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First class lunch menu from the AUSTRALIEN

Date: 5 May 1894
Overall: 232 x 157 mm, 0.02 kg
Medium: Ink on paper
Credit Line: ANMM Collection
Object Name: Menu
Object No: 00036242
Place Manufactured:France

User Terms

    A lunch menu from the Messageries Maritimes steamship AUSTRALIEN decorated with images of a Chinese themed garden and birds.
    Printed and handwritten text in French reads '1re Classe 5 Mai 1894' [First Class 5 May 1894] 'Paquebot AUSTRALIEN Dejeuner' followed by a handwritten list of courses.

    The most common type of souvenir collected by passengers when they travel on a passenger liner or on a cruising holiday is the shipboard menu. Socialising with fellow passengers at the evening meal in the dining room is an integral part of the experience. We have large numbers of menus in the museum collection dating from the 1890s. They generally feature an illustration, photograph or design reflecting the key attributes of the ship, the ports or countries visited during the journey.
    SignificanceThe AUSTRALIEN was one of four passenger ships the Messageries Maritimes used for its Australian trade and was a regular caller in Australian ports for twenty-five years. Requisitioned by the French government in 1915 it was used to transport troops to the Dardanelles for the Gallipoli campaign, and to transport Serbian troops from the Corfu to Salonika. The ship was torpedoed and sunk in 1918.
    HistoryA traveller at sea in 1842 Susan Meade began her journal with the comment that ‘none must go to sea but those who can eat anything, made of anything, out of anything, anywhere, amidst all sorts of noise, confusion and filth’.
    [La Trobe Manuscripts Collection at the State Library of Victoria].

    Mealtimes became an important part of the day aboard a ship during months of sea travel. Regular mealtimes and varying menus helped to keep a sense of structure and regularity through arduous and boring days.
    For those in the lower classes or steerage, mealtimes may not have held the same appeal as those in first class but by 1894, they were certainly vastly improved on the offerings of the previous decades. The introduction of auxiliary steam engines had made the trip from Europe to Australia shorter and therefore, more bearable from the 1850s. Competing shipping companies enhanced their accommodation, relaxation and dining areas and generally aimed for a higher quality of travel experience.
    The AUSTRALIEN was part of the Messageries Maritimes fleet whose route was from Marseilles - Port Said - Mahe - Reunion - Mauritius - Adelaide - Melbourne - Sydney and Noumea. Like many ships of the day, the AUSTRALIEN offered passengers speed and comfort to the other side of the world. Part of this experience, particularly for first class passengers used to the best, was high quality dining.

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