Bert Gilbert
Bert Gilbert
Postcard. Author’s Collection.

The voyage undertaken by the English comedian, Bert Gilbert (aka Gilbert Joseph Hazlewood) and his wife Dolly (Dolly Daintree aka Fanny Humphries) was particularly unpleasant. Gilbert was a member of J.C. Williamson’s Pantomime Company and was bound from Australia to New Zealand for a season of performances in the Dominion.

The couple boarded the Wimmera in Sydney and the ship sailed on Wednesday 22 July 1908.

The Wimmera had a rough trip across. One day out from Sydney a strong south-westerly wind and heavy beam seas were met with. These continued for some time. The high seas that were running gave the passengers a rather unpleasant time while they lasted. One or two of the deck cabins were smashed in, and one of the companion ladders on the upper deck was carried away…

Rough seas continued for a couple of days, and then moderated, and the remainder of the voyage was made in smooth water.

New Zealand Herald, Volume XLV, Issue 13812, 27 July 1908, Page 7

Auckland was reached on the following Sunday, 26 July and it was no doubt a grateful Bert and Dolly Gilbert and fellow artist and performer Harry Shine who stepped ashore as their own experience was reported:

Both artists had deck cabins, and on Wednesday a heavy sea came on board and burst open Mr. Gilbert’s door, completely flooding the cabin and its occupants. The partition between the two cabins was also shattered, so that Mr Shine got his share of the deluge. Mrs Gilbert had a narrow escape from serious injury, as the door of the cabin, when torn away by the sea, was hurled across the bunk on which she slept. Mr Shine’s subsequent efforts to rival the Maori prophet Rua in pushing back the Pacific (it is claimed by some of Rua’s followers, at all events, that he has power to push back the sea) was the least successful of the many parts he has undertaken.

Otago Witness , Issue 2837, 29 July 1908, Page 68

Some time later, and back in Australia, he was reminded of his harrowing trip when he was then travelling overland by train from Sydney to Melbourne. When the subject of the Wimmera was raised it elicited the response from Gilbert that he never wanted to hear that name again – such was his traumatic experience. Coincidentally however, Gilbert was then located aboard a new Railway Dining Car – one which had been named the “Wimmera”.

What are the wild waves saying?
Batchelor, M. and Baker, F. E. What are the wild waves saying? [music] / words by F. E. Baker ; music by M. Batchelor 1900 < >

Well might Harry Shine ask? Following his torrid time aboard the Wimmera and narrow escape from being washed overboard!

Harry Shine passed away in Sydney on Saturday 11 September 1909 from “general break-up of the system.” He was only 38.

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