I may say at this point that I was the only passenger on board for Queensland which didn’t please me as I would have to leave all friends I had made on the journey, behind me.
I had to wait in Sydney for four days before the next steamer left for Brisbane.
I was standing on the deck waiting for the steamer to start, and several of my shipmates were standing on the wharf to see me off. I didn’t like the idea of going, and many thoughts were running through my head.
Then all at once the bell rang to cast the boat off, and like a flash of lightening, my mind was made up. I threw my luggage on to the wharf, and leapt off the ship.
I may mention that I had letters of recommendation to the German Consul in Brisbane and other firms, and now being left in Sydney, had no chance to make use of them and therefore, had to battle on entirely on my own.
Four of my German shipmates came on to Sydney, and we took a room in a private house.
I’m not ashamed to tell you that my fortune on landing in Sydney amounted exactly to two pounds, seven shillings and nine pence.
It was early February, and Sydney was a bustling centre of commerce, the point of arrival and departure for most of the nation’s trade and passage.
For the first week, everything was grand – doing nothing else but walk around the streets seeing all the sites of the city and having three meals a day.
The second week, we began to feel we were going the pace too fast. Our money was getting suspiciously less. We therefore had to do with two meals a day, and look for work.
Two of our crowd were clerks – myself and another fellow. One was a carpenter and the other unskilled.
The carpenter got work straight away, but the unskilled fellow thought he’d have a go at anything he could find.
It wasn’t long before he got a billet to drive Mr Farmer of Farmer and Company from his private residence every morning into town and back in the evening.
The fellow had never handled a horse in his life before, and just fancy, he had to drive four in hand.
The first morning this fellow drove the turnout, he got about half a mile from the place, and he ran the whole turn-out into a creek, capsized the whole affair and broke things up in general. For this he got the sack, and joined our party as happy as Larry again.
Two days later, he took a job as a gardener at a gentleman’s place.
He knew as much about gardening as my boots, and a couple of days later, to my astonishment came to our lodgings again and told us as a great joke – he’d just got the sack.
The old gentleman had put him into pruning his fruit trees, and he took a big saw, and cut just about all ther limbs off them. When the boss came to him and said “What are you doing? You’re spoiling my trees!”, the young fellow said, “Oh well, that’s the way they do it in Germany!”
So his boss told him to get back there again.
The other young fellow, however, staying with me was of quite a different disposition.
He was a boy well brought up, with no particular profession. He would hardly look for anything to do. As his money was getting less, he was getting very downhearted, so much so, that he would tell me he would drown himself.
The poor fellow was always talking about home to me, how his parents always used to look after him and so forth, and he wished himself back again.
I was of a more cheerful nature, and used to raise jokes about it for him. But nothing would drive the downheartedness out of his head.
One evening, he said nothing. All his money but a penny or two was done, and he left our lodgings never to return.
The poor fellow had drowned himself alright by jumping into the Circular Quay, where his body was found next morning.
I was an articled clerk, having served my apprenticeship in a wholesale warehouse and I thought I’d stick to this occupation.
Dozens of places I tried where there were vacancies, but my tongue gave me away – nobody wanted a new chum at any price.
The third week in Sydney, I had to be satisfied with one meal a day – couldn’t pay for any more, and seeing it was no use trying to get work in my own line, I resolved to take anything I could get, from the pick and shovel on.
Railways were being built all over New South Wales, and plenty of men required for them. So on several occasions, I duly presented myself for work, but was refused every time.
You know, in those days, a good navvy had to measure a good thirteen inches between the eyebrows and have hair on his teeth, fully four inches long, which I didn’t have. I couldn’t even sport a mustache yet!
In the fourth week, I started with one meal in about every thirty-six hours.
At this time, I happened to hear that Parramatta was a good place to look for work so I took a rail ticket to this place with two-pence left in my pocket, but again was without any luck.
I finally got work in the honorable position of kitchen-man and general useful in the Freemasons’ Hotel, York Street, Sydney at the splendid salary of seven and sixpence a week, and a long beer, which I didn’t have, at ten o’clock in the morning.
I stayed at this job for just four days when I was fortunate enough to get employment in Lipple Brothers shop in George street, Sydney at thirty shillings per week.
I thought I was made a governor to get a rise from seven and six pence to thirty shillings.