ALFRED 1848 - DIARYDeparted Hamburg, 20th August, 1848 via London, where several passengers embarked
Arrived South Australia, 8th December, 1848. Passengers 275.
The SOUTH AUSTRALIAN REGISTER for the day reported the docking of the ALFRED, a ship from Germany, with 275 passengers, chiefly from Silesia and Saxony. Most of them were small farmers who intend settling upon the lands of the South Australian Company. The ALFRED was chased by the Danish man-of-war MEANDER for eight hours, during which as many as eight shots were fired, but escaped the chase by superior sailing.|
The Wednesday edition of the paper included the list of passengers on the ALFRED as they waited to come ashore. In the fine print were the names of Rev Pastors Kranewitter and Klinkowstrom, Roman Catholic Priests. They were travelling first class. Despite this, the names of these first Jesuits appear tiny amongst so many fellow immigrants. In a way, their names on that list are a reminder of how small they must have felt and how tiny the Jesuit presence in Australia was at the beginning.
It was some months before Father Aloysius Kranewitter sat down to reflect in writing on the journey that brought him to Australia. He was 31 when he arrived and had been ordained only a few weeks when he boarded the ship for South Australia. Kranewitter said at the time of his ordination that he nourished a desire to go to that country in which the need of priests was greatest and that he had made a fixed determination to hold to this intention.
In June 1849, KRANEWITTER wrote to the provincial of 'the dispersed Austrian province':
The whole sea voyage comes back to me like an unpleasant dream the remembrance of which brings little that is joyful, for nothing is more disagreeable than to be tossed for months on end on the wide desert sea which one has already been gazing on to satiety. Certainly one learns from the experience more than from a thousand books, but the study is painful ...|
You cannot imagine how on the vast ocean everything that one has left behind remains close to one. You do not feel the distance, but you feel the isolation. Persons to whom one was quite indifferent are now an object of deep affection, one would here wish to kiss the feet of those whom one esteemed at home. You do not know how this comes about but it does ...
On the 15th August, our ship left Hamburg harbour. On the 23rd, I had to baptise a child of Protestant parents, and the day before a child was plunged, after I had blessed it, into the depths of the stormy sea waves. At 12 o’clock in the night I was called to the bedside of another child struggling with death. It was carried off with convulsions next day. Its foster parents were inconsolable in their grief when the body of the little infant was buried at sea.
The last day of our first month out we had the misfortune to discover that in our cabin there were some who were practically nothing but Christian pagans. An historical discussion which occurred at table revealed the fact. One of our cabin companions declared that quite a number of historical assertions had as little truth in them as the Bible itself. This declaration naturally led to others and it became quite plain that those unfortunates had long suffered shipwreck in matters of faith. On another occasion one of these gentlemen maintained that were the Catholic religion logically consistent in all its teachings, real belief would not be found any more among its members... If anyone should begin speaking in an unseemly manner about matters of religion, it was our custom to quickly bring such conversation to an end ...
The 2nd Sept was Sunday, the feast of the Guardian Angels. It was the first day on which we were able to preach on deck to our ship’s company, consisting of Catholics, Protestants, Jews and Christian heathens. After that, my companion, Fr Max Klinkowstrom preached every Sunday that the weather was fine and the sea calm, and he was always sympathetically listened to ...
Sea sickness has an exceptional characteristic. It grips the mind more than the body; a condition of mental uneasiness comes on and makes you incapable of producing any comforting thought ... I had such an aversion for tea, coffee, butter and even wine that very soon even the smell of them was too much for me; and at this stage any profitable occupation was out of the question; I had then time on my hands in abundance to cast my thoughts back to you and all my beloved friends at Innsbruck, to my homeland, and those dear to me there. Hardly a night passed that I did not dream that I was just as near to you as I really was far away, and with every minute was going farther away from you all. Still this was not home-sickness, or regret, or a longing to go back again; it was simply a painful feeling deep down in the soul.
On the 4th of December again we heard the cry ‘Land! Land!’ and could you describe the emotions in the heart of us all at the cry? It was Kangaroo Island that lay straight in front of us. On the 5th of December we lay in the Outer Harbour of Adelaide; we still had to go up to the narrow bight to reach Port Adelaide, the harbour of South Australia proper. We reached Adelaide harbour on the 8th of December.
Having had more than enough of ship life, we seized the first opportunity of landing. We were fortunate enough to be able to do this early in the afternoon. A launch lay beside the Alfredand its pilot engaged to bring the passengers to land at a reasonable price. At 4 o’clock Fr Klinkowstrom and myself, Mr Weickert and three other of our travelling companions stood on Australian soil; in front lay a broad stretch of deep sea and behind there was a plain and behind that hills covered with green trees stretching right across in bow shape from side to side. The first thing we noted was the sand with its mussels and cockles, and then the plant life, all new and unknown to us. Not a shrub, plant or tree like those of home, except perhaps the red stock-gilliflower that grew wild in the sand ridges. We returned to ship once again to get our things and bid farewell to the good captain of the Alfred.
Adelaide is situated about two German miles inland from the sea. Hackney-coaches ply constantly between the harbour and the city, and these brought us there by 8 o’clock in the evening. It was only after much trouble that we found the ‘Catholic Chapel.’