I am starting the journey home to Australia today – not to Van Diemen’s Land (Tasmania) but to my home state of Queensland. Food en route is of course a concern - I am in the hands of QANTAS for the duration, so I hope they do the right thing by me. Food for the long voyage to the colony of Australia was very much a subject of concern to early settlers, for several very good reasons.
My source of information on provisioning for the journey is The Rise, Progress, and Present State of Van Dieman's Land: With Advice to Emigrants. Also, a Chapter on Convicts, Shewing the Efficacy of Transportation as a Secondary Punishment (1833.) There is a little general advice on attitude towards one’s fellow
A gentleman, now in the colony, writes, “If ten or a dozen labourers were to emigrate together, their passage would not cost more than £12 each; for the captain of the ship would be glad to provide passage, fuel, (for cooking), and water (two quarts each, per diem,) for half that sum, and the remainder would be ample to buy stores for five months. The stores ought to consist of biscuit and flour in casks, salt pork, corned beef, fresh preserved provisions, pickled eggs and tongues, potatoes, carrots, split peas, rice, plums, raisins, salt suet, butter in earthenware pans, three or four bottles of soda powders, a few bottles of spirits, (no duty is paid for them,) and porter; also tea, coffee, and sugar, two or three cakes of gingerbread, and a pound or two of tobacco. They would cook their own provisions, and would be quite independent. The provisions supplied on board ship are generally very bad.” This suggestion may be worthy of consideration; for even if £2 more for each were demanded, which I think would be the case if the ship was A1, (in city phraseology, when a ship is not ten years old,) they would save about £6 each.
With the prospect of such a long voyage (16,000 miles,) before him, it would be well for the intending emigrant, both for his own sake and that of his fellow passengers, to make up his mind, before embarking, to put up, as far as he possibly can, with any little disagreeables which may occur during the voyage. He should determine neither to give nor take offence on slight occasions, but keep on good terms with all about him, overlooking little inadvertencies and hasty expressions on the part of his fellow-voyagers. He should rather try how pleasant a companion he can make of a man than quarrel with him because he does not find him so ready-made to his hands. Let the experiment be fairly tried, and it will be found that, in nine cases out of ten, unfavourable appearances or first impressions are not criterions of character.
I was delighted that gingerbread was considered an important staple for the long journey. In a previous post I gave a recipe for Gingerbread for Voyages or Travelling (1827) but this one sounds pretty good too:
Cream 3 tablespoons butter or margarine with ½ cup sugar, and 1 teaspoon grated lemon rind. Add 2 unbeaten eggs (one at a time), beating well after each. Dissolve 1 teaspoon carb.soda in 1 cup treacle or golden syrup, stir into mixture. Sift thoroughly 6 tablespoons flour ½ teaspoon mixed spice, 1 teaspoon ginger, and a little salt. Add to mixture alternately with cup each of milk and water. Fold in 1 cup coconut. Pour into well-greased 8-inch tin and bake in moderate oven about 30 minutes.Courier Mail (Brisbane, Qld) 6th September 1950