The Cruise of The Flying Squadron
1869 - 1870
"We left Sydney under steam followed by steamers and the same sort of procession of boats as when we arrived. After we rounded the heads we made sail with all the bands of the fleet playing ‘Auld Lang Syne’, ‘The Girl I Left Behind Me’ etc. Much waving of pocket-handkerchiefs and I’m afraid many left their hearts behind them. Had a very fair passage to Hobart Town – seven and a half days."
Hobart Town from the top of Mount Nelson
Sunday Jan 2nd
"Arrived off Hobart Town. Crowds of people down by the water side watching us come in. In fact the churches were empty and they say the Bishop cut his sermon short by saying, "Dearly beloved brethren the Flying Squadron are coming in and I must be off to see them". I watched the Admiral as he landed and saw him surrounded by women."
"Government house is the most prominent feature onshore but the whole harbour is very pretty. Invitations came onboard at once for every sort of amusement. I went onshore the first day after arrival and just came in in time for a private picnic that was being got up. We had a very jolly day of it. We went to the top of mount Wellington the highest peak in the place, the carriages started at 11am.
Scene near Hobart Town
I found myself in a carriage with three ladies and two little girls who made themselves very agreeable - lots of chat. In fact I was very sorry when we had to leave the carriage and take to climbing. We had to climb up a gully for about two hours and I must say I was rather ashamed of myself because the three girls I was supposed to be taking care of were assisting and taking care of me. I thought I would drop down with sheer exhaustion several times and they were mounting higher and higher and seeming to enjoy it, (jeering me in fact). But when we got to the top such a splendid luncheon was laid out under the gum trees (a peculiarity about these trees – they shed their bark instead of their leaves) which being finished the gentlemen smoked and the ladies had some small talk. Then we walked down to the carriages and drove back."
"My next debut onshore was to the theatre to act my inimitable part of swashbuckler."
"This country is a great place for lags or in other words, men who have been sent out here at their countries expense and, their time being up, have settled here. You cannot look into a mans antecedents out here."
"The next thing of importance here was a Regatta given in honour of the fleet. It was a decided success. One little incident in the day’s amusements might have proved fatal but for the pluck of one of our men. An old gentleman fell overboard and was just sinking when this man jumped in and saved him."
Forest Scenery in Tasmania - Gum Trees
"We acted a second time before the Governor The Honourable Mr DuCann and Lady DuCann, Admiral Hornby and all the elite of Hobart town. The proceeds of the performance went to the organ fund the members of which stood us a great supper at the Bird in Hand Public House after which we paraded the streets during the night singing squadron songs. I then retired to my hotel and spent the remainder of the night with a mess-mate in trying to enter the landlady’s room where the poor unprotected female slept with two pretty barmaids. We wrenched the alarm bell off her door and then got in through the window but cowardly wretches as we were, we beaten off by her ladyship a big stick in one hand and a jug of water in the other - and she only in her nightgown. We kept the attack up till daylight and then had to desist."
"Came off to the ship after having procured a kangaroo as a pet to bring home. A jolly little fellow about 18 inches high, a slight keepsake of one of the nicest places I have ever visited."
River Derwent, Tasmania
The squadron in Hobson's Bay
The author's drawing of his "Tasmanian cousin", Cheri
Monday Jan 10th
"Very light winds and a steamer was advertised to follow the squadron down Storm Bay. The steamer was crowded and the wind being light the flag ship nearly went onshore when the steamer gallantly towed her clear. But as we sailed down the bay the wind freshened and we fell foul of the Scylla bashing all her starboard side in and doing such damage to our head gear. But the most unfortunate part of all the accident was whilst furling sails afterwards a man, one Thomas Beaver fell from aloft on top of two marines. Beaver was never conscious after and died in three days. He was a very funny little man and leader of our Minstrels. The marines were much hurt."
"Curious to say I found a passenger onboard with the Captain, a young fellow named Kirwin. He was with me in the Cadmus as a midshipman but not being very partial to the service he left and is sugar planting in New Caledonia – an Island near New Zealand."
"We made a good passage to Lyttleton - eight days, nothing of importance occurring, days being spent a good deal in tending to my young Tasmanian cousin (Cheri)."
"Committed to the deep the remains of the late Thomas Beavers AB."
© Copyright Charles Fountain May 2002
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