The diary of Mr. John Whereat (senior) and his family tells the story of his decision to emigrate to Australia. On the 26th May 1873 the Whereat family left their home in the town of Frome, Somerset and travelled by train to London. On arrival they were faced with the prospect of navigating the streets of London and the river Thames by steamboat, before arriving at the East India docks to board “The Great Queensland” for the adventures that lay ahead in the new land.
The diary describes not only the daily routine during the voyage but the family’s first few weeks in the immigration depot and John’s triumphs and tribulations in trying to secure accommodation for his family. John is disappointed by many set backs and on the 8th September 1873, decides to leave the immigration depot because of the arrival of more immigrants from Germany. This diary gives an insight into the family’s daily activities and events during their journey from ship to shore.
The Queensland Post Office Directories in 1878 – 79, list a John Whereat and his family residing in the High Street at Milton. John Hawkins Whereat married Kate Frances Bowman in April 1883 but later that same year John senior passed away. In 1889 John Whereat had moved to Ferry Street Kangaroo Point and his eldest brother George, a labourer was living at, Elisabeth Street, Rosalie. He married later in life and made many extended trips home to England. Their other brother William, eventually moved to Bald Hills and became a market gardener.
John Hawkins Whereat, established a boat-building firm at Bulimba and his son, who later became a very well known yachtsman in the late 1890’s early 1900’s. John and his son Alf built a 16ft sailing boat which they raced in Brisbane and Sydney. Some of this information about other members of this family was found by searching the National Library of Australia’s historical newspapers online which includes the obituary below. The diary of John Whereat (senior) OM80-07/10 John Whereat Diary 1873 can be viewed at The State Library of Queensland in the John Oxley Library reading room.
Death of Mr. J. H. Whereat – article published in Courier Mail Friday 25 February 1938 p 16
Mr. John H. Whereat, of McConnell Street, Bulimba, one of the State’s best-known boat-builders, died last night. Mr. Whereat was always a keen yachtsman, and was the owner of several famous boats in the eighties and nineties of the last century, including the Vendetta and the Bulletin. With the progress of the 16-foot open skiff Mr. Whereat was a prominent contestant and winner. He was the builder and his son, the late Mr. Alf Whereat, the skipper of the ‘boat which gained for Queensland the inter-State 16ft. skiff championship.
Join us on Saturday 2 June for the John Oxley Library Discovery Day, as we explore the diversity of migration to Queensland with personal stories from our migrant communities and the discovery of photos, documents and oral histories in the John Oxley Library collection.
Janette Garrad – Library Technician, State Library of Queensland