The Vaughan Evans Library was recently gifted the personal maritime research collection of Roy Fernandez. Roy Fernandez was an Australian diplomat who spent much of his adult life travelling the world. In 1969 he was Australian ambassador to Burma and later Yugoslavia. From 1971- 1974 he was deputy head of mission in Washington with a staff of 350. His last posting was as ambassador to Manilla in 1982.
Fernandez had a keen interest in researching details of immigrant and shipping to Australia and New Zealand, convict transports as well as the transports of both world wars. It is this research that has been generously donated to the Vaughan Evans Library for everyone to access. As a part of this collection, there are several volumes of postcards beautifully illustrating shipping vessels from around the world. Some of these postcards still have their original messages. It is through these short, hand-written messages that we can catch a glimpse of into the sender’s life as they send quick messages to loved ones back home.
On this postcard from the Zealandia, the sender wrote ‘I feel very unsettled after my holiday and don’t feel like commencing work on Wednesday’. Like so many of us with the post-holiday blues!
Or this heartbreaking message from 1954, written on the back of a postcard featuring the Orient Line RMS Otranto: ‘Well we are off at last, and I have lost hope of ever seeing you again. But so far it has been quite a good journey’. A reality faced by many as they set out to sea.
This beautifully illustrated postcard of the Aurelia tells of exotic trips to Egypt. The sender wrote ‘Should reach Suez in three days and I intend to do a tour of the Pyramids and Sphinx – everybody does – can’t miss it can I?’
Posting your update
The postcard is the Facebook update of a by-gone era: small, quick and highly personable jumble of sentences to let your friends and family know how you are fairing. There are over 2000 postcards in the main collection of the museum. Some were kept by the writer, others by the recipient and yet more collected by the likes of Roy who saw the value in these fleeting dispatches often scribed on journeys across the seas.
This is just a small example of the postcards from the Roy Fernandez Maritime collection and the extensive references held at the Library. If you would like to see more please come visit us at the Vaughan Evans Library, Australian National Maritime Museum. We would be glad to help with any enquiry you may have. Contact details and opening hours can be found on our website. If you are interested in passenger ships and immigration a research guide can be found here
— Anna Tennant, Library Assistant.