Skip to main content
Hide Articles List

14 articles on this Page



[No title]





[No title]




A VOYAGE TO AUSTRALIA FOR HEALTH. It is becoming such a common thing with English doctors to recommend a long sea-voyage to their patients, that no apology is needed for one who has tried the- prescription for relating his experience, says a writer in Moc/nillan's Magazine. Well or ill told, it must have interest for a large number of readers. It is a serious remedy, and for that very reason its probable effects are almost certain to be over-estimated. It is supposed by many that the climate of the ocean between England and Australia is pretty nearly all in favour of the invalid. This is far from being the case. A very trying part of the voyage is the season c.f hot weather that sets in within about a fortnight after leaving the Channel, lasting perhaps a month. The warmth is pleasant'enough at first; but, as it increases it becomes enervating, and we nearly all i found, while passing through the tropics, that we were steadily losing weight. Bad coughs became worse, and the real invalids began to despond. Before returning to England I spent nearly nine montlis in Australia, so that I am not in a position to offer any opinion as to the merits of a voyage out ar.d home for the sake of the voyage only. Whether it is desirable to return at once, or to remain for a time in the hot, dry climate of Aus- tralia, is, of course, a question for the decision of a medical man in each individual case. With the in- valid's arrival his difficulties and hardships really begin. He is a good deal disappointed, it may be, with the effect of his long sea voyage, from which he hadbeen led to expect so much, and finds at once that to get real benefit from a residence in Australia he must set out upon a fatiguing and expensive journey by land. Where he is to go, and where to live when be gets there, will be questions of very serious difficulty. Lodgings, such as we know them in England, are not to be met with. The choice of accommodation lies between boarding-houses and the so-called hotels, which are often little better than a common Dublic- house: and, except in the neighbourhood of the largest towns, visitors must depend entirely upon the latter. Anyone who has made acquaintance with a Bush hotel would be slow to recommend it as a resi- dence, even to a man in health, and would certainly advise an invalid by all meams to avoid it. Practically speaking, it comes to this, that, except for those who are so fortunate as to have friends living in the in- terior in a favourable locality, Australia is not a suit- able resort for invalids at all. I had it from a medical man, practising in ono of the large cities, that, out of hundreds of persons with weak lungs who had consulted him during a period of twenty-five years, not one of those who remained on the coast had materially improved in health. His advice to all who, from want of means, want of friends, or want of strength were unable to proceed to the interior, was to return to England as soon as possible. We deter- mited to make a trial of Albury in the Riverina, on the borders of New South Wales, seven hours from Melbourne by railway. We found it a clean and pleasant little town, prettily situated on the banks of the Murray, anct surrounded by ranges of hills. We were so fortunate as to secure comfortable accommodation with board in a private house and as, during the first three weeks of our stay, we enjoyed pleasant summer weather, we made up our minds to remain at Albury during the two months that must elapse before we could start for Queensland, where we had been invited to spend six months in the cooler part of the year. We did not long enjoy the pleasant weather I have spoken of. About the middle of January it became very hot—the thermometer for some days standing at over 100 deg. in the shade (once as hiah as 104 dee.) during the day, and at 90 deg. in the house at night. It was considered a cool summer," in Albury-Ill) deg. for a week together being by no means exceptional. From this heat, how- ever, we could see no oscape. We could not hear of any place where we should be likely to find cooler weather without encountering, at the same time, the cold southerly breezes and changeable climate that had proved so trying to me in Melbourne. Besides that, we were reluctant to leave our comfortable quarters. For equable weather and continuous warmth I had been pining for many months; but I had not anticipated heat like this, nor could I have believed it would prove so rapidly enervating as it did. Towards the end of February we started for Queensland, and arrived at our friend's station" on the Barcoo in the middle of March. Our route was from Albury to Sydney by railway, sixteen hours, a voyage of five days by steamer to Rockhampton, after which another day's railway journey brought us within two hundred and seventy miles of our destination—a distance to be covered by two days of coach travelling, and as many more in a buggy." A journey of nearly three weeks, with a rest of two or three days here and there, would be a formidable undertaking to a person in bad health, even in England. It is a much more serious business in Australia, especially when it extends beyond the railways. To rise at four o'clock each morning, and to be jolted about in a coach for fourteen or fifteen hours, along the roughest and, at times, almost impassable roads, under a blazing sun and enveloped in clouds of dust, is enough to try the endurance of the strongest; which is further tested by the coarse fare and bare accommo- dation of the roadside huts. -Nor was there anything in the aspect of the country in the parts of Australia through which I travelled, to relieve the tedium of the way. The eye was wearied day after day by a dreary and monotonous waste of dried grass, sand, and scrub. A sudden fall of rain may delay the coach for hours, perhaps for days and as it is all that five horses can do to drag coach and luggage through the mud, the passengers must get on as best they can upon their legs. Happily, of this last misfortune we had no actual experience but it is a danger from which the traveller is never quite free, and the fear of it was always in our minds. The shorter stages made in our friend's conveyance were less exhausting, but even a station buggy is not the most luxurious vehicle in the world. It took me fully a month to get over the effects of my journey, if, indeed, I have ever done so. Yet, it was to Queensland, and to this particular district of Queensland, that I had been specially recommended to come and we- had travelled in the easiest way possible. A great disappointment was in store for us. We had been led to understand that the heat would be over by the end of March, and that we might lo4 forward, after that, to five or six months of really pleasant and refreshing weather. In fact, great heat lasted till the beginning of May, and we found that "the winter" extended over something less than three months, during which a week or ten days of really cool weather—say from 05 deg. to 75 deg. in the shade at noon—might be expected at intervals. It is fair to say that the winter we spent in Queensland was said to have been an unusually mild one. An Englishman is entitled to use the expression great heat of a tem- perature of 98 deg. in the shade, though probably a resident in Queensland would speak of it differently. It should be remembered that heat and cold are only relative terms, the use of which conveys very different ideas to different persons. It is of the greatest im- portance, in making inquiries about climate, to know accurately in what sense the words are used, and to obtain the readings of the thermometer at different seasons. I have often heard the words pleasantly cool applied to days which I could only describe as exliaustingly hot." An opinion prevails now that the western towns of Queensland are highly favour- able for consumptive patients but I very much ques- tion its accuracy. In some cases, where the general strength is only slightly impaired, it is possible that, the light, dry air of these districts may do good but for persons who are really in weak health the in- tense heat must be extremely enervating. There is nothing sufficiently bracing in the climate of the winter months to compensate for the severity of the summer. But it would be folly to go for the winter only, as nothing but a stay of many months could possibly compensate for the necessary journey. Before the end of the hot weather I was con- vinced that it would be unsafe for me to re- main through a second summer in Australia; and, being quite unfit for the discomforts of a journey to Tasmania, we determined, as soon as the winter was over, to make for England by the shortest po-sible route. Accordingly, at the beginning of August we started for Queensland. We reached Sydney on the 27th of that month, and left by steamer for England on the 31st, arriving at Plymouth on October 20th. Through the kindness of our friends, in placing at our disposal a suitable con- veyance, relays of horses and two of their most careful men as drivers, the fatigues of our land journey were mitigated. But kind wishes could not improve the miserable accommodation on the road, nor make five days in an Australian steamer anything but tedious and disagreeable. Many will think that to return to England in October was unwise but the result in my case has justified the conviction that, with proper care taken, a winter here would prove less injurious than the exhausting heat of an Australian summer. It will be seen from the foregoing pages that my journey to Australia ended in disappointment. I returned to England in a very much worse state of health than I left it. I am not aware that this result has unduly coloured the expressions I have used.

---- ---------WILLS AND BEQUESTS.

[No title]