Starvation on the Gayundah


The extra firemen of the Gayundah write: “The Gayundah having returned to Brisbane after a lengthy cruise along the Queensland coast, we take the opportunity through the columns of the WORKER of bringing under the notice of the public and authorities the disgraceful way in which the men who are called upon to man Queensland’s first line of defence have been treated in the shape of food.
We have not an unkind word to say about Captain Drake, neither do we complain of the daily sustenance money allowed by Government for seamen. We are positive, however, that through some way or another we have not been treated fairly, and that during the whole cruise the food supplied to us was shockingly inferior to what the seamen get on the steamers employed in the coastal trade. Whoever had the providoring of the ship, we submit, could have treated us much better on 1s. 4d. per day, and which at the time of our engagement we were told was allowed for our food.
The cook engaged at the commencement of the cruise was a coloured alien, a native of Samoa, who was afterwards discharged in Townsville. It may be said that he was to blame for the kind of food served up to us, but before leaving the vessel he complained to us of the miserly quantity and quality allowed for the ship’s crew. Captain Drake can verify that at Maryborough a complaint from the crew was made to him of the food as being unfit to eat, and that he condemned it, and gave instructions to give us better than that which was brought under his inspection. At another time we had to complain of the quantity supplied to us, and which was not sufficient by any means. We believe that the ship obtained sufficient groceries, &c, in Brisbane for the voyage, and that the only provisions worth speaking about, obtained while North, were bread, meat, and some potatoes.
Consequently we would very much like to have it inquired into as to how the 1s. 4d. allowed for own daily sustenance has been spent. And we respectfully ask the members of the Labour Party to cause a proper investigation into the way we have been treated, when the Naval Estimates come up for discussion in Parliament.”

Worker (Brisbane, Qld. : 1890 – 1955)  Sat 19 Aug 1899  Page 11