An epic journey

The Lions arrived in Hobart, Tasmania on this day in 1888 on the latest stage of their epic seven-week journey from Plymouth. [more]

Lions Australia Tour 2013

The Lions arrived in Hobart, Tasmania on this day in 1888 on the latest stage of their epic seven-week journey from Plymouth.

The next stop was Dunedin and the opening game of their first southern hemisphere adventure on April 28.

The 21-man squad, along with tour managers Alfred Shaw and Arthur Shrewsbury, were away for nine months in total, with a third of that time spent in transit.

The Lions left England on March 8 and played their first tour game in New Zealand seven weeks later. They then moved on to Australia at the end of May before returning to New Zealand at the beginning of September.

They played 35 games in total across the two countries, winning 27, drawing six and losing just two, but none of those games were Test matches.

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Their arrival in Hobart on this day 125 years ago was greeted with plenty of excitement from the locals who had long since known about their trip to the other side of the world.

They weren’t the only notable passengers, however, as this extract from The Mercury newspaper testifies…  

“The Royal Mail Steamship Kaikoura, of the New Zealand Shipping Co.'s line, got up to an anchorage in the bay last evening from London, via Plymouth, Teneriffe, and the Cape.

“On arrival in the bay she was boarded by the health officer (Dr. Barnard) and the harbourmaster (Captain Riddle). The usual official inspection of the sanitary and hospital arrangements was made, and everything found to be scrupulously clean and neat, and in accordance with the prescribed regulations required by law.

“The Kaikoura, like the other boats of the same line, is a regular caller here and the arrival of any one of them is always looked forward to with a certain amount of interest by nearly every member of the community, from various motives, but on this occasion more than usual interest centred on her arrival when it became generally known sometime back that the first English football team and Sir Thomas Brady, the well known fisheries expert, were amongst the passengers.

“The former have come out to try their luck in the football fields of the colonies, and the latter is in charge of the salmon shipped to the order of the Government. It is satisfactory to learn that the venture promises to be a great success.

“The Kaikoura has also on board 300 stoats and weasels for the destruction of rabbits in New Zealand.

“The Kaikoura on leaving Plymouth had full passenger lists, both in the saloons and forecabins. The voyage out, although a remarkably tempestuous one as to weather, was rendered as agreeable as possible socially speaking by concerts and other forms of diversion.

“Sir Thomas Brady, as chairman of the amusements committee, entered heartily into every arrangement to benefit the ship's company, and thanks took the form of an address presented to him by the members of the Anglo-Australasian F.C. yesterday. In the address sincere thanks were expressed for the generous enthusiasm Sir Thomas had displayed in promoting athletic sports on board, tempered with regrets at having to bid him farewell. Sincere gratification was also expressed for the many instances of kindest sympathy practically expressed in actions to further the success of the team and the pleasures of the voyage.

“The Kaikoura landed 30 passengers of all classes here, and takes on some 90 for New Zealand ports. She will replenish her coal bunkers to the extent of 300 tons, and leaves again for Dunedin this morning.

“Concerning the trip we may mention that the Kaikoura left Loudon on the 8th, and was due here on Tuesday, but there were two delays, one of seven hours, through breaks in the machinery, and complaints were heard from the passengers on this score. The trip was otherwise entirely free from accidents or casualties of an unpleasant nature.”

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