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J.H. Watmuff Profile,
1 1859-1862 Bendigo, Dunolly, Sandy Creek (Tarnagulla), Loddon , (Mt. Hope Rush), Ararat, Chinamans Flat, Moonlight Flat, Mt William (trek with guide), Pleasent Creek (Stawell), Melbourne,
2 1859 Bendigo Melbourne 1862 Otago N.Z.
3 1863 Otago
4 1863 Otago to 1865 Melbourne
5 1865-1866 Melbourne
6 1866-1869 Melbourne
7 1869-1870 Melbourne
8 1870-1876 Melbourne
9 1879-1881 Melbourne
10 1881-1882 Dribs & Drabs,
11 1884 Sydney & Misc.
12 Lusitania Voyage
13 Lusitania Voyage
14 Lusitania Voyage
15 Lusitania Voyage
16 and 17 England, letters and Journal,
18 Garonne return Voyage,
19 Resignations
20 (Journal 19) Mildura
21 (Genealogies)
22 (Spare)]
23 (Spare)]
24 (Spare)]
25 (Spare)]
J.H. & Bessie Watmuff's Photos
Olive Watmuff's Photos

Journal 13 Lusitania Voyage Continued


[Posted] Suez 25/6/87 S.S. Lusitania May 30 1887 Dr Bessie I trust you received “memos” all right, which I sent you from Adelaide this day. As I informed you I purposed visiting Adelaide which I did to day. We are laying out in the roadstead fully 2 miles from the shore, been taking in cargo since 1am this morning. At 9am



a small Steam Tender conveyed a number of our passengers, myself among the number, to Largs Jetty where we found a special train awaiting to convey us to town, about 9 miles distant, where we arrived about 10. In company with a gentleman we began to explore the City – it is 30 years since I was last in it & I found it greatly altered & improved, altho I was quite at home & could visit old



scenes quite easily I saw the first house I ever lived in in Australia, in Grenfell St (a broken down dilapitated old place). I also visited North Adelaide & the last house I ever lived in where my mother & family lived before going to Melbourne- visiting them & other places brought to mind many sad & some pleasent recollections. I also visited the Library & Museum & picture gallery they are very similar in



comparison with those of Sydney & Melbourne, there are very few pictures, but they are very good. I also saw the new Exhibition Building which the Adelaide people think will be the means of reviving business, which is at a very low ebb at present there. I think Adelaide, is without Exception the best laid out & prettiest cleanest City I was ever in, fine open well planted



reserves surround the town on all four sides, looking beautiful & green, a greenness which I have seen nowhere Else in the colonies, similar to what is so noticeable in England, an opinion expressed by most of our passengers who have travelled the colonies & many who have recent remembrances of home



I did wish you had been with me- you & the youngsters are never out of my mind. I feel that I would give anything to have a peep at you all, even if the little ones were on their worst behaviour “God bless you all”. I got back to the ship about 6 & found a splendid supper awaiting, to which I did full justice. During our absence on



shore 5 stowaways were discovered in the Coal Bunkers, on being discovered they were put in a boat & landed, but before leaving the vessel one of them snatched up a butchers knife & began cutting his throat, he was just stopped in time ere he put an End to his life, as it was, he bled very profusely, the doctor bandaged him up & sent



him on shore with the rest of the stowaways. The lighters which brought the cargo alongside did not finish discharging until about 8.30, & it was not long afterwards Ere we made a start, unless we sight the “Leuwin” [Leeuwin] we shall see no land for the next 16 or 17 days, the longest run we shall have on the voyage with -out doing so.



May 31st/87 Slept well - seen neither Ship, Sail or Land this day. Spent the day reading, yarning, Etc & listening anxiously for “meal bell” to ring. It was very rough this morning, & not half the passengers turned up at breakfast. I am a surprise to myself. It is years since I eat such a one. I sincerely trust that I will continue to enjoy my



meals as I have done those I have already partaken of during the voyage. I walked the deck until 10pm when the wind & waves began to rise to such an extent that I was forced to go below half drenched. I am afraid we are going to have a rough night, as I left the sailors trying to make everything snug. Since leaving Adelaide To 12 to day we made 195 miles



June 1st 2d 1887 During the night a strong gale arose & the ship heaved & rolled terribly & we could hear the great seas going over us I was pitched out of my bunk & bruised my elbow. On arising in the morning I tried to get on deck it was no use, the seas were running over us - the decks were



flooded - our cabin & Saloon had a foot of water in them - my portmanteaux was swimming about & on opening it I found the water had got into it & some of my things very wet. I turned them out on the upper bunk & picked out what was dry. about 10am I crawled on deck & sat on the lee side



of the engine house where I was sheltered for an hour, the wind & waves rising stronger than Ever. For nearly an hour I tried to get to the Saloon hatch, but before succeeding I got wet to the skin through repeated waves which broke over me, holding on (during the hurricane which lasted 6 hours)



by a ring bolt, even the sailors had to take to the rigging on several occasions, the decks being swept from stern to stern by great waves, with the exception of another, I was the only passenger that was on deck during that awful time - on coming below I found nothing but misery existing, cabins swamped &



saloon flooded, many sitting on the tables yet all trying to be cheerful, yet after – when we heard the waves breaking over with a deafening noise, the voices of the merriest would be hushed, night came on at last & the vessel was hove to for a few hours - the wind being dead a head



After going to bed (which many did, (with their clothes on) I could not sleep for the rolling & terrific noise of the wind & crashing of crockery Etc the stewards spent hours bailing & trying to get the Saloon dry. Yet in spite of all this our meals were served up just as usual tho’ our feet were continually swamped



in water. @ 12 yesterday we had made 295 miles. On rising this morning we were about the same, no one could venture on deck. I managed to spend about an hour there, but I had to hold on all the time & for my pains I got a good drenching, very unfortunate for I dont know when I shall get my overcoat



dry again. I could not picture greater discomfort than what I see about me. Particularly are to be pitied those poor women who are travelling alone with children. We have one widow with 2 little ones, who has only been in the colonies 5 months. Her husband could not get work. he got typhoid fever & died in the hospital. She & her 2 children then



got attacked with it, but fortunately recovered & having friends, they subscribed & furnished her means to send her home to her friends in Yorkshire. Another lady with a poor little baby 2 months old had arranged with her husband to sail by the [“Orzaba”][1] When the day of departure came, her baby took ill with convulsions



& had to remain behind whilst it was imperative that her husband should leave her & so she is following. Poor woman is very sick & the child is very delicate with no milk. I am sadly afraid it will die before we reach home. During the gale a terrific sea caught our Bowsprit & nearly carried it away. had to lay to



for an hour just to secure it. most of our passengers are confined to their bunks. I think I have proved one of the best sailors on board never having missed a meal since I came aboard - so far. (Goodnight To 12, 125 miles. June 3rd 1887 Slept very well, rose at 7Am had a bath went on deck found the



wind & sea gone down in the night could sit on on deck all day without getting wet. at the same time one could not indulge in much walking Exercise as the ship rolls fearfully through the great swell of the ocean after the severe gale we have experienced. Another annoying thing is that since daylight until late in the day



we have only been going at half speed owing to the repairs going on forward at the Bowsprit. The German Steamer “Neckar” which we left *in Adelaide has caught up to us she is perhaps to our starboard about 10 miles. I don’t think I shall have anything of a sensational character to relate when once we get round Cape Lewin [Leeuwin]



The officers state that the gale we have just gone through is the heaviest they have ever Experienced on the coast. The “Lusitania” is a splendid sea boat one of the best afloat, but she is a fearfully wet one. I have been reading a book I borrowed one of Trollopes, there is a capital library on board, I have discovered.



This evening we had a little concert. Our widow turns out a very nice singer & has received considerable training - another Lady (the wife of a Customs Officer, who used to be stationed at our sheds) named Withers, has also a good voice & sings very well - a Mr. Russon (of Sydney) is the vocalist “par excellence”. He has a voice & style not unlike



Staker he has scores of Songs & sings about 4 a day & all from memory, he has a friend who plays for him. I have not as yet made an attempt in the vocal line. (To 12 - 229 miles) June 4th 1887. Been a fine day for a change - sea still rough & the vessel will roll making it difficult to walk on the decks, however



I have spent most of my time on deck, saw two whales spouting away – about a mile from the ship. It rained heavily & was a little squally during the evening so had to remain below spent the time reading & playing an occasional game of cards with one & another Distance gone to 12 301 miles. We are now off Cape Leuin[2].



Sunday June 5th Fine weather, getting into the Indian Ocean. General muster & inspection of crew & stewards etc in their Sunday clothes by the Captain & Doctor after which at 11pm [am] service was read by the Captain in the Saloon – most of the passengers attending This afternoon we formed a Committee & made arrangements



to give a concert in the Saloon on Wednesday evening. The Captain has promised to preside & he has given all the necessary instructions for the decorations etc.

Spent the evening reading & listening to a number of Sankey & Moodys hyms. 12 o/c, 305 miles.



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June 8. Similar day to yesterday, sea calm & everybody pleasent, all signs of sea sickness vanished. We have a few miserable looking invalids aboard. I do pity them they are going home to die - after trying the colonies to cure them

This evening the first ”Grand Concert” came off & it was a great success considering all the



disadvantages we had to contend with The captain took the chair & all the 1st class passgs were invited, it was a great success, being one of the most amusing performances I was ever connected [with.] I will reserve a description of it until I see you. I did wish you had been present to have enjoyed the fun 311 miles.



June 9th - Fine days & lovely nights the order now. Got up a dance to night – not a success owing to the wretched violinist engaged. 312 miles. June 10th. Morning broke fine & warm about 11am had a very heavy shower Our voyage at this stage is very monotonous [–] I shall be very glad



when we get into regions where we can see something besides water. I have been reading all day. Very few birds are to be seen in the tropics. It is a fortnight since I left you & it seems as many years. I am always thinking of you & the dear children I trust you will write by every mail if only a



few lines. I shall expect to get a letter a fortnight, if not less, after my arrival home 307 miles. June 11th Weather getting very oppressive, had a heavy shower this morning cleared the atmosphere for an hour or two. In the afternoon the fire bell rang out & practise* indulged in for half an hour. Everything appears to be very perfect



on board in case of fire or shipwreck. This afternoon we had a rehearsal of a church service for Sunday. This evening we had a debate - a very tame affair, yet sometimes amusing - cards & books seem more attractive to the majority than close attention to anything of an intellectual nature In fact the victualling



department is ever uppermost in the minds of the passengers & I must say it surpasses anything I ever anticipated to enjoy on board ship. Our table every day is loaded with every luxury Roast Duck Fowl & Goose, Beef Mutton Curries Etc Etc, Peas, Beans Salads, Ices, fresh fruits, Custards Potatoes - Boiled & Baked Cabbage & Cauliflower Fresh & Tinned Fish,



Figs Almonds Raisins Dates Oranges & the best confectionary & pastry I ever sat down to, I really dont know how I ever can settle down to ordinary fare again. I am sure better fare is not supplied at any first rate club house in the Colonies. Hot rolls & porridge every morning & fresh baked bread every day, & every thing served up & cooked splendidly.



I am sure I have eaten more food the last fortnight than I had done for 3 months previous. I take a salt bath every morning & altogether I never felt better in my life. I only hope I shall continue so 12 o/c 303 miles-

June 12th. Sunday [1887-06-12] Been a wet miserable day – literally raining



hot water - making everything disagreeable particularly on deck there being little or no shelter. I borrowed an umbrella under which I sat & read. We had the usual service read by the Captain this morning the ladies turning up in the most fashionable attire they had The rain cleared off toward evening & a nice cool breeze sprang up



267 Very close below. We had a lot of singing of a very uncertain quality, on deck during the evening, I notice several new (to me), constellations of stars to night which are not seen in Victoria Great Bear Etc Etc. To day 12 296 miles

June 13th 1887 Been very hot all day. All hands seem



limp & nerveless, those who have light clothes are sporting them & many & motley are the garbs- Reading, Cardplaying & gossiping the order of the day. We have been slackening speed the last 2 days so as not to arrive at “Diego Garcia” before Tuesday morning (tomorrow) - the island is very low & difficult if approach at night



I have drank a lot of Ice water to day. The Ice is made on board & is very plentiful. I am told that snow is shovelled out below at the refrigerating room every day. We have fresh lettuce & radishes every day, & have also Watercress - occasionally The purser has just informed us that he will make up a mail for



the colonies to night as he thinks it possible one of the Co vessels will call there – D[iego] Garcia before we get to Suez, so I have scribbled a few lines but for my own part I think you will receive this which I intend sending you from Suez before the note I have written – perhaps not! To day 267 miles 12 o/c.



June 14th This [h]as been quite an Eventful day on going upon deck it was a treat to see land & green trees for we were in sight & sailing along the coast of ‘Diego Garcia’ an island in the Indian Ocean about 13 miles long by about 5 miles broad with a large bay in the centre - the island is a coaling station



for the Orient S.N. Co ships, tho on this occasion we did not require any coal, we lay off the land for about 2 hours during which time the Superdt visited us in a Steam Tender accompanied by a lot of Darkies who brought a lot of Cocoa Nuts & Coral on board for sale This Island is under the jurisdiction of the Mauritius Govt. & contains 3 Cocoa Nut plantations



worked by different companies After leaving the Island we passed a group of Islands called the Six Islands I should not think either of them more than 2 miles square - not inhabited but I believe are swarming with rats. We have had a lot of athletic sports on board this afternoon, most of the steerage passengers took part in them The prizes were given by



the 2nd class passengers Some of the sports were keenly contested & very amusing. The programme was so long that it was decided to finish them tomorrow. The weather is very hot & several are beginning to feel the effects of the heat I notice our appetites are not so ravenous as they were. distance 267 miles.



June 15/87 Very warm, Sports continued with more fun than yesterday. Saw a number of flying fish Distance 313 miles.

June 16/87 Intensely hot I have been Suffering, with the majority of the passengers with a terrible headache. I cannot account for this prevalence on board unless it is from overfeeding



& want of exercise. We commenced a Card Tournament to day for Crib, Euchre & Whist, it will last the week & give us something to occupy our time for one cannot be always reading. Distance 294 miles. 17/87 Very warm in the morning, but in the afternoon we fell in with the S.W. monsoons – a wind like



the “Trades” which blows periodically from the same quarter. The change is very agreeable. I have Eaten no meat to day – had fish, every meal – headache gone. Distance 281. 18 June 3 weeks to day since we left Melbourne, it seems as many years Monsoons increasing water rough & high strong winds at the same time very hot



particularly below, dare not open the port holes. Distance 290 miles. Sunday 19th June/87 Wind & waves fearfully high not been possible to get any exercise a few ventured on deck as it was preferable being there than being below, for hours it was impossible to keep your feet, our vessel rolled so much



& the seas that broke over us were something to remember I got a nasty roll over which bangd me about before I could recover myself gave my thigh an ugly bruise. It was quite pitiful to see some of the passenger many were terribly sick, who had so far, Escaped from the malady. - No service to day Distance 269 miles



June 20th/87 Could not sleep last night for the pitching of the vessel – regular gale. I rolled out of my bunk more than once. On coming on deck this morning I found the seas were mountains high & the ship rolling terribly & taking in large quantities of water one wave that swept on board put out the galley fires, consequently breakfast was late &



not so nice as usual very few at table – the Saloon was swamped – & to make matters worse & increase the rolling our main fore topsail was blown into ribbons this weather lasted until we passed Cape Gaurdafui, the most easterly point of Africa [(]which we sighted about 8am,) when we lost the monsoons & got



into quiet water, but then we got a blazing sun instead which I suppose we shall have to Experience until we get through the Canal The Cape & the land, as far as the Eye can reach inland, is very high perhaps in some places 3000 ft above sea level is barren & rocky not the slightest sign of vegetation about as God forsaken a looking place as ever



my eyes dwelt upon. We skirted the coast for about 20 miles passed a steamer too far off to make anything out of. This is the first vessel that has been sighted since leaving Adelaide 21 days ago. The heat is intense – a stifling close damp heat 90º in our cabin @ 11am so you can imagine what we are suffering



This evening on deck, the Debating S[ocie]ty met. Subject Protection V Free Trade for the Colonies Arguments for & against very amusing but not very satisfactory. We have very few Victorian passengers on board mostly from Sydney & New Zealand, Consequently protection had a poor show. Distance 292 miles.



Jubilee Day June 21/87. Wind rose in the night, making the atmosphere a little cooler this morning, lost sight of land about 12 wind fell & again dreadfully hot We passed Aden about 6pm 20 miles distant could just see the land like a cloud, we passed into the Red Sea about 12pm. This evening a concert was given by the Saloon passengers on the Deck. Everything went



off very well, but unfortunately there is very little musical talent amongst them. ‘God save the Queen’ with 2 addit[ional] verses composed by a lady on board. suitable for this occasion were sang Refreshments Etc were servd out & altogether a very pleasent Evening was spent. I was thinking of you all & wondering how you passed this holiday I suppose



you have had a grand day. We hoped to have called at Aden where there was expected to be a great demonstration I feel disappointed at not visiting the place Distance 290 miles

22 June /87 Dreadfully hot I am getting tired to note the fact. On going on Deck found the sea very smooth - but covered with slime



which I am told is fish spawn - during the morning we passed a number of islands, upon one we noticed the hulls of two wrecked vessels after losing sight of them we lost sight of land until 4pm when we came in sight & passed the “Apostles”, a group of small Islands. Distance 262



June 23/87 Agreeably surprised a breeze sprang up last night which has continued since, if it only lasts through the Sea & Canal we shall be fortunate. The officers state that such a breeze is very Exceptional at this time of the year, in fact this has been the pleasentest day we have had since I have been on



board. We are in the broadest part of the Sea at present not having seen any signs of land all day & what has been a matter of surprise not a sail has been seen. Spent the day reading & gossiping – details Etc for future relation. Nearly everybody busy writing as we expect reaching Suez where letters



can be posted, on Saturday evening the 25th inst 293 miles. June 24 Another wonderful day saw the coast of Africa like a cloud at a distance - passed a large steamer during the morning. We have had a pleasent breeze blowing all night & day, much to everybodys



Surprise - as we were dreading this frightful Red Sea. It is certainly very hot, in fact it must be terribly so when no wind is blowing. I observe the sea has quite changed its colour since yesterday - instead of it appearing a pale green mixed with soap suds it has been a lovely blue. Heat below in the Saloon 87ºo. I do pity the poor unfortunate firemen



below working at the furnaces - they inform me that it often registers 150º – 130º is the usual thing. One man was brought up from below yesterday - insensible suffering from what is termed heat apoplexy – he is confined to the hospital Distance 287 miles.

June 25th Been a lovely Day, a nice cool wind



blowing. No land in sight until toward evening. We passed the “Ormutz” bound for Australia, this morning she only left Suezlast night. Great pity we are two days behind time or else we could have posted our letters & they would have reached the colonies nearly a fortnight [sooner] than they are likely to do now. We expect to reach Suez to night where it is not



likely we shall remain only to land a mail. The purser has requested that passengers who purpose sending letters, must have them ready this afternoon when he will make up a mail. He supplies stamps @ 1/- for the colonies & 3D for England. I am forwarding this journal I dont think it will interest you very much as I have given you



such a very bald description of our trip so far. To tell you the truth it was very hard to elaborate on such bare materials as I have had to work upon, unless I gave you particulars of the lives & characters of my fellow passengers which I am sure would not interest you much although a lot of amusement could be made out of their



various peculiarities. You see, on board ships, you become so closely connected with each other that you get to know more of each other than if you had been acquainted for as many years as we have weeks. I am sure you will be glad to know that on the whole so far I have enjoyed myself & more that I feel so well & have a good appetite - in fact I feel a



10 times better man than I have done for years. My only regret is that my enjoyment is not shared by you, who art ever in my thoughts with that of the dear children. I do hope this will find you all well & happy & that nothing has occurred to give you trouble & annoyance. I trust Joe



has proved a comfort & a companion to you & done her best to assist you in every way that lies in her power also Charley, tell him I hope he does his best for you & attends more to his lessons than formerly & as for the other little ones I dont suppose they have quite forgotten me, dear little fellows! I wish I could see them now. It



is only when you are away or absent that you realise how truly dear your family is to one God bless you my dear wife & little ones all. Kisses to them. Give my love to all relations & kindly remember me to all enquiring friends not forgetting my office chums who I look upon more as brothers than otherwise considering the length of time



we have passed together. I cannot write more so Good bye Dear Bessie & babies now to be. Your Ever Affect Husband, JH Watmuff.

PS I hope you can read what I am sending it is not easy sometimes to write, as the “Lusitania” rolls very much. I will write you from Naples which is the only place we are likely to land at as the voyage is long.



  1. orizaba steam ship 1886-wrecked WA 1905
  2. Leeuwin

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