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Northern Star Voyage 26 Part One

On Monday 28th October 1968, I left Southampton for a new life in Auckland New Zealand aboard the Shaw Savill liner Northern Star. I paid my own fare, a single passage. I could not afford the return in case I did not like it, but did not want to be tied down either by the £10 passage, which many on board were taking.

Northern Star went out via South Africa, stopping at Las Palmas, Cape Town, Durban, Fremantle, Melbourne, Sydney, Wellington and Auckland. The only snag was that she did not call at Auckland due to engine trouble, so I disembarked at Wellington flying to Auckland with baggage going by train, but more about that later. Her homeward voyage was via Fiji, Tahiti, Acapulco, Panama, Curacao, Trinidad, Barbados, Lisbon and Southampton where she arrived back on January 13th 1969 leaving on 1st February 1969 for another round 'line voyage'.

518 passengers boarded in Southampton, some going to Cape Town where 96 disembarked, and 55 embarked in Cape Town some heading for Fremantle, Melbourne, Sydney, Wellington and Auckland. 12 were going all the way to Southampton. 55 disembarked in Durban, and 120 embarked heading for same places, one going to Barbados, and 8 to Southampton. 38 were aboard for the entire round voyage from Southampton to Southampton.

Northern Star was a true ocean liner, not a cruise ship. The majority of her passengers like me were emigrating others embarked and disembarked en-route like getting on and off of a train or bus in true liner style. These voyages were known as 'line voyages'. Northern Star like all other passenger liners of her era were plying a specific trade, transporting people from A to B, but some, usually the wealthy used the round voyage as a cruise staying aboard for the outward and homeward leg making it into a world cruise. Others stayed in Australia or New Zealand for examle, before travelling home on another company ship.

Northern Star had a very large luggage hold many passengers taking all their belongings everything including the kitchen sink sometimes! I had a number of suitcases, a trunk and T Chest.. It was amazing really because Northern Star was close on 24,000gt but had large baggage holds. The hold with bigger stuff in it was only opened a few times for us to check it. Monster cruise ships of today are six or seven times bigger in some cases, but no baggage or cargo holds like the liners. Some Shaw Savill ships carried more cargo than passengers such as Akaroa. Aranda and Arawa. These passenger/cargo liners were even smaller at 18,565gt

I was in Cabin B99, a six berth cabin. The trip cost me £249 one way. A return would have been from £418 in a six berth to £665 per person Sun or Prom Deck the most expensive with shower and toilet. We had no shower or toilet in the cabin. Some cabins, even the more expensive ones only had a toilet. Some three berth cabins did, but not four or six berths. We just had a sink. No tea or coffee making either. The steward brought tea every morning. Each deck had a pantry where the cabin stewards made tea and washed up.

I was told that emigrating alone was a very courageous thing to do, although I did not see it that way. I was young, adventurous, and could not understand why some people thought that going to a new country and new life on my own was courageous. I took it all in my stride loving every moment.

As a five year old I had always wanted to go to sea. We lived on the south coast of the Isle of Wight seeing all the big passenger liners go in and out off St Catherine’s Point to and from Southampton. Queen Mary, Elizabeth, Union Castle liners, P&O, the lot. We lived next door to island sailor Uffa Fox, sailing partner to Prince Philip. Although a yachtsman, listening to Uffa, who was both neighbour and friend, was further encouragement to go to sea. At age 15 in 1961, I went across to Southampton with my father to join my beloved merchant navy. It was the day Canberra made her maiden voyage. I failed to join as a cadet, too thick and scrawny. My father was delighted, but I was devastated. We came back home on the Red Funnel steamer Balmoral behind Canberra as she made her way down Southampton Water bound for Sydney and New Zealand. Tears rolled down my face, my dream over, but I still daydreamed I was aboard her, and even steering her. I went back to farm jobs, which I hated. In early 1968 my father died. I was working for a farmer who urged me to go to New Zealand to work on farms out there, something he had always wanted to do, but never got around to. He knew some people from Chale who had emigrated out there, and had kept in tough. I knew them, but only slightly.

I started to save up getting very excited because I knew I could be going on a passenger liner for the very first time. Okay, not as crew, but I didn’t care. I wanted to go out on Canberra, but P&O was too expensive, so I chose Northern Star. Also, Shaw Savill passenger liners Northern Star and Southern Cross were One Class, but P&O passenger liners First Class and Tourist.

Northern Star left Southampton on 28th October 1968. Our departure was covered by the BBC Radio 2 programme Roundabout Afloat 1630 to 1830 presented by Brian Matthew, who recently passed away. Microphones were placed in the Lounge Deck to pick up our singing. I still have the piece of paper given to us by the BBC. It was fantastic for me, but not so good for my family at home listening on Radio 2. Although I must say I had a tear in my eye as we sang the last song, live on radio, “NOW IS THE HOUR”. I did not know then, but is also known as the Maori Farewell. The tears were not there for long, I was off on a new adventure, and I was aboard a passenger liner. Sheer excitement took over rather than sadness of leaving home. It had never dawned on me that I had no idea where I was going, and no idea what I was going to do other than staying with the friends of the farmer until I could find digs, and a job.

For now however, I had 6 weeks to enjoy on board Northern Star, and I was determined to enjoy every minute. I made a daily diary, which I will now share with you, the things I did, the people I met who like me were emigrating, although one, a lovely man from Scotland was going all the way around.

I had a very broad island accent, few could understand me. And I was not too familiar with posh restaurants, my limit being a cafe in Pyle Street Newport called Jacks Snacks. There were woman on my table who could not understand me. The waiter called Johnny must have wondered where I came from. He asked me if I wanted an entrée. I had not idea what he was talking about. He then said something which sounded like Horses Doofers! Well, that is what I repeated asking what Horses Doofers were. We all fell about laughing when he explained it was hors d'oeuvres, a starter. I used all the wrong cutlery on the first night, ending up with my soup spoon for the sweet. I told my table mates that the spoon looked like a gurt spudgel. They looked at me in amazement having no idea what I meant. A spudgel on the Isle of Wight at least is large shovel or bucket, and gurt is IOW lingo for great.

That first night out was an eye opener for me how to wine and dine properly, and entertaining for others on my table. But I was alone for a few days after that, my table mates not coming to breakfast lunch or dinner. It was a bit rough in the Bay of Biscay, but not that bad. I did not intend to miss a single meal having paid so much. It would take more than a rough sea to put me off all that superb food. My table mates came up for lunch one day, and asked what was on the menu. I told them pork chops that would slide down nicely without chewing. They didn’t come back for a few days!

All my cabin mates were very nice, and we all got on. I had never washed clothes or ironed in my life, so when I went to the laundrette, the ladies showed me how to do it. That was the beginning of a wonderful trip, and many new friends.

The next episode will be a day to day diary of what I did, and who I met, but to give you a taster, this is what I wrote the day we left.

Monday 28th October 1968 left Southampton 1900(7pm) having dinner at that time went out Ryde way, saw Nab Tower and St Catherine’s lighthouse after dinner. I sorted out my cabin case putting the clothes into wardrobe, then went to bed. I chose a top bunk.

Tuesday 29th October Now entering the Bay of Biscay, a very heavy swell lots of people sea sick very windy and cloudy. I spent the day looking around the ship, and in the evening saw a film called the Odd Couple with Jack Lemon taking a girl named Diane who I had just met to see it.

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Northern Star Voyage 26 Part Two

Wednesday 30th October 1968

Just off the coast of Portugal at noon, now out of the Bay, and much smoother passage. Went to the Library this morning and got a book about New Zealand and NZ birds, weather sunny temp 65f. Wrote to mum by air letter form, and card of ship. Went to the Tavern in the evening with two girls Diane and Hilda, got back to cabin about 12.15.

Thursday 31st October we were 120 nautical miles off Madeira at noon, weather windy but sunny 65 to 68f sea rough but smooth sailing. Spent day lazing around went to Bingo in the evening, wrote more letters.

Getting away from the diary for a minute, every day we had a Today’s Programme. below would be a typical day.

7.30 Holy Mass in the Library
8.30 Weather Broadcast
9.00 Children’s Games Session on Forward Sun Deck
10.00 Mixed Doubles Deck Tennis
10.00 Men’s Keep Fit Class Forward Sun deck
10.15 Latin American Dancing In The Tavern
10.30 Children’s Paper Mosaic Design Competition for 5 – 8 Year Olds in Recreation Room
10.45 Ladies Keep Fit Class on the Forward Sun Deck
10.45 Sewing Bee in the Forward Lounge(Hats, Bags, Cushions, Aprons etc)
11.00 Music with David Spurr in the Forward Lounge
11.00 Jim Strachan Band in the Tavern
11.30 Yoga class on the after End of Promenade Deck

2.30pm Adult’s Sports and Tug of War on the Sports Deck
2.30pm Solo Drive in the Forward Lounge
2.30pm Discussion Group Meeting in the Library to start you talking
2.30pm Cinema – Never A Dull moment starring Dick Van Dyke (Cert U)
4.40pm Demonstration of Hair Styles by Steiner in the Forward Lounge
5.30pm News Broadcast in Cinema Lounge
5.30pm to 8.15pm Juke Box for Teenagers in the Recreation Room
7.00pm Cinema – Never a Dull Moment 1st Sitting
8.30pm Dancing in the Tavern
8.30pm Music with David Spurr in the forward Lounge
9.00pm Cinema – Never a Dull Moment – 2nd Sitting
Midnight Juke Box in Tavern

Television Programme

4.00pm Tales of the Riverbank
4.16pm Peewee’s Problem
8.30pm Postcard from Perth
8.40pm A Fool for a Client
9.07 Real Russian Caviar

On the back of Today’s Programme was daily information where the ship was speed and weather forecast etc as well as information of places we passed close to. The programme I am looking at was about St Helena.

It must be noted that passenger liners had a very small entertainment department. Nothing like it is today aboard cruise ships. However, for a ship her size, and the trade she was employed on, Northern Star did not do too badly to keep passengers entertained, after all she was a working ship.

Friday 1st November 1968

Arrived at Las Palmas at 0700(7am) Lovely place, the island of Grand Canary which is made up of craters and valley’s and mountains. I went on a day tour from the ship to the centre of the island going up and up all the time round one mountain through a valley and up and round another mountain until you reach a certain peak, each mountain on the highest level of mountains are like salt pots sticking up all over the place. On the hills is a mass of flowers and fruit bushes. We went to a night club in a cave. We had lunch but none of us knew what it was, but it tasted okay. I met up with Ewart Hobbs and his wife having lunch with them all wondering what it was! They were going to Christchurch to live with their son, then buy their own house. On return to the ship, I bought a record player with built in radio on the quay side for £13 duty free. We left at 1815(6.15pm) Temp 78f.

It should be noted that in those days, they had stalls on the quayside selling goods. We were advised to check that what we bought was in the box. Sometimes, they said they would give a new one already wrapped. Those who did not check often found a lump of wood after the ship had left!

I became friendly with Ewart and his wife after the Las Palmas tour, and when in NZ, I used to visit them on holidays, as I did one of my cabin mates. Sadly, I have lost contact with everybody I met on Northern Star

Saturday 2nd November

Off the coast of Sahara at 0900 (9am) and Cape Blanc at 1500 (3pm) my diary tells me and that I sunbathed with temp at 75f and calm seas. Played whist in evening, some of those playing do not have a clue.

I still have my progressive whist card, looks as good as new. I played 16 times and was on table 23.

Sunday 3rd November 1968

0900 off Senegal then round Cape Vert then took straight course for Cape Town. One of the ships engines failed this morning , engineers have been working on it all day. Played quoits with cabin mate Bill Rodger who was heading home to Wellington having been on holiday in the UK with his girlfriend. I then soaked up the sun. Very hot today at 84f. In the afternoon I was told it was 100f. Saw lots of flying fish, never seen these before, spent ages watching them as the ship steamed along. Wrote a card to mum and others. Put clocks forward half an hour.

Monday 4th November 1968

Off coast of Sierra Leone at 0900 then Liberia, wrote a few cards an air letter things to different people (see letters book). Saw two dolphins, never saw them before either, only porpoise from the IOW. Went to see film in evening called Counterpoint staring Charlton Heston, clocks put forward half and hour again.

Tuesday 5th November. No fireworks this year. Will be off Cape Palmas Liberia at noon, about 200 miles away. Tonight we will be at our closest to Ascension Island some 600 miles away. Just lazed around in the morning. Have got a bad cold went to bed early. Saw film in afternoon about Northern Star and how to catch a Rhino, and the city of Wellington. My first time across the equator King Neptune and all that stuff, I had heard of this but a bit naff. One thing I have noticed as we headed south was how the skies brightened, so much clearer than the dull skies of back home.

Wednesday 6th November 1968

Weather overcast, 76f, and heavy swell. Saw a tanker called World Senator. Went to Captains Cocktails party and to the Mad Hatters Dance late in the evening with Diane.

Thursday 7th November 1968

430 miles off St Helena at 0900 temp 72f. Saw cargo liner in the afternoon called Hazelbank of Bank lines, 10,335gt. These ships have numerous services mainly covering India, Far East, East and South Africa, North and South America, Australia and New Zealand. Went to see film called Never a Dull Moment with Diane. Clocks put forward half an hour again.

Friday 8th November 1968

Sea choppy, did PT this morning, then had tour of Galley. I would not like to work in there. Wrote to mum and saw film about South Africa and New Zealand. Clocks put forward another half an hour.

Saturday 9th November 1968

Sea quite rough. I had a bad night, had to get up twice in the night stomach ache, must have eaten something or the tour of the galley that affected me, but has not put me off my grub!. Booked a day tour of Durban. No need to book a tour for Cape Town because I will be meeting John Herbert who emigrated there from the Isle of Wight. Got landing card for Cape Town today. Saw Shell Tanker Mariner also heading for Cape Town I think. Had landfall dinner for Cape Town for those getting off. Went to bed at 2200(10pm), another half and hour on the clocks.

Sunday 10th November 1968

Northern Star is now steaming down the Benguela current, I think that is how it is spelled. It is very rough, gale force 8, but sunny. I took picture of waves coming over the bow. Went to a quiz in the evening. Clocks put forward again half an hour. We are now on Cape Town time where we arrive tomorrow, but we have been delayed due to bad weather. Not bad for me though, loving every minute. Have been out on deck at night and seen southern stars and the southern cross absolutely magic. Having read Patrick Moore books about stars in the northern hemisphere and knowing them all, I am now learning new ones. And the moon is upside down as seen from home. This is so brilliant.

More in part three as we reach Cape Town. On the trip down I was learning how to wash my clothes in the laundrette and woman in there was teaching me to iron. I had also checked stuff in my trunk in the Hold, which was only open now and again.

Northern Star Voyage 26 Part Three

Monday 11th November 1968

At 0900 we were 22 miles from land and should pick the Cape Town pilot up at 1130. Passed the tanker Bergen Chief. At 1130 Table Mountain was in sight, and what a sight. We are now entering Cape Town. 1330 and we have now docked. Went ashore about 1400(2pm) and walked through the town and then through a park and saw a lot of grey squirrels, they are very tame. I carried on walking. At first, Robert Hailstones came with me. Robert was an elderly man from Scotland who I met on board. He was going all the way around. He wanted to catch a bus to the cable station to go up onto the Table Mountain. But I, being an Isle of Wighter who walked everywhere, decided to walk. So I carried on until I got up to the end of the road and houses. I could see the cable station, so made a beeline for it. Between the road where I was, and the cable station was a winding path through some scrub land. It was very hot, sunny and 82f. I was sweating by now, but that sweat got worse. I suddenly realised that I was not on the Isle of Wight climbing St Catherine’s Down, but in Africa where there are lots of creepy crawlies, poisonous ones. I hated spiders, even the harmless ones at home, and I was scared to death of snakes. We only had one poisonous snake at home, the adder but there could be far more here, and worse than the adder. So I then panicked a bit and walked a lot faster looking down for anything that crawled. I then came to some trees like a small copse, which I had to walk up through to get up to the road. As I was half way through these trees, I heard a hiss. A sharp cold shiver went down my spine. Looking to my right, now petrified I was face to face with what looked like an Anteater. I ran faster than I had ever done in my life, and uphill too until I got to the road, my heart beating six to the dozen. I then composed myself and walked along the road to the cable station.

I met Robert again on top of the mountain. For those of you who have been up Table Mountain, that cable car is very scary, something like 500ft sheer drop. But having had the scare I did, I was not too bothered, until I came back down! It was the most amazing view of my life. I saw some swifts and swallows, which had flown all the way from the UK for summer in Cape Town. They fly all the back to breed in the UK, during our summer. I came back down with Robert, and went back to the ship on the bus with him. The Union Castle liner Edinburgh Castle was in with us.

Tuesday 12th November 1968

Still in Cape Town, I went on a tour of Chapman’s Peak, round the mountain and saw some Weaver Birds more Swifts, Swallows, Cape Canaries and Turtle Doves. In the afternoon John Herbert picked me up from the ship. John used to visit neighbours, but emigrated to Cape Town. He was a friend of my brother. He knew I was coming, but the ship was late, and late leaving due to engine trouble. So John showed me around Cape Town. We also went swimming in Camps Bay that I saw from Table Mountain. The water was ice cold, despite it being boiling hot outside. It is cold because it is the Atlantic coming direct from the Antarctic. The sea only becomes warmer the other side of the Cape of Good Hope where the Atlantic meets the Indian Ocean.

John told me what the animal was I saw the day before. He said it would have been an Elephant Cat, and would not have gone for me. I had never heard of an Elephant Cat, and still not, so I wonder if John was right?. Has our South African members any ideas? But John told me I was in Africa now, not the Isle of Wight walking on the Downs. I stayed with him for the rest of the day, and had a meal at his house. He then drove me back to the ship, and came aboard with me. In those days, visitors were allowed. We sailed at midnight for Durban. The ship was due to sail at noon.

Wednesday 13th November 1968

17 miles off the southern coast of Africa, weather cloudy, sea slight swell. I had been told about the cape rollers, which we experienced before Cape Town, and still are hence the swell I suppose. Met a family emigrating to Australia. Due to engine trouble it looks like we could be late and will already reach Durban a day late. The man has a job to go to and may have to get off in Fremantle and fly to Sydney. His wife did not want to be there at all, and already home sick. Ewart and his wife were also not sure they were doing the right thing. They had just retired, and had never left home. Their son had emigrated to New Zealand, had a good job and was settled. But Ewart and his wife missed them so decided to sell up and move to NZ. Ewart said I was doing the right thing being young, but they had deep roots back home, but also missed their son and grandchildren.

Thursday 14th November 1968

4 miles off Port Elizabeth at 0900, wrote a few letters. Ray Dyer posted them for me via the crew system. Ray was chief carpenter on board, and also from the Isle of Wight. I played quoits with Robert Hailstones. Robert was 77 but very fit. He was in cabin A143. At 2100 we were 4 miles off East London. Union Castle serve both Port Elizabeth and East London weekly on their Cape run. I used to see one of them off St Catherine’s every Thursday at 1900 going out. Now, I am seeing them at the journey’s end and will no doubt see one in Durban having seen Edinburgh Castle in Cape Town.

Friday 15th November 1968

Arrived at Durban at 0500 a day late. The weather was cold and wet at 64f. I went on a tour of the valley of a thousand hills and saw Zulu warriors. We went down into the valleys descending 3,000ft in a course of 4 miles when we got to the bottom we were confronted with all the natives and their little mud huts, quite amazing. We then went over a Dam that supplies Durban.

Saturday 16th November 1968

We left Durban at 0700, just over a day late. Just as we left the berth, police and customs came along the quayside then got into a launch and came alongside. We anchored in mid harbour, and they took a man ashore with them. We then sailed. I just lazed around but also did some washing with help from the ladies, but getting more used to it now. Clock go forward 45 minutes tonight.

I will stop here for this episode as the ship heads across the Indian Ocean for the next nine days when all kinds of things happen from me getting into fancy dress to being told the ship would not be going to Auckland.

Northern Star Voyage 26 Part Four

Sunday 17th November 1968

At 0900(9am) we were 300 miles south of Madagascar. Weather cloudy, sea rough with heavy swell, temp 61f. Just lazed all day, went for quiz in evening. Clocks were advanced 45 minutes again.

Monday 18th November 1968

Still heavy swell sunbathed all morning temp 62f but nice out of wind on sun deck. Went to see film Carry On Doctor. Clocks went forward 30 mins.

Tuesday 19th November 1968

Weather cloudy, wind force 4, temp 62f. Played quoits in afternoon with Robert from Scotland. We were told today that she ship will not be calling at Auckland. Instead, I would have to disembark at Wellington and travel up be train. I have got a meeting tomorrow in the forward lounge. Wrote a few letters. Clocks put forward another 45 minutes. I am now losing track of time.

Wednesday 20th November 1968

Cloudy wet day, sea rough temp 64f. Did cricket practice this morning for the NZ PIPITS, so I am already a Kiwi?! We had the Captain and Purser at our meeting. They told us we would get some of our money back for the fare to Auckland, which is £5 cheaper than to go on the ship. I will still go by rail. Saw a film in the afternoon about Australian birds, Tasmania, Orange Free State and Taupo Moana. Clocks put forward another 45 mins.

Thursday 21st November 1968

Cloudy and wet all day, temp 64f. I entered the fancy dress ball tonight having been urged to do so by other passengers I have got to know who dressed me up like a Sheikh. I looked and felt such a fool, but did not win a prize. Afterwards we had a nice buffet with loads of food. Later we had a lovely Fancy Dress Dinner. I had Grilled Split Milk Fed Baby Chicken, Americaine, baby carrots, peas and chips. It was very nice. We had Lemon Pancakes for pudding or rather sweet as you are supposed to call it. Must get used to these posh names.


On the first night when the waiter asked if I wanted a sweet I thought he meant a boiled sweet or something. This IOW country yokel always called it pudding!!

Friday 22nd November 1968

Weather fine but cold wind, making at arc across the Indian Ocean to Fremantle so must be closer to Antarctica. But not cold temp wise, 62f. Quite hot compared to home. Went to see film Wait Until Dark, it was an X film. Wrote more letters. Clocks put forward 30 mins. I think we are 5 hours ahead of home now, but can’t really work it out.

Saturday 23rd November 1968

Weather sunny but windy and cold, temp 60f. Played quoits this morning and early afternoon with Robert, and Monopoly with Eric one of my cabin mates and his wife. Clocks put forward another 45 mins. Wrote more letters and bought two slides of myself as the Sheikh.

They did slides in those days taken by Tans-Ocean Photographic Services Colour Slides, which reads as follows:

Trans-Ocean Photographic Services Limited, through its representatives on board, aim to provide a comprehensive coverage of all the events and ports of call throughout the voyage.

We find that colour slides are so popular that our work can either stimulate passengers into starting a collection or supplement and already established one.

Very soon after an event has been photographed, the slides are put on display. Our displays are located by the Ships Shop. Early ordering is essential for reasons of both availability display space and to ensure prompt delivery.

In addition to the possibilities of an evening’s entertainment with a slide projector, one can view slides with one of the many varieties of slide views available. One such viewer is obtainable from us at a very reasonable price.

Kodak, through your local photographic dealer have an additional service available ashore for providing prints from colour slides.

Our representatives will be pleased to advise on any photographic problems you have.

Sunday 24th November 1968

Weather colder, 56f, must be closer than ever to Antarctica. Although low in the south this time of year according to the Patrick Moore Observer book of Astronomy, the Southern Cross can be even better and two very bright stars close together in Centaurus close to the cross, one Centauri being a double I think has a hidden member of the system, Proxima Centauri, being the closest star to earth after the sun something like 4.3 light years, the other, known as Agena or Hadar is 490 light years. So although looking close together, they are actually many light years apart. But according to Patrick Moore this is the most splendid area of the sky and regrets it cannot be seen from Europe. He is right. It is superb. All my years reading his books and star gazing at home I never thought I would see the southern stars. Other very bright stars I can see, Achernar almost overhead, and Fomalhaut and Canopus, all very bright stars never seen from home. And get this, constellations I saw at home that can also bee seen from the southern hemisphere are upside down. Can’t wait to see Orion upside down. Sirius will be above it not below as back home. Have already seen the new moon upside down the crescent on the different side than from the UK. In fact it is the same side down here in the evening as it is at home in the early mornings. This is great stuff.

Monday 25th November 1968

Weather sunny, warming up 64f. Wrote more letters. At Fremantle tomorrow, two days late. Played quoits again with Robert. Clocks put forward again 30 mins. I think we are now 7 hours ahead of home.

Pictures include me as the Sheikh, and the Fancy Dress Dinner menu along with Northern Star in rough seas possibly near Cape Town and at Cape Town..

Northern Star Voyage 26 Part Five

Tuesday 26th November 1968

We docked at Fremantle Australia two days late. One of the passengers got off to fly to Sydney due to his job. The Oriana was berthed in front of us and left just before we did. Robert and I went into Perth on the train, got back about 1500(3pm). I liked Perth, a very clean looking city. We sailed at 1730, and put clocks forward 30 mins. Weather nice here, sunny and warm.

Wednesday 27th November 1968

Weather cloudy, turned cold again, temp 59f. at 1100 were passing Albany where Bob Armstrong from Blackgang lives. Clocks put forward 30 mins again. I now reckon we are 8 hours ahead of England.

Thursday 28th November 1968

Weather cloudy and still cold, 54f, wrote more letters. Went to see film Singing in the Rain. Clocks put forward another 30mins.

Friday 29th November 1968

Weather sunny but even colder. It is late Spring here, the same as May back home, but I would expect it to be warmer even out here with December being their first month of summer in two days time when we reach Melbourne. I will have had two Springs and two Summers in the same year. When we crossed the equator, we went from Autumn to Spring Wrote more letters and just lazed around again. Watched TV in evening, Man in a Suitcase etc. Clocks put forward another 30 mins.

Saturday 30th November 1968

Weather still cloudy and cold 53f. 16 miles off Moonlight Head Victoria Australia. At 1330 we rounded Cape Otway. At 1400 we passed the Dutch cargo shop Straat Mozambique. At 1515 (3.15pm) we passed the Shaw Savill cargo liner Persic. We arrived at Melbourne at 2030(8.30pm).

Sunday 1st December 1968

Still at Melbourne, but were due to stay here two days anyway, being scheduled to leave at 1800 29th November. Weather warmed up, but I expected it hotter here on the first day of summer in this part of the world. Went for a walk along the shore this morning, but got cut short. Didn’t think I would make it back to the ship. A few places looked like toilets, but were not. One which I am sure was a toilet just had a hole in the ground, not a toilet in sight not a proper one anyway, or do they go into holes in ground here? I have been told that black widow spiders hide under toilet seats in Australia, so would have squatted anyway, but nothing to squat over. So knowing I could run fast, I did, and just got back to the ship in time. In the afternoon I went on a tour of the Dandenong Ranges and Sherbrooke Forest. The forest is 2,000 acres. We had strawberries and cream for Afternoon Tea. The Sherbrooke Forest has Mountain Ash trees. We sailed at 1815. One thing was certain, I will remember my first trip to Melbourne for a long time.

Monday 2nd December 1968

Weather cloudy, temp 54f, sea calm. We are now sailing smoothly along the Australian coast. At 1400 we rounded the corner to head for Sydney.

Northern Star voyage 26 Part Six

Tuesday 3rd December 1968

At Sydney. What a place, what a harbour, what a bridge. Never thought I would see this, but I am here, can’t believe it.

I went on a tour of the Hawkesbury River. We started off driving over Sydney Harbour Bridge to the north shore where we joined Bobbin Head Road until we reached the Pentecost Highway and then through the suburb of St Ives and Terry Hills where all the trees and shrubs were burnt due to a recent bush fire. This area must be half the size of the Isle of Wight. We then went to the surfing beach of Newport, a bit different to Newport on the IOW. We also visited three other little bays near Newport. We then went to Palm Beach and picked up a ferry to Hawkesbury River to Bobbin Head where we had lunch. We then went to a Koala Farm and saw Koala Bears, Kangaroos and Emus. One Emu chased me when we moved through pens, but I was a fast runner by now and shied the gate no trouble. Huge great things, long neck and thin head, looked like a bloke I knew back home! After that we went back to the ship. Running from the Emu reminded me a story my mother told me when her and dad were courting. They were in a field and saw a bull. Dad run like the clappers leaving mum and cleared a five barred gate like a high jumper. Mum managed to escape, but like a typical man, dad was gone leaving mum to fend for herself!

Wednesday 4th December.

It rained all day. Not like the weather I expected in Sydney this time of year. I went to the main shopping area and bought a few things for myself and to send home. Wrote a few letters, but did little else.

Thursday 5th December 1968

We left Sydney at 1100. But I got up really early to walk over the bridge. I had wanted to do it yesterday, but it was too wet. I walked all the way over on the footbridge and took pictures. Nice trip out through the harbour past the Opera House they are building. Clocks were put forward 30 mins.

Voyage 26 Northern Star Episode Seven

Friday 6th December 1968

Weather cloudy, temp 57f. Gave Ray Dyer the key of our front door that I still had to give to mum when he got back home. Had landfall dinner for NZ. I had Turkey and sprouts and roast potatoes with Banana Fritters and Golden Syrup for Sweet. I am flying up to Auckland now. Bill said it was a long trip by train, and weather sounded bad having heavy rain and landslips. Put the clocks forward 30 mins.

Saturday 7th December 1968

Weather cloudy temp 56f. Packed today sent four cases by train along with trunk and chest to go by train. Sea rough. We had steak and chips tonight and mushrooms, started off with prawn cocktail. Clocks put forward an hour to put un on NZ time which I think is 12 hours ahead of home.

Below is information given to us, which I will re-type because it will not scan well.


The vessel will arrive in Wellington Harbour on Sunday 8th December and the following is the arrival procedure as arranged with the Port Authorities.

The Immigration and Customs Officials will board the vessel in the harbour at around 8.30 a.m. and passengers (including children) landing in New Zealand must proceed to the Forward Lounge via the forward stairway, entering by the port side door, having with them their ‘Passenger Arrival Card’ and ‘Baggage Declaration’ completed and signed, together with their passports. Directions to proceed there will be given over the broadcast system when the Officials are ready. Please do not assemble until asked to do so.

Before entering the Forward Lounge please separate your ‘Arrival Card’ and ‘Baggage Form’. The first table is Immigration and the yellow ‘Arrival Card’ should be handed to the Officer. After this has been checked, proceed to the next table to have your passport stamped. Finally, proceed to the forward end of the Lounge where Custom Officers will be in attendance. Your Customs Declaration must be handed to one of these Officials and duty (if applicable) paid.

A separate declaration form is required for each passenger except children under 18 years of age accompanied by a parent or guardian. If the children are accompanied by both parents, the declaration is to be made by the father only.

The duty free allowances on cigarettes etc, and spirits are as follows:

Up to 200 cigarettes OR up to half a pound of tobacco OR up to 50 cigars.

AND One bottle (reputed quart) of wine

AND One bottle (reputed quart) of spirits.

Duty and sales tax where applicable are payable on quantities in excess of these amounts.


This is the yellow card which you will find attached to your ‘Baggage Declaration’.


Bank Officials will be in attendance in the Forward Lounge


Passengers are requested to return books to the Librarian before 5.00 p.m. today.


Breakfast will be served at the following times on the day of arrival. 1st Sitting 7.45 a.m, Second sitting 8.30 a.m. Children 7.00 a.m.


Passengers are advised that there are no porters available at Wellington and all baggage other than light hand items which they can carry themselves ashore, must be ready for removal from cabins by 5.00 p.m today. The Company’s Baggage Agents, Marris & Campbell Ltd, will be in attendance in the Forward Lounge to facilitate arrangements for forwarding baggage. Passengers holding letters of introduction to the N.Z Express Co, or other baggage agents may expect to find their representatives on the wharf. The N.Z. Railways have an office on the wharf, and passengers may check baggage through to destinations in New Zealand. Passengers for Auckland have already been advised on forward baggage.


Details of arrangements made for transferring passengers and baggage are listed below and it is hoped that these will minimise the inconvenience caused.

1. Rail and air tickets will be available on arrival for passengers concerned.

2. Baggage to be forwarded to Auckland on Sunday 8th December must be cleared by passengers before handing to Marris and Campbell representatives in the wharf shed for transportation to Wellington railway station for shipment to Auckland. On arrival, the Auckland baggage will be available for collection by passengers up to noon on Monday 9th December, after which time any baggage will be removed to New Zealand Express Co baggage store in Auckland. The greater part of baggage ex ‘Northern Star’ will be shipped to Auckland on the 7.30 p.m train.

3. Any passengers not booked right through to Auckland should keep their baggage aside in order that it can be checked to the correct destination.

4. For rail passengers the following transport will be available from the Overseas Passenger Terminal, Wellington to the Wellington Railway station:

a. For passengers travelling Sunday 8th December per 4.30 p.m. train a City Council coach(red) will leave the Passenger Terminal at 3.45 p.m.

b. For passengers travelling Sunday 8th December per 7.30 p.m. train City Council coaches will leave the Passenger Terminal at 6.45 p.m.

c. For passengers travelling by air on Flight 476 at 2.05 p.m. on Sunday
8th December a City Council coach (red) will leave the Passenger
Terminal for Wellington Airport at 1.15 p.m.

5. In view of the New Zealand Customs regulations any baggage not cleared by passengers prior to their departure by rail or air on Sunday 8th December will be forwarded as soon as possible to Auckland under-bond through Messrs Marris and Campbell Ltd whose Auckland agents are the New Zealand Express Co where passengers should call to clear baggage concerned.

6. Any used portion of the Wellington/Auckland fare will be refunded and passengers should either call or post their steamship tickets to the Shaw Savill Line Wellington or Auckland.



Baggage railed to Auckland by the 7.30 p.m. train will be unloaded at No 1 Platform Auckland Station.

Baggage will not be forwarded by the 4.40 p.m. train.

Please put you address on the baggage slip before handing it to baggage Agents.


Messrs Higgs coaches coaches will now take passengers to the Station and Airport instead of City Transport as previously advised.


The South island ferry to Lyttleton departs at 8.00 p.m. on Monday 9th December. Passengers may, if they desire, remain on board on Sunday night. It will be appreciated if passengers will advise their cabin stewards I they intend to stay.

Cabins must be vacated early on Monday as they may be required for passengers from the South island who will be joining the vessel early on Monday morning.

Sunday 8th December 1968

It is 0600. We have arrived in Wellington. I fly to Auckland today, my new home and life. I checked all my luggage through Customs okay, and caught the plane to Auckland. I had never flown before, but always watching aircraft flying over home into Heathrow or going there for a day out, so this was superb. I was so excited. It was a Vickers Viscount, and I had a window seat.

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26,577 Posts
Discussion Starter #3
I decided to lump all the episodes together because it was too much hassle to copy each episode as I wrote it a long time ago. I have posted the voyage for the benefit of member Kaytutt.

I will post some pictures for Kaytutt and others during the day.

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26,577 Posts
Discussion Starter #5 (Edited)
My cabin on Northern Star in 1968. Mine was the top bunk on the far side with cases under the bottom bunk, The bigger stuff was in the Hold.

In Fremantle Australia, Northern Star was to the stern of Oriana. She left port before we did as shown below.


8 Posts
I decided to lump all the episodes together because it was too much hassle to copy each episode as I wrote it a long time ago. I have posted the voyage for the benefit of member Kaytutt.

I will post some pictures for Kaytutt and others during the day.
Thank you so very much, I’ve speed read your story but look forward to reading it more thoroughly in the morning when I have more time. I love your pictures! I think your cabin was bigger than ours but it was 48 years ago and I was just 10 so didn’t absorb as much detail as I should have at the time although I do remember being seasick often

Sadly our family photos of the journey were lost during our return journey to the UK in 1974 (Mam didn’t settle well in Oz) and the only memento I have is a more than slightly tattered certificate for crossing the equator.

Thank you again

8 Posts
Incidentally, my cousin who also emigrated to Australia with her parents and returned to the uk in around 1967 did her return journey on the Oriana

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26,577 Posts
Discussion Starter #9
Thanks Taff

I enclose Northern Star at Princes Wharf, Auckland around 1969, possibly December. My diary tells me she was in port on 4th December 1969, and it certainly looks like a summers day. She arrived at 1500. The ships chippy brought my snooker cue out, so I went to pick it up.


8 Posts
Thank you, that was probably the journey before mine, we left the UK in March 1970. Seeing these photos bring the memories flooding back, it was a great experience for a 10 year old. My favourite part of the journey was sailing under Sydney Harbour Bridge

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26,577 Posts
Discussion Starter #11 (Edited)

Northern Star was in Auckland on 21st May1970 according to my diary. It usually took three days to cross the Tasman, so you possibly left her on Monday 18th May 1970.

If you like, I can crop the picture to make it larger?

306 Posts
Thanks David, brought back many great memories of days gone by. Never sailed on Northern Star. I was second officer of Southern Cross during 1970 and did a similar voyage out to Kiwi without the engine trouble.

4 Posts
Northern Star

Loved reading your diary of your first voyage on Northern Star. I left UK in Sept 1970 on Chandris Lines Australis aged 18, not my first voyage as I had already been to Oz with family on Aurelia returning on Orcades in 1966 and I could easily relate to all that you spoke of, the excitement of everything new. I returned to UK on Northern Star October/ November 1972. I was to board in Melbourne but due to engine trouble on the ship they flew me to Sydney, my first ever flight, so I can relate to the excitement you experienced. I used to bunk off school and go to Heathrow and watch the planes!
I met my Uncle for the first time in Auckland and he drove me all over and out to his house north of Auckland in Orewa.
I remember crossing the equator, some twit in control of the ship decided to do a 360 degree turn on the equator which sent all the crockery flying off the tables in the restaurant!
I had great fun on that trip and met some great people,nice to have memories.

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26,577 Posts
Discussion Starter #14
Many thanks for your comments, Steve and Nick.

Nick, I went on a cruise on Australis from Auckland to the Fiji Islands in December 1970, so could have been after you left her. Liners often did short cruises from Sydney and Auckland between 'line voyages'.

1,123 Posts
when this ship was built and then launched from Swans I was an apprentice doing time in Palmers Hebburn. The Northern Star came in for her bottom scraping and after the launch removing the launching crud before ship trials. Took a walk around the ship in spaces that were open E/R and some passenger spaces. It looked great!

1,132 Posts
#15 . Your memory of the Tyne has got a bit rusty over the years David. I was an Apprentice at Swans at the time of the launch, which was from Vickers Armstrongs Walker yard, just up the river from Swans. The launching ceremony was carried out by the Queen Mother who arrived in a wheelchair, having just sprained an ankle. Northern Star's sister Southern Cross was always the senior of the two, being the first merchant ship ever to have been launched by a reigning monarch. The Queen later went on to launch QE2, but you always remember the first.
At the end of my Apprenticeship I joined Northern Star as a Junior Engineer for the last few weeks of fitting out, then did the first four, never to be forgotten voyages around the world.

8,080 Posts
Thank you so much for this account Pompeyfan. A really valuable source do***ent (no kidding) for future historians of this now vanished way of travelling around the globe by sea. Send a copy to the NMM who ought to be collating material on the age of the ocean passenger transport.

115 Posts
Northern Star

#15 . Your memory of the Tyne has got a bit rusty over the years David. I was an Apprentice at Swans at the time of the launch, which was from Vickers Armstrongs Walker yard, just up the river from Swans. The launching ceremony was carried out by the Queen Mother who arrived in a wheelchair, having just sprained an ankle. Northern Star's sister Southern Cross was always the senior of the two, being the first merchant ship ever to have been launched by a reigning monarch. The Queen later went on to launch QE2, but you always remember the first.
At the end of my Apprenticeship I joined Northern Star as a Junior Engineer for the last few weeks of fitting out, then did the first four, never to be forgotten voyages around the world.
Hi Alaric
Nice to see that 'the ink in your pen still flows'
There can't be many who can recall with such clarity the relatively short life span of the NS.
I have B&W photographs of NS as she headed down the Tyne to her sea trials and she just happened to be the last ship I sailed on.
Memories linger ...

1,132 Posts
Good to hear from you Joe. (Persic name).
Would be good if you uploaded your photographs to the gallery, particularly if they show NS leaving the Tyne stern first between the piers. Not an auspicious start to her seagoing life, but so typical of this fine ship. If it could go wrong, it invariably DID!

3 Posts
In Fremantle Australia, Northern Star was to the stern of Oriana. She left port before we did as shown below.
2 beauties which I was lucky enough to visit regularly- also sail on Oriana - on their calls into Gibraltar where my father worked for their Agents, Smith Imossi.
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