C is for Curry

John Curry (my husband) knew that the Currys had come to Australia by sailing ship, arriving in Melbourne  in 1870 before heading off to the Gold Fields of Victoria.  John Currie (wrong spelling), Miner,  is listed on the shipping records of the Percy with his wife Margaret, son John aged 9 and then on another page is 17 year old Andrew (John’s Great Grandfather) also a Miner and his brother James aged 12.

Emily and Andrew Curry
Andrew Curry later in life

Andrew didn’t keep a diary as far as we know but we have the next best thing.

A 20 year old quarryman called Thomas Pierce kept a journal of the voyage.  He may have even swung his hammock near to Andrew and John.  I have summarised the highlights of the trip.

Thomas boarded the Percy on Christmas Eve but the ship didn’t sail until January 2nd.  In the meantime it snowed and the younger passengers had a great time throwing snowballs across the deck.  Sadly one infant died before the ship left shore.

As they tacked across the Channel many of the passengers were “shooting the cat” or to put it simply, vomiting over the side.  When they approached Gibraltar the passengers enjoyed dancing on the fo’c’s’le accompanied by a concertina, fiddle and tambourine. Nearing the Canary Islands they all suffered from the intense heat, lying about the deck trying to catch a breath of air.

Crossing the Equator was fun, with some acting as barbers and shaving the men.  Rockets were let off and a man scared the girls by dressing up in a sheep’s skin.

After many days they sighted Pernambuco (South America) where they traded with the natives and were able to send letters home.

Screen Shot 2017-03-26 at 7.00.18 PMConvento de São Francisco – Olinda – Pernambuco – BrasilBy Valdiney Pimenta – Flickr, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=22443202

Every few days another child died of fever.  Church services were held by lay and religious people on various parts of the ship and rousing sermons formed part of the entertainment.

By March the weather was as cold as it had been in England.  On April 16 the ship hove to off Port Phillip Bay near Melbourne.  All on board were examined by a shore doctor and on the 18th they were sent ashore to the Quarantine Station for a week.

To those from the ship it must have seemed like paradise.  It resembled a magnificent park fringed on one side by a beautiful beach.  Andrew and his brothers would have enjoyed bathing at the beach, fishing,  rambling in the woods, chasing kangaroos and sleeping in the large barrack style rooms.

Screen Shot 2017-03-26 at 6.50.59 PM
Quarantine Station, Melbourne


11 thoughts on “C is for Curry

  1. It is interesting to read about the past through somebody s journal especially about everyday mundane stuff that history books dont tell us about like playing in the snow

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I also am pretty sure they didn’t go around South America. They would have travelled East from South America past South Africa, catching the Roaring 40’s to Australia. The diary doesn’t mention stopping at Cape Town which ships often did but maybe by 1869 the ships were a combination of steam and sail and much faster.


  2. Really enjoyed reading that, Linda. I’ve been reading stories of the WWI soldiers heading over on the ship and getting sea sick. Had never thought about that before.
    During my research, I came across the story of Maud Butler who dressed up as a soldier and stowed away onboard a ship. For a weeek or so it looked like my Great Great UNcle Jack Quealy could have been onboard the same ship. His service records were very scant and it took awhile to nut things out. Unfortunately, they were on separate ships 2 days apart. However, her ship was well-documented thanks to her escapade so I’m using that as a reference point. Here’s a link to a post I wrote about Maud: https://beyondtheflow.wordpress.com/2020/01/02/the-story-jack-maud-the-rollercoaster-ride-of-writing-historical-fiction/
    Best wishes,


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