The Coming Colony/Chapter 21

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The Coming Colony by Philip Mennell
Chapter 21

XXI.


Means of Access to Western Australia—Steamship Companies—Passenger Fares—Free Passages.


Having gone at some length into the attractions which Western Australia presents to various classes of emigrants, it is desirable to point out the methods by which the latter can obtain access to the scene of so many virgin possibilities for the steady and venturesome.

The run to Albany by the Red Sea route in the large ocean liners of the P. and O. and Orient Companies occupies an average of about thirty-nine days from London; the fares ranging from £55 to £70 saloon; £30 to £37 second class, and from £17 17s. to £22 steerage, in the case of the Orient Company, the P. and O. Company not carrying third-class passengers. It may also be mentioned in this connection that children between ten and three years of age go at half fares, whilst one infant under three is carried free, though there are doubtless many of their adult fellow-passengers who would wish to charge them double. For additional infants under three a quarter fare in each case is charged after the first. It may be added that the Orient Company book passengers to Perth and Fremantle at the same rates as to Albany, and pay their railway fares from Albany to either the capital or its port. When passengers to Perth have to proceed from Albany at their own charges, they can do so either by railway or by one of the local steamship companies' boats. There are only two classes on the Western Australian railways, and the single fare from Albany to Perth is £2 15s. 3d. first, and £2 1s. 0d. second class; the returns being £4 2s. lld. and £3 1s. 0d. By the special mail train the rates are 25 per cent. higher. It may be added, for the convenience of passengers with drafts, which they may desire to cash promptly on landing, that there are branches of the Commercial Bank of Australia, the National Bank of Australasia, and the Union Bank of Australia, all three of which have offices in London where drafts can be obtained without charge, the exchange being in favour of the remitter. The steamers of the P. and O. and Orient Companies leave London fortnightly and alter­nately, so that by these means a regular weekly service is maintained to Albany, to which, as the first port of call in Australia, the fares from England are, of course, lower than to any other Australian port. For the comfort of the so-called gentleman-emigrant, who pays his own passage-money and takes out surplus money in his pocket, it may be stated that the Government, by arrangement with the steamship com­panies, secure him a percentage off the normal faro by any class of berth, on proof being afforded that he is taking out capital, which to command these advantages must be not less than £100.

The steamers of the French line known as the Messageries Maritimes call monthly at Albany on their way out from Mar­seilles, the fares from the latter port varying from £20 to £65 according to the class chosen.

There are two other lines of steamers which devote themselves solely to the West Australian trade, as far as Australia is concerned, and which take out passengers at a great reduction on the fares already particularised. The London agents for these lines are Messrs. Trinder, Anderson & Co., of St. Mary Axe, and Messrs. C. Bethell & Co., of 110, Fenchurch Street. They start at rather irregular intervals, so that application to the agents as to probable sailings is a matter of necessity. In addition to the cheaper passages there is this great advantage about the latter boats that any young emigrant going by them would be sure to go out with a number of people bent on the same errand as himself, and with whom association might prove a matter of advantage; whereas, on the great Australian liners, with their mixed company of wealthy pleasure-seekers, he would be exposed. to temptations which night not only denude his finances but afford him altogether a less desirable preparation for the hardships and activities which must accompany pioneering life under the most advantageous conditions. The Trinder, Anderson, and Bethell boats have excellent saloons with side cabins and good bath-rooms. They are fitted with the electric light, and carry surgeon and stewardess, passengers being landed at Fremantle for a cost of 35 guineas from London, this charge including all cabin requirements, &c. The third-class passage money is from 14 guineas. These steamers call at Las Palmas and go round the Cape of Good Hope, so that the passenger escapes the heat of the Red Sea route. The voyage occupies about forty-two days.

A second line of steamers leaves Liverpool monthly, calling at Algiers and going, via Suez Canal, to Penang and Singapore, where the traveller changes to one of the steamers of the local mail and passenger line for Western Australia. These steamers pass along the beautiful shores of Sumatra and Java, and, in two days after losing sight of the coast of Java, Western Australia is reached, the steamers calling at Derby, King's Sound, and at Broome, Roebuck Bay; they then visit the pearling fleet} the next port being Cossack, then Onslow (Ashburton), Carnarvon (Gascoyne), Shark's Bay, Pearling Camps, Geraldton, and finally Fremantle. By this most interesting route the West Australian coast is reached in about forty-five days from London, and Fremantle in about fifty-five days. The fares to Fremantle from Liverpool are, 40 guineas saloon, 24 guineas intermediate, and 16 guinea s steerage. By means of the connection at Singapore passengers and goods are taken monthly at through rates to all West Australian ports from Glasgow, Antwerp, Hamburg, New York, Indian and Chinese ports, and from Vancouver and other ports. Port Darwin is also reached by this service, the traveller for the Northern Territory changing steamers at Broome.

Sailing-ships also leave London monthly for Western Australia, those despatched between March and August being regular traders, and vessels which sail regularly to and from Western Australia. These are commanded by captains of long experience in the trade, and are favourites with many travellers, cabin passengers being carried at 30 guineas, and steerage at 14 guineas. The London agents of these services are, as already stated, Messrs. Trinder, Anderson & Co., and Messrs. C. Bethell & Co. The route, via Singapore, presents considerable advantages, as it gives the emigrant who may have decided to make his home in the South-west District, a chance of forming at least an idea of the tropical and semi-tropical areas to the north­ west before settling down. He will thus be able to judge of the vast field of enterprise which these areas afford for future developments, when he has acquired local experience and per­ haps amassed wealth in the lower districts, or when haply he may wish to plant out his young olive-branches in a more expansive field.

There are a number of steamship lines engaged in the local coasting and intercolonial trade; the chief being the Adelaide Steamship Company, Limited, the West Australian Steam Navigation Company, Limited, and Messrs. Huddart Parker & Co., Limited. Probably the enterprise of this Company is less known in Western Australia than in any other portion of the Australasian colonies. More than three years ago the business was registered under the Limited Liability Act of Victoria, with a paid-up capital of £300,000, and a nominal capital of £1,000,000. And in view of the expansion of Western Australia, the directors have been induced to establish regular steam communication between the east and the west of the Australian continent. The steamship Nemesis has now been running for about two years and has been supported by the Lindus and Wendouree at various times, and as the company has built two new steamships for the Australian trade it is probable that they will offer increased facilities for the transport of goods and passengers between Western Australia and all the colonies to the eastward, and also Tasmania and New Zealand. Messrs. Huddart Parker & Co., Limited, are represented at Fremantle and Albany by Messrs. Dalgety & Co., Limited; while in South Australia their interests are pushed by Messrs. D. and J. Fowler. As the board of directors have firm confidence in the gradual expansion of Western Australia it is their intention to build the most suitable steamships for the regular trade between Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Albany, and the ports as far as Fremantle, and probably round to the north-west.

For the benefit of those members of the industrial classes­ who may come under the Government category in regard to subsidised passengers, I append the regulation s as to free and assisted passengers, just premising that any additional information and all the necessary forms may be obtained on applica­tion at the office of the Agent-General for Western Australia, at 15, Victoria Street, London, S.W., a great advantage in the way of getting sound information being that both the Agent­-General, Sir Malcolm Fraser, and the Secretary, Mr. Hare, possess a thoroughly recent and comprehensive knowledge of the colony they represent in Great Britain.