Private Journal Of A Voyage To Australia by James Bell
2012 The National Year of Reading
January – The Amazing Read
Finally, I’ve chosen my book for the January theme of The National Year of Reading. The theme is The Amazing Read. I’ve been racking my brain for weeks, trying to think of the most amazing book I’ve read, thinking that I would re-read it in January.But I’ve read so many amazing books, how could I ever choose one of them to be amazing.
While thinking about this, I’ve been reading an amazing book, Private Journal Of A Voyage To Australia by James Bell. Very slowly, the penny dropped – Here is my amazing read.
This book is the personal diary of James Bell, who took the long voyage to Australia in 1838, leaving his family and friends, and not knowing what to expect of the new country, so far away.
There are many reasons that I am amazed by this diary. Firstly, it’s very survival is amazing. The original diary turned up at a country bookstall in England, 150 years after it was written. The State Library of South Australia managed to buy the diary at auction. Now, that is amazing.
The story of the voyage is also amazing. A voyage which was meant to take about 130 days, actually took six months to arrive in Australia. Many events and dramas occurred along the way, to make the voyage very difficult.
Also amazing is James Bell’s descriptions of the other passengers and his very detailed account of their comings and goings. He doesn’t hold back at all in expressing his opinion of most of them.
It is obvious in reading his words, that James Bell has a great sense of adventure. He also has a love of poetry, great religious faith, and is very nostalgic about his memories of those he left behind.
More than a century after the diaries were written, the reader can’t help but be reminded of the dangers of such an adventurous voyage. I am also reminded how lucky we are, that adventurous people like him, and like my ancestors, were brave enough to take the long voyage to a land that at the time was little known.
I hope you enjoy this amazing read as much as I did.
Published by Allen & Unwin 2011