nature, we tumbled down to our berths and began to unpack boxes. A little after 6 up came the tea.. cold meat, bread and butter and after having exhausted ourselves crying and cheering we fell to and tried to do ample justice to this feast prepared for us. About 10.00 we thought it as well to retire but not to rest as what with the noise of men running about on the deck and steamers coming alongside we did not get off till early morning which was about the time the ship did the same.

11th
Woke up about 3 am and only dozed off afterwards till about 7.30. Breakfast at 8 am consisted of chops porridge tea …… lot of people out of it ……rather rough time….ship rolling like a ball and we going with it feeling rather peculiar and the reverse of pleasant. Kept on thinking I should feed the collecting box, but did not do so. Returned to rest about 10 and was awoke by an awful noise above and found old Neptune at his pranks again and to find we were close to Plymouth.

12th
Arrived at Plymouth about 11 o’c and remained there for passengers and mails till about 2 o’c when off we went. Many enquiries were made of the stewards when we should enter the Bay of Biscay and the response we got was about 8 pm and we should know it when we got there and by Jove we did. We got there about 9 and the ship began to roll from one side to the other the water rushing over the top of the ship, over the main deck. All at once a tremendous crash occurred with the crockery in the stewards pantry and rolling over boxes rushing out underneath the berths and people being ill. At last daylight dawned and as we had no sleep we dropped off for a short doze.

Lat 47 19 N Long 6 35 W
This is Sunday. We got up from our bunks half asleep… the little ones being queer and Millie and myself feeling very qualmish…went on deck to get a breeze before breakfast. I came down and ordered a steak but no sooner did I sit down than the steak began to run off the plate and I could not make up my mind to run after it, so left it till another day. I suppose there was a Church service somewhere on board but didn’t trouble where it was as I am sure I bought all my sins off in my qualmy feelings and so did not trouble. The sea was running high all day and though poultry was on the dinner table no one troubled about it and to crown all we had for breakfast tripe and onions for those who liked it. But no one did and there were but a few who seemed to try one mouthful of the delicate condiment. We sat up as long as we could and got to bed about 10 o’c everybody asking when we would be out of the Bay and were told about 4 am Monday. Went to sleep but sleep was again broken by the crashing of crockery and the ship still rolling as it had not ceased to do since we entered the bay
Distance run 222miles

14th
Lat 43 15 N Long 10W
Woke up about 7.30 after various snoozes and came out and walked up on deck and found we had left the Bay and were steaming over the North Atlantic ocean. The ship was far more steady, only rolling now and again as she came across some swell. We saw plenty of porpoises, 3 whales and a shark or two in the distance. Had a fine breakfast and dinner which always consists of splendid soup, hot joints and pies. In the afternoon we were playing cards till nearly 5 o’c when we came down to tea which consisted of tea, marmalade and cold meats. After tea we again adjourned to the deck it being a splendid night and the sailors saying that fine weather would last another 3 weeks. A 3 rd class passenger had a concertina and we were entertained by seeing the sailors and stewards all dancing on the main deck. On our portion of the quarter deck, gents amused their company with songs and a cornet played by a first rate musician blared out which at times remind of our old home.
Distance run 291 miles

15th
Lat 38 36N Long 12 33W
This morning broke cloudless the sun rising clearly. After breakfast we resumed our prancing on the deck and walked and enjoyed ourselves till about 1 o’c. The Hurricane deck is covered by an awning which hides the sun now pouring down on us. We are off the west coast of Africa- winter suits discarded ladies appearing in light costumes and the males in flannels and wearing every description of head gear. Quoits and other games are now being indulged in on deck and the whole of us are at home all being so friendly. Tonight a concert will take place in the second saloon-some Barnet Amateurs (excepting CAC and his wife) taking part in the proceedings. Today sighted several ships. The appearance of Millie is now altered as she is getting fatter in the face and the sun has turned her face perfectly red…all well, no doctor being wanted.
Distance run 292 miles

16th
Lat 33 48N Long 14-13W
Another beautiful day has dawned and we are looking to sighting the Island of Teneriffe which we expect to do this evening or tomorrow morning. The concert came off last evening the Barnet Amateurs extinguishing (sic) themselves, Robin Adair sounding somewhat like various evening calls on top of the tiles whilst the playing of ………..? members was like a person skating for the first time. Sighted a shark or whale, which it was I don’t know.
Distance run 300 miles

17th
Lat 28 58N Long 15 57W
After a good night rest we woke up to see a splendid sea with hardly a ripple upon it but as smooth as a mill pond. The sky was an intense blue and the sea was the same colour. We knew we were nearing the Canary Isles and about 11.30 we discerned a dark outline like with a cloud on the horizon. About 2 o’c we came on the Isle of Santa Cruz and the sight we shall never forget, the whole island consisting of mountains and the straggling villages like toys on the sea shore. The landscape was magnificent the colours being all different. A little way further on was the Isle of Teneriffe with its lofty peak stretching right up to the clouds. Teneriffe is good sized town with a small bay, the town lying on the sea shore and the mountains at the back. We anchored about 2 o’c and some of us went ashore, myself being nearly twice drowned in the experiment. As I jumped on the boat the thing moved away but fortunately I had not let go of the rope and swung in mid-air. We at lasts got on shore. The town is one of the cleanest I have ever seen but the soldiery would disgrace any English Militia regiment and the police are something ludicrous in dress as they carry a cutlass and revolver.

We first of all went into the hotel where they charged me 9d for 3 brandies. We went then into the market and bought a large amount of fruit, six peaches for 3d, grapes about 2 and half or 3 pounds and pears about 2d per lb. After then, one of our party, an Irishman, went into the printing establishment and asked for the local paper and after calling about 4 of his assistants who could not understand what we wanted we all left with a hearty laugh to the great discomfiture of the proprietor. We walked all over the town which is exceedingly poor, the Johnnies trying to best us in every way. A moment into a Church, the figures there all of them with a curtain to screen them from the vulgar gaze (sic). But one of the choir boys crawled up the image of our Saviour and lighted a match to show him off pointing very emphatically to a red daub of paint on his side which represented the blood that flowed from his side. There seems to be an utter lack of reverence, any one can go up to the high altar and inspect everything on it and nothing is thought of it. I bought a lot of cigars at the rate of a halfpenny each and very good smoking they are. Tobacco for smoking in a pipe is 4/- a lb and then we bought a bottle of the very best Madeira for 2/6. The Governor has a very nice home on the hill with a large garden in front. The women have beautiful eyes, some of the gentler sex being pretty and if my wife had known it, I am afraid she would not have trusted me by myself……at all events I did not run off with anyone. There seems to be no marriage on the island. A man and woman can cohabit without any ceremony and if the man leaves the woman he has to support the children but woebetide the man if he marries again, the jealous spouse he has left carries a stiletto with her and will follow him wherever he goes and into his body it goes at the first opportunity so murders there are somewhat frequent and no notice seems to be taken of it. The people are awful thieves but understand from an Englishman what a punch on the head is. On coming to the steamer at night time we paid the boatman each 1/- and he wanted 1/6 so one of our party cooly told him if he dare say another word we would chuck him overboard…that was sufficient. One of the Ionic’s men came down the ladder and the boatman put us on board quick enough and we were glad enough to get on board, all being very tired.

How the people live is a mystery, there are only a few tobacco manufacturers but they don’t export business nor manufacture anything. The sun shines nearly the whole year there being on the average 2 days wet and no winter. The water all comes down from the mountains and the figs, bananas, pears, oranges, limes, apples and grapes all grow in prolific abundance but there seems to be no interest taken and the fruit dies off and none is fit to be sent away. There is a good chance for an enterprising man to make money.

We had completed coaling about 12 o’c and off we steamed and in about an hour we had the satisfaction of catching the trade wind and we are now going under full sail and steam running about the rate of 330m miles a day. We expect to reach the equator in about 5 days time from now.
Distance run 309 miles

18th
Lat 21 07N Long 18 06W
Nothing to chronicle today, everybody being very depressed after the dissipation of yesterday with some of our company tumbling into bed. The boxes were supposed to have been fetched up today but the male folks had to go into the place where they were stored and fetch them out themselves. The place was like a black hole of Calcutta and the close stifling smell coupled with the dreadful heat without any air made me feel awfully ill. At last after being like Diogenes with a lamp I discovered our box and with a steward’s help got it out, but was in a state of terrific perspiration the same falling off like drops of water and with the dirt that had settled on my face I immediately jumped into a cold seawater bath which greatly refreshed me. The Social Club met on the deck at 8 pm but there was no gusto about it, everyone feeling out of sorts.
Distance run 305 miles

19th
Lat 16 07N Long 18 22W
Today has been a most tranquil one both in the sky and on the sea, the sun shining a fierce heat . We are fairly in the tropics and the old salts say we shall have the heat for about a week. To open the days proceedings the 2 nd saloon passengers, having got thoroughly tired of having anything else at each meal but mutton, the gentler sex proposed that complaint should be made to the Captain respecting this and also in the regard of the butter which appeared to be like oil. We all met in the saloon when the Captain and officers made their morning inspection which by the way is a farce as he never put his head into one of the cabins. When he came round the ball was opened, one of the guests being spokesman. I don’t think it best pleased his Royal Highness the Skipper as one of the passengers foolishly saying that he thought we might have had a change at breakfast in the shape of bloaters and complaining that the boxes marked wanted had not been brought into the saloon. The worthy skipper stated that he would show him that instead of doing his best for the passengers he could and would be very nasty with them instead. The row has done some good however, the Engineer and stewards all being blown up by the Skipper for allowing any ground of complaint. The Engineer was severely reprimanded for not having a liberal supply of ice on our tables when it was ordered and to immediately put an 8 horsepower engine to work to make some for us. Beef has been since supplied also poultry, bloaters, juice and a most liberal supply of ice as the weather is now steamy.
Distance run 290 miles

20th
Lat 11 20N Long 17 53W
Today is Sunday and we arise and breakfast as usual. The tars and officers were all clad in their Sunday suits. At 9.45 the bell begins to be tolled for service and we enter the first saloon for morning service and what twaddle it was. There was a parson with a long moustache addressing God almighty in a monotone as if it would get him to heaven quicker for that .. the Chants all being read, no sermon and we all leaving the saloon no better from it. The steerage were not invited, presumably because those common people have no souls to save. We came out of church at 10.45, the service being just ¾ of an hour and as I walked along the hurricane deck I heard hymns being sung by the 3 rd class people. There they all were standing in a number one reading from Isiah and going heartily in the hymns….they had me quite …..? At 11 o’c as the sailors were running over the gangway for fire drill and inspection the boatswain stopped all his men till they had finished the Doxology. The inspection then took place, the whole of the crew and stewards standing in file all round the ship and I should think there were more than a 100. The Captain, 1 st Officer and Doctor walk all round, the fire bell then rang, the boatswain’s whistle shrieked out and the men all ran to their allotted places in the ship with buckets, blankets and there was a hose that threw a spray out like a penny squib; I am sure it would not go far to put out a conflagration.

We dined off poultry at 1 o’c and had dessert afterwards. I then took a good doze with my head at the side of the porthole in our cabin and got up about 4.30. Tea was on the table at 5 and after then we indulged in singing Sankey and Moody’s hymns and other songs of a religious character. The 3 rd class people had another hearty service in their quarters, one of the sailors kindly getting them a lot of oil lamps for them to sing by as the nights get dark about 6 o’c. They kept the same up till about 8 o’c after which calm reigned supreme in the ship excepting now and then someone had a play on the pianoforte. At 10.30 we retired to bed and after the benefit of an Ice water bath in our cabin, the perspiration running from us like water.
Distance run 296 miles

21st
Lat 7 30N Long 14 59W
Today has been dreadfully hot, the sun pouring down on us like a ball of fire but a fine breeze keeps us cool as we sit under the awning on the hurricane deck. The day passed away gradually as usual with the ordinary games and in the evening a concert was given in the saloon at which the Purser and some of the saloon passengers honoured us with their presence and entertainment concluded with an illusion of living waxworks by our Hibernian passenger which kept the audience in a roar of laughter. We have seen tonight a most glorious sunset, such a sight never being visible in England and is only to be seen in the tropics. The sun had just gone beyond the horizon and there it was a perfect orange higher up in the heavens a light blue sky which merged into a splendid pink and after that a deeper blue the sky being studded with stars and the moon shining brightly. Such a sight can never be imagined and no words could convey its sublimity but it must be seen to in any way understand the feeling it produces to see nature in such a variety of tints. As we watched the sky the clouds changed and from the horizon a fan seemed to come up which contained every hue and tint of the rainbow. It seemed too hot to go to our bunks but as the dew falls so fast we bunked off and left our porthole open all night.
Distance travelled 296 miles

23rd
Lat 0 7S Long 7 12W
Today we passed over the equator at noon and instead of it being a very hot climate nothing could exceed its delicious coolness, a strong head wind blowing which keeps the sun’s heating from being at all unpleasant. This afternoon (24 th) the sailor’s sports will come off, the Captain giving nearly all the men a half holiday. This will be chronicled tomorrow.
Distance run 281 miles

24th
Lat 3 46S Long 6 29W
We are doing a bit in the rolling way again so that we have a see saw without any trouble. This afternoon we had a little of Father Neptune’s sports, the sailors having prepared a couple of donkeys made up of canvas and gave us one of their theatrical entertainments. The donkeys jumped all over the decks and greatly amused the passengers. George stroked them but Mary didn’t. The Chief Engineer took her under his wing and she kept nestling up to him because the stewards frightened her. In the evening the 1 st Saloon invited us to a concert and they completely put our extinguished (sic) amateurs in the shade. Though we have just crossed over the line and we expected tremendous heat yet we were greatly disappointed, a strong head wind blowing and we are as cool here as in England in May or early part of June.
Distance run 273 miles

25th
Lat 7 23S Long 3 44W
We have again been indulging in a proper old roll and the fiddles are back on the tables again. The sea is quite smooth but there is heavy ground swell which makes the 5 year old tub wobble about as though she were drunk. She ought to have been, as there is a large quantity of spirits inside her. The journey is beginning to feel monotonous, getting tired of reading and smoking etc. and one feels inclined to go clean off to sleep for at least a month. We have no illness aboard, the doctors having nothing to do but to walk about and flirt with the female passengers. One fellow in the 1 st saloon has been very much struck with a damsel in our saloon but what for I don’t know, she being gawky, with no figure and exceedingly plain to my idea and the only piece of music she can play with her sister being the Dead March in Saul with which she favoured us on entering the Bay of Biscay and today, as a duet, the same was played. At all events after leading the young people of the ark on for a fortnight she makes an appointment with the Doctor for last evening and the two flirt on deck whilst the unlucky individual who has admired her for 14 days is eating sour grapes and marching about the deck all by himself. He doesn’t eat now and feels sick and the …….? are rather personal. The young lady has a sister who is supposed to paint. Today I saw a pretence of Santa Cruz but it certainly looked more like the loaves of sugar in a grocer’s shop and for the life of me it was impossible to understand its meaning. We got to bed about 10 tired of doing nothing.
Distance run 273 miles

26th
Lat 10 12S Long 0 43W
No news
Distance run 290 miles

27th
Lat 14 57S Long 2 11E
No news
Distance run 280 miles

28th
Lat 10 12S Long 0 43E
No news
Distance run 290 miles

29th
Lat 14 57S Long 2 11E
No news
Distance 280 miles

30th
Lat 18 39S Long 5 09E
No news
Distance run 283 miles

October 1st
Lat 22 15S Long 8-12E
Moderate head wind and sea. No events.
Distance run 276 miles

 2nd
Lat 25 55S Long 11 19E
Yesterday a note came on to our saloon; Captain Cameron requests the pleasure of the company of the 2nd saloon passengers tomorrow evening, dancing at 8.00. The hurricane deck was enclosed with tarpaulins and decorated with flags and lighted up with electric light and lamps. At 8.00 we toddled in with the saloon passengers throwing their pride to the wind and dancing commenced. The Captain and officers were more than courteous being most friendly though the Captain would not dance but walked about with his cap in his hand and about every 10 minutes was on his bridge or somewhere on deck. Dancing went on till 12.00 when the company sang the National Anthem and gave three cheers for the Captain. During the evening we had ices, iced claret, spirits, cigars, sandwiches and cakes ad lib and the Captain was most indefatigable in seeing everyone attended to. I walked to the “bar” with Millie’s plate after partaking of an ice and the skipper saw me and a steward got a blowing up for allowing me to do so. If the skipper saw any gent not dancing he would ask if he wanted a partner, if so, he would soon get one. Any a more enjoyable evening could not be spent and it appears that most of the saloon passengers want the ropes that divides the large promenade deck removed so that the 1 st and 2 nd saloon can have free intercourse but owing to 2 or 3 “stuck ups” the Captain could not do so. He appears to be a thorough seaman always on the watch at night when everyone is asleep. He jumps out of bed at 1,2,3 in the morning and is all over the ship. He came out to the saloon on Saturday about 3 am to find the steward asleep which caused the Captain to give a good dose of the boot leather for himself. We are now expecting rough weather, the awnings are all in ropes and being tightened and a strong wind blowing.
Distance run 277 miles

3rd
Lat 29 16S Long 14 24E
Last night the bad weather so far as head winds and seas fairly set in. We have been rolling and rolling and quite unable to keep either feet or seats and this is likely to continue for some time. If we do not get into Cape Town tomorrow we expect it will be Sunday morning and there will be of no use in our landing for a few hours. Have today seen albatrosses.
Distance run 259 miles

4th
Lat 32 19S Long 16 55E
About 6 o’c last evening we sighted Robin Island which is a lunatic establishment and has a lighthouse. After running near the shore we anchored in the breakwater of Cape Town about 11 o’c. . We whistled and signalled with rockets twice but no notice was taken, the Port Captain perhaps being in bed. So we lay to till this morning. I intended going ashore but as it is Sunday and we have to be on board at noon it seemed only a waste of time. The town here lies on the shore for miles. At extremely near the sea is Seapoint close to which is Government House where the governor resides. Above is Table Mountain and another large mountain called the Lion’s Head and on the other side of the bay you see nothing but mountains. We are so near the shore that we can see the glistening of the soldiers bayonets as the sun falls upon them. Also we see houses and shops, a railway station etc.. It is a most picturesque spot far excelling Teneriffe and if things were good here should not at all mind taking up my abode in the colony. But the trade is gone and with ostrich farming now being overdone, people are leaving fast. We take on board 50 more passengers most of whom are going to Australia.

At Kimberley, prices are as follows: butter 6/- a pound, eggs 6/- a dozen, beer half a glass 1/6, condensed milk1/- a tin, a 4 roomed house 9 pounds a month, cauliflower 10/- each, cabbage 4/6 each; these prices were given me by a gent in our cabin leaving the Cape for Sydney. I hear that 3 years ago there were, in one month’s sale in the English market, 400 cases of ostrich feathers; 2 months ago there 1600 cases and of course prices have gone to nothing and as wages here for shop and farm assistants are averaging 8 pounds a week they face a terrible loss and the consequences of bankruptcy.

At about 2 0’c off we go and leave the Cape of Good Hope for Hobart where we are due on Thursday fortnight. I bought ostrich feathers, whole ones, for 12/- on board.
Distance run 240 miles

5th
Lat 36 14S Long 21 50E
Well here we are about 300 miles from Cape Town, the old tub rolling about giving us a slide from one side to the other and at meal times treating us to the same amusements. This wants to be tried to even faintly appreciate how difficult it is to eat your dinner. Poor old George had an attack of Spasmotic Croup on Thursday but seemed so well on Sunday when it was so hot, but it turned cold and I am afraid it struck him again, so the Doctor is now at him. He enjoys chicken broth and beef tea and jellies and what ever the ship has in store. The Doctor is very kind to him, last night he was very feverish but this morning was better. We now for the next fortnight are trying to bustle about, we hope to catch the South East trade winds tomorrow.
Distance run 242 miles

6th
Lat 38 14S Long 27 10E
No events
Distance run 282 miles

7th
Lat 40 1S6 Long 33 18E
Not much doing with the exception of practicing for the Athletic Sports which are coming off tomorrow. In the evening a concert took place in the Saloon to which the 2 nd class were invited but I did not feel up to it as it looked very seedy(?).
Distance run 300 miles

8th
Lat 42 16S Long 37 18E
The Athletic Sports for passengers came off this afternoon. Unfortunately, Millie, who was down for 3 events such as ladies tug-of –war, 3 legged race and ?, was too unwell with a bad cold and I had an attack of the bile which prevented me putting in an appearance. Everybody on board is queer with a cold or something. We are now in very cold regions and expect to be so for another week.
Distance run 304 miles

9th
Lat 44 20S Long 45 30E
This evening the dead horse was burnt at the yardarm. This phrase came into use this way......when the sailors leave London they each receive on account one month’s pay which the owner calls working a dead horse and today the calendar month expires and the men have finished working for what they received. One of the donkeys used in the sports when we crossed the equator had some ribs put to his tail and all covered with paraffin. Three or four charges of powder were put into his head and at 8 o’c we saw him lighted, the sailors whilst hauling him up the yardarm singing their favourite songs. At last he reached the yard arm all blazing and crackling and the Chief Officer fired rockets, blue red and green lights which altogether made a pretty display.
Distance run 297 miles

10th
Lat 46S Long 52 22W
Today the remainder of the races in the sports carnival came to a conclusion, the day beautifully fine but extremely cold, freezing. The crew’s sports were the principal performances which were most amusing in the way Jack gets through his sports altogether eclipses a landsman’s style.

Tonight we have all been singing and dancing away finishing up with Auld Lang Syne, stewards and all joining in our saloon. We don’t go in for class, anybody about is pulled in somehow; we are now beginning to enjoy sea life as the time today flew away very quickly. Passed the Frozen Isles about 10.00 am.
Distance run 308 miles

11th
Lat 47S Long 59 20E
Today returns the day of holy rest but as we have been resting for such a time, I am afraid it lacks most of its charm. Some people went to the Saloon having had quite enough of what is nothing more than a farce and a mockery right through. Millie was unable and George stayed at home too, the weather being dreadfully cold and the air coming down the saloon ventilates which ever way it is turned. Tonight is wet and miserable and we feel ditto.
Distance run 293 mile

12th
Lat 47S Long 67 20E
Today the old tub has been going at a rare rate, the wind and sea being in our favour. The latter is rough and we are rolling a bit and the waves rather high. Last night the whistle was sounding about every 10 minutes as we had a heavy fog and the same prevailed the whole of the day.
Distance run 330 miles

13th
Lat 47 52S Long 75 50E
There is nothing new to chronicle today. We have been rolling and pitching in all conceivable ways and it is difficult now to write. The seas are mountains high and are continually washing over our decks. It is too cold to go out much so all we can do is either go to sleep or read.
Distance run 345 miles

14th
Lat 47 56S Long 83 15E
Today has been very rough, the waves being mountains high. I was fast asleep during the night watches when Millie woke me up saying she thought the vessel was going down because it was rolling most unmercifully. I immediately got up and lighted the electric light and looked out of the porthole but could see nothing but heard the ice floating on the deck. I ran to the other side of the ship and looked out and it was a beautiful sight the stars shining brightly and on the horizon a splendid white mass arising out of the water, and I called Millie to see the iceberg. It has been snowing for the past 3 days and everything has a misty appearance.
Distance run 302 miles

15th
Lat 47 56S Long 90 02E
Today is still very stormy, heavy winds and seas washing over the decks, the vessel rolling away like billyo whatever that is. It is snowing away to your heart’s content, so that we do not stay on the deck very long, only just time enough to get warm.
Distance run 312 miles

16th
Lat 48S Long 98 36E
Today the old old story, rolling, rolling and the seas mountains high. At 12 o’c my better half again woke and I at the same time with a dreadful crash of crockery falling etc.. The ship had lurched clean over on her side and remained like that for a minute and we thought we were all over with sea life; books jumped out of the racks and boxes sprang from their places to the middle of the cabin. We felt nothing but very funky (sic). Of course there was no more sleep till daybreak when we had another snooze. We have found out that our fears were not groundless as we hear from the sailors they thought it was all over with them. The ship heeled completely over on her side and was a minute of more in righting herself. It was quite a mercy that she pulled herself up, otherwise by this time we would have been walking about in Davy Jones’s locker.
Distance run 306 miles

17th
Lat 48S Log 105 56E
The weather is far better today though still cold. The sea has gone down and so we have the prospect of a quiet night without the rocking. This evening we had another theatrical performance and concert in our saloon, the only thing missing being that the port lights were in the ceiling. In spite of my better half’s repeated assertions before we left England that she wouldn’t say anything, she came out in fine style before the Captain, officers and the passengers of both saloons. The stage was made up by removal of the card (?) tables and flags were used for curtains. The affair was very good and we returned to rest about 12 o’c.

No events Sunday.
Distance run 314 miles

19th
Lat 48 05S Long 121 59E
Today is Mary’s and George’s birthday and they had tea amongst the little ones in our cabin. In the evening we had a round taken for the Chief Steward. In our cabins each adult gave 1/- and made a present of 43/-to him and made him sing 2 songs and gave him musical honours on our shoulders round the saloon.
Distance run 326 miles

20th
Lat 48 25S Long 125 54E
Today has been beautifully fine, the sea as smooth as glass. We received an invitation from the Captain to attend a fancy dress ball this evening in the front saloon. The promenade desk was decorated with flags and not withstanding my better half’s repeated assertions in England that she would not dance on board neither sing nor enjoy herself in any way she has worried the life of me to go with her to the fancy dress ball and at last prevailed on me to grant her request. The consequence was that I was dressed up as a fisherman and the mother of our family appeared as a peasant woman. The costumes were very varied and looked very pretty, sailors, blacks, servant girls and every conceivable person was represented. A quiet bloke in our saloon was dressed as a parson with surplice and cassock much to the delight of the parson in the saloon. The reverend gentleman’s young wife was dressed as a sort of Swiss peasant with her hair hanging down and was waltzing nearly all the evening with a young fellow who got on board at the Cape and whose attentions have been lately more than polite. At all events they went out of the dancing saloon and the Captain, in a short space of time, found them on the deck and the gent was in the act of kissing the lady. She was immediately ordered by the skipper to go to her cabin and advised to tell her husband at once as the skipper meant to inform him as soon as he saw him and thought it advisable for her own sake she tell him first. Some of our saloon saw the performance and so it is rather a talk on board. We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves, Millie dancing and flirting to her heart’s content until 12.30 when we returned to our berths.
Distance run 322 miles

21st
Lat 45S Long 136 27E
Today we are rather knocked up but as the day advances feel somewhat better. Millie then told me that she would not go on deck after supper so I took a run on the main deck myself about`. About 10.15 I came down but could not find my wife so I thought she was paying a visit to some lady in her cabin as she is very charming with some of them. So I went to bed . About 11.15 she walks in with all her things on and the young rascal, it appears, after I went out put her things on and went with one of her pals on the promenade deck and they were playing touch last with 2 gents till that time. I don’t know what her relations will think of her when they read this but it will be satisfactory to know I slept quite soundly all night and it did not upset me in the slightest.
Distance run 293 miles

22nd
Lat 42S Long 143E
No events, looking for the Tasmanian coast.
Distance run 287 miles

23rd
Lat? Long?
At about 4 am we were awake looking at the dim outline of the Tasmanian coast but as nothing was very apparent turned in again. At about 6.30 the steamer stopped and we knew the pilot was being taken on board. We got up and dressed and went up on deck and what a delightful picture it was to our weary eyes. Sweet fields with sheep grazing, homesteads and farms, at the rear lofty mountains covered with splendid trees . Yachts and vessels were dotting about , we were in the river Derwent not far from Hobart Town. In a few miles we went around a bend in the river and saw the town. It looked very pretty and the scenery is magnificent. About 10 o’c we went ashore in the steam pinnace after seeing the boxes were all safe and sound. Millie has got board and lodging for 4/6 per day each. The town and its belongings I will describe tomorrow as we were all tired and we went to bed at 9 pm.

24th
Here we are in Hobart and what shall we say about it . A fine town surrounded by mountains. Ranged nearly opposite where we are staying stands Mount Wellington a tremendous height covered to its summit with trees and bushes. We walked to the Botanical Gardens this morning which are situated on the shores of the river past the Government House, the Admiral (?) of the Australasian state staying there. The gardens are prolific, the borders of the beds being made of dwarf roses all in full bloom. Whilst there, a little black snake ran along the bed at the box border. Millie, as is common with her sex, began poking and prodding where the reptile had gone with her umbrella but fortunately for her it had gone otherwise she would have been corpsed if it had stung her. As the gates closed at noon we were shut in and so walked along the railway lines , now and then hearing a strange hiss and seeing the grass moved by something living crawling through it. A friend with us saw 2 or 3 snakes but if you get in front they run away and so we got home without mishap. We went to the recreation grounds in the afternoon and went to bed at 9 pm.

25th
Today is Sunday and what a change to our ordinary go for that day, the church bells ringing and the day beautifully warm and fine. The roses and other flowers were in full bloom and scenting the air with their fragrant perfumes. We went to the Congregational Church; they go in for a lot of singing and have a large choir. The theology is liberal and would make some of our English orthodox people look rather amazed.

We got to home to dinner at 1.00 and in the afternoon took a walk a short distance out and what view we had. On our left, the cove with the large ironclad Nelson, steamers and small craft all dotted about small boats in full sail and the water quite clear. The background all round was composed of mountains with farms and homesteads, there are birds of different plumage and full song, in fact the place was an earthly paradise. The grandeur of the scenery cannot be described, Devonshire cannot compare to it. It is one mass of flowers and trees. We could have stayed here a long time looking and admiring the scenes but time called us and we got back to tea. Tomorrow we start for Melbourne.

26th
This morning we left Hobart at 8.00 am by the Tasmanian railway for Melbourne. The carriages are exactly the same as the tramway cars in England and sitting as you do in that fashion you get a fine view of the country. The line, a single one, gradually rounds the mountain and hills and by sharp curves to an altitude of 5,000 feet until it reached the flat top where it runs on a level surface for about 15 or 20 miles . The scenery from the base to the summit is most charming and picturesque and we were delighted at the view. After passing the Jordan we arrived at Jerusalem, leave Jericho and Bagdad on our left and Lake Tiberius. We arrived at Launceston at 1.45 and went on board the Flinders direct.

27th
After a good passage on passing the Straits which meant a good deal of pitching and tossing, we entered Williamstown where the Custom House officials came on board. We went up the Yarra, a dirty muddy river, and saw Melbourne in front of us and a fine city it looked with its Cathedral, churches and public buildings. We arrived at Queens Wharf, Melbourne at about 1 o’c, all glad to get on shore after our cruise.

And now our journey is finished and how shall we wind up. Only one way we can and that is in a spirit of thankfulness that we have been preserved for so many miles in the great deep and no harm has come near us. When one is on the great oceans and seas the waves mountains high that could engulf the ship and all in a moment it makes one feel very small and insignificant and produces the utmost awe at the scene. This is now all over and as we lay our heads down to rest it is with the feeling that the great Father has in his mercy taken us through the perils of the sea and brought us to those who were waiting for us in this distant landing in perfect safety.

Amelia Wiedhofft
b. London 1850,
m. Charles Cooper, Holloway 1875
d. Ballerat, Australia 1923

Grandparents

Frederick Gottleib Wiedhofft & Mary Elizabeth (Ruppersburg)

Parents

Frederick Augustus & Amelia (Pike)

Siblings

Mary 1851
Frederick 1853
Charlotte 1855
Charles 1856
Ann 1859
William Alfred 1861
Arthur 1863
Louisa Florence 1865
____ with Emma____
Mark 1876
Emma 1878

Children

Louisa Mary 1877 Mddx.
George 1879 Mddx.
Annie Cleo 1881 UK died at birth
Jessie Amelia UK died at birth1881
Frederick Alston 1887 Australia
Robert Hawthorn 1890 Australia
Ethel Janet 1893 Australia?


White Star Line SS Ionic 1883
Notes about The Ionic.
4,748 gross tons, length 439.9ft x beam 44.2ft, one funnel, four masts, single screw, speed 13 knots, accommodation for 70-1st and 900-3rd class passengers. Built by Harland & Wolff, Belfast for Shaw Savill & Albion Line in Dec.1883, she entered service initially under charter to the New Zealand Shipping Co. and started her maiden voyage London to Wellington on 26th Apr.1883. On 3rd Dec.1884 she started her first voyage from London to Cape Town, Port Chalmers, Lyttelton and Wellington on the joint White Star / Shaw Savill Line service

Bussorah Merchant
Charles father George first travelled to Australia with his wife Eliza Louisa (Stavenden) and daughter Sarah (b. Aug 1840) on the ‘Alexander’ (27 December 1841) and returned to England in January 1851 on board the ‘Bussorah Merchant’. They were accompanied by their children Sarah, Louisa, Jessie and Hampdem William. William died during the voyage

Follow this link for a transcript of his journey home in 1851 (pdf 760k)

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