On December 13, 1839, the Scottish ship Glen Huntly set sail from Oban, Scotland. This was the boat’s maiden voyage, and there were 157 emigrants on board in search of a better and more prosperous life in Australia. It was common at this time for merchants looking to make fortunes by cramming as many people as possible into their chartered vessels, which often meant insufficient food stocks and little space.
In April 1840, the ship finally arrived at Hobsons’ Bay, Australia, where the settlement’s doctor discovered that many of the new arrivals were thin and weak, having become emaciated from the arduous journey across the world. Ten of the passengers had tragically died at sea, and there were more who succumbed to illness shortly after arrival in Australia. Diseases such as typhus were spread in the crammed sea vessels and often rats acted as vectors for the spread of illness.
Three Scottish men, John Craig, George Armstrong, and James Mathers, were among those who died after arriving in Australia. It was known at the shore when the Glen Huntly arrived, that there was fever on board due to the flying of the yellow quarantine flag. Victoria’s first quarantine station was set up at Point Ormond and these three men subsequently died at this station and it became St Kilda’s first official graveyard. The Glen Huntly Pioneers Memorial was later built and is a stark reminder of the extraordinary journey many took in that era in search of a better life in Australia.
Know Before You Go
There is a sign at the main gate of St. Kilda Cemetery which shows the position of the Glen Huntly Memorial.