Cairns, Qld.


On Sunday morning the officers and men of the Gayundah, with the men of the Cairns Naval Brigade, headed by the Town Band, attended divine service in St. John’s Church. An appropriate sermon delivered by the Rev. Oscar Hill was listened to attentively. The concluding hymn, however, was not so felicitous. “Onward Christian Soldiers,” besides being of inordinate length, scarcely fitted in with the raison d’etre of the occasion. Apropos of ” Onward, Christian soldiers.”  It was once arranged, says a London paper, to sing the hymn (of course, in procession) at Mr. Baring-Gould’s (the composer’s) own church on the occasion of a confirmation service. The officiating bishop ‘was consulted beforehand, and it was then found that the good prelate objected to a cross being carried at the head of the procession. ” But,” remonstrated Mr. Baring-Gould, ” I do not see how we can omit it. I have made special reference to it-see. ” With the cross of Jesus Going on before.”   ” I see,” replied the bishop, “but nevertheless, I emphatically object to the cross. Could you not substitute some other words for that particular line of the hymn?” ” 1 will try,” answered Mr. Baring-Gould-and he did try, and succeeded, too. At the service no cross was. carried in the procession, and the choir sang thus :

“Onward, Christian soldiers.
Marching as to war.
With the cross of Jesus
Left behind the door.”

The Town Band was in evidence in the musical portion of the service, and Mr Slade? Was at his usual place at the organ, and it struck us we could trace the first line or two of Adelaide Proctor’s ” Lost Chord ” in his face at times. From the Church. to the wharf the band played a march in first-class style, and it is to be regretted that this really excellent company of musicians should be put out of place in their public performance. Their capital renderings of high class music on the Esplanade on Sunday afternoons are heard all too seldom now. The Gayundah crew think highly of the Town Hand, and it was only as a joke that one of them called them ” Banditti in Obnrcb.” Well, it cannot be denied it is a band, and very nice ditties they play too at times. Cairns is proud of its band.

Certain individuals who know considerably more of other people’s business than they do of their own, started a rumour that Captain Taylor of the Gayundah objected to the Cairns Garrison Battery joining in the parade under notice. There is no foundation whatever for the innuendo. Captain Taylor has no control over the land forces, still he would have been pleased to have seen any members of them falling in with the Naval parade, in their proper position of course. With our democratic convictions we have naturally no sympathy whatever with any circumlocution or red tapeism in any department, no matter how high and mighty that department may be. No contention of this kind, however, can be urged. No impediments were placed in the way of the Garrison Battery joining the parade if the members were really desirous of doing so, and Captain Taylor acted in the matter with the courtesy only to be expected from an officer and a gentleman.

Sunday afternoon was a gala time on board the Gayundah. The wives and friends of the Naval Brigade visited the boat galore. Many of the general public availed themselves of Captain Taylor’s kind permission to inspect the boat. We went off in the Captain’s gig, but judging by the large loads arriving afterwards we should imagine the Captain’s omnibus must have been laid on. What was to be seen in the way of weapons, defences and machinery were shown and explained to visitors in a hearty manner by the Captain downwards. Mr. Pollock., the paymaster, and Mr. Bennett. Chief engineer, kindly gentlemen of the old school, will leave many friends behind them in Cairns. The warrant and petty officers, notably the gunner. Mr. J. Downing, Mr. Dixon (gunner’s mate) and the boatswain, are all good fellows. But this can be said of everyone on board, excepting the cook who looked to us a little bit off colour.

The Gayundah leaves for Cooktown on Saturday, where the men of the Naval Brigade will go through a weeks continuous training. Captain Taylor is a firm advocate for the system of taking the Gayundah to the Brigades, and not the Brigades to the vessel. Considerable time would be lost if the men had to travel to Brisbane to receive their training, so that the present method is admirable. Sailors are proverbial for their verdicts on their commanders. The one passed on Capt. Taylor is easily told-” A grand captain.” It was carried unanimously.

Captain Taylor is very particular about cleanliness, and the Gayundah is as spic and span as a newly burnished mirror. Expectorating on the deck is his abomination, and many a jocular yarn is told of the forgetful individual who has so desecrated her Majesty’s ship Gayundah.  Stern discipline has, of course, to be kept on a war vessel. and it is said that if a fine for the obnoxious habit has no effect other measures are adopted. The fine appropriately enough goes into the hospital box, and the sterner measures are these : The old offender has a spittoon fixed round his neck, and as be parades the deck the accommodation is found to be of considerable convenience to his companions.

You may board the gay Gayundah,
You may handle all the guns,
You may talk away like thunder,
Or indulge in making puns.
You may bow to Captain Taylor
(The politest of his sex.)
But respect that gallant sailor
And don’t spit upon his decks.
You may see the tars at feeding,
And are welcome to a plate,
But if you have any breeding,
[obscured line]
When you are perambulating
(If you’d save your precious necks),
Please avoid expectorating
On those highly polished decks.
Too may call the ship a daisy
(If you’re Irish call it “swate”)
You can wander free and “aisy,”
And untruthful tales relate,
But if you have no ambition,
For a spittoon round your neck,
You will learn by intuition
Not to spit upon the deck.

Cairns Post (Qld. : 1884 – 1893)  Wed 9 Jul 1890   Page 2