Private Journal of A Voyage to Australia
A private firsthand account of one of the earliest voyages to South Australia-including a mutiny requiring a detour to Rio de Janeiro, a storm involving the loss of sails, drunken fights, and orgies On November 19, 1838, James Bell, then age 21, set out in the sailing vessel the Planter from St. Katharine… More »
A private firsthand account of one of the earliest voyages to South Australia-including a mutiny requiring a detour to Rio de Janeiro, a storm involving the loss of sails, drunken fights, and orgies On November 19, 1838, James Bell, then age 21, set out in the sailing vessel the Planter from St. Katharine Docks in London to travel to Adelaide, an infant colony half a world away and not yet two years old. He left behind family, good friends, and the mysterious "C.P.," a young woman with whom he hoped one day to be reunited. The journey usually took 130 days, but due to the incompetence of the captain and the many misadventures encountered it took the Planter almost six months to reach its destination. Along the way it lost a crew, several passengers, and much livestock; it gained a new crew and at least one extra passenger. The drunken brawls and licentious couplings horrified James Bell who, to while away the time, penned a detailed account of all the comings and goings for the eyes of C.P. only, sternly advising her that "it must never be read by a third party." Sustained by his sense of adventure, his love of poetry, his faith in his Presbyterian God, his nostalgic memories of rural Scotland, and particularly by his affection for C.P., James Bell maintained a vivid and astute record of his historic journey. His voice travels down to readers more than a century and a half later, and reminds us of the dangers and joys of such an adventurous leap into the unknown.« Less
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Extract: 20 February 1839, Wednesday This morning it is calm, but with such a swell as I have never seen. The Ship rolls very heavily indeed, and we have had such a morning with casks, coops &c &c rolling about to the great danger of breaking legs, necks &c &c before they could be secured, and crockery of every description was crashing in every Part of the Ship. Therese were at least secured, but the rolling increased towards evening and became so exceedingly great that it was with much difficulty I could make myself believe that the Laws of gravitation ensured the Ship from capsizing.
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