Down Under in Australia, April 1896–May 1896

Reid L. Neilson and Riley M. Moffat, eds., Tales from the World Tour: The 1895–1897 Travel Writings of Mormon Historian Andrew Jenson (Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center; Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2012), 267–83.

Elder Goff and his missionary companions have labored with great zeal and perseverance in Sydney and vicinity for quite a while and their baptisms, together with about a dozen others previously performed bid fair to lay the foundation for a flourishing branch of the Church in the metropolis of Australia, where the work of preaching the pure gospel has been neglected for many years, though it was here that the elders of the true Church of Christ first commenced successful operations in Australia. It is generally known among the older members of the Church that Elders John Murdock and Charles W. Wandell were the first Latter-day Saint elders to preach the fulness of the gospel to the inhabitants of eastern Australia. On October 30, 1851, these two elders landed as strangers in a strange land in the city of Sydney and soon afterwards began their preaching in the public parks.

—Andrew Jenson [1]

World MapAustralia, Bacon's Popluar Atlas of the World (London: G.W. Bacon, 1894), plate 10

“Jenson’s Travels,” May 2, 1896 [2]

Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

On my arrival in Auckland, New Zealand, from Tahiti April 14, 1896, I found no elder to bid me welcome; but on the following day Elders William Gardner, John Johnson, Wallace C. Castleton, John G. Young, J. H. Willard Goff, Thomas J. Morgan, Hial B. Hales, Edgar O. Best, Robert H. Bodily, Fred W. Ellis, Lysander C. Pond and wife (Sister Louie K. Pond) and their two children, and Albert E. Asper arrived from the Hawke’s Bay District, where they had attended the annual conference of the Australasian Mission. They all came on the steamer Waihora, together with two families of Saints and a sister who were immigrating to Utah. During the following week I completed my historical labors in Auckland and also visited Brother Charles Hardy and family, who live in the Horseshoe Bush, about twenty miles from Auckland.

Monday, April 20. I boarded the steamer Anglian and sailed for Sydney, Australia, together with the following elders and Saints: Elders Fred W. Ellis; Lysander C. Pond and Sister Louie K. Pond, returning home from missions to Tasmania; Elder Edgar O. Best, on his way home from a mission to New Zealand; and Elder Robert H. Bodily, also homeward bound from a mission to Queensland, Australia; all these missionaries had received an honorable release from their respective positions in the Australasian missionary field at the late conference, after long terms of faithful missionary labors; their countenances beamed with that joy and happiness which is characteristic of the laborer in the vineyard who after making good records abroad begins to contemplate the reunion with dear ones left for the gospel’s sake in Zion. There were also Brother Robert Menzies and wife, old members of the Church; Brother George Wilson, wife, and six children; and Brother Thomas Finlayson, wife, and ten children, immigrating to Zion. These, together with the sister emigrating from Tasmania and Brother and Sister Pond’s two little children (both born in Tasmania), made a company of thirty souls bound for Zion, who went to Australia on the Anglian, there to re-embark for America. Our voyage of 1,282 miles from Auckland to Sydney was somewhat unpleasant owing to the stormy weather, which prevailed part of the time, and the unusual and unceasing rocking and rolling of the Anglian. I lectured twice onboard, once in the second cabin and once on the quarterdeck in the first cabin department of the ship. I was listened to with good attention on both occasions, but beyond that only a very little interest seemed to be manifested on the part of the listeners, many of whom afterwards exhibited deep-seated prejudice against our people and doctrines. Our meeting in the second cabin, when Elder Ellis also spoke, was conducted in the usual way of holding Latter-day Saint services, while that on the first cabin deck was purely a lecture, at which the captain of the vessel presided and introduced the speaker.

Saturday, April 25. We arrived at Sydney, where we were met by Elder Jedediah Goff, who has charge of the missionary work in New South Wales, and George W. Lewis, who is returning home from a mission to the colony of Victoria, Australia; also the following named brethren, who had arrived at Sydney per steamer Warrimoo a few days previously (Wednesday, April 22), as elders from Zion called to labor in the Australasian Mission: Charles J. Peterson, Hans Petersen, and Alexander P. Hamilton, of Mill Creek; Charles A. Orme, of Tooele; Francis W. Kirkham, of Lehi; and William Harvey and Edward A. Carr, of Salt Lake City, Utah. Elder Goff, after securing quarters for the other elders and Saints who had arrived on the Anglian, took me to his missionary headquarters on Jesson Street, Alexandria, one of the suburbs of Sydney. They consisted of a single room occupied by himself and Elder William G. Park, his missionary companion, whom I met in the evening. The brethren pay a small rent for the use of the room and board themselves. Later in the evening I had the pleasure of accompanying Elders Goff and Park to a secluded spot “where there was much water” just outside of the suburbs of Alexandria and witnessing the sacred ceremony of baptism administered by Elder Goff to eight persons, who through the labors of the missionaries had been converted to the truth of the everlasting gospel. The evening was a most pleasant one; the moon beamed beautifully upon us and seemed to confer additional enhancement upon the mighty scene and give assent to the divine ordinance which was being performed in strict harmony with the revealed plan of life and salvation.

After the baptism, we all repaired to the home of Sister Alice Andrews, where we held a confirmation meeting; and in laying hands upon the new converts for the reception of the Holy Ghost, the influence of heaven rested upon us, and we all rejoiced exceedingly in the Lord and his mercies. Elder Goff and his missionary companions have labored with great zeal and perseverance in Sydney and vicinity for quite a while and their baptisms, together with about a dozen others previously performed, bid fair to lay the foundation for a flourishing branch of the Church in the metropolis of Australia, where the work of preaching the pure gospel has been neglected for many years, though it was here that the elders of the true Church of Christ first commenced successful operations in Australia. It is generally known among the older members of the Church that Elders John Murdock and Charles W. Wandell were the first Latter-day Saint elders to preach the fulness of the gospel to the inhabitants of eastern Australia. On October 30, 1851, these two elders landed as strangers in a strange land in the city of Sydney and soon afterwards began their preaching in the public parks. Some of the incidents connected with the first movements of these pioneer elders are narrated briefly in the periodical called Zion’s Watchman, published in Sydney, Australia, in 1854, from which paper the following is culled:

“After making the necessary arrangements for board and lodging, Elders Murdock and Wandell turned their attention to the task before them—that of introducing the gospel to the inhabitants of Sydney. On [3] Sunday afternoon, Nov. 2, 1851, [4] after the dismissal of the Primitive Methodist outdoor meeting on the Old Race Course at Sydney, Elder John Murdock, with his hat in his hand, stepped forth and addressed the people in a manner something like the following:

“Gentlemen! I desire to say a few words to the people here assembled. I have been pleased with much that has been said on the present occasion, and being a missionary, sent to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ I would like to have the privilege of speaking to the people.”

He was then asked from whence he came, and after telling that he hailed from America, some little feeling was manifested, which, however, soon subsided. Having asked for a place to preach in, the Primitive Methodist preacher, Mr. Moss, enquired to what denomination he belonged, and was answered, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints. “O, a Mormon, eh!” was the response, and the preacher looked rather aghast at the fact and promptly informed Elder Murdock that he could not let him have a place to preach in, that he himself occupied the ground they were now standing on every Sunday, and that the place belonged to him for preaching purposes. The preacher then hastened away.

The assembly now called for a declaration of principles, when Elder Murdock briefly but very forcibly laid down the first principles of the gospel, explaining also the order of the organization of the Church of Christ and the nature of the blessings enjoyed by Saints in ancient times.

He was listened to with considerable attention, with the exception of being asked once or twice as to whence he received his commission and authority. Among the assembly were several persons to whom the Lord had intimated, by vision or dream, that something important was on hand. One man had had a vision of the kingdom of God established in the center of the world, continuing to increase until it overcame the world, and the Spirit testified to him, when Elder Murdock was speaking, that the cause he represented was the work of God. John Jones, another of the assembly, who afterwards became a prominent elder in the mission, received a similar manifestation and was under the same influence.

At the close of the address, several questions were asked, such as, “Do you profess to be able to perform miracles? Have you ever seen the sick healed?” etc. Mr. Jones asked, “Does your church profess to receive revelation suited to the present condition and character of man?” Elder Murdock answered boldly, “We do.” An appointment was then made for preaching on the race course the next Sunday afternoon.

On Sunday, November 9, Elder Murdock was on the ground at the time appointed, and preached an excellent discourse upon the principles of the gospel and its restoration, the millennial reign of Christ on the earth with His Saints, etc. Elder Wandell was with him, and an appointment was made to preach in the evening at the Old Assembly Room, when Elder Wandell delivered a discourse on the ministrations of angels to the Prophet Joseph Smith. At the close of the meeting, the proprietor said he should not let them have the room again.

After this a house was rented on Pitt Street, where services were held every Sunday morning and evening and public speaking on the racecourse every afternoon. The meetings continued for some time to excite an increasing interest, and hundreds, as a rule, attended the outdoor meetings. The brethren also applied all the means they could muster for the printing of books and pamphlets. Thus two thousand copies of Parley P. Pratt’s Proclamation were published, and two thousand copies of Orson Pratt’s Remarkable Visions. Soon afterwards five hundred hymnbooks and two thousand History of the Persecution of the Saints were published.

In the latter part of November, Elder Murdock went to Parramatta, a town lying about twelve miles inland from Sydney. He went there by steamer and returned on foot down the road, distributing such tracts as had already been published.

December 3, 1851, the first person was baptized into the Church; an evening meeting, attended only by a few, was held, and a goodly portion of the Holy Spirit was present; Elder Murdock spoke with great force and power, making plain the principles of truth.

On the following day, December 4, Elder Murdock left Sydney for Melbourne, in the colony of Victoria, about six hundred miles southwest of Sydney, but he found the people generally gone to the gold diggings and the whole country in perfect excitement. The people were gathering in from the neighboring cities and isles to dig gold, it being about the time that gold was first discovered in the colony of Victoria. Elder Murdock spent two days in the city of Melbourne but could find no shelter for himself and what few articles he brought with him. Consequently, after spending about ten days in Melbourne and vicinity, under extreme difficulty, he found it advisable to leave that part of the country and return to Sydney, where he arrived January 5, 1852.

On Sunday morning January 4, 1852, the day before Elder Murdock’s return from Melbourne, the Sydney Branch of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was organized, consisting of twelve members, including two priests, one teacher, and one deacon, who were ordained on the same occasion. These first members had all been baptized by Elder Wandell, who had been very unweariedly engaged in spreading the truth, both by spreading the printed word and by preaching on the racecourse and other places that could be obtained for the purpose, both out and indoors. Elder Murdock’s health was poor, and as his lungs were weak and his nerves trembling, he found it very difficult to preach out of doors. The principal part of his preaching was consequently done indoors. By this time the elders had come to the conclusion that the best way to plant the gospel in any city or part of Australia was to procure a home for themselves, and from there go out preaching whenever they could get an opportunity; as a rule they could get no congregations on week days and only very few at nights. One of the newly baptized families made a home for Elder Murdock.

In the beginning of 1852, places were obtained for preaching at Chippendale, Rushcutters Bay, and at Kissing Point, but the labors of the elders at these places were not crowned with much success. About the same time the Old Assembly Rooms at Sydney were rented again.

Saturday, March 27, 1852, the first conference of the Church in Australia was commenced; it was organized with Elder John Murdock as president and Elders Charles W. Wandell and John Jones as counselors, and it was adjourned from time to time until the April 6 following. The strength of the Church in Australia at this time consisted of thirty-six members, including one high priest, one seventy, three priests, one teacher, and one deacon; but during the conference two of the newly baptized brethren were ordained elders.

The next year (1853) other elders from Zion arrived, and from Sydney the work spread into the surrounding country, as well as to Melbourne and Adelaide and many other towns in the colonies of Victoria and South Australia; from Sydney also the first missionaries went to New Zealand, and in due course of time a monthly paper called Zion’s Watchman was published in Sydney in the interest of the mission. Thus the work made good progress; regular, annual, and quarterly conferences were held; several companies of Saints emigrated to Utah; and everything looked quite promising in many parts of the mission for a rich harvest of souls when the elders were called home in 1857 and 1858 on account of the Utah War. From that time on the Sydney Branch and other branches of the Church gradually died; most of the members who did not emigrate to Zion soon became lukewarm or lost the spirit of the gospel altogether; hence when the field in New South Wales was reopened about three years ago, the elders had to break up new ground and had a new generation to deal with.

At present there are four elders from Zion engaged in missionary labors in New South Wales; two of them, Elders [Walter] Baker and [David A.] Nelson, are temporarily located at Five, a suburb of Sydney, near the Parramatta River.

“Jenson’s Travels,” May 8, 1896 [5]

Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Sunday, April 26. We held priesthood meeting at the Bellevue House, Sydney, where most of the elders were lodging, and the newly arrived elders were assigned to their several provinces, agreeable to the instructions given them at the headquarters of the Church. Elders Peterson, Kirkham, and Petersen go to New Zealand to receive their further appointments from the president of the mission; Elders Orme and Harvey go to Tasmania to fill up the vacancies caused by the returning of Elders Ellis and Pond; Elder Carr goes to Victoria to labor as a companion to Brother Joseph Stephenson, and Brother Hamilton proceeds to Queensland to assist the three elders already in that field, or to fill the gap instanced by Elder Bodily having left for his home in Zion. In the evening we held a public meeting in a rented hall in Alexandria, where Elder Pond and myself spoke to an appreciative audience of Saints and strangers, under the influence of the good spirit which gave utterance to God’s servants. No fewer than seventeen elders and one sister from Zion were present; they formed a suggestive and interesting semicircle at the head of the hall while the auditorium was well filled with attentive listeners.

On the following day I rendered the brethren some assistance in their arrangements for transportation and obtained a concession of 20 percent reduction from the Orient Steamship Company in the fare of our elders, who hereafter may desire to return home by way of Europe. The presentation of their missionary license signed by the First Presidency is all that is necessary in securing the reduction.

On Friday, May 1, the steamship Warrimoo sailed from Sydney for Vancouver, British Columbia, with thirty-two Latter-day Saints onboard. This included the thirty souls already mentioned as passengers on the Anglian from Auckland to Sydney, and in addition to them Elder George W. Lewis and a Brother Brooksby, who is emigrating to Zion from the Harrow Branch, in Victoria, Australia. In saying goodbye to our brethren and the departing Saints, those of us who remained behind felt a peculiar sensation around the region of the heart and a sort of feminine moisture obstructing the usual functions of our visionary organs, notwithstanding our best efforts to make it otherwise. And as a parting word to our fellow laborers, in connection with our heartfelt “God bless you,” we requested them to remember us to our friends in the land of the Saints, and that when their eyes should gaze once more upon the majestic heights and snow-clad peaks of the mountains of Utah, to give three cheers in behalf of Utah’s patriotic sons who are laboring as ministers of the gospel in foreign lands.

After the departure of the company for Zion and most of the newly arrived elders for their respective fields of labor, Elder Goff and myself turned our special attention to historical labors; but as none of the old records were on hand we could accomplish only a very little in this direction. I was much more successful in gaining information of a general character of New South Wales and Australia, and obtained from some colonial officials and others some excellent books and maps to aid in writing something about the condition and resources of the country.

Australia is the largest island in the world, if it is proper to class it as an island; it is in reality a continent. (Map of Australia from an 1890 Harmsworth atlas.) It lies to the southeast of Asia, between the parallels of 10º39´11½˝ S latitude and the meridians of 113º5´ and 153º16´ E longitude. Its greatest length from west to east is about 2,400 miles and greatest width between Cape York on the north and Wilson’s Promontory on the south is 1,971 miles. Its coastline is about 7,750 in length, and its extent is computed at 2,944,628 square miles, or 1,884,561,920 acres. Some conception of the area of Australia may be better gathered by comparison. It is about twenty-six times the size of Great Britain and Ireland, fifteen times the size of France, about one-sixth smaller than the whole of the United States of America, and only about one-fifth smaller than the continent of Europe. The northern shores of Australia are washed by the waters of the Torres Strait (which separate it from New Guinea), the Gulf of Carpentaria, the Arafura Sea, and the Indian Ocean. It is bounded on the south by Bass Strait (which divides it from Tasmania) and by the South Pacific Ocean; on the east by the South Pacific Ocean; and on the west by the Indian Ocean. A fair idea of Australia and the location of its several colonies may be gathered by considering it as divided into three parts, namely, western, central, and eastern. The western part consists entirely of Western Australia; the central of South Australia and its allied Northern Territory; the eastern of the three colonies of Queensland, New South Wales, and Victoria. Western Australia, occupying the whole of the western portion of the continent, is surrounded on its northern, western, and southern side by the sea, its eastern boundary being the colony of South Australia and the Northern Territory. Its capital city is Perth. To the eastward of West Australia and stretching from ocean to ocean, occupying the whole of the central portion of the continent, is the colony of South Australia, the northern part of which is known as the Northern Territory; Adelaide is the capital. The principal town of the Northern Territory is Palmerston. To the eastward of the Northern Territory and South Australia lies the colony of Queensland, which embraces the northeastern portion of the Australian continent. Brisbane is the capital of Queensland. South of Queensland and east of South Australia is New South Wales, the mother colony of Australia. Sydney is the capital. Occupying the most southerly part of the continent, southwest of the New South Wales and eastward of South Australia, is the colony of Victoria. The metropolis is the city of Melbourne.

Australia consists of an immense plateau, with a narrow neck of land sometimes intervening between the edge of the elevated area and the sea. The east side is the highest, averaging about two thousand feet above the ocean. The west side is not more than one thousand feet above the same; the north is a little higher. The south side is either level with the ocean or abuts in cliffs upon the sea, ranging from 300 to 600 feet in height. The general character of all the seaward side of the table land is precipitous, but on the southeast angle of the continent the tabular form disappears, and there is a true cluster of mountains called the Australian Alps, whose highest elevation is a little over 7,000 feet. The inland portion of the tableland slopes by a very gradual incline towards a central depression, which is south and east of the true center of the continent. Thus the incline is greater and shorter for the east side of Australia, and it is on this side alone that there exists what may be properly termed a river system. The elevation of the west side of Australia being only half that of the east, or even less, and the distance of the central depression being twice as great, there is no drainage toward the interior. Whatever water falls from the clouds collects in marshes, which are generally salt. The soil on that side consists generally of disintegrated granite rocks and is sterile and dry, forming little better than a sandy desert. All the tableland is more or less interrupted with ranges of mountains which, however, are not sufficiently high to give rise to a river system.

Each of the five Australian colonies have their own governments, local laws, and fiscal duties. They all enjoy what a Britisher terms responsible government. The form of government is a modification of the British constitution, the queen being represented by the governor, who is appointed by the crown; the House of Lords by the Legislative Council, nominated or elected; and the House of Commons by the Legislative Assembly, elected by the people. The imperial laws are in force, unless superseded by local enactment, and all acts passed by the local legislatures must receive the queen’s assent prior to their becoming law.

The climate of Australia, taken as a whole, is healthy and generally very dry and free from malaria. It is, however, subject in summer to hot winds and periodical droughts and in winter to heavy rains. The seasons are reverse to those in Europe or North America, December being midsummer and June midwinter.

The staple productions of Australia are gold, silver, copper, tin, and other metals, wool and other pastoral products, sugar, grain, and meat. Wool is the general and great staple of Australia and forms its largest exports. From 1887 to 1890, 1,989,208,705 pounds were exported of the value of £81,315,960. For the year 1892 the total exports were nearly 800 million pounds, valued at £28,342,490. For the growth of wool of excellent quality the Australian pastures are unrivaled. It is no wonder that the sheep men of the United States of America cannot successfully compete with the Australian wool grower without protection.

At a rough estimate, Australia has 110 different kinds of that particular family of animals known as marsupials, of which the kangaroo and the opossum are the best-known varieties; others being the wombat and native bear. There are also twenty-four varieties of bats; one wild dog family called the dingo, or warragal; thirty species of rat or mice; and a number of seals, dugongs, and whales, which inhabiting the ocean are not restricted to Australia. The marsupial animals, which are now extinct in almost every other part of the world, are considered by zoologists to be the oldest mammals of the world known. Fossil remains prove that their predecessors in ages past grew to enormous size, rivaling that almost of the rhinoceros. It has been estimated that there are upwards of 630 different species of birds in Australia, the largest being the emu, or Australian ostrich, and the smallest the wren. Peculiar to the country are the black swan, the honeysucker, the lyre bird, the bush turkey, and others. Snakes are very numerous, and, though not of large size, are very venomous in character; there are upwards of sixty different species. About 140 different species of lizards have already been enumerated. In the rivers of Northern Queensland and other parts of North Australia, crocodiles, locally called alligators, have been found.

There are about 15,000 miles of railways in operation in Australia and about 100,000 miles of electric telegraph. There is an unbroken railway system penetrating the coast country of Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, and South Australia, and branch lines leading off in all directions, some of them penetrating far into the interior.

There are in the Australian colonies about a thousand newspapers, including magazines and small-class publications. In Melbourne and suburbs alone, about 150 periodicals are published.

There is no state church in Australia, though, as in England, the Episcopalians are the dominant body as regards numbers. Next in point of influence and number come the Roman Catholics, followed by Baptists, Congregationalists, Lutherans, Salvation Army, and Jews. The few Latter-day Saints in the colonies are classed in the colonial yearbooks among other “smaller sectarian bodies,” including a large number of Mohammedans, Confucians, and pagans. A good school system exists in all the colonies.

On December 31, 1893, the population of Australia, according to official census, was 3,241,629. Of these, New South Wales had 1,223,370; Victoria, 1,174,022; Queensland, 432,299; South Australia, 341,978; Western Australia, 65,064; and Northern Territory (belonging to South Australia), 4,896.

The aboriginal inhabitants of Australia belong to what is termed the Ethiopic, which is the lowest family of the human race. They are ranked by ethnologists in the Papuan or Austral-Negro scale, but forming a special type, and are believed by some to be the remnant of an ancient and peculiar race. No satisfactory estimate has been formed of their number, but there are at least 60,000 of them left. At the time of the first settlement by whites in Australia, they numbered about 150,000, according to the best conjectures. These people in their native state have no fixed habitation; in the summer time they live almost entirely in the open air, and in the more inclement weather, in bark huts of the simplest construction. Their implements are of wood, stone, or the bones of animals or fish. Their religious and intellectual condition is apparently of the lowest kind, and it is believed that they resort to cannibalism under exceptional circumstances. They are occasionally employed by the settlers in light kinds of work and as horse breakers; but they dislike continuous occupation and soon give it up. They are also engaged by the police occasionally in tracking criminals in the bush, for which they have great aptitude. The physical characteristics of the natives have been generally described by a prominent writer as follows: “The men are tall and well formed, having broad foreheads, wide mouths, small, piercing eyes, flattened noses, thick black hair, deep chests, their lower limbs being thin and ill developed as compared with those of average Europeans. They are remarkable for the beauty and strength of their teeth, the boldness of their carriage, and for the comparative smallness of their hands and feet. Although perfectly black, they are different in appearance from the natives of Africa, wanting the wooly hair and the great thickness of lips for which the latter is noted. The women are smaller than the men, in appearance worse looking and with frames not so well developed; they are very much abused and ill treated by their male peers. * * * The natives’ weapons consist chiefly of spears, shields, boomerangs, wooden axes, and nadd[l?]es, or clubs. The Botany Bay natives had bows and arrows. In some parts of the country the spears are pointed with flint or stone heads and barbs, and the natives in some places use flint knives and stone hatchets or tomahawks. * * * On the seashore canoes made of bark are commonly used for fishing. * * * The natives of North Queensland are fierce and bloodthirsty, and in the neighborhood of the Palmer River and Hodgkinson Diggings and further north have sacrificed many lives, particularly of the Chinese. In physique they far surpass the aborigines of the south, though in intelligence there is little to choose between them, the Australian blacks occupying probably the lowest position of the human family. The original inhabitants of New Zealand are a different class of beings altogether; they are intelligent, apt to learn and imitate, and have great natural powers of perception.” [6]

Since my arrival in Australia, I have seen only one native, and he was sitting with crossed legs on the wharf at Sydney busily engaged at some handiwork peculiar to his race. Most of the natives live far in the interior of the country, and only a few reside near the thickly populated cities or towns.

The precise period of the discovery of Australia is doubtful. Old French manuscript charts bearing dates 1531 and 1542 have marked on them an extensive country to the southward of the Moluccas, under the name of Jave la Grande (Great Java), which agrees nearer with the position and extent of Terra Australia than with any other land, but the Dutch are credited with making known what had been kept secret by the Spanish and Portuguese, probably for commercial purposes. The Dutch visited the north coast of Australia in 1616; other explorations followed, and in 1622 the southwestern extremity of the continent was discovered by the captain of a Dutch ship, and by him named Cape Leeuwin (Lioness) after his vessel. The south coast was soon afterwards explored. In 1664 the continent was named New Holland by the Dutch government. In 1770 Captain James Cook, the renowned English navigator, explored the eastern coast of Australia and took formal possession by hoisting the British flag. In 1788 the first settlement in Australia was formed at Botany Bay, in what is now New South Wales. In 1825 Queensland, under the name of Moreton Bay, was settled as a portion of New South Wales, being raised into a separate colony in 1859. The Swan River settlement, the first real settlement in Western Australia, was formed in 1829; in 1851 it became a penal settlement, and so continued until 1868, when transportation of criminals ceased. Victoria, originally known as Port Phillip and forming a part of New South Wales, was first permanently colonized in 1834, and in 1851 the colony was separated from its parent, New South Wales. South Australia was colonized by emigrants from Great Britain in 1836, was made a crown colony soon afterwards, and continued thus until quite recently, when it was given responsible government.

“Jenson’s Travels,” May 11, 1896 [7]

Adelaide, South Australia

During my stay in Sydney, I paid a visit to Five Dock, another suburb of Sydney, where Elders Walter Baker and David A. Nelson have established their headquarters, and from there they go forth daily among the inhabitants to distribute tracts and bear testimonies to the people concerning the truths of heaven. Five Dock is near the Parramatta River, and about six miles from the town hall in Sydney. On our return from Five Dock on Sunday, May 3, we visited the suburbs of Balmain, where the Josephites have an organization. Here we met Mr. Richard Ellis, an old apostate, who presides over the Josephite branch, and I had quite a lengthy conversation with him, as he poses as one of the best-informed local preachers of his denomination. I found him downright dishonest and absolutely inconsistent in argument. When I confronted him with historical facts, he replied with an effusion of words that might be termed a bombastic, meaningless attempt at oratory, while the perspiration literally bathed his extraordinarily corpulent frame in a most thorough manner. I found it necessary to rebuke him and denounce that part of his speech to which a meaning could be ascribed as utterly false from beginning to end. But just as I was warming up to the situation and was preparing to confront him with some of my best historical arguments, he was “pulled off” to commence his afternoon meeting; and as he gave Elder Goff and myself no invitation, we retired from the battleground in first-class “fighting condition.” Mr. Ellis presided over the Sydney Branch when the Utah elders returned in 1857; and, according to his own words, he allowed the branch to wither and die on his hands. He is supposed to be in possession of some of the old branch records, which, however, he denied; but as his other statements were so foreign to the truth, I cannot attach any importance to his denial. Fortunately for us, we are not depending on the local records of the Sydney Branch for the history of the Australian Mission.

The colony of New South Wales contains an area of 309,175 square miles, being nearly three times the size of Great Britain and Ireland, or about the size of France and Great Britain combined. It is larger than Sweden, Norway, and Switzerland, and larger than any single state in Europe, except Russia. It is enclosed within the parallel of 28º10´ and 37º28´ S latitude and meridians 153º37´ and 141º E longitude. In the corresponding zone of north latitude are the southern part of Spain, Italy, and Greece. Its greatest length is 900 miles, but averaging only 500; the greatest breadth is about 850 miles. The surface of the colony is diversified with alternate hills, valleys, and plains. The highest mountain peak is Mount Seaview, about 6,000 feet high. The western interior of the colony consists of immense level tracts of country. The Liverpool Plains, embracing an area of about 17,000 square miles, are the most extensive; it is for the most part sparsely watered and for this reason unsuitable for the purposes of tillage. Lakes and rivers abound certain [sic] parts of New South Wales; the great bulk of the population live on and near the coast, the whole interior of Australia being very thickly settled and large tracts yet unexplored. New South Wales contains 172 boroughs, or municipal districts, varying greatly in regard to size and population. The population of the colony according to the census of 1891 was 1,132,234, of which 725,015 were native born; 85,154 were born in other Australian colonies; 8,280 were aborigines; 266,101 hailed from Great Britain and Ireland; 4,639 from other British possessions; and 39,787 were of foreign birth. The religious returns were: Church of England, 502,980; Roman Catholics, 286,911; Presbyterian, 109,390; Wesleyan Methodist, 87,516; other Methodists, 22,596; Congregationalist, 24,112; Baptist, 13,112; Lutheran, 7,950; Unitarian, 1,329; Salvation Army, 10,310; other Protestants, 12,046; Jews, 5,484; Greek Catholics, 252; Buddhist, Confucian, Mohammedan, etc., 169,950.

Sydney, situated in 33º31´ S latitude, is the capital and seat of government of the colony of New South Wales and is also the parent city of Australia. It is situated on the southern shore of Port Jackson, thus named after Sir George Jackson, who once was secretary to the Lords of the British Admiralty. Sydney itself was named after Viscount Sydney, who first suggested the idea of establishing a colony in New South Wales and who was secretary of the state for the British colonies when the territory was taken possession of for Great Britain. The city was founded on January 26, 1788, by Captain A. Phillip, who came here with a fleet of store and transport ships for the purpose of founding a convict establishment. He had six days previously landed at Botany Bay, but finding it unsuitable for settlement abandoned it for the site of Sydney. The locality chosen for the future city was a delightful spot at the head of what was subsequently named Sydney Cove and is now known as Circular Quay. The city proper is situated at a distance of four miles from the mouth of the harbor. The entrance to Port Jackson from the Pacific Ocean is upwards of a mile in breadth. Vessels drawing as much as twenty-seven feet can enter at low water. The harbor, which is considered one of the best in the world, is not a uniform expanse of water but is broken up in all directions into capacious open-mouthed bays by the numerous promontories jutting out into it. Several of these bays are harbors in themselves and navigable for several miles. There are several features of the city of Sydney which bear a striking resemblance to those of an English town. Some of the streets are narrow, tortuous, and without any pretensions to modern architecture. This is particularly characteristic of the older town; in the suburbs many of the streets are laid out to the cardinal points of the compass and interse[cte?]d its others at right angles. Sydney proper has only 100,000 inhabitants, but including its thirty-seven suburbs it can boast of population of nearly 425,000. The actual count at the close of 1893 was 423,000, of whom 103,870 lived in Sydney proper. Thus it will be seen that about one-third of the entire population of New South Wales resides in Sydney and its suburbs. Like Victoria in British Columbia, Sydney is strictly an English town. The linguistic peculiarities of the inhabitants at once reminds one of the provincial dialects of England, and it seems that the people of New South Wales are copying the customs, manners, habits, and characteristics of the parent country almost verbatim. In my observations in Sydney and in soliciting information as to why certain “ancient” customs prevailed which seemed altogether out of place in a new country viewed in the light of American progress, the answer as jocularly suggested by Elder Goff would be, “Oh, that is the way they do it in England.” In New Zealand I found more that resembled pioneer life. The public parks and government domain in and around Sydney are special attractions; also the art gallery, museums, botanical gardens, government buildings, and above all the harbor system are objects of much interest to the visitor. Sydney ranked as the metropolis of the Southern Hemisphere almost since it was founded, until a few years ago when Melbourne, in the neighboring colony of Victoria, was struck by a real estate “boom,” which introduced into that city and suburbs such a multitude of people that Sydney was compelled to take the second place; but since the natural relapse which always follows an unnatural boom reached Melbourne tens of thousands of people have left for other parts, and it is now believed the Sydney and her environs again contains the greatest number of inhabitants, though this is denied by her more southern neighbor. It is true, however, that the population of Sydney is increasing every year and that for several reasons that of Melbourne has fallen off.

“Jenson’s Travels,” May 16, 1896 [8]

Albany, West Australia

Having secured passage to Naples, Italy, on the fine Orient Company’s steamer Oroya, I sailed from Sydney, New South Wales, on Monday, May 4, 1896, bound for the “old world.” Among the thousands of people who came down to Circular Quay to see friends off, the only one for whom I had any special interest was Elder Jedediah Goff, who kept me company to the last. I had a pleasant passage to Melbourne, Victoria, a distance of nearly six hundred miles, where we arrived in the afternoon of Wednesday the 6th. The next day I found Elder Joseph Stephenson, who had been laboring alone in the colony of Victoria since Elder George W. Lewis, his former companion, left a short time ago. Elder Stephenson has been suffering with weak eyes for many months, which has been a great annoyance to him; but he appears to belong to that class of elders who would rather sacrifice life itself than make a failure of his mission; and consequently he has taken a stand which could hardly justify the president of the mission to release him on account of ill health. His time, however, has now nearly expired, and he will be able to return home with honor to himself and family. Elder Edward A. Carr, who is to be his companion for a short time, arrived in Melbourne on the 8th and made the suburb of Footscray his temporary home. Brother Stephenson himself occupies a rented room in North Melbourne, where most of his labors during the last few months have been directed.

During my three days’ sojourn in Melbourne, I made myself very busy in culling from the old branch records and proving up historical dates from old files of newspapers at the public library. Elder John Murdock was the first of our elders who brought the fulness of the gospel to the colony of Victoria. He arrived in Melbourne in December 1851; but unable to obtain a footing, he soon afterwards returned to Sydney. The next year Elder Charles W. Wandell came, and, after diligent labors, succeeded in raising up a branch of the Church in Melbourne. Other elders followed, and other branches came into existence, among which was one at Bendigo, a mining town about one hundred miles inland, which flourished for a short time only, as most of the members immigrated to Zion. From Melbourne the work also spread to South Australia and Tasmania; but the calling home of the elders in 1857 and 1858 stopped the further progress of missionary work for many years. In 1885 the late Elder John L. Blythe reopened the field; assisted by the elders, he reorganized the Melbourne Branch and raised up a new branch at Harrow, far the northwest, which had an organized existence till last year when the president of the branch (Brother Cox) emigrated to Zion with his family, and there is now only one family belonging to the Church in that locality. The present branch in Melbourne is small, but regular cottage meetings are held, and the prospects are fair for a further growth. An old Elder, Robert D. Beauchamp, who never returned to Utah from whence he was sent as a missionary about 1869, died in a benevolent institution, at Geelong, September 7, 1890. Geelong is a city situated on Port Phillip Bay, about forty-five miles southwest of Melbourne. Elder Samuel Charlton is now the local president of the Melbourne Branch.

Melbourne is the metropolis and seat of government of the colony of Victoria. Its center lies in 37º49´53˝ S latitude, 144º58´42˝ E longitude. Melbourne is so named after Lord Melbourne, who was premier of Great Britain at the time it was founded. In 1836 the present site of Melbourne was known as Beargrass or Bearport and on June 18 of that year it comprised thirteen buildings. The growth of the town during the past half a century has been most extraordinary, having developed from an unknown extreme corner of the British possessions with a handful of settlers to one of the large cities of the world, having an area of 5,020 acres and a population of nearly half a million and property of the net value of nearly £1,900,000. Melbourne contains some of the finest buildings I have ever seen and a number of very large business establishments. Among the latter is the so-called Cole’s Arcade, which is supposed to be the largest bookstore in the world. Besides the million books on its numerous shelves, a very large assortment of general stationary stock is kept on hand, and sold both at wholesale and retail. The streets of Melbourne, generally speaking, are wide, straight, and regular and cross its [sic] other at right angles, though only a part of them, and that particularly those in the suburbs, are made to conform to the cardinal points of the compass. The extensive government buildings, beautiful parts, excellent training system, electric light works, public institutions, etc., are features of great attraction to the stranger who visits the city. A most excellent library connected with an extensive museum and a fine art gallery, all collected and artificially arranged in one large building situated on Swanston Street, speaks volumes of praise in behalf of an enterprising community. The municipality of Melbourne only embraces a small portion of the metropolis. Like Sydney the majority of the inhabitants live in suburban towns, which have separate town, or municipal, governments. The town proper is distant about three miles from port Melbourne on Hobson’s Bay, where all the large steamers tie up. Some of the smaller vessels go up the Yarra River to points closer to the city center.

The colony of Victoria, of which Melbourne is the capital, is situated at the southeast of the continent of Australia and lies between the parallels of 34º and 39º S latitude, and meridians 141º and 150º E longitude. The largest river in Australia is the Murray, which separates Victoria from the colony of New South Wales. The extreme length of the colony from east to west is about 120 miles; its greatest breadth about 250 miles, and its area 87,884 miles, or 56,245,760 acres, which is about the size of Utah. The coastline, broken by several bays and capes, is about 600 geographical miles. A range of mountains traverses the entire length of the colony, dividing it into two unequal parts; the highest peak has an elevation of 6,508 feet above the level of the sea. The population of Victoria at the close of 1893 was 1,170,330, of which 457,230, or more than one-third, resided in the city of Melbourne and vicinity, which in the yearbooks are termed Greater Melbourne, and includes nine city municipalities, five town governments, and a number of intermediate county, or shire, organizations. Victoria enjoys the distinction of being the greatest protective colony in Australia. The policy adopted in this regard is very much like that believed in and practiced by the Republican part of the United States of America. On the other hand, New South Wales, its neighbor on the northeast, has lately been made a free-trade colony; and, consequently, the future success and prosperity of the two colonies, which are very near alike in natural resources and other conditions, will be watched with the greatest interest both in the British possessions and America. And, in my estimation, it will be a literal test case to decide whether Australia ought to be a free-trade or a protected country. Victoria is the smallest of all the Australian colonies in point of area but the second in importance in point of population.

“Jenson’s Travels,” May 27, 1896 [9]

Colombo, Ceylon, East India

Saturday, May 9. I parted with Elder Joseph Stephenson in Melbourne and again boarded the steamer Oroya, which sailed from Port Melbourne (three miles from Melbourne proper) at 1:30 p.m. The distance across that large sheet of water known as Port Phillip Bay is about forty miles. At 4:45 p.m. we passed the “heads” into the great Southern Ocean, whence we took a southwesterly course in order to round Cape Otway which is one of the southernmost points of the continent of Australia. Wilson’s Promontory, which we passed on our voyage from Sydney to Melbourne, is still further south. It lies in latitude 39º11½´ S. The following day (May 10) was rather stormy, and a number of the passengers failed to show up at meals. My own state of health was exceptionally good. Since my interesting crisis among the Tuamotu Islands, seasickness has exacted no tribute from me. On Monday morning early (May 11) we passed through the strait called Backstairs Passage, which separates Kangaroo Island from the mainland. We passed through with the island named on our left. Kangaroo (85 miles long by 30 wide) is the largest island belonging to Australia. Thence we changed our course to the north and steamed up the gulf of St. Vincent. At 10:00 a.m. the Oroya cast anchor about three miles off Largs, which place is about nine miles from Adelaide, the capital of South Australia. Smaller vessels go up a tidal river to Port Adelaide, about seven miles from the city. Soon after anchoring I landed at the Largs pier and thence took train for Adelaide, where I visited parks, museums, libraries, and other places of interest. I stopped at a hotel overnight and returned to the ship after calling on some of the government officials, from whom I obtained maps and literature on the colony of South Australia.

My first impression of Adelaide was very favorable. The wide, straight streets, which cross each other at right angles and follow the cardinal points of the compass, at once remind one of Utah’s fair capital; and the beautiful parks, stately public buildings, respectable business blocks and well-stocked stores call to mind the thrift of a young American city. The public library of Adelaide is exceptionally well stocked with books of the most imminent ancient and modern authors; the museum contains a small but well-selected stock, including both Australian and foreign specimens; some most excellent samples of oil paintings and statuary adorn the walls and floors of the modest three-roomed art gallery; the botanical gardens, containing about forty acres, are kept in first-class condition and represent a great variety of plants, flowers, trees, etc., of the tropic, semitropical, and temperate zones. By special courtesy of the director, I was shown through the zoological gardens, where a small but fine collection of animals, birds, reptiles, etc., is very tastefully arranged. Both the Australian fauna, as well as the ordinary zoological specimens of the world, are properly represented. Everything about the gardens had a neat and attractive appearance; and the general arrangement of everything in and about the premises reminded me very much of the zoological gardens of Copenhagen, Denmark, as they appeared about fifteen years ago. Adelaide also has a technological museum. All these public institutions, as well as the colonial university, the exhibition building, the governor’s mansion, the new parliamentary building, etc., are all situated adjacent to each other on what is called North Terrace, a wide street and esplanade which skirts the north side of Adelaide proper. Beyond the esplanade is a belt of reserved land or public domain, which separates the city proper from North Adelaide lying across the little Torrens River. The city of Adelaide proper only contains about 40,000 inhabitants; but with its suburbs and the country lying within a radius of about ten miles, including Port Melbourne, there is a population of nearly 130,000. Adelaide and its suburbs lie on a level tract of country, elevated only a few feet above the level of the sea; but a short distance east of the city, the Adelaide Mountains form a most beautiful background to the landscape. Mount Lofty, one of the highest peaks in that chain, has an elevation of 2,334 feet, and is distant from the city about ten miles. Of the different cities that I have visited in Australia, Adelaide comes the nearest of being my ideal city—a place where, everything else being equal, I would not dislike making a home, were I seeking for one. Adelaide was founded in 1836, by emigrants from Great Britain; it was named in honor of the queen of William IV, king of England. In its pioneer days the embryo colony experienced much adversity, and the settlers suffered great hardships; but these have now been overcome; and the city as well as the whole colony is making good progress; and it is generally admitted by the colonists that no better site for their capital city could have been selected.

South Australia proper contains an area of 380,070 square miles, which is about four times the size of Utah, and had on December 31, 1894, a population of 347,720. The Northern Territory, which belongs to South Australia politically but is virtually a separate country differing from the parent colony in climate, soil, and general resources, has an estimated area of 523,620 square miles but only a population of about 5,000. The census of 1891 places the number of some of the religious denominations in the colony as follows: Church of England, 89,271; Roman Catholic, 47,179; Wesleyans, 49,159; Lutherans, 23,328; Presbyterians, 18,206; Congregationalists, 11,882; Bible Christians, 15,762; Primitive Methodists, 11,654; Baptists, 17,547; Christian Brethren, 465; Unitarians, 688; Moravians, 139; Friends, 100; New Jerusalem Church, 168; Jews, 840, etc. But there is not one Latter-day Saint, so far as I can learn, in the whole colony; though Adelaide was the city where the gospel, as revealed through the great Prophet of the nineteenth century, was first preached in this dispensation. William Barrett, a young Englishman, who on July 11, 1840, was ordained an elder by the late Apostle George A. Smith at Hanley, Staffordshire, England, was the person who first came to Australia as a Latter-day Saint elder. He arrived at Adelaide, Southern Australia, early in 1841 after a rough passage; and under date of April 9, 1841, he wrote that he had commenced to preach but had not yet baptized any. He intimated that the obstacles to the introduction of the fulness of the gospel in South Australia were very great and that the people were giving themselves up to prostitution, drunkenness, and extortion. From private sources I have learned that Elder Barrett did baptize a few; but the fulness of the gospel was never fairly introduced in Australia till 1851, when Elders Murdock and Wandell commenced their operations in Sydney, New South Wales. Two years later, when more missionaries were sent from the headquarters of the Church to Australia, Adelaide became a regular field of labor, Elders A[bsalom]. P. Dowdle and J[ohn]. W. Norton being the first to go there. Under date of September 13, 1853, they reported a number of people baptized and two branches organized in South Australia. But in due course of time, most of the converts immigrated to Zion, and since the return of the elders in 1857, no successful missionary work has been done in Adelaide by any of our elders.

On Wednesday, May 13, 1896, the Oroya, after taking onboard the Australian mail for Europe and some more passengers, left her anchorage off Largs, near Adelaide, and continued the voyage. Sailing in a southwesterly direction down the St. Vincent Gulf and through Investigator Strait, with the heights of Kangaroo Island visible on our left, we soon reached West Cape, the extremity of Yorke Peninsula. After passing that noted geographical point, our course was changed to an almost westerly one across the Great Australian Bight, which is a part of the South Pacific Ocean but here locally called the Southern Ocean. It is known to navigators as a stormy and dangerous body of water. After a prosperous voyage we came in sight of the West Australian coast on Saturday, May 16, about noon. At 2:00 p.m. we passed through a channel with Breaksea Island on our left and Michaelmas Island on our right, into King George Sound, where the ship cast anchor immediately east of Possession Point. We had come about 1,010 miles from our former place of anchorage off Largs. Soon after anchoring, a number of steam launches came off from Albany about three miles distant, and among those who landed to spend an hour or two on West Australian soil was your correspondent.

Albany, where we landed, is one of the principal towns of Western Australia. It is beautifully situated on rising ground on the north shore of Princess Royal Harbor, between two elevations, called respectively Mount Clarence and Mount Melville. It is about 254 miles by road and 352 miles by railway from Perth, the colonial capital. The Princess Royal Harbor is one of the finest on the Australian coast and most steamers en route between Australia and Europe call here. The town, which was first settled in 1826, is one of the oldest settlements in Western Australia, and now has a population of about 3,000. The harbor is about 4½ miles long and about two miles wide, and, together with King George Sound further out, is well fortified, so that it could easily be defended in case of war. Albany will perhaps never grow to be a very large city; it is not backed by any considerable amount of country suitable for agricultural purposes.

Western Australia includes all portions of the Australian continent situated to the westward of 129º E latitude, between the parallels of 13 and 35º8´ S. The greatest length of the colony from north to south is 1,[490] miles, and breadth about 850 miles. [Ex?]clusive of the contiguous islands, it contains an estimated area of about 1,060,000 square miles, being more than eight times the size of Great Britain and Ireland; it is the largest of all the Australian colonies, though containing much the smaller number of inhabitants. By the census returns of 1891, the population, exclusive of aborigines, numbered 49,792; but owing to the discovery of rich gold fields, which has caused a great immigration, the population at present is estimated at about 117,000. Perth, the capital of the colony, is located near the west coast, on the north bank of Swan River, about twelve miles above Freemantle, its seaport and sister town. Perth had 8,447 inhabitants in 1891; but it has grown considerably since that time. The city was first founded August 12, 1829. During the past few years, West Australia has enjoyed a mining boom, gold in paying quantities having been found in different places in the interior, principally in and about Coolgardie. At the present time, men are flocking in at the rate of nearly 1,000 a week. The immigration has been principally from the other Australian colonies, but a great many adventurers have also come from Europe, America, and other parts of the world to seek their fortunes on the continent island. It is the same old story—an immense excitement. A few lucky men make fortunes quickly, but most meet with bitter disappointment and leave the fields again with blighted hopes and a sad heart, after being exposed to great peril and in many instances severe suffering, for the West Australia gold fields are situated in a most dreary and desert-like section of country, where, among other things, water at times is sold at a high price. Thus in Kanowna, or the White Feather Mining District, water to be used by both man and beast is retailed at prices varying according to the scarcity of the article from one penny to two and a half shillings a gallon. Of course these figures don’t hold good during the rainy season. The water which is sold is generally condensed from the salt water lakes which abound in that region of country. The average miner is paid from £3 to £4 and two gallons of water per week; but thousands of men go unemployed. West Australia was a crown colony until quite recently, when it was given what is known in the British possessions as responsible government, which means a colony regulating its own affairs and having nothing to do with the parent government direct, except in dealing with a single man appointed by the Crown—the governor. All other officers are elected by the colony. Though large portions of Western Australia are and will remain deserts and almost useless tracts, there is sufficient good land to sustain a population many times the number of the present one, if properly cultivated. So far as I have been able to learn, none of our missionaries have ever labored in this part of Australia.


[1] “Jenson’s Travels,” Deseret Weekly News, August 15, 1896.

[2] “Jenson’s Travels,” Deseret Weekly News, August 15, 1896.

[3] This marks the beginning of Jenson’s paraphrasing of John Jones, “A Sketch of the History of the Work of the Lord in the Australasian Colonies,” Zion’s Watchman, April 12, 1855, 260–61. The quotation marks have been left as they are found in Jenson’s letter.

[4] The original Zion’s Watchman incorrectly records the date as “Nov. 2, 1854” (260).

[5] “Jenson’s Travels,” Deseret Weekly News, August 29, 1896.

[6] We were unable to find this source.

[7] “Jenson’s Travels,” Deseret Weekly News, September 5, 1896.

[8] “Jenson’s Travels,” Deseret Weekly News, September 12, 1896.

[9] “Jenson’s Travels,” Deseret Weekly News, September 19, 1896.