Our arrival was a disappointment. At two o’clock in the morning of the 21st March I put my light out to get some sleep, as I knew I would have to be up again in a very few hours. I could not sleep, and at 4 o’clock I looked out of my porthole and found we were just lying off the heads waiting to enter. The lights of Sydney, and particularly the bridge, were quite bright. I tried to sleep again, but gave it up at 5.30 and had a bath.
I then started to get ready for the shore and pack up our trunks. Working in spasms and with a rest every few minutes, Rozie managed to get dressed. Lo came in at about 6 o’clock looking a picture of misery and ready to drop any second. With two sick women on my hands I was not having a bad time. We went inside the heads and tied up before 7 o’clock. I was still packing.
Every time I had arrived in Sydney there were a faithful few who always met the boat – the General Manager, Jack Ewen, Alan McPhee, Fred Sullivan, Ina Theobald and Jo Sullivan. Rozie announced that there was no one on the wharf whom we knew. Of course, we couldn’t expect it at such an early hour. Then Fred and Jo arrived and shortly afterwards Mac. Fred came on the boat. As neither Rozie nor Lois could eat any breakfast I said I would not bother and got them off the boat as soon as possible. By eight o’clock we were through the customs and our luggage had been handed over to the Orient man to be transferred to the Orcades. We talked at the wharf for a few minutes and as none of the others had arrived I thought they were not coming. Fred took Rozie and Lois away to recover during the day and Mac and I went to the Orcades to see that everything was right.
After spending a short time in looking over the boat we went to the office. Then we discovered our other friends were just as faithful as ever. The General Manager, who is far from well at present, had got up early and had arrived at the boat at 8 o’clock only to find we had left. Ina and Jack had done likewise and all had been chasing us round without catching us up. Jack and Ina were actually on the Orcades while we were there, but apparently we were on one deck having a look round and they were on another and so we just missed. I did not see Jack until the afternoon and I saw Ina the next day.
A very busy day was spent in the office, broken at lunch time by a luncheon party with the Sydney salesmen at the Carlton Hotel. At night Fred picked me up at the office and I went out to his place at Artarmon for Dinner. I found Rozie and Lois both as cheeky as you like and quite recovered. At nine o’clock we were picked up by Mac and he took us to his home at Roseville for the rest of the evening. At midnight we returned to the boat and started unpacking what had taken me so long to pack just a few hours before. At one – lights out, and by jingo I slept!
Tuesday was set aside for the last few office matters, to buy some things which I did not have time to get before I left Wellington and to make some final arrangements for the money on the trip. I started badly by spending twice as long as I intended at the office. When I got to the Bank to get the money I went from one friend to another, with the result that I was late for a luncheon appointment with Jack on the Orcades. That took longer than I expected and consequently I was late for an afternoon tea appointment at Roseville to meet Ina and Glad. We got back to the boat at 20 minutes to seven and the General Manager and his wife were due for dinner at 7 o’clock. Hastily changing and doing up the last button as I went, I arrived at the gangway just as they were coming on the boat.
Knowing that Rozie was not yet ready to receive them I killed time by taking them to see Lo’s room and of course she was also not ready. Instead of dinner at 7 it was nearly 8 when we started and close on 9 o’clock before we finished coffee. It was a good dinner and a very happy party, as Mrs Gledhill had not seen Rozie and Lois for about 4 years. The evening passed very quickly and we were sorry when it was time to say goodbye.
Next morning, Wednesday, I was at the office at 9 o’clock to keep an appointment to see the two New Zealand salesmen. My talk with them developed into a lengthy session and instead of getting into the city to draw some money and return to the boat by 10.30 to receive a number of friends who were coming down to see the boat and say goodbye, I was still at the office at 11.10 and without any money. I said goodbye to all more hastily than I desired and at the last minute gave up the idea of getting into the city to draw the money as I was afraid I would miss my friends and also the boat.
However, I must have money. I asked Mr Gledhill if he could cash a cheque for me. He only had 30/- and that was not enough. Miss Adams came to my assistance and got the petty cash clerk to give me two or three pounds, but that was not enough either Then she started collecting 10/- or £1 from different members of the staff and by raiding the stamp box and with the 30/- from Mr Gledhill I finished up with £10. I then rushed out to get a taxi and left her to get the money from my account some way or other, as I did not have time to write a cheque and also to square up with the rest of the staff. When I reached the boat there were about 5,000 people on board, or as one of the officers told me, about 80 visitors to every passenger. It was impossible to find anyone so I fought my way through the crowd to get to my room. There some were already waiting and others were looking for me.
The room was littered with flowers and presents and there was a huge basket of fruit and flowers from the Burroughs family – the best of all the many baskets which arrived on the boat as far as we could see. We had scarcely got together in the cabin (no, the shipping company asserts that word is out of date and they must be called rooms), before the bugle sounded and all for the shore were instructed to leave. Kissing all the ladies goodbye took quite a while, especially as I could not remember which ones I had kissed and so went round again. Then Rozie and Lois made that an excuse to go round and kiss all the men. Anyhow, it was a wonderful send-off and it was undoubted evidence of the joy of having good friends.
When they were on the wharf a Burroughs roll was gradually thrown down and caught by Mac a distance of about 60 feet below. It eventually ran out to the wooden core at the end and with the other thousands of streamers was at last broken as the boat slowly moved out a few minutes after noon. Yes, Sydney was a hectic time and it was all too short. We did not see half of those we wanted to see, nor did I get done half of those things I said I would do when I left Wellington Now I will have to wait until I reach Melbourne to make the purchases and finalize financial matters.