Monday, 23 April 2007

Of sailing ships and pretty pictures

I have found some pictures that are of interest. One is of the Hamburg ship Reichstag which brought many German migrants to Queensland directly from Hamburg. Quite a few of the ancestors of locals in the Rosewood Scrub arrived on this ship.

The Reichstag was a three masted iron sailing vessel built in Glasgow in 1867. It was still a new ship when it started doing the Hamburg to Queensland run. It had two decks and a reputation as clean and well run.

Other migrants arrived on the Lammershagen, another iron sailing vessel built in Scotland. It had a more difficult reputation with an enquiry held in 1873 on accusations against its surgeon, Dr. Schmidt, for maltreatment of passengers, “improper behaviour with the matron”, brutality towards women and children and using insulting language towards the passengers. The enquiry cleared him but a letter to the editor of the Brisbane Courier declared the process to be “a thorough whitewashing.”

The second picture is interesting because it is a wood engraving of the Norddeutsche Lloyd which brought migrants to Adelaide as well as taking mail back and forth to Bremen approximately once a month. It shows the ship itself and Bremen docks in 1870 so you get an idea of the surroundings and atmosphere.

"The Norddeutsche Lloyd waiting room", at Bremerhaven New Harbour, 1870
Wood engraving, Historisches Museum Bremerhaven

These pictures give me a sense of what an immense step it was to leave Germany for Australia. Imagine stepping onto a floating piece of iron 53 metres long by 9.17 metres wide (and 5.68 metres high) to travel the ocean for 100 days to a place that you know nothing about. How great the motivation must have been to leave and how great the desire for a new life. Would this be an adventure to the Jaeckels or would it be a terrifying step into the unknown?