SS Australis

by Bob Williams

After my note to you I did recall a few other events that were dramatic at the time. (after all it's 34 years ago!) I'm afraid the memories may seem a little on the negative side but they did add to the experience. It was never boring on the passage we took. I remember the ship took on fresh water in Suva. Unfortunately the water wasn't so fresh and it wasn't long before there was an epidemic of dysentery on board! I've already mentioned the unscheduled burials at sea.

We had a cabin with a large window (maybe two I can't remember). It was a great cabin during the Pacific Ocean crossing, through the Panama and to Fort Lauderdale. Unfortunately a gale during the Atlantic crossing found some leaks and I remember us returning to the cabin in the early hours after a good session at the bar to find our suitcases floating on the floor of the cabin. The crew dried out the cabin as much as possible but we ended up with raging colds and had to be moved to an internal "black hole" cabin.

When we arrived in Fort Lauderdale we were on the wharf about to leave to explore Miami Beach when there was much commotion towards the bow of the ship. A man and a women were trying in vain to exit the ship by squeezing through some of the forward portholes. It turned out they were stowaways and had been on board since we left Australia. It was reported that they had lived in one of the funnels! As I have read from your site,apparently Australis had a false funnel. Maybe they lived in that! I can still recall the look of desperation on their faces as they were being arrested. I wonder what ever happened to them.

We met some great characters on the trip as there were a number of us of the same age all heading to London to work and tour the UK and Europe. We exchanged "inside information" as we all scrambled to learn as much as we could about what was ahead of us. On boarding the ship we were allocated a dining table to sit at and consequently had no control as to who our fellow diners were to be. Fortunately we had a great bunch of people and had many a laugh at the expense of the Italian waiters ( I'm sure they had the last laugh!).

As a PR gesture the captain put on a marvellous banquet a few days before we reached England. By that time there were some pretty angry guests but mainly the older guests as the younger regarded everything in as something of an adventure.

We kept in touch with the people we had befriended during our stay in London. We left London after a year of working and touring around and moved to Hong Kong. It would be very interesting to know what happened to those people with whom we had such good times.

I have no problem with you adding our memoirs to your site. As I mentioned they are a little unflattering to the ship but are a truthful account of what happened.

Best Regards,

Bob

 

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