At Sea to the Solomon Islands, 4 June 1893

Despite the program of hoisting the anchor already at 7 o’clock in the morning we had to delay the hour of departure for some time as, besides the collection gifted to me, a number of objects had to be loaded on board which the governor and his adjutant had sent like multiple logs of precious wood which the dispatch boat „Loyalty“ had brought back from a day trip as well as a collection of partly alive partly stuffed specimens of bird species present on New Caledonia etc.

Among the birds, a special mention is deserved for the broad-billed parrot as well as the kagu (Rhinochetus jubatus) that is restricted to New Caledonia.

During the billeting of the animals in cages three of the wonderful roseate cockatoos we had taken on board in Sydney unfortunately escaped. The fugitives flew, happy about their regained freedom, towards the land. As much as we felt sorry about this loss we had the satisfaction of maybe having introduced a delightful bird species to New Caledonia as the cockatoos should find a favorable environment here to multiply given the comparable climatic circumstances.

After the church service — it was Sunday — we steamed out of the harbor of Numea, while we were saluted by the French ships with the flag, with board salute shots and with triple shouts of Hurrah to which we replied also with the flag, salute and sideway shots. On the island of Nu a music band had taken up position and played our anthem which meant we had to reply out of international courtesy with  the Marseillaise — a drastic exchange: the noble sounds of „God save“ and as its echo the revolutionary song!

We set course along the South-west coast and the small offshore islands to the South-east so that the coral reefs remained to starboard and passed rapidly through the Woodin Passage between the island of Ouen and the mainland. In this small sea strait which is in some places barely a sea mile wide reveals a number of picturesque views  in front of the mariner’s eye. On starboard rises the island of Ouen in jagged contours, long red stripes betraying its wealth in iron rocks; on port the coast of New Caledonia rises covered in rich mostly tropical vegetation. In a dense tangle as a characteristic of this special plant region of this part of Melanesia grow the slender and soaring araucariae; also some huts and a small house become visible and bring a refreshing sign of life into the scenery.

The journey continues through Prony Bay, around the Southern point of New Caledonia past the sharply protruding Cape Ndua, then a turn to the Northeast through the Havannah canal and finally out of its numerous coral reefs and currents into the open sea, steering North in the direction of the Loyalty islands. In the evening navigating through these islands was quite difficult as the sky had turned cloudy, a heavy rain storm was coming down so that we could not see further than a few meters and thus had to reduce our speed even more as now precise soundings of the Loyalty islands existed and the sea maps were of little reliability.  Finally the moon appeared again and then we could pass the islands without problems. The wind came during the whole day from North and North-east and made the ship pitch mightily.

Links

  • Location: Next to the Loyalty islands
  • ANNO – on   04.06.1893 in Austria’s newspapers. The Wiener Salonblatt of 4 June informs its readers belatedly about Franz Ferdinand’s departure from Australia.
  • The k.u.k. Hof-Burgtheater is playing „König Ottokars Glück und Ende“. The k.u.k. Hof-Operntheater is closed from 1 June to 19 July.

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