Sydney, 16 May 1893

The youngest continent would not receive the sons of the old world in bad weather. As I arrived on deck at half past 6 o’clock, I found the sky clear and serene. The sun was just rising. The sea had calmed down to some degree. Various seagulls and sea swallows as well as large guillemots or penguins were swarming around our ship which was approaching the entrance to Sydney, Port Jackson. The day was gorgeous but the temperature was so low that we were well advised to wear warm coats. From afar we could see the two white shining capes or peninsulas — Outer North and South Head — through which the approach to the harbor leads. These peninsulas descend steeply into the sea with sharp rocky faces and cliffs. Splashing, the waves break against the shore. Hundreds of crag martins and common swifts were tweeting and circling above their nesting places. On Outer South Head is a light house. The entrance is rich in flashy direction obelisks. On a small steamboat the pilot was approaching toward us to take the position of our our old captain from Port Kennedy.

All the harbors that I have yet seen are surpassed by Sydney as far as the beauty of its scenery is concerned  — a view shared also by the other gentlemen who saw it for the first time.

Despite many enthusiastic descriptions of Port Jackson we have received, the scenery opening up before our eyes still surprised us and our astonishment and admiration grew minute by minute.

Having passed through the outlying mountains the ship enters into a narrow channel turns hard towards South-west — and now there lies a delightful sound in front of us. In the distance the sea of houses of Sydney are glittering, to the right and left small bays are open, surrounded by green hills covered with trees and countless villas and country homes whose gardens were filled with splendid flowers in the calendar autumnal colors. Overall it creates an extremely lively and serene view. The bays are populated with steam boats, yachts and boats of all kinds whose passengers wave greetings to the entering „Elisabeth“. Truly, Australia could not have offered us a more welcoming reception! We saw this as a good sign for our stay which we were looking forward to in a very good mood.

The fine clear cool air that refreshed us contributed in no small part to the great first impression — doubly welcome after the sweltering humid heat of Java that flags both mind and body.

Our joyful mood was even more increased by the German consul general Pelldram, who also represented Austria-Hungary here at the moment and had come to greet us and handed us three messages at the same time.

The whole force of the sanitary police regulations which is applied especially against ships coming from Batavia we had to endure too. First we had to anchor in Watson Bay for the health assessment — a stay we did not have to regret due to the delightful surrounding landscape.

After we had been given permission to proceed, „Elisabeth“ continued the journey alongside the picturesque bay shore whose ledges were crowned by small forts and batteries —  which seemed to me of subordinate fortification value. We then passed Garden Island with its arsenal and the navy yard of the Australian war fleet as well as Woolloomooloo Bay and then moored at a buoy amidst the warships of the Australian squadron at Farm Cove between Lady Macquarie’s Chair and Fort Macquarie.

The coastal defense is undertaken by the ships of the British navy stationed in Australian waters, the Australian Auxiliary Squadron and of warships in the service of the colony. According to the Australasian Naval Force Act of 1887 the Australian colonies pay an annual contribution of 1,092,000 fl. in Austrian currency to the British government for it to provide the Australian Auxiliary Squadron. Furthermore the construction costs borne by the British government for the ships of this squadron carries an interest of 5 percent paid by the colonies but the overall annual interest is not allowed to surpass 420.000 fl. in Austrian currency. This Auxiliary Squadron consists of 5 fast cruisers and 2 torpedo cannon boats and is commanded by a British Rear Admiral who also is in command of the squadron of the ships of the British navy stationed in Australian waters. This squadron consists of 1 armored ship, 3 cruisers, 3 cannon boats and 1 steam yacht; its main station is Sydney. The war fleet owned by the Australian colonies consists in total of 1 armored ship, 2 cruisers, 4 cannon boats, 13 torpedo boats, 2 torpedo barges and 7 steam boats; the majority of theses ships belongs to Victoria and Queensland, while New Zealand does not own any warship.

Next to us was moored the proud British ship of the admiral, the armored cruiser „Orlando„, with 5600 t; next to it followed the cruiser „Royalist“ and the cruiser „Mildura“ of the Australian Auxiliary Squadron besides the cannon boat „Boomerang“ and the cannon boat „Paluma“ owned by the colony of Queensland which is used at shared cost by the colony and the British government to map the coast. On these ships our anthem rang out accompanied by the sound of the guns.

In a short time appeared Lieutenant Governor Sir F. M. Darley, accompanied by his adjutant and cabinet secretary, and soon afterward the commander of the royal squadron, Rear Admiral Bowden-Smith, as well as the mayor of Sydney, Mr. Manning, came on board to greet me. The governor himself had been recalled to England after only two years of service. His successor is bound to arrive soon. Numerous compatriots namely Istrians and Dalmatians who are doing business in Sydney came on board of „Elisabeth“ to look for and find friends and acquaintances.

Dispositions for the next few days were quickly made. Then a boat brought me on land to set foot on the soil of the colony of New South Wales and visit its capital, the oldest city of Australia.

Sydney, which lies on the South coast of Jackson Bay that cuts deeply into the land, is situated on a couple of hills — imposing by the number and size of its buildings —  and then by and by blends into  villa settlements and the green of the landscape. Founded in 1788 as the seat of the penal colony of New South Wales, Sydney — originally Port Jackson, then named in honor of the secretary of state Viscount Sydney — has grown tremendously namely during the last few years. The population increase of Sydney is best illustrated by the following numbers:  In 1800 Sydney had barely 2600 inhabitants, in 1861 95.596, in 1881 already 237.300, on 31 December 1892 including the suburbs already 411.710 inhabitants.

As an important trading and industrial center Sydney owes its rise mostly to the safety and size of its harbor which handles more than three quarters of the total imports and more than half the exports of the colony of New South Wales. In the year 1892 2960 ships with 2,804.549 t entered here and 3067 ships with 2,842.635 t departed; the imports of the colony represented in this year a total value of 249,318.312 fl. in Austrian currency, the exports one of 263,666.964 fl. in Austrian currency.

The boat landed below Government House at Fort Macquarie where the road led along a quay to the city. On this quay there was a very busy life as the large steamers of the Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company as well as those of the Messageries maritimes are moored and are next to the warehouses of many floors in which wool bales and hides were loaded in and out without interruption. Viewed from the quay the two main streets and main traffic veins of Sydney, George Street und Pitt Street, cross the center of the city running parallel from North to South. Even though many streets are arranged in a grid, this monotonous regularity of modern city design is not much noticed as Sydney is situated on hills which continuously changes the scenery of the streets.

Among the many public buildings of Sydney all built in stone I mention the most remarkable: the university, a colossal building with a grandiose hall in Gothic style which rises at the North end of the beautiful Victoria Park, the cathedral and the newly built Catholic Church of Maria, the splendid Town Hall, the palatial post office with its colonnades and a large tower, the museum next to Hyde Park and finally the parliament.

Pretty houses, many with balconies and verandas, and shops on the ground floor where European goods are sold, line the macadamized streets where a busy crowd is going here and there. The streets are highly urban and still very cozy and friendly. Not the least because the visitor thinks to be in a European city as he sees but white faces, among them especially beautiful women and girls — an agreeable view after the colored and in our opinion not very attractive physiognomy of the natives of the countries we had recently visited.

The streets are very busy which is easy to understand in the case of Sydney as an important trading place. The only thing I find fault with is that they have introduced London cabs that are very uncomfortable for its passengers.

The acquisitions we had to do were fully made in the European manner. The transactions went smoothly and quickly and we appreciated not having to search and haggle for hours as in Bombay, Calcutta, Singapore and Batavia.

Then I paid a visit to the Lieutenant Governor in Government House built in Tudor style and distinguished in its interior by its noble calm elegance of its furnishings. Sir F. M. Darley speaks German fairly well which eased the conversation very much. He showed me the garden of the palace which offers a delicious view of the harbor and Mossmans Bay opposite it with its villa quater of St. Leonard. The garden is well kept and contains a rich collection of Australian tree and bush species.

The next visit was devoted to — I suffer from museum addiction — the museum housed in an imposing building and distinguished by the richness, correct arrangement and good conservation of its objects. As I was first interested in the especially Australian species, I turned towards the mammals to study namely the strange class of marsupials. Among the well stuffed animals were represented various kangaroo and wallaby species, from the giant kangaroo to the lovely rock wallaby (Petrogale penicillata), opossums, the flying squirrels, various species of quoll and possums, the Australian koala, wombat, dugong, the wild dog dingo or warragal and the platypus.

The bird world of Australia is completely represented. Noteworthy are: the New Dutch cassowary or emu; the rare lyrebird; the numerous species of intensely colored cockatoo and parrots, as well as the group of swamp and water fowl which included many species of which I was unaware. Australia seems to be poor in predator birds and chicken species according to the survey presented in the museum while the order of the pigeons has beautiful specimens. One well stuffed specimen of every bird species is presented  in a glass cabinet. Thousands of bird bodies, however, are kept in chests to serve as exchange objects from time to time.

The museum possesses too a rich collection of corals and shells, of beetles and butterflies and finally an ethnographic one of objects from the continent and the islands of Australia which I intended to see during a second visit.

In the mean time, the clock struck five, a time where the streets of Sydney are filled with the vivid traffic as the inhabitants of this city tend to go out into the open air at that time.

Following this example we ambled in Hyde Park and in George Street until it was time for the table d’hôte at the Australian Hotel which I intended to attend.

This giant building six floors high resembles in construction, dimensions and installations the English and American hotels but with the agreeably appreciated difference that one did not have to rely only upon English cooking of roast beef and  anodyne vegetables but was well supplied with food and drink. The table d’hôte reunited in a large hall a large company. The gentlemen were, according to English custom, wearing dress coats, the ladies even in mostly  low-cut festive dresses. Not much laudable can be said about the dinner music performed by some artists who elicited awful sounds out of their instruments.

As the operetta theater that it was said offered good performances was closed and a circus had just left Sydney the day before, there were only two entertainment locations for us who had been deprived of „artistic“ entertainment for a long time — the two music halls „Tivoli“ and „Alhambra“ in which popular singers, among them also Negroes, and female dancers produced themselves in front of the audience that applauded in the manner of the land by shrill whistling  and was not particularly distinguished. The audience consisted mostly of workers, sailors and small business men.


Schreibe einen Kommentar

Deine E-Mail-Adresse wird nicht veröffentlicht. Erforderliche Felder sind mit * markiert

Solve : *
19 + 10 =

Diese Website verwendet Akismet, um Spam zu reduzieren. Erfahre mehr darüber, wie deine Kommentardaten verarbeitet werden.