Through Scandinavian Eyes - a History of Colonial Queensland
I have been collecting material for a number of years now for the purpose of yet another book 'Through Scandinavian Eyes', dealing with the experience of Scandinavian migrants in early pre 1850s Australia and thereafter in Queensland.
For the purpose of this book I have systematically gathered a database (the largest of its kind in existence) containing more than 27 500 entries on Scandinavians (chiefly Swedes, Danes and Norwegians) living in Australasia prior to 1914, with emphasis on those came to live in Queensland. I do, however, collect details of pre-1914 Scandinavian immigrants and mariners also from the other Australian colonies, New Zealand and other sections of the Western Pacific.
Yet the colony of Queensland was the main port of entry for Scandinavian immigration(Danes in particular) to Australasia onwards from 1870 and hardly any Scandinavian mariners in the Western Pacific and New Guinea did not at one time or the other pay prolonged visits to or live somewhere in Queensland.
People are welcome to contact me with questions and I am particularly interested and helpful if they have and are willing to supply me with material (pictures, diaries, letters and files) that might be useful for this book.
Note the contact information on the opening 'Home' page or by use of the firstname.lastname@example.org
Nobody know the name of the first European or non-Aboriginal person visiting the Australian continent. However, we certainly do know the name of the first academically educated scientist on Australian soil.
His name was Daniel Carlsson Solander (1733-1782), alias Carolus Solander, and he was a Swede and formerly a student with the world famous natural scientist Carl Linneaus (1707-1778) at University of Uppsala. He and his assistant and draughtsman Herman Spöring (1733-1771), a Swedish Finn, are also the first Scandinavian-born on record to set foot on Queensland soil.
The painting below depicts from left: Carl Solander, Joseph Banks, Captain James Cook, Dr John Hawkesworth and the Earl of Sandwich.
Above photography of the Kvæsthusbroen in Copenhagen harbour was taken by the photographer Jens Hansen Lundager just days and weeks prior to his own migration to Queensland in 1878. The vast majority of the Scandinavians migrating to Australia in the nineteenth century migrated to Australia via Queensland during the 1870s. Probably some 60 percent of these migrants, Swedes and Danes in particular, commenced this journey from this very spot. They typically boarded the steamers seen in the right side of the picture which would take them to Lübeck in Germany. At Lübeck they had tickets issued for the train to Hamburg where they were quartered in the Hamburg emigration depots until such time their ship was ready to be boarded.
Hamburg harbour in 1875. On the far right side one sees Baumwall, the head office of Robert Miles Sloman & Co, a German-British owned shipping company whose agent Louis Knorr had a contract with the Queensland government from 1870. This was where the journey to Queensland began, and some of the ships seen in this picture will be the Sloman owned iron hulled clippers that sailed on to Queensland and New Zealand. The ships were Reichstag (below), Lammershagen, Shakespeare, Herschel, Humboldt, Eugenie, Charles Dickens, Gutenberg, Friedeburg, John Bertram and Fritz Reuter, most of them three-mast barque-rigged ships carrying some 350 passengers. The exception was the four masted Fritz Reuter and Charles Dickens who carried some 450 passengers. Alardus was the only non-Sloman ship sailing on this destination in the 1870s, she was hired by the Queensland agent from another German shipping company and the result was very awful indeed. Below is a picture of the Reichstag, a sister ship to Freideburg. They were very fast ships and would often make this journey in less than three months.
The first voyage and arrival to Maryborough of the Reichstag (above) on 4 March 1871, also marks the first arrival to Australia of a substantial number of what might be termed 'genuine' immigrants from Scandinavian countries. Many Scandinavians had certainly come to Australia prior to that period, but they arrived in small groups and they were often businessmen and similar who saw investment opportunites on this new continet, or they were mariners that jumped ship or other individuals and adventures often people driven by gold fever. The arrival of Reichstag, however, was the result of the first ever Australian Government funded migration scheme targeting Scandinavian countries. She departed Hamburg on this voyage with 329 passengers, 165 Scandinavians (125 Danes and 40 Swedes), 138 Germans, 40 Swiss and one Austrian.
The picture above was taken by the Danish photographer Jens Hansen Lundager (alias Jens Larsen Hansen from Bogense) in Gladstone in September 1887. Although it was never meant to be a depiction of Scandinavians, there are nonetheless several Danes in this picture. Notably a well known local, the then Port Curtis pilot Laurens Janson (alias Lars Jensen from the village Neble near Stege, Møn), he is the man with the hat on the top balcony, and Hansine Christie (nee Hansen) and her Carpenter husband Charles Christie (alias Carl Ulrich Christensen) both from Langeland (they are the people standing on the ground to the right).
John Olsen, better known as the man who discovered in 1882 on his land north of Rockhampton what was to be known as Olsen's Caves. Olsen migrated from Norway but he was in fact born in Vårvik in Sweden in 1824, where he was given the name Johannes Olsson. However he moved to Norway with his wife and children in 1856 and from here to Queensland via Hamburg and Oslo (Christiania) in 1873. He may have been of Norwegian extraction, he certainly insisted that he was a Norwegian national at his naturalisation at the Court House in Rockhampton in 1876.
Julius og Carl Christensen from the town of Rudkøbing on the island Langeland in Denmark. They migrated to Queensland in 1872 and 1874. This photo was taken in the Queensland township of Rockhampton in about 1880.
Copenhagen born Mogens Frederik Kehlet, alias 'Fritz' Kehlet', was one of the earliest Danish Settlers in Queensland. He arrived in about 1860 and worked as a watchmaker, he was later a publican, proprietor of the Royal Hotel in Maryborough, and he later established the first holiday or tourist venue in Hervey Bay, the 'Valhalla Bording House' seen in this photograph from about 1880.
Gracemere station near Rockhampton was founded by the Scottish-Norwegian Charles Archer and later run by his eight brothers and their families. Charles Archer and five of his brothers were born in Scotland from where they migrated to Norway at a very early age, settling eventually at Tolderodden near Larvik. The eldest brother Charles Archer was 12 at the time of their migration and the youngest was the 2 year old Thomas Archer, another three brothers were afterwards born in Norway. Consequently most of them received their primary school education in Norway and this certainly made a serious impact noticeable in the naming of places and properties they had in Queensland. Most of these names originated in Norway and in Norse mythology. Eidsvold was named in honour of the first Norwegian constitution and the town in which it was negotiated and signed, the Berseker Range near Rockhampton was named after the famous Berserkers, a particular section of old Viking or Norse warriors who were said to fight in uncontrollable trance-like fury (this indeed is where the phrase ‘go Berserk’ originates). Charles Archer’s horse was similarly named 'Sleipner', the name in Norse mythology of the horse of the supreme God 'Odin'. The lagoon near Gracemere was named after a lake near their home in Tolderodden Norway, Kroombit station and the nearby Mountain of that same name was equally of Norwegian origin and so it goes. The latter was named by Norwegian-born Colin Archer who later went on to make a name for himself as a naval architect of considerable fame. The success of the Archers attracted other Norwegians to Queensland, among the more notable was the scientist Carl Lumholtz.
One of the most notable Norwegians in colonial Queensland history was Peter Abelsen (alias Peter Brown), a ships carpenter turned gold prospector in Queensland during the late 1860s. Abelson was James Venture Mulligan's right hand when they discovered the famed Palmer River goldfield in October 1873, triggering one of the last of the really big alluvial gold-rushes in Australian history and certainly one of the most important events in Queensland history. Abelsen built the very first gold washing cradles on that field.
The Dane, Bertel Johannes Bertelsen, belonged to the aristocracy amongst Scandinavian migrants in early Queensland. He was certainly not only one of the most successful but also the very earliest Scandinavian-born to settle in what was then Northern News South Wales. He commenced his career as a book keeper, and moved on to be the station manager and subsequently the proprietor or´Squatter' of Boonara station near present day Kingaroy in the South Burnett from 1847 to 1852. He became a very wealthy man on this account and this is how he looked a decade or so later.