In late June 1907 an account of a passage from Melbourne to New Zealand six months previously was published in the Otago Witness. On this occasion the writer was Sarah Julia Pinn (Quinlan) a columnist / correspondent for the newspaper and who went under the nom de plume of “Daisy Primrose.” The following is the relevant excerpt from her longer article:


On December 19 at 2 o’clock I took my departure [from Melbourne] in the Wimmera. It was a beautiful day, and the sun streamed down from the heavens with great heat, making the voyage on the water a pleasant one. Afternoon tea was announced shortly after we steamed out, and as I did not feel a bit sick I ventured to join the party of ladies who were partaking of the repast, after which I trotted about the deck making the acquaintance of different people on board.

The run down to Hobart was a splendid one, and I, strange to say, was able to keep up all the time, while abler and stronger folk made for their cabins-. My previous experience, it appeared, had served me for a time. Arrived in Hobart, a party of us went ashore and raided the shops that exhibited the best fruit, and after roaming about a little returned to the steamer, laden with the stock of eatables we had purchased. As many as could be persuaded partook of the fruit, and rewarded us for our generosity by making themselves scarce while travelling between the estuary and the Bluff. We had been pretty lively during the earlier part of the voyage, providing music, etc., and must have been missed when we were compelled to remain below. Quite a happy shout greeted us as we appeared on deck when Stewart Island hove in sight. It was Christmas Eve — a glorious, sunny morning, as crisp and keen as any spring morning in Australia — and my senses were tingling, my pulses throbbing, and my eyes dancing with excitement at the expected meeting with old friends. I was all impatience to get ashore, but even my impatience could not alter the tide, and I had to be content to wait until our steamer could get in. I darted along the deck, and applied my glasses to the lovely landscape in the distance, showing up fresh and green under the first rays of morning sunshine. Then, as we drifted nearer, I scanned the wharf in search of the dear little badge, which is recognised as a token of friendship in all countries and by every Little Folk. In my hand I held a portrait, which I gazed at every now and then and back at the different people on the wharf in quest of the original.

On my breast, pinned on a knot of black ribbon, I wore the badge of comradeship; but it was evidently too tiny to pick out among the crowd, for the eyes of a certain person searching for it looked in vain. Rushing along the deck until I was on a level with him, I called, “Good-morning, Ceres. What a lovely memory for faces you have!” And the reply that came back was, “Oh, Daisy, how are you? I would never have recognised you — really.” We continued to shout at each other while the steamer hove to and the doctor was making his inspection among the passengers, and then it must have been fully half an hour afterwards the gangway was lowered, and Ceres rushed up on deck, came over to me, and gripped my hand as only New Zealanders can grip a hand, and uttered the words I had longed to hear: “Welcome to New Zealand, Daisy; I am delighted to meet you.” I felt like saying, “God bless you for that,” but I crushed back the foolish sobs that rose in my throat and murmured something about being delighted to speak with him in the flesh, although I cannot remember the exact words. While the stewards banged my luggage into the van stationed on the wharf for that purpose, Ceres and I fell to discussing matters in general, and Little Folk in particular, and before we had finished and I had taken leave of my many friends on board I began to regard him in the light of a marvel.

Otago Witness , Issue 2780, 26 June 1907, Page 83

NB: Ceres was the nom de plume of Hugh McFeely.

© Ralph L. Sanderson 2004-2021