The box

Photo: Woodlark Brig – leather-bound ship’s log

The National Library was a hive of activity but everyone seemed to respect the significance of this historical building and communication was barely audible. All that did for me was to heighten my excitement and Steve smiled and squeezed my hand.

We were directed to the microfiche archives department which was downstairs; I wanted to find possible records of Captain Joseph Moore and his wife Ann, perhaps a marriage certificate. After a couple of hours we’d found nothing but when I presented the paper I’d printed off the Internet about the archived box, we were told we could find it in the building next door.

It was here that I had one of the most compelling experiences of my life.

The librarian informed us that it would take a while for the box to be brought up from the basement, and suggested we go for lunch somewhere, which we did. When we returned the cardboard box was waiting for us. It was weighed and given to us to look at in full view of the librarians. There was obviously tremendous value placed on this insignificant cardboard box.

I realised why when I took out two beautifully preserved leather-bound ship’s logs, one from the ship Cretan in 1815 and the other  from the Brig Woodlark in 1820, both kept by my 3rd great-grandfather Captain Joseph Moore, a whaler, who had travelled initially to Sydney in 1812 before settling with his family in Sydney in 1820.

Cretan Log BookCretan Ship’s log

Handling these magnificent historical manuscripts brought on overwhelming feelings of patriotism and belonging. Members of my family had come to Australia in the very early colonial days and had decided to settle in Sydney. I was a dinki-di Ozzie with history probably older than most Australians that I’d come to know since arriving in Sydney in 2006. What an epiphany!

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