My new ship MV Juna, launched in 1951, 7583 gt, and built for Federal Steam Navigation Co. under the name of MV Cornwall.
She was prone to engine trouble and had been in Sydney for extensive repairs after which she was transferred to British India Steam Navigation Co and renamed MV Juna in August of 1967. I joined her in November 1967.
Both companies were in the P & O Group at that time, so moving vessels between companies was nothing new.
I arrived in Perth W. Australia, at 4.00 am and took a taxi to the ship, which was in Fremantle, the seaport for Perth. When I boarded it was about 5.00 am and of course the ship was quiet and everyone was asleep. I found the cabin area that was used as a ‘hospital’, locked myself in and went to bed.
Less than three hours later I was awake and getting dressed because I had to ‘sign on’ because the ship was about to sail for Sydney. At least I was given the rest of the day off as it appeared that I was number one spare!
I had quiet a pleasant time during the ‘cruise’ to Sydney where the current third mate was leaving. I’d sailed with the 2nd Mate on the African coast a few years earlier when he was 3rd Mate, plus I knew the purser having sailed with him before on the Japanese coast.
‘Juna’ was clean and well built, but had a tendency to roll her way across the Great Australian Bight.
She had been built to have air-conditioning, but this vital (for us) piece of equipment was never installed, and I wasn’t looking forward to the Persian Gulf.
At least all the equipment on the bridge worked correctly, and we had a new radar set, that worked! The joy of it all . . .
The reddish dot on the left is Fremantle and the blue dot on the right is Melbourne and the curved coastline between is the Great Australian Bight.
Beautiful when calm, but a dangerous place in a storm.
One can drive from Melbourne to Adelaide along a road called The Great Ocean Road – very dramatic, and very popular with overseas visitors as well as those of us who are lucky enough to live in Australia.
Out at sea, away from the land, I never tired of watching the albatross.
In 1878 the iron clipper Loch Ard was sailing from London to Melbourne with luxury goods, as well as everyday items. There were fifty-four people on-board including seventeen passengers.
It was winter in Australia, on the 1st June 1878, with fog and sea mist all around, as they kept a look out for the Cape Otway light
The captain thought he was fifty miles to seaward, but instead he saw breakers dead ahead, he tried to alter course away from the danger and make his way out to sea, but the waves washed his ship on to the rocks of Mutton Island. She sank within fifteen minutes of striking the rocks.
Mutton Island is at the mouth of a gorge and only sixty meters off the shore.
Only two people survived, eighteen year old passenger Eva Carmichael, and crewman Tom Pearce, who was nineteen.
Pearce made it ashore and as he staggered up the beach he heard a woman cry out for help, so he went back in to the sea and managed to rescued Eva Carmichael.
The gorge was named after the ship in memory of those who died, and is now known as Loch Ard gorge.
Tom Pearce returned to England, completed his apprenticeship to become a ship’s officer and eventually gained command of his own ship. He died at the age of forty nine and is buried in Southampton.
Eva Carmichael later married Captain Thomas Achilles Townsend, who had migrated to Australia. The couple later returned to live in Ireland.
Over the years there have been a number of novels linked to the Loch Ard tragedy, and one fictional account became a TV hit in the 1980’s as All The Rivers Run starring Sigrid Madeline Thornton.
I’ve seen the series and read the book, on which the series was based. I enjoyed both.
We arrived safely in Sydney –
The opera house hadn’t yet been finished
but they had fast ferries across the harbour.
Where docked in 1967 is now a very chic area that I think twice about if I was to visit one of the restaurants in this area. The finger wharf that we berthed alongside has been converted into very expensive apartments – how time have changed. In the 1960’s few would live anywhere near where deep seas ships docked.
Our next port was Melbourne, we are on our back to western Australia, before sailing for Bombay (now Mumbai).
A touch of yesterday Bourke Street 1967 – Melbourne still have their trams.
Melbourne was where Maureen visited her aunt & uncle before flying to Auckland to see me in 1966. I couldn’t visit Melbourne without introducing myself to Maureen’s family.
I was given a very warm welcome and in the evening Robbie (Maureen’s uncle) took me to his local pub, and over a few beers we talked of life in Australia compared to life in the UK. Robbie and his wife had emigrated in 1951 out of pure frustration.
They were married, but due to the housing shortage, particularly in Liverpool after the bombing during the war, they were unable to find a house or flat where they could live together.
Robbie had been in the British army in north Africa and had joined the LRDG (Long Range Dessert Group), which was used to ferry the new regiment called the SAS, to within range of enemy airfields and fuel dumps.
The above photograph is off the internet and not one of Robbie’s – it is to illustrate the LRDG.
Robbie spent four years in the desert, which was where he met Australians, and became interested in migrating.
The Australian attitude to life fitted well with Robbie’s, so after a few frustrating years of not being able to rent / buy a house he thought he’d be better off in Australia, so he and his wife became £10.00 Poms, his daughter was born in Australia.
He didn’t return to the UK until 1976, when he and his wife & daughter stayed with Maureen & I in Congleton, Cheshire, for three weeks.
It took quite a few beers to get just a brief outline of Robbie’s adventures during his years in the desert, and his time with the LRDG.
If you are interested in the link between the LRDG & the SAS, may I suggest this book. It took me many years to find this copy, because I’d given my original to Robbie.
The book was published in 1958, and I found this copy in 2015 in a small second hand book shop called ‘Chapter Two’ in Stirling, which is a small town in S. Australia.
Everything comes to him who waits :- o)
The above picture from Chapter Two book shop web site in Stirling.
After searching second hand book shops for many years looking for The Phantom Major which is about David Stirling and the beginning of the SAS. I found it in a book shop in Stirling!
“Always read something that will make you look good if you die in the middle of it.”
so said by P.J. O’Rourke, who is an an American political satirist and journalist.
From Melbourne it was Adelaide, across the Great Australian Bite to Perth in Western Australia.
MV Cornwall, during her time with Federal Steam Navigation Co.
before becoming MV Juna for British India Steam Navigation Co.