Kay Gassan from the Maryborough Family Heritage Institute with the new book on the Flying Cloud.
Kay Gassan from the Maryborough Family Heritage Institute with the new book on the Flying Cloud. Jocelyn Watts

Cheeky sparrows sneaked aboard

STOWING away on the Flying Cloud in 1865 were the ancestors of our feathered friends on the Fraser Coast.

“Sparrows were brought to Moreton Bay in Queensland in 1869 by the ship Flying Cloud,” Kay Gassan from the Family Heritage Institute said.

“The cheeky house sparrows stowed away in the ship's hold and escaped at the first port of dispatch.

“One instance of this happened in Maryborough in 1887 when three hatches of the coastal steamer Burwah were opened. Three sparrows flew merrily away into the town and found a home in the bunya trees that stood in front of the Royal Hotel in Kent Street.

“These were the first sparrows in Maryborough and probably were descended from the Flying Cloud immigrants.”

Ms Gassan and Judith Grimes' research into Maryborough's fascinating maritime history has uncovered this and other interesting facts that will be revealed in a new book being launched on September 3.

“I wanted to do this book 20 years ago but I'm glad now I didn't,” Ms Gassan said. “New digital records at the National Archives make the information much more accessible.”

Among the passengers who boarded the renowned clipper ship from London to Brisbane in 1865 was the great great grandfather of one of Maryborough's favourite sons – Chief Justice of Queensland Paul de Jersey.

“Kay Gassan asked me for information about the seven passengers on the list for that voyage named de Jersey and I am grateful to my brother John for having provided it,” Justice de Jersey (pictured) said in the book's foreword.

“The book covers all seven voyages of the Flying Cloud from England to Queensland, over the period 1862 to 1870, including passenger lists and biographical material provided by descendants.

“Illness, death and insurrection aside, one discerns from the accounts the eager anticipation which these new Australians must have felt, approaching a new land and a new life, which no doubt for most of them turn out to be dramatically different from their lives on the other side of the world.”

Mr de Jersey has been invited to attend the book's official launch by author Anne de Lisle at Maryborough Family Heritage Institute on Friday, September 3, 5pm to 6pm; wine, tea, coffee and nibbles provided.

Flying Cloud descendants, families and others are welcome. RSVP to Ms Gassan at wiseowl3@bigpond.com.au



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