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Helen woke to the quiet stirrings of the child next to her and the growing movements of new life inside her. Outside, the sound of the waves slapping against the side of the ship once again greeted her ears. It was the same sound she’d heard every morning for the past 92 days. But today was different somehow. The slap of the water was softer, and there was also a new sound, one that she almost didn’t recognize at first. The cries of sea birds that only live near shore.

Quickly, but quietly, Helen rose and dressed herself and the child and went up on deck. Moving carefully to not slip on the slick wood, she breathed in the fresh sea air and felt the cool sting of the spray on her cheeks. As she rounded the side of the wheel-house the gulls wheeled and cried overhead.

Carefully making her way across the deck towards the rail, the sleepy child in her arms roused further when her father greeted them. Across the waves, the beach was so close that Helen could almost feel the sand between her toes, and with relief she sidled up close to her husband.

“Oh George, have we arrived at last?” she asked.

George replied softly, “Yes, my dear. The Captain tells me that we shall be on land by supper.”


Based on newspaper reports as well as the family construct at the time of George and Helen MacDonald’s arrival by ship in Bundaberg in 1882.

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