Jesselton to KK

Charles_Jessel-259x300Sir Charles James Jessel. 1st Baronet (1860 – 1928)

In 1899 the British North Borneo Company decided that the area, opposite Gaya island, on the main island of Borneo, was a good place to create a settlement.

The area was developed and it was called Api-api (which means ‘fire’ in English) and later changed to Jesselton, after Sir Charles Jessel the vice chairman of the British North Borneo Company. The area grew to be a major port and was connected to the North Borneo railways system.

Jesselton was virtually destroyed during WW2. After the war the BNBC did not have the resources to reconstruct the town and the place was ceded to the British Crown.
Jesselton was declared the capital of North Borneo and reconstruction began in 1946.

In 1963 the formation of Malaysia took place, and British North Borneo voted to join the federation and the area of North Borneo was renamed Sabah. It was not until 1967 that Jesselton changed its name to Kota Kinabalu.

The city was named after the nearby Kinabalu mountain – Kota means city or town in Malay, so it is Kinablau city. The name is derived from Aki Nabalu or revered place of the dead.

So of course over time the Kota Kinabalu name has been shortened to just KK, which was our next port of call for Diamond Princess on the way to Japan.

In early 1966 I was 3rd Mate in an LST running troops and supplies to Borneo during the confrontation between the Commonwealth and Indonesia, and one of the ports that we supplied was Jesselton in North Borneo.

Kuching riverLST Frederick Clover

sabah-portThe above picture shows Jesselton port in the 1960’s.

DSC00518rNot a lot of change in the last fifty odd years, except for the size of the ships.
Still the same wharf and pier

I was looking forward to showing Maureen a touch of ‘I remember when’

DSC00501rFloating villages off Gaya island, as we approached the wharf.

DSC00511rSunrise over KK

DSC00505rHmmm, I don’t remember all those tall buildings. . .

jesselton-hotel-history-782x1024I wondered if the Jesselton Hotel was still in business . . .

– but once we entered the town I didn’t recognise anything at all – the whole town had changed and the only thing left from the ‘early’ days was the Atkinson Clock Tower, which is now the oldest standing structure in KK.

220px-AtkinsonClockTower-KotaKinabalu The clock was presented to the town by Francis George Atkinson’s mother in memory of her son who died of malaria in 1902. He had been appointed District Officer of the area in 1901, and was very popular.

220px-FrancisgeorgeatkinsonGeorge Atkinson 1874 – 1902

On arrival in port Princess Cruises were offering a shuttle service to one of the main shopping malls for AUD $8 per person each way, which would be $32 a couple round trip.

Considering that KK was not a major tourist destination compared to Kuala Lumpur, and the cost of living would be lower than KL I thought AUD $32 a bit of a rip off. I expect people to make a profit, but not a ‘super’ profit for such a short distance. The drive in to KK was no more than ten minutes. I refused to use the shuttle bus.

Princess Cruises allowed a money changer to set up shop in the Atrium and when we arrived he was doing a roaring trade, so we queued. We were near the back of the queue, so as a passenger who had just change his money passed, I asked what rate did he get. He replied 2.20 Malaysian Ringgits for an Australian dollar. Daylight robbery I commented, I would expect around 3 Ringgits to the AUD & four to the USD.
Maureen & I left the queue.

I don’t know If Princess Cruises rent a spot to the money changers, or if they share the profits or offer the space free of charge as a customer service, but allowing their passengers to be ripped off does not generate customer loyalty.
In my opinion Princess Cruises should stipulate the exchange rate to give the money changer a fair profit and to protect passengers.

DSC00517rWelcome to KK as we walked to the dock gates.

Maureen and I have a lot of experience of dealing in Malaysia so I was happy to walk the short distance to the dock gates where I knew we would meet a ‘wise guy’.
Which we did, and he had a nice air conditioned taxi and wanted $5 for the trip in to town. I asked Australian or US $ and he said he wasn’t bothered which currency . . . so I asked for a price in Ringgits and he wanted 15 for the trip. We agreed on 15 ringgits and I told him to take me to a money changer. The money changer was in the mall that we wanted and I changed AUD $20 for RM 60 (RM is the two letter code for ringgits), so I was correct in leaving the queue on the ship.

I paid the driver, but I knew that he was over charging because I was off a cruise ship, but he wasn’t over charging as much as Princess Cruises.

On our return trip we took another taxi and I asked for the meter to be used – not a problem, and the cost came to RM 8, so I gave him a ten RM note.

The total cost for two in and out of town cost me just over AUD $8 compared to $32 if we had used the ship’s shuttle.

The available tours offered on the ship were of little interest to Maureen & I, having had two holidays in Kuching in Sarawak.
We’d seen the orangutans in the sanctuary that had been set up to protect them from exploitation by Indonesian natives. The KK zoo didn’t interest us, climbing Mt Kinabalu was not for us, so it was a quick look at a couple of  air-conditioned malls and back to the ship for lunch, to avoid the heat of the day.


A scene inside a shopping mall in KK – or is it KK? – it could be your town.

KK is now a modern city because it is a major port for ocean going ships.
Kuching in Sarawak, is on a river and the town is as much the same as I knew it in the 60’s and still has that old feeling about it, which is why I prefer Kuching to KK.

The Sarawak River that passes Kuching has been dammed at its mouth, so only small deep sea craft can gain access to the river when the gates are opened.
The LST that I sailed in was about 3,000 tons so we were considered large to sail the river, but this was years before the dam had been built.

DSC00524rI did like taking pictures of the old fishing boats in KK.


DSC00535rThe speeding ferry just disturbed the peace – no soul.


For those who can remember the joy of working cargo before containerisation.

DSC00539rc We would be in port for days, if not weeks, depending on how militant the shore side labour was, but some ports were better than others . . . .

Next stop Vietnam and Long Tan!









Darwin or Palmerston or Darwin?

Our first port of call on the way to Japan was Darwin, which is the capital of Northern Australia, with a population of about 150,000.

Charles Darwin in 1881

Charles Darwin 1809 – 1882

In 1839 Lieutenant John Lort Stokes of HMS Beagle, was the first British person to spot the harbour of what was to become Darwin.  Commander of the Beagle, John Wickham, named the harbour after Charles Darwin who had been a ship mate of them both in an earlier expedition while in HMS Beagle.

It is ironic that Charles Darwin never visited the town, which carries his name.

It was not until 1869 that a permanent settlement was set up by the South Australian government, who at that time was responsible for the Territory.

George Goyder, the Surveyor General of South Australia arrived with 135 men and women to settle at Port Darwin. The town that was created was called Palmerston, after the then British Prime Minister.


In the 1870’s the 3,200 km telegraph line was completed between Darwin and Port Augusta in South Australia, which connected Australia to the rest of the world.


DSC00349rI took the above pictures, considering the significance it doesn’t look much does it ?


A lot has changed in the field of communication in 147 years.

The name of Palmerston was changed to Darwin in 1911, and Darwin was granted city status in 1959 due to population growth.

As we entered Darwin harbour the sun began to rise behind us, and I love sunrise and sun sets. This one was taken from our balcony.

DSC00304rI’d checked Trip Advisor and through this web site I found a company that offered walking tours around Darwin, cheaper than the ship.

We met at 8.30 am so as to avoid the heat of the day and the walk began. Our guide was a lady who was born in the Territory and had lived and worked there all her life and there wasn’t a question she couldn’t answer.

About ten days before we arrived, Darwin suffered another cyclone and the newspapers down south just love drama, even negative drama, so one couldn’t be sure if Darwin had been blown away.
Not being a great fan of the media I e-mailed the ‘Walk’ company and John (the owner) came back with a detailed explanation as to what had happened and that there had been a large number of trees blown over, but on the whole it was ‘business as normal’. During our walk it was obvious that John was correct.

During the latest cyclone our guide told us that she had lost all power for five days – she lived in an outer suburb not in the centre. Fortunately she was able to borrow a generator and managed to save her frozen and chilled food.




DSC00328rQuite large trees were ripped out of the ground.

Christmas day in 1974 seems to be the date that Darwin reinvented itself after Cyclone Tracy destroyed the city.
Most of the buildings at that time were constructed with corrugated iron roofs and the wind, at 200 km per hour, had a field day ripping roofs apart and destroying homes and various other buildings.

DSC00319rOne of the very few remaining buildings from 1974, with a corrugated iron roof.


Darwin 1974, after the cyclone.

DSC00376rSignal tower bent by the wind in 1974 – currently in the Darwin museum.

DSC00321rDarwin town hall, which is all that remains as a memorial of the 1974 cyclone

DSC00322rInside the old town hall.


The Anglican cathedral was destroyed, but has been rebuilt.


The stone entrance if the only remaining part of the original building.


DSC00344rInside the cathedral

DSC00346rTaken from the entrance

Not far from the cathedral, in front of the new civic centre, we found the Galamarrma (banyan ) tree or tree of knowledge.

treeThe above is a photograph of a photograph, the original was taken around 1915.

Chinese youths would sit under the tree and listen to the words of wisdom from their elders – hence the tree of knowledge.
It is thought that the tree is the remains of the rainforest that was cleared to build Palmerston / Darwin in the late 1800’s.

Below is the tree today – on the right is the new civil centre and when this was about to be built to replace the one destroyed in 1974, the plans were for the tree of knowledge to be cut down. Public protests caused the civic centre to be altered by three metres to accommodate the tree.
The Terminus Hotel (which can be seen behind the tree in the B & W picture) closed in 1931 and was eventually pulled down.
China town (which was mainly to the left of the tree as we look at it ) was destroyed by fire during WW2, so the tree has a ‘grandfather’ claim to be left alone.

DSC00331rAcross the road from the tree is a semi-circle of bells commemorating 200 years since the birth of Charles Darwin (1809 – 1883).
Darwin was fascinated by the different parrots in Australia, so on top of a number of the bells are models of various parrots.




DSC00335rCharles Darwin

Our guide made a phone call and suddenly the bells began to strike up a tune. I think the bells ring at certain times a day and when requested. As long as you know who to contact.

DSC00336rThere are eleven cast bronze bells in all, that play various chimes.



Model of HMS Beagle on top of one of the bells.

I tried to find a link for the chimes, but unfortunately I couldn’t find one. If you wish to know more of the background of the bells try this link Darwin bells


It was not just cyclones that tried to destroy Darwin, because in February 1942 the Japanese had a go. Two hundred and forty two Japanese planes attacked in two separate raids.

Darwin_42The smoke behind the navy vessel is due to a hit on the oil storage tanks.

The casualties consisted of 236 civilians and service men killed, thirty aircraft destroyed, eleven vessel sunk, three vessels grounded and twenty five ships damaged. The Japanese suffered four aircraft destroyed, two servicemen killed and one captured.

Four aircraft carriers were used by the Japanese in the attack, the  Akagi, Kaga, Hiryū, and the Sōryū.

All four were sunk four months later at the Battle of Midway.

Each year on the anniversary of the raid there is a memorial service held in Darwin.

On a happier note the town centre is a friendly, pleasant area . . .


I noticed two second hand book shops, and managed to stick my nose in to both.

DSC00384r.jpgDarwin is no longer a back water on the tip of Australia, but a town worth visiting for something different. The walk from the ship to the centre of town was about fifteen minutes. Darwin is used as the main base to visit the various sites in and around ‘ the top end’ of Australia.
The above picture was taken from our balcony.

The misty bit on the left could have been due to condensation on the camera lens . . . but not being a photographer I haven’t a clue what caused it . . . .








HMT Dunera


HMT Dunera (B.1937)

She is shown as a troop ship when visiting Malta, I think the photo was taken in the 1950’s.

A couple of years ago Maureen and I completed a road trip around NSW, South Australia and Victoria.
During the trip I planned to drive from Beechworth to Mildura; both towns are in Victoria. The drive to Mildura would take over six hours, because the distance was over 600 kms.
As I’ve aged I don’t like long drives, so I looked for a half way stop for the night, and a small town called Hay (which is in NSW), looked about right.
On checking for motels, I found out that there was a museum called the ‘Dunera’ Museum,
I had sailed in the Dunera as a cadet in 1965 when she was operating as a school ship, so a visit to Hay was now a ‘definite’.
I was puzzled as to why Hay would have a museum for a deep-sea ship, when the town was 800 km (500 miles from Sydney harbour) and 400 km (250 miles) from Port Phillip Bay in Victoria? Very odd.


Dunera as she looked when I sailed in her in 1965. (She was 28 years old at the time)

When I booked the motel, I mentioned that I was particularly interested in the Dunera Museum, and the motel owner, Leanne, asked if I wanted her to contact someone to show us around the museum. I jumped at the offer.
On the day of our arrival Leanne asked me to phone David Houston, who was the Museum’s Chairman, because he was keen for us to meet.
David was kind enough to offer his services and to show us around the museum the following day. We planned to meet at the museum 9.00 am.
We were very fortunate to have David as our guide, because his knowledge of all things about Hay is unlimited.


We met at the Dunera Museum, which is located inside two railway carriages at the railway station.
The above station was built in 1882, to help with the export of wool. The last passenger train left this station in 1983, after 101 years of service, and in the following year the last goods train left. The station is now a museum piece, which is also used by the Dunera Museum.


The reason that the museum is located at this station is because this is the station where the trains from Sydney arrived to disembark Austrian and German internees from the UK, during WW2.
They’d sailed from Liverpool in the UK on the 10th July 1940 in the troop ship ‘Dunera’.
The photo above shows two of the original railway carriages that brought the internees to Hay. The two carriages now hold the artefacts of the museum.

DSC03488rA third carriage is waiting to be renovated and added to the museum, but like most things, it takes money.

1,984 Austrian and German, mainly Jewish, refugees from Nazi Europe arrived in four steam trains, with a total of forty-eight carriages, that travelled for nineteen hours non-stop, from Sydney.
The Australian army marched the internees to camp 7 & 8 on the Dunera Way. This road can still be seen today – it is still called Dunera Way, but today it will take you to the Hay racetrack. The camps no longer in exists.


I found this photograph on the internet of the internees marching to the camp.

The original camps were paid for by the British Government who had interred all ‘enemy aliens’ by 1940, after the fall of Belgium, Holland and France.

The ‘Dunera Boys’, as the first intake of internees were called on arriving in Hay, were moved to another camp in Victoria in 1941 to make way for 2000 Italian POWs.
By 1943/44 the Dunera Boys had been classified as friendly ‘aliens’ and many joined the Australian & British armies.
At the end of the war 800 remained in Australia and the remaining 1200 either returned to Europe, the UK, or emigrated to the US or Canada.

Between 1940 and 1946, 6,200 German, Italian, Japanese and Australian internees, as well as Italian and Japanese POWs were housed at the Hay camps.

Life for the Dunera internees in the camp was hard, and difficult at times. The camps were built at the showgrounds and the racetrack and consisted of three compounds each holding about one thousand men. The compounds had huts, roads, water supply, and electric lights.
The land on which the camp was built was semi arid, but the internees managed to build a farm and they created market gardens. This gave them fresh vegetables, poultry, milk, and fresh eggs for their own consumption. They ran their own schools, and even had their own money.


                 The coloured marking is due to reflection when I took the photograph.

The local newspaper printed the money, which the internees designed. The scroll around the outside is barbed wire, but hidden in the barbed wire is the comment ‘we are here because we are here, because we are here . . . . ‘
The names of a number of senior internees are incorporated in the wool of the sheep, and at the camp fence are the words ‘H.M.T. Dunera Liverpool to Hay’ all hidden unless you know where to look. The designer was an Austrian, George Telcher who had designed Austrian currency for the Austrian government.
At an auction in 1999 the printers proof of a two-shilling Hay camp note was estimated at $18,000. A well used ‘sixpence’ note recently sold for $2900.

Within three months of the ‘new’ money being released  the authorities put a stop to the printing as it was (still is) illegal to print ‘currency’ in Australia, other than the printing of money being authorised by the Federal Government.


As you enter the museum the sign above is attached to the railway carriage.


Unfortunately Menasche Bodner died in the camp in November 1940. He was the only Dunera Jewish boy to die in the Hay camp.


The plaque at the camp site marking the 50th anniversary of the internee’s arrival. There is nothing left of the camp today.

If you plan to visit the Hay area, try and plan your visit for when David is around, because he will make your visit memorable. Although he is in his eighties, he is as sharp as a tack and old enough to remember the first train arriving when he was five years old. David brought to life the misery of some of the internees, as well as the happy side for others.
The picture below is of the main information sign in the grounds of the railway station, at the end of the platform.


This painting below is of some of the internees who returned for the 70th anniversary ceremony.


If you wish to read some of the personal stories of the men who are now known as the Dunera Boys, may I suggest you open this link Dunera Association and sample the monthly news sheet – very impressive.

At the end of the war the Japanese internees were ‘returned’ to their ‘home land’, Japan. The problem was that many who were sent to Japan were born in Australia, and didn’t have any concept of living in Japan. Their first concern was that they couldn’t speak Japanese! Don’t you just love officialdom?

To end on a lighter note –  Lieutenant Edgardo Simoni (seen below in 1974),

the fox

aka The Fox (no connection with me) was an Italian POW who was captured in North Africa and sent to Muchinson POW camp near Shepparton in Victoria, Australia. It was a high security camp.
He escaped, but was captured a day later and placed in solitary confinement.

He managed to secure a small hacksaw and during a number of nights, while singing Waltzing Matilda over and over, cut through the bars of his cell. Later he apologised to the other prisoners for keeping them awake!

His cell had bars on all four sides and the whole area was painted white. As he cut the window bar he hid the cut by using white soap to fill the gap.

Once free, he stole a boat and rowed down the Murrumbidgee River towards Melbourne. (This event reminded me of the Great Escape movie).

He eventually made it to Melbourne (but not all the way by boat), and managed to get a job selling cosmetics (his English was very good).
He was very good at his job and became the top sales person for the company, and was awarded a prize and appeared in a local newspaper. He wasn’t recognised, even though he was top of the most wanted list across Australia.

He was free for ten months and doing well for himself until a guard from the camp spotted him in the street and greeted him with ‘Hello Eddie, how are you?’ and that was the end of his freedom.

I have heard a slightly different story that Lieutenant Edgardo Simoni was working in a tailor’s shop, rather than cosmetics.

At the end of the war the Lieutenant was repatriated to Italy where he remained in the army ending his career as a Colonel.

In 1974 Colonel Simoni returned to Australia on a ‘remember when’ trip to retrace his escape route, but the weather was against him and he was older.
The prison from where he escaped is now a museum and they have a plaque in his cell commemorating his escape.

The BBC made a film of his exploits.

As an aside – H.M.T Dunera, stands for ‘His (or Her) Majesty’s Troopship’ Dunera, not as I have seen on the internet ‘Hired Military Transport’ – I have also seen photographs of the Dunera showing her sailing in the 1920’s, which would have been awkward as she wasn’t launched until 1937.
The original Dunera was built in 1891, for the  British India Associated Steamers for the Queensland to Calcutta route, but was transferred to the Calcutta / London route in 1892. She was scrapped in 1922 so there is little chance of seeing any Dunera in the 1920’s.






The old and the new – Golden Princess can be seen with a sailing ship along side. We berthed close to the town, which allowed for a short walk to many places of interest.

DSC09823rA touch of yesteryear where ever we looked.

DSC09804rcMany of the streets and homes reminded me of New Zealand, quiet and civilised.

DSC09809rcWe did a hop on hop off bus tour to get a feel of the place – with a population of just under 250,000, most streets were quiet. To be fair it was a Sunday.


DSC09812r We were still in Hobart  . . . not bad for a capital city of a State.

DSC09829rcA blast from the past at the traffic lights.

DSC09820rYou couldn’t fault the locals – they began brewing beer in 1824 and the same brewery is still brewing beer – Cascade Brewery, a well known drop that I drink in Sydney.

DSC09797rBack to the waterfront area – Flying Angel – Mission to Seafarers. When I was at sea in the 60’s it was called Mission to Seamen, but even the Mission has to be correct in today’s PC world.

DSC09862r All our yesterday’s


Plenty of memorials around the harbour area.

DSC09876rcThis plaque was just a taste of what we would experience the following day at Port Arthur. (see my previous blog).


Statues near the ‘Footsteps’ plaque.

DSC09871rcStatue of Louis Charles Bernacchi 1876 – 1942.

Louis Charles Bernacchi taking a self portrait with one of his dogs before leaving for the Antarctic. I cropped the picture from a photograph that I took, because it had a young boy in the picture, and I didn’t know him, and I could tell that he wasn’t going to move.

Bernacchi-Statue The above is from a Hobart travel site, which is the full picture that I wanted.

Louis_CLouis Bernacchi with one of his dogs. I Found the picture on the internet.

He was Belgium by birth, and arrived in Australia when he was seven, and grew up in Australia.

Robert Scott was Bernacchi’s best man at his wedding, and Scott invited Bernacchi to join his ill-fated expedition to the South Pole – Bernacchi turned him down.

DSC09864rcA few feet away from a great explorer we had a steam crane, built in 1899. Notice the boiler at the rear, which supplied the steam to drive the crane.

DSC09825rcSir Douglas Mawson 

 Check him out via the above link, particularly if you come from Yorkshire . . .

We missed the markets in Salamanca because they are held on Saturday.

DSC09854rWhat we saw

ATDW_Extra_Large_Landscape__9116616_OP2013_Salamanca_May_2010_035_wwdayvlWhat we’d hoped to see, but we were a day late. Picture off Tasmanian tourist site.


The small bars and restaurants were doing a good trade.

DSC09858rcThe best time to go shopping – when most places are closed – think of the saving.

DSC09857rAt the rear of the area when Maureen is standing.

IMG_0139rClose up thanks to V.I

DSC09859rcAnother blast from the past.

IMG_0141rWrapping your trees in a woollen jacket must be a Tasmanian thing . . . thanks V.I


On a positive note the Tasmanians have not forgotten their roots – note the Dutch flag for Abel Tasman. Picture from V.I.

Abel-tasman1903Abel Tasman who started it all. (picture off the internet)








Port Arthur


Port Arthur taken from the ship.

Maureen and I attended a talk about Port Arthur and Hobart. At the end of the Port Arthur talk the speaker stated that we would be anchored off shore, because Port Arthur was not a port that could cope with a vessel of our size. In fact, all they could cope with would be small motor boats.
She also mentioned that it would be a 45-minute boat ride from the ship to the shore. At that distance, which I estimated to be about eight to ten miles off shore, I told Maureen that I didn’t think that we would bother going ashore because it could be quite rough for a tender craft (ship’s lifeboats), and as she hated small boats it would not be a particularly pleasant ride.
That evening in the ship’s newsletter the distance (in time) was confirmed and we made plans to remain on the ship.
I was awake early the following morning and I felt the movement of the ship change and looked out of our window. We’d entered sheltered area. I could see land on both sides of the ship so that we were protected from the ocean. As I looked out I could see Port Arthur.
The distance from the shore was nowhere near a forty five minute boat ride, more like fifteen minutes and in fact I timed it and it was twelve minutes from where the Golden Princess anchored.


At once our plans changed, and we dressed for going ashore.
It was a smooth ride in one of the ship’s tenders to the small pier where we stepped ashore.


Just a short walk to the ruins of Port Arthur.

Port Arthur was a prison that was created in 1830 to supply timber for various government projects using convict labour.
In 1833 it changed to become a repeat offenders prison for criminals from all over Australia. The prison was modelled on the Pentonville prison in the UK, which was described as a ‘machine for grinding rogues in to honest men.’
Some of the prisoners left Port Arthur with the skills of a trade, blacksmith, carpenters and shipbuilders. Unfortunately others became broken men.
Around the prison was a community of military and free men with their families, who lived normal lives of parties, sailing for fun and literary evenings. Gardens were created, and children went to school within the settlement.
Port Arthur grew to be an industrial settlement, and by 1840 more than 2000 people, who were a mix of convicts, soldiers and free men lived, and worked. They produced bricks, furniture, clothing, boats and ships.
Transportation from the UK to Tasmania ceased in 1853 and the prison became an institution for the aged, mentally& physically ill convicts, and finally closed in 1877.
Many of the bricks from various buildings were sold off very cheaply to locals who used them to build or expand their own homes. The name of Port Arthur was changed to Carnarvon to erase the hated convict links.
Over the years convict stories drew tourists to the area, and by the early 1920’s some of the remaining buildings had become museums.

DSC09916rThe prison was a building of four levels – ground floor and first floor for ‘prisoners of bad character’, with individual cells for each prisoner. The top floor accommodated 480 better behaved prisoners and the third floor was used as a dining area, recreational area, and school for the prisoners.
The prisoners were told that if they behaved they would be rewarded, and moved from the bottom single cells (see single cell photos), to the floor above, still single cells, and so on, until they reached the top floor. If they maintained their reputation as ‘good’ prisoners, they would be allowed the use of the recreational floor.
The picture above, and the one below, is of single cells on the ground floor.

DSC09920cA plaque can be seen in the above photograph, which I have reproduced below.



Many Australian consider it a badge of honour to have a transported criminal in their family background. Often people will tell you, with pride, that their forefathers were transported for stealing just a loaf of bread or some other small item, but many where habitual criminals and the stealing of the loaf was the last straw for the magistrate. Many were sentenced to seven years and could have returned to the UK after serving their time, but chose to stay in Australia because they had been given ‘tickets of leave’ for good behaviour during their time as a prisoner, and had created a new life in Australia, and eventually became a free man or woman.
I researched my own family tree and found George Woodland, who was convicted in 1790 at the Old Bailey in London, for stealing a coat. He was sentenced to be transported because he had a string of offences. After spending two years on a prison hulk he sailed from Gravesend (which is on the south bank of the Thames) in 1792 as one of 300 males prisoners in Royal Admiral. The ship finally sailed from Torbay, which is on the southern coast of the England, on the 30th May 1792, and arrived in Sydney on the 02nd October of the same year. I found a picture of the Royal Admiral on the internet.

Royal AdmiralGeorge Woodland is listed on the ship’s manifest as John Woodland, but all other information points to George and John being the same person. (Court records etc).
One of the seamen on the ship was also named Woodland (coincidence?), but his Christian name was James.
Maybe the clerk who made out the manifest wrote ‘John’ instead of ‘George’, perhaps being influenced by his shipmate’s name i.e James.

The Royal Admiral was 914 gt, 120 feet (36 mtrs) in length, by 38 feet (11.5 mtrs) beam and had about 481 people onboard, which included several children, 49 female convicts, 20 soldiers, a number of free people, about 50 crew and 300 male prisoners.

DSC09927rFirst floor of the prison.

DSC09928rSecond floor – the metal supports that can be seen are to help keep the walls from collapsing during earthquakes.

DSC09933rGuard Tower – across the road from the prison.


Many old buildings are missing, but this shows the view down to the water.
The prison is on the left of the picture and the Guard Tower on the right-side of the picture.

DSC09936rA model of the early ‘town’. If it was real I would be standing at the prison looking inland to the town. The building on the bottom right is the Law Courts, the building on the left with the path is the Commandants House, the area in the middle is the Guard Tower and behind that are the officer’s accommodation.

DSC09943rOutside of the Commandant’s home today.

DSC09945rCommandant’s dining room

DSC09947rcViews of his study



DSC09958rI had to take a picture of the recipe.

On each of the Princess cruises that Maureen & I have sailed, the ship always has bread and butter pudding on the menu, which I have found to be very good. I have my grandmother’s hand written note book in which she wrote details of various recipes, and one is Bread and Butter pudding, so I must compare the two – the one above and my grandmother’s written in 1896.


A single bedroom in the Commandant’s house.



DSC09962rSitting room


All of the above is history, but below is the sad fact of today’s world.

On the 28th April in 1996, a gunman opened fire on tourists and staff and murdered thirty-five people, wounding a further twenty-three.


At the Broad Arrow Café in Port Arthur, where the killings took place there is now a pool of remembrance, and a place of peace and reflection. The café is no longer there.

DSC09972rcDeath has taken its toll, some pain knows no release, but the knowledge of brave compassion shines like a pool of peace.

DSC09973rEach leaf (ceramic leaves I think) in the water represents a murdered victim.

There was such an outrage that within three months the Australian Federal Government and all Australian States changed the law as to the type guns allowed to be owned by citizens. The Federal Government bought back 640,000 guns and had them melted down. With the political will, and courage, gun control is possible.

The killer was sentenced to 35 life sentences without the opportunity of parole, plus 25 years for the remaining 36 charges on 5 other offences (20 attempted murders, 3 counts infliction of grievous bodily harm, the infliction of wounds upon a further 8 persons, 4 counts of aggravated assault and 1 count of unlawfully setting fire to property.


Twenty years after the event, the pool with the floral tributes near what was the Broad Arrow Café. For more information read this link.  

From the memorial we returned to the ship deep in thought. As we left the shore and started the steady chug back across the water I noticed a RAN (Royal Australian Navy) vessel had arrived.

DSC09975rc DSC09987c

The final tender boat arrives as we prepare to sail.


The gap in the land through which we will sail to the open sea.

Duck Apple Night

Duck appleThose of us who were brought up in the ’40’s and 50’s in the UK, always looked forward to Duck Apple night, which was well before Dad hired a TV.

Duck Apple was a simple game on the last night of October. We had to try and grab an apple with our teeth. We were not allowed to use our hands, and sometimes we had our hands tied behind our back to make sure that we didn’t cheat.
An evening of fun with family, friends and plenty of laughter, and you didn’t get in to trouble if you ended the evening with your shirt soaking wet. Shock horror, even the adults were soaked.
The tradition goes back to the Roman invasion of Britain (55 BC) when the Romans merged their religious celebrations with Celtic Britain. The apple tree, which was a Roman symbol of plenty (Pomona) was introduced in to Britain and the apple floating in water was used to see if an unmarried person was due to be married.
The first person to bite in to the apple would be the next person to be married. Girls who ‘bobbed’ i.e bit in to a floating apple, would place the bitten apple under their pillow to dream of their future lover. Odd how the apple was held in such high regard by the Romans, considering how important it was in the Garden of Eden.

A variation, in the 18th century, was to suspend the apple in the air, rather than float in a barrel or bath, perhaps they didn’t like getting wet.
All Saints Eve (31st October), according the old writings in Cheshire (the county where I was born), required a hollowed out turnip, in which a candle would be placed to frighten people. This ‘lamp’ being a jack-o-lantern, (will-o’- the-wisp) which later grew in size (we all put weight on with age), when pumpkins replaced the turnip. We used to eat turnips, but pumpkin was only given to the pigs, so I suppose in the early days they changed the vegetable to save money.
Even though the Golden Princess was technically a British vessel (she is registered in London), they celebrated the American idea of duck apple night.
Considering the link between old England and the Romans, and that the Captain and some of his officers were Italian, perhaps they should have had Duck Apple night around the swimming pool. I’ll drop Princess Cruises a line before next year.

DSC00010rI found it ironic that a thousand-year-old ceremony for the souls of the dead in purgatory, should generate a Happy Halloween sign. What’s with the spiders?

DSC09894rI’ve never been winked at by an overweight turnip.


DSC09893rWas this supposed to be a cowboy?

DSC09902rWe had company in the dining room. I wasn’t sure if he was a passenger from the last cruise still waiting for his first course.

DSC09903rHe was still hanging around when we left.

DSC09991rcOn entering the dining room, we were greeted by, who I thought, was Bat Man, until I realised he was a vampire. At least steak was on the menu!


I couldn’t see the connection between the dead and a pirate. . . until it was explained to me about the Pirates of the Caribbean – I’ve been told that there are six films in the series – I’ve not seen any, I should get out more . . .

DSC09994rAnother odd connection, unless this steward was a Fred Astaire fan or perhaps a

White Heat 3James Cagney  fan – he never did say ‘You dirty rat’ 1932 film Taxi. The photograph is from White Heat (1949), but he did define why we all go to a bar, what a philosopher . . . Come fill the cup, (1951).

DSC00005rcThankfully, this steward was not attending our table.

DSC00002crDrop your napkin and you meet the strangest people.

DSC00006rcHe curdled by cream caramel !

DSC00007rcAll’s well that ends well.

I can’t remember the last time anyone knocked on our door ‘souling’, and offering prayers for the dead, in exchange for ‘soul cakes’.

Nowadays it is called ‘trick ‘n’ treat’, which is not much different than the insurance (protection for money) offered by Al Capone. Today it is pay up (in sweets), or we egg your car.

Fortunately I have two large gates, which are locked from 3.00 pm on the 31st October – bah humbug!

Wychwood's Bah Humbug!

Devil’s Island

princess-cruises-golden-princess-exterior-02-galleryGolden Princess

Seven of us are off on a short cruise next week to Tasmania, a place that neither Maureen or I have visited. The cruise is just a week, and for us it is a taste of the Apple Isle, which might convince us to return later for a driving holiday.

1280px-Coat_of_arms_of_Tasmania.svgTasmania’s coat of arms, and the meaning of the moto being, Fertility and Faithfulness.

TassieYou must have heard of the Tasmanian Devil according to Bugs Bunny’s Devil

And now for a real Devil.

The first European to visit the island was Abel Tasman in 1642. The French arrived in 1772, and the first Englishman to set foot on the island was Tobias Furneaux in 1773. Captain Cook arrived in 1777. It was a popular place.

In 1803 a small detachment was sent from Sydney to the island, because French explorers were investigating the southern coast of Australia, during the time when Great Britain was at war with Napoleon. The British, in Sydney, wanted to make sure that the French did not lay claim to the island. At that time the island was considered as part of New South Wales.

In 1642 the island was been named Van Diemen’s Land by Abel Tasman. This naming was in honour of Anthony Van Diemen who was the Governor General of the Dutch East Indies, who had sent Tasman on his voyage of discovery. The island did not become Tasmania until 1856, after petitioning Queen Victoria for the name to be changed.



Golden Princess was built in Italy and was launched in 2001, she is 108,865 gt and has accommodation for 2,600 passengers. She is registered in London, UK.
Her last refurbishment was in May 2015, so the smell of paint should no longer be around.
I have read that it is planned for the Golden Princess to be transferred to P & O Australia in 2020. One has the feeling that it is my fault that ships, in which Maureen & I sail, don’t stay long after our cruise before Princess Cruises move them over to P & O.
Dawn Princess, in which we sailed last February is now Pacific Explorer under the P & O Australia house flag, and now I read that Golden Princess will follow.

We sail from Sydney and return to Sydney exactly a week later. Our first port of call will be Melbourne, and as we have all either lived in Melbourne or visited the city, I doubt that we will do anything more exciting than to visit Queen Victoria Market.


We sail at 4.00 pm from Melbourne for Wineglass Bay on the east coast of Tasmania, to cruise Wineglass Bay and Oyster Bay.


Wineglass_Bay_2_940x350Wineglass Bay

followed by

Oyster BayOyster Bay

With a bit of luck, we might be able to share Oyster Bay, New Zealand with Oyster Bay, Tasmania.


We then cruise to Port Arthur, which used to be a 19th century penal settlement. We will anchor off and go ashore by tender.


Port Arthur

Next stop is Hobart, the capital city of Tasmania. Originally called Hobart Town, or Hobarton, so named after Lord Hobart, who was the British secretary of state for war and the colonies.


Hobart5We stay overnight and then sail for Sydney the following evening.

Arriving Sydney at 7.00 am on Wednesday 01 November.