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Reproduced courtesy of Michael Hope

Log and Journal of Joseph Barr Champion

Date: 1906-1907
Overall: 180 × 120 × 10 mm, 117 g
Medium: Ink on paper
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Gift from Garrry Weir
Object Copyright: © Michael Hope
Object Name: Journal
Object No: 00054867
Related Place:Pitcairn Island, Makemo, Pacific Ocean, Papeete, New Zealand,

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    The journal of Joseph Barr Champion is a unique and original account of voyages on small sailing cargo vessels - inter-island traders - of the Pacfic in the early 20th century.

    This log book and journal with various annotations and illustrations from 14 May 1906 to 18 February 1907 records then 18 year old Champion's experiences on various vessels including a 'three masted scow' around the Pacific islands.

    Champion includes detailed descriptions of encounters and interactions with the 'natives' and in particular an interesting account of the residents of Pitcairn Island - to whom he seems to be related.

    Champion later joined the RAN and served on HMAS PARRAMATTA in WWI.
    SignificanceJoseph Barr Champion's journal is a rare, original account of voyages on small sailing cargo vessels around the Pacfic in the early 20th century. It contains intriguing descriptions of Pitcairn Island in 1906 and is an important account of a young merchant sailor who then jointed the RAN and served on HMAS PARRAMATTA in WWI.
    HistoryIn 1903, at the age of 15, Joseph Barr Champion joined his first merchant ship as a cabin boy.

    In June 1906 the vessel took on 80 'islander' passengers to New Zealand. Champion described how they had 'great sport with the deck passengers, who were all natives'.

    After two short cargo vessel stints, Champion signed on to the 'cutter John Adams' for a voyage to Pitcairn Island from Auckland, New Zealand. After a heavy sea the small vessel made 'Raroia' with wet cargo and some damage to the ship. The crew had to pump water out continuously. Champion describes the eventful trip and that a hurricane had preceeded them.

    Champion was given charge when the Captain went ashore. He had at least 2 natives among the crew. They eventually made Makemo where the people 'seemed to dislike the British' and the 'natives' and the 'Frenchmen want to make trouble'.

    Champion's log includes detailed descriptions of the running of the ship, and the repairing of it. He notes his despair at the transport of 'Miss Young's organ' which suffered water damage.

    After more problems with the ship taking on water, the Dutch captain started cursing Champion and the natives, but Champion 'would not have it' and refused to go below. The Captain threatened discharge and gaol him at the next port, which did not eventuate. Champion describes him as 'Captain Doom'.

    When they made Manga Reva, they meet a Caroline Christian, likely a Bounty descendant.

    When they reached Pitcairn Island Champion describes it as 'the gem of the Pacific' and he recounts the wonderful reception by the Pitcairn islanders, whom he seems to have known many of. He describes 'Grandfather Christian's grave' and it seems there was a family connection to the island.

    Champion's journal is interesting in its decription of Islanders holding a meeting to decide on whether they would take the John Adams for the islands use. It seems the vessel was destined for the islanders to take over, but they declined as it was not in a fit condition.

    Champion received a gift of some copper nails made by 'the forefathers of the Bounty' from the ship's copper before it was burnt. One of them a 'Heywood Christian' was to go to Tahiti with them.

    Champion includes some wonderful detail of the people of Pitcairn Island and shows their obvious isolation from the outside world, particularly the excitement of a visiting ship. His diary conveys a sense of the small world of Pitcairn Islanders at the time.

    Champion was then paid off in Tahiti. At the end of his log he lists his vessels served on, including City of Hankow. Champion had many voyages around the Pacific on small sailing vessels, with stops in Sydney, Melbourne and Newcastle, though he appears to have been resident in New Zealand at this time. Family history research reveals Champion was born in Melbourne.

    He later served on HMAS Parramatta during WWI.
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