Our friends from Australia visited us in the UK recently. They flew by plane. The flight only takes 24 hours. To some people this may seem like an age but compared with the first settlers to Australia and New Zealand in the mid-nineteenth century who had to travel by sail boat, this is really quick. The average time then was four to six months! The transport would be like the image below.
In my book, Waireka, Eliza has to make this very long journey with the family she is nursemaid too. Such a journey would not only be long and hazardous, it would also mean that those who made it would never see their families again.
“Eliza’s …father turned to her at supper that evening and addressed her directly. “Your luggage, all but a few clothes and personal items, must be sent on ahead of you where they will be dealt with in the appropriate manner for departure…You are to spend the first night with the Reids at their lodgings before leaving for the docks in Greenock near Glasgow early in the morning ready for an evening sailing. If you’re lucky and the journey is good, you should arrive in Wellington in just four months.”
(Waireka page 20)
The travellers would also have to suffer lack of food, disease and sea storms.
“Holed up in their cabin, Eliza and the children were sick until they were no longer able to be and then just lay on their beds feeling like death. They heard other reports of dysentery and scarlet fever being rife on the ship too, especially amongst the steerage passengers. Eliza had seen many bodies dispatched over the edge already, particularly those of young children and she feared for the health of the young Reids.”
(Waireka page 47)
If you want to know more about the journey and the Reid family’s arrival in New Zealand, my book can be found at https://www.amazon.co.uk/s?k=waireka+by+sheila+donald&crid=1K88DN2B3QN4H&sprefix=Waireka%2Caps%2C131&ref=nb_sb_ss_i_1_7 or on amazon.com.