Diary of my early life in South Australia

Adelaide to Waikerie — 1912

Frank Leadbeater


Saturday 22 June 1912

Arose at 7:30 to a cold morning, the sea rough and the ship [the SS Roon] rocking a bit. Passed the ship doctor again at 9:30 and then finished packing up ready for landing. We came in sight of some islands at 9:00, passing Kangaroo Island at 12:00. Up to noon we had gone 323 miles [since noon yesterday]. We took the pilot and doctor on board at 7:15 pm and passed the doctor at 7:45. We arrived in harbour at 8:00 but did not get berthed till about 8:30. From noon up to Adelaide we did go 108 miles. We were met by A Renshaw and C Mellors and it was very late when we got through the customs, it being 10:30. We had very little trouble. I never opened my big box but he just glanced in my portmanteau. He did the same with the others. We catched the last train up to Adelaide, it being a special at 11:20, arriving in Adelaide at 11:45. We put our luggage in the left luggage office and then made our way to the Coffee Palace in Hindley Street where we put up for the night, it being too late for us to go to the lodgings found for us by our friends. We had two rooms with 3 single beds in each and it reminded me of home when I heard the dogs barking and the cats meowing. We retired to bed at 12:30.

Sunday 23 June 1912

Arose at 7:30 after our first night on shore and we made our way to White's Restaurant where we had a good breakfast. After that we made our way to our future lodgings which were a good 1½ miles out of Adelaide but in a nice locality, the landlady being Mrs Rankine, [No 12 or 18] East Street, off Henley Beach Road, Torrensville. It was a 4 room house and she made arrangements for all being together in one room. In the afternoon we went to the Town Hall to hear an organ recital which was very fair but to me the organist did not get the effect he should have done from the size of the organ and the number of stops. In the evening we went to Pirie Street Methodist Church and there was some good singing, the choir being very good. It happened to be Young Men's Sunday and the minister preached a very good sermon for them, it being full of advice and warning.

Monday 24 June 1912

It being the Prince of Wales birthday, there was a general holiday through the country, but it was very wet and it rained up to dinner time. During the morning, having met AR and CM, they took us through the YMCA rooms, Art Gallery, and Museum which was very well stocked with very curious and different stuffed animals and fishes, skulls, flies and insects. In the afternoon we paid a visit to the ASE [their trade union, the Amalgamated Society of Engineers] secretary and then we went to Magill on the [tram] car and had a walk among the hills, but we had to return, for it began to rain. We arrived home about 6:15.

Tuesday 25 June 1912

Arose at 6:45. Had our breakfast at 7:30. When we were ready for going out it came on to rain fairly heavy and it rained till dinner time. We had cold dinner or lunch. Then we went into the town and went to a few [work]shops after work but no one was wanting anyone just then. After hot dinner at 6:00 we went to the ASE meeting at the Trades Hall but it was nearly over so we just introduced ourselves to the president.

Wednesday 26 June 1912

This morning I registered myself at the Labour Bureau but they were not wanting any fitters anywhere. I also called on another firm by the name of J Horwood and he was an old Oldhamer of 60 years ago but he was not requiring anyone just then. But we had quite a long chat.

Thursday 27 June 1912

Had another tour round the city and Jim went up to Gawler in the afternoon. When he got back he said he got work but the foreman told him he did not know how long he would be able to keep him for things were not so brisk. He had to start work on Monday.

Friday 28 June 1912

We went up to Union Bank and got our money out. Then we took it to the State Bank, after which we went round by the Labour Bureau. Notice was put up for two fitters at Islington [SA Railways Workshop] who were to be selected that morning, so we took our tickets. About 20 minutes after, the clerk put another notice up saying that it was being left over while Monday as probably they would be wanting more.

Saturday 29 June 1912

Notice was put up at the Labour Bureau that they were wanting 5 loco[motive] fitters at Islington, ballot to take place on Monday. We had our photos taken this afternoon in the front of the house. Went to the station with Jim to see him off at 5:20 pm. Then walked to Hyde Park and arrived back home at 7:30.

Sunday 30 June 1912

Attended St James' Church to communion at 11:00. After service one of the wardens stopped us and asked if we had come to stay down there and then introduced us to the rector who said he would be glad to see us at any time. In the afternoon we went to the Botanical Gardens which were very nice and we heard the Army band play and then heard a socialist speak.

Monday 1 July 1912

This morning we went to the Labour Bureau for the ballot but were not successful in being drawn. There were about 15 candidates. It was nearly one o'clock when the ballot took place. Herbert got a job to start in the morning working on the road.

Tuesday 2 July 1912

Herbert started work this morning on the road and Joe visited more [work]shops but they were not wanting any fitters yet. One of the brothers in law who is a councillor has taken our names to see what he can do with regard to us getting in the town's works. Went this morning to the School of Mines and signed on to take a course of fitting and turning starting next week (cost 5/-).

Wednesday 3 July 1912

Went to Kilkenny to a firm that was advertising for two fitters but when we got there the boss was up in Adelaide and when we got back in town we could not find the place where he was.

Thursday 4 July 1912

Called at another shop after work but they were full up. Went to the GPO with the letters and inquired to see if there were any for me. Got three which were addressed to Algiers and had gone on to Sydney and then back again. We had a phonograph concert which was very good.

Friday 5 July 1912

Went round by the Labour Bureau but there was nothing in our line. In the afternoon I went up to Gawler and called at Mays and they told me to write up in a fortnight. Then went up to Martins who were full up but took my name and address. After their working hours I called on Jim and had a few words with him. I went to call on CS Hornabrook but he was out so I had a talk with one of the church workers.

Saturday 6 July 1912

Had a walk down to Henley Beach. In the afternoon helped the son of the house to put up the wire fencing for the hens and it passed the time on very well. In the evening we had a walk up to town and round the outskirts.

Sunday 7 July 1912

Went to St Mary Magdalene Church off Carrington [Street] and had a talk after service with Canon CS Hornabrook. He introduced me to a Mr Francis whom I had to see on the Tuesday morning following.

Monday 8 July 1912

Called at GPO for letters and then went round by the Labour Bureau but there was nothing in our line. Then called at one or two shops ending with the same tales. At night I went to the school of mines for my first lesson. The teacher gave me an inch and a half square nut WI [white iron?] in the block to file up square on every side, top and bottom.

Tuesday 9 July 1912

I went round by the Labour Bureau but there was nothing. This morning I called on Mr Francis at the West End Brewery and he saw the manager about work for me. But he said there was nothing just then but told me to call again in a week or two. In the evening I went to the Adelaide branch ASE meeting.

Wednesday 10 July 1912

I went round the shops in Hindmarsh but no-one was in want of any men.

Thursday 11 July 1912

Went round again to some of the shops and also wrote up to Broken Hill Mines. In the evening, went up to North Adelaide [ASE] secretary's but he was not in.

Friday 12 July 1912

Joe got word from Port Pirie to go up and start as early as possible. Herbert got stopped through the Corporation not having money enough to carry on the work.

Saturday 13 July 1912

Jim came down from Gawler and we had a talk about the state of things at Gawler and he returned by the 5:20 train.

Sunday 14 July 1912

Borrowed a bike and went down to Henley Beach. In the afternoon I went to the Botanical Gardens and heard one or two Labour MPs speak. In the evening I went to the St Peter's Cathedral and heard the tenor solo If with all your heart but he was not so good, it being almost too much for him. The bishop preached but he read his sermon and it was not so good.

Monday 15 July 1912

Wrote to Islington Works for a job and went round by the Labour Bureau and one or two shops but they were not wanting any. In the evening I went to the North Adelaide branch of the ASE and was introduced to a member who told me his son wanted a fitter at the Irrigation Works at Waikerie. He told me to write to him first thing.

Tuesday 16 July 1912

Wrote to Waikerie after a job. Went to the YMCA to see if they had anywhere for me to go for work. They asked me to fill a form up which I did and had to call again in the morning. Went to the School of Mines and had my first lesson in turning.

Wednesday 17 July 1912

Went to the YMCA and he gave me a letter to take to the Port Pirie Pty Co but they did not want any men. Went to the School of Mines.

Thursday 18 July 1912

Wrote to May Brothers at Gawler and called at two more shops but they were not wanting any men. Received [news]papers from home.

Friday 19 July 1912

Had my Bureau Card registered for another month. In the afternoon helped to fasten Joe's box when a letter came from Waikerie about me going to work there. I answered by telegram after which I did a little packing. In the evening I went to town and bought a few tools. Drew £5 from the bank.

Saturday 20 July 1912

[Union] Branch picnic. Went up to the station to meet the members who told me about the job and met C Mellors and A Renshaw. In the afternoon we went to the Glenelg beach. I filled my nomination form up and they said they would see to it being sent in.

Sunday 21 July 1912

In the morning went to Holy Communion at St James' Church. In the afternoon went up to Prospect to see J Hunter but he was out. So we went again in the evening and made arrangements about paying my club.

Monday 22 July 1912

Left Adelaide by the 9:10 for Gawler. Left my rug in the train. Had a short conversation with Jim and friends about nomination. Got to Morgan 6:40 pm. Put up at Lamberts Hotel for the night - had tea, breakfast and bed.


Tuesday 23 July 1912

Set off for Waikerie by motor car which was a fairly rough ride through country which was only just being opened up, arriving in Waikerie at 9:00. Introduced myself to Mr Barbour who showed me round the works and told me what he intended doing. Then he said he would have a tent rigged up for me and he lent me some rugs.

Wednesday 24 July 1912

Started work for the irrigation plant [as a fitter].

Saturday 3 August 1912

Watched for the first time the Australian game of football between the Rovers and Ramco. Drew my first cheque for work done £2-19-6.

Sunday 18 August 1912

Went to church for the first time since coming up here.

Wednesday 21 August 1912

Lord Bishop laid the foundation stone of the Church of England. Received my box from Adelaide.

Saturday 31 August 1912

Finished my work as fitter at the Waikerie pumping station.

Sunday 1 September 1912

I went and had my photo taken for post cards.

Monday 2 September 1912

I started work as an engine driver this afternoon from 4 pm till 12 midnight.

Saturday 7 September 1912

Drew my second cheque £16-9-11 and banked £8.

Sunday 8 September 1912

Received my photos and sent one to my wife and one to my father & mother. Worked for the first time on a Sunday, from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm, having changed my shift.

Monday 9 September 1912

Paid my board for 3 weeks, £2-6-0.

Wednesday 11 September 1912

Received sad news from home regarding Mr Andrew's death.

Sunday 15 September 1912

Changed shift again, going on midnight till 8:00.

Wednesday 18 September 1912

Paid a visit to the Waikerie Horticultural and Agricultural Show which was very fair.

Thursday 10 October 1912

Drew £14-9-11.

Saturday 12 October 1912

Our Ethel's [3rd] birthday.

Wednesday 30 October 1912

Received the pleasant news of my wife and our Ethel coming out on November 23. [They arrived in Adelaide on 1 January 1913 aboard the Indarra.]

Saturday 9 November 1912

Drew cheque for £16-14-11.

Saturday 23 November 1912

Visited the Strawberry Fete in connection with the Methodist Church held on the Show Ground.

Saturday 30 November 1912

Went to the Strawberry Fete at the Hall held in connection with the Church of England and had a good time.

Leadbeater family tree