Commencing with the First fleet in 1788, there was a steady stream of ships bringing migrants predominantly from Europe to Australia until the 1970s, the flow of which was interrupted only by the two world wars. By the 1970s, the Boeing 747 aircraft or Jumbo Jet as it was affectionately known, had so revolutionised intercontinental travel, much of the travelling public had abandoned ocean liners for any kind of travel except recreational cruising. The Australian Government, which was still subsidising most fares of migrants coming to Australia, had been the shipping lines' biggest customer. But when airfares became cheaper than sea travel, it began bringing migrants to Australia by air. As its charter contracts with the shipping companies expired, they were not being renewed.
In this chapter, we take a nostalic look at the ocean liners that brought thousands of Baby Boomer migrants and their families from post World War II Europe to a new life in Australia.
As she inched slowly away from the berth, the departure of P&O's new gleaming-white ship, RMS Strathaird, heralded the beginning of a new era, though few of the hundreds of people lining the ship's rails or waving from the shore realised the magnitude of the occasion. Strathaird was sailing away for a five-night cruise with just two ports of call - Brisbane and Norfolk Island. It was the beginning of P&O Cruises' first cruise from Australia and was one of the world's first cruises.
Empress of Australia
The first car ferry linking Tasmania and the mainland was the Taroona, of 4,286 tons, which arrived in Melbourne in March 1935 to begin the Bass Strait service. She was a steam turbine ship capable of 18 knots, but typically operated at 16 knots for better fuel economy. Taroona entered service in 1935 on the Bass Strait route from Melbourne to Bell Bay and Beauty Point from Melbourne to Devonport and Burnie.
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