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Australia

Mark Twain was in Australia from September of 1895 to January of 1896. Part of that time, some of November and December, was spent in New Zealand. Australia was not a unified country at this time but consisted of seven separate British territories. Twain visited the four southeastern territories: New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania. He saw the shoreline of Western Australia from his ship, the Oceana, en route to Ceylon. It anchored off-shore from Albany January 4th, 1896. He remarked at length on the Queensland labour trade but did not visit the territory due to its extreme tropical climate. "The book's main Australian chapters (9-11, 12-25, 27-29) reflect Mark Twain's interest in the continent's economic history as a convict settlement; its subjugation of native peoples; and its unusual wildlife. His admiration of the amazing tracking abilities of native Australians probably helped inspire "A DOUBLE-BARRELLED DETECTIVE STORY."" (MTATZ)

Australian Climate

If the climates of the world were determined by parallels of latitude, then we could know a place's climate by its position on the map; and so we should know that the climate of Sydney was the counterpart of the climate of Columbia, S. C., and of Little Rock, Arkansas, since Sydney is about the same distance south of the equator that those other towns are north of it—thirty-four degrees. But no, climate disregards the parallels of latitude. In Arkansas they have a winter; in Sydney they have the name of it, but not the thing itself.

New South Wales: Prison Colony to Commonwealth

Captain Cook found Australia in 1770, and eighteen years later the British Government began to transport convicts to it. Altogether, New South Wales received 83,000 in 53 years. The convicts wore heavy chains; they were ill-fed and badly treated by the officers set over them; they were heavily punished for even slight infractions of the rules; "the cruelest discipline ever known" is one historian's description of their life.—[The Story of Australasia. J. S. Laurie.]

From Sydney to Melbourne

My health had broken down in New York in May; it had remained in a doubtful but fairish condition during a succeeding period of 82 days; it broke again on the Pacific. It broke again in Sydney, but not until after I had had a good outing, and had also filled my lecture engagements. This latest break lost me the chance of seeing Queensland. In the circumstances, to go north toward hotter weather was not advisable.
So we moved south with a westward slant, 17 hours by rail to the capital of the colony of Victoria, Melbourne—that juvenile city of sixty years, and half a million inhabitants.

The Melbourne Cup

The Melbourne Cup is the Australasian National Day. It would be difficult to overstate its importance. It overshadows all other holidays and specialized days of whatever sort in that congeries of colonies. Overshadows them? I might almost say it blots them out. Each of them gets attention, but not everybody's; each of them evokes interest, but not everybody's; each of them rouses enthusiasm, but not everybody's; in each case a part of the attention, interest, and enthusiasm is a matter of habit and custom, and another part of it is official and perfunctory. Cup Day, and Cup Day only, commands an attention, an interest, and an enthusiasm which are universal—and spontaneous, not perfunctory. Cup Day is supreme—it has no rival. I can call to mind no specialized annual day, in any country, which can be named by that large name—Supreme. I can call to mind no specialized annual day, in any country, whose approach fires the whole land with a conflagration of conversation and preparation and anticipation and jubilation. No day save this one; but this one does it.

A Cure for a Carbuncle

October 4 Friday – The Clemens party was still at the Menzies Hotel in Melbourne. Sam’s carbuncle problem caused the cancellation of a performance planned for Bendigo’s Masonic Hall.
From Cooper (102-3): "The next day, Dr. Thomas Fitzgerald, the leading Australian surgeon of the day and the first Australian to be knighted for eminence in medicine, attended Clemens. The doctor froze and lanced Clemens's carbuncle, gave him an injection of opium, and prescribed plasters, which Mrs. Clemens conscientiously applied."

Melbourne to Adelaide

Mark Twain, his wife Olivia and daughter Clara, along with his agent Mr. R.S. Smythe took the seventeen hour overland express from Melbourne to Adelaide, October 11, 1895 at 4:30 p.m. Not far from Melbourne, Dr. N. T. FitzGerald detrained at "one of those mighty estates" where the surgeon lived.

South Australia

In 1829 South Australia hadn't a white man in it. In 1836 the British Parliament erected it—still a solitude—into a Province, and gave it a governor and other governmental machinery. Speculators took hold, now, and inaugurated a vast land scheme, and invited immigration, encouraging it with lurid promises of sudden wealth. It was well worked in London; and bishops, statesmen, and all sorts of people made a rush for the land company's shares. Immigrants soon began to pour into the region of Adelaide and select town lots and farms in the sand and the mangrove swamps by the sea. The crowds continued to come, prices of land rose high, then higher and still higher, everybody was prosperous and happy, the boom swelled into gigantic proportions.

The Aboriginal

Why, a literature might be made out of the aboriginal all by himself, his character and ways are so freckled with varieties—varieties not staled by familiarity, but new to us. You do not need to invent any picturesquenesses; whatever you want in that line he can furnish you; and they will not be fancies and doubtful, but realities and authentic. In his history, as preserved by the white man's official records, he is everything—everything that a human creature can be. He covers the entire ground. He is a coward—there are a thousand fact to prove it.

Traveling Through Victoria

We left Adelaide in due course, and went to Horsham, in the colony of Victoria; a good deal of a journey, if I remember rightly, but pleasant. Horsham sits in a plain which is as level as a floor—one of those famous dead levels which Australian books describe so often; gray, bare, sombre, melancholy, baked, cracked, in the tedious long drouths, but a horizonless ocean of vivid green grass the day after a rain. A country town, peaceful, reposeful, inviting, full of snug homes, with garden plots, and plenty of shrubbery and flowers.

Tasmania

November 1 -- noon. A fine day, a brilliant sun. Warm in the sun, cold in the shade—an icy breeze blowing out of the south. A solemn long swell rolling up northward. It comes from the South Pole, with nothing in the way to obstruct its march and tone its energy down. I have read somewhere that an acute observer among the early explorers—Cook?

Farewell to Australasia

Section title taken from Shillingsburg;s "At Home Abroad". Mark Twain returns to Sydney from his trip to New Zealand December 17th, 1895 and departs the shores of Australiasia January 4, 1896. He visits Sydney, Scone, Melbourne, Malverne and Adelaide. His final anchorage is at Albany, Western Australia. He does not go ashore.

Credits

Cooper, Robert - Around the World with Mark Twain
Fears, David - Mark Twain Day By Day
Rasmussen, R. Kent - Mark Twain A to Z
Rasmussen, R. Kent - Critical Companion to Mark Twain
Shillingsburg, Miriam Jones - At Home Abroad: Mark Twain in Australasia

Course outline

Following the Equator

  • Across the Pacific
  • Australia
  • New Zealand
  • India
  • South Africa
  • Return to Southampton

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