Post World War II Migrant Ships: Orcades

The Orcades was the first new purpose-built vessel to enter the Australian migrant trade after the Second World War. She set a new standard in style and accommodation, offering multiple saloons, shops, a hair salon, hospital, swimming pool, and a range of cabin choices. Many immigrants to Australia travelled on the Orcades and remember her sense of style and the feeling of “old world” luxury they experienced.

The Orcades at full steam during acceptance trails off Arran

The Orcades at full steam during acceptance trails off Arran in which she recorded the remarkable maximum speed of 24.74 knots.
Photographer: unknown. Source: Orcades Album, Museum Victoria.

Facts at a Glance

Dimensions: 709 x 94 ft (216 x 28.7 m)
Registered Tonnage: 28,164 tons gross
Service Speed: 22 knots
Propulsion: Reduction geared steam turbines/twin screws
Shipping Line: Orient Line

History of the Ship

The Orcades was the third ship of this name to serve the Orient Line. Built at a cost of 3,500,000 (English) pounds, she was the first replacement for four large passenger ships that the Orient Line had lost during World War Two. When commissioned, she was the largest and fastest passenger ship on the Australian trade, achieving up to 24.74 knots in her acceptance trials, although 22 knots was always stated as her service speed.

After being launched on 14 October 1947, the Orcades was fitted out with accommodation for a total of 1,545 passengers over two classes – 773 in first class and 772 in tourist class. Having been built for the Orient Line’s regular scheduled Australian passenger service, the Orcades carried government and business passengers, as well as maintaining a mail contract. Of course, as a British ship, she also carried immigrants from her maiden voyage.

Immigrant Ship to Australia

The Orcades left Tilbury Docks, London, for her maiden voyage to Australia on 14 December 1948, arriving in Fremantle on 6 January and Melbourne on 10 January. During this voyage, she set a new speed record for the London to Melbourne route, taking ten days off the pre-war record.

She made well over 55 voyages to Australia between 1948 and 1972, travelling via the Suez Canal until 1955 when she made her first voyage via Panama. During the Olympic Games of November 1956, the Orcades spent two entire weeks berthed in Melbourne, and was used as a floating hotel, accommodating thousands of visitors to Australia.

In 1956, she was refitted by Harland & Wolff. Air-conditioning was installed throughout the entire ship and a new swimming pool was added to first class, with the old pool being allocated to tourist class. She was again refitted in 1964 – this time to accommodate 1,635 passengers in a single class, but after this time was used for cruising more often than immigration travel.

Passenger Experiences of the Journey

Many immigrants travelling on the Orcades recall her grandeur and the luxuries they experienced on the journey – a far cry from the war-ravaged countries they left behind.

In an anonymous journal, recording a journey on the Orcades from September to October in 1949, the author’s tone is positive and light hearted but their glowing descriptions of shipboard fare are coloured by the memory of post-war England, rationing and straightened circumstances:

'For lunch we had soup, oxtail and vegetables, rice pudding rolls and cheese (a helping which is greater than a person’s ration for a week). What there is for dinner this evening I can’t remember, anyway I have rumbles in my tummy just to anticipate it. I’m doing justice to my “inards”, the first time in years…' September 1949.
Dinner setting in the Orcades First Class Dining Saloon

Dinner setting in the Orcades First Class Dining Saloon on F Deck.
Photographer: unknown. Source: Orcades Album, Museum Victoria

Glenn Shorrock, former lead singer of the Little River Band, migrated from England on the Orcades in 1954:

'We came from working class London, and to have waiters and dining rooms … it was all a bit posh, but a great adventure!'
Interior of an Orcades

Interior of an Orcades four-berth Tourist B Class cabin on G Deck.
Photographer: unknown. Source: Orcades Album, Museum Victoria.

Her Final Voyage

When her immigration travels came to an end, the Orcades left Sydney for the last time on 3 June 1972, bound for Britain. For a while, she made a short number of cruises out of Southampton, but departed on 28 December 1972 for the shipbreakers in Kaohsiung, Taiwan.

Further Reading

Baty, S. 1984. Ships That Passed – The Glorious Era of Travel to Australia and New Zealand. Reed Books Pty Ltd. Frenchs Forest.

Plowman, P. 1992. Emigrant Ships to Luxury Liners. New South Wales University Press. Kensington.

Stodden, K. 2003 (October). Appendix A – Tally of Voyages. Prepared for the Ship Reunion Lecture. Immigration Museum, Melbourne.

Comments (111)

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Gordon Taylor 21 March, 2009 14:04
My parents and I immigrated to Sydney on the Orcades in early 1956, sailing through the Suez Canal, either just before or just after the closure of the canal. I can't find any records of this voyage or of any passenger lists. Any help in finding this information would be greatly appreciated. Regards Gordon Taylor
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Discovery Centre 23 March, 2009 11:51
At the Immigration Discovery Centre, we often get asked where to find passenger lists. Here is a link to a quick guide that may help you begin your research.
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Mary O'Donoghue 22 November, 2009 21:12
My family travelled from England to Australia on this ship in 1969. Coca Cola was free on board and we drank so much of it. We had a wonderful waiter who was always late for breakfast service. I still have an "Orcades " sailor doll. I loved our time on board especially King Neptune celebrations.
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Archie Turner 24 February, 2010 14:59
sailed on the orcades march/april 1957 via the cape cant find any record or passenger lists for this voage can you help please
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Discovery Centre 25 February, 2010 13:20

Hi Archie: the information that you require is available from the National Archives of Australia. Their records can be searched at this part of their website. Hope this helps!

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david mark Chatham (UK) 15 March, 2010 07:25
I worked on the Orcades from 14/08/1969-01/08/1970 as a Able Seamen, i am trying to to put together a portfolio of all the places i visited during my sea career, would anybody have any information on the ports that the orcades visited during the above dates. Many Thanks David Mark Chatham
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mario valente 6 August, 2013 03:29
I sailed from Fremantle to London in 1970 with the suez canal closed down we sailed to Durban and Cape Town in south Africa and than on to Dakar which is in Senegal and Lisbon (Portugal before arriving in London. I do hope that this will be of help to you.
Ken O'Connell 23 August, 2013 10:01
I cruised on Ordaces in 1970 from Brisbane visiting Nuku'alofa, Suva, Port Vila, Apia, American Samoa, returning to Sydney. Beautiful ship - my first cruise. Sad to have her broken up.
Discovery Centre 16 March, 2010 16:05

Hi David – Perhaps you could contact the company that owned the ship, P&O - Orient Lines. Know operating as P&O cruises you can find their contact details here. Good luck with your search!

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Maureen Jarvis 10 April, 2010 14:24
I travel to Sydney on the Orcades in 1956. I too would like to know the ports we visited after the Suez Canal. and would like to make contact with any body who traveled on her Maureen
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Sandra Hanson (maiden name Moores) 12 May, 2010 23:55
I travelled to Adelaide on the Orcades in 1950 with my Mum (Pheobe),I was only 5 yrs old but I remember heaps of stuff. It was the first time I had ever eaten watermelon,it was great.
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simon brierley 25 June, 2010 14:29
my mum and dad came out in 1965 on the orcades. dad had an 8mm camera and filmed alot of the journey.i have not converted it over to dvd yet,but will do so soon.
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Gordon Taylor 12 July, 2010 15:58
I found the passenger list for the Orcades passage to Australia on 28th March 1956 on the "findmypast" website. The actual passenger list is stored somewhere on www.nationalarchives.gov.uk
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Chris Tyrer 14 July, 2010 23:14
As a family we travelled to Australia in Sept-Oct 1959, the big highlight of my life. I have also made a website at http://www.pnc.com.au/~byceme/home/home.htm
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Greg Bourne 28 April, 2014 22:13
Hi Chris, I and my family also travelled out on the same voyage as you. Dad, mum and the three of us disembarked at Fremantle (mum's home). I think my brother has some video of the voyage as dad and mum had a windup cine camera. cheers Greg
Catherine Ceney 26 July, 2010 00:51
I have in my possesion the Orcades passenger list, departing from Sidney 13th February 1951 My mother, brother and myself were passengers from Sidney to London. Other embarkation points for this voyage Melbourne 17th Feb. 1951,Adelaide 18th Feb. 1951, Freemantle 22nd Feb. 1951. The Captain was Captain I. E. G Goldsworthy
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Sally Newcomb 18 February, 2013 08:34
Capt IEG Goldsworthy was my grandfather
John Cooke 10 August, 2010 04:30
I currently own & live on one of the original life boats from Orcades 3. It's a pleasure to have such a connection with what was once the greatest & fastest cruise ship.
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Nick Sharp 11 September, 2013 15:30
I sailed on Orcades from Sydney to London in February 1966 just before the introduction of decimal currency, was one of the greatest experiences of my life. Would luv to see a photo of your home in the Orcades lifeboat.
John Skeats 13 July, 2014 09:56
Hi John, I immigrated to Australia in 1960 on the Orcades, if possible could you send me a photo of your lifeboat home.
roger stanley 13 August, 2010 09:50
Thge Maiden voyage of the ORCADES went to Fremantle and Melbourne that I know of: where else did it visit during the maiden voyage? 1948/1949
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Discovery Centre 13 August, 2010 13:17

According to researcher Peter Plowman, the Orcades left Tilbury on her maiden voyage and docked at Fremantle, Melbourne and - finally - Sydney. Hope this helps, Roger.

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Robert Cottrell 2 September, 2010 10:13
What a wonderful adventure for a young 16 year old, traveling alone from Tilbury and arriving at Fremantle March 13, 1952. It was wonderful to have so much good "tucker". What a joy to arrive in Port Adelaide a short time later. Met by a child welfare representative and a farmer, I was quickly escorted to a small farm where I was trained to use and axe for clearing forests. No chainsaws those days. Having to work 7 days a week and long hours I wanted to jump ship and return to UK. But, those days were so wonderful in this marvelous country. I left Adelaide and drove across to Victoria after completing my 2 years and of course found a much better life. Looking back, what wonderful days those were, we were so free, and with so much opportunity. I'm afraid, the country I live in now is so far removed from the wonderful country that I came to in early 1952. How I'd love to meet anyone who came with me on that wonderful voyage.
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Denid Robinson 28 October, 2013 12:12
Howdy Robert I also sailed on the Orcades 13 voyage Departing Tilbury on my 19th Birthay 20th March 1952. We diembarked at Port Adelaide 15th April VERY HOT.I lived in South Kensington,London, it was certainly different here and I still live in Adelaide. Be happy to converse with you. Cheers
Norman Wells 19 October, 2010 18:51
The Wells family which included me as 7yr old boy and my two elder sisters (the youngest turning 16 at Gibraltar) from Glasgow sailed for a new post war life in Western Australia as 1st class passengers in April 1951 arriving Fremantle 24 April. The 23 day Suez passage saw the ship day stop at Gibraltar, Naples, Port Said, Aden, Colombo, then six days across the Indian to Fremantle. Alas the great ship's arrival into Fremantle was to be frustrated by me being isolated in hospital with a Chicken Pox rash outreak near the equator and the Orcades berthed flying the quaratine flag because of my illnees. My parents were not popular as their through passengers friends were not permitted ashore for paid up tours and I was quickly isolated in the WA Australian Quarintine Station for a week (the fear being the possibility of my illness being scarlet fever). In 1954 my father returned to the UK for a visit returning on the outward maiden voyage of the Orient Liner SS ORSOVA. This ship arrived displaying for the first time the distinct "flower pot" smoke control funnel extension which was later fitted during refit to the rest of the old Orient Line fleet post 1954. My time aboard RMS ORCADES in April 1951 remains a vivid and detailed childhood memory living on 'E' deck eating on 'F' swimming on 'C' and games on 'B'. Our passage was a month before the first voyage of our wonderful ship's sister ship RMS ORONSAY maiden voyage. She did roll a bit then and I think her stabilisers were fitted during a later refit to control the rock which on the trip following ours the night before Fremantle a major tip of the ship resulted in extensive parlour/lounge glass and furniture damage. A ship of dreams and great memories for many.
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horace martin 5 November, 2010 16:57
i was a deck boy of 17 on orcades last trip,7months out to aussie then 3 cruses to japan hong kong,then back to southamton,what a great time for a 17 yr old,did some growing up on that great ship,
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paul james breading 12 February, 2014 01:52
Hello Horace, Do you mean bellboy or did you work out on the deck ? I was a bellboy on the STRATHENEDEN from 1961 till she payed off in 1964.I did work on the ORCADES as a B.R.S. from 1965 till AUG. 1966.I went on to end my time at sea on the ORSOVA. I went to sea at 16 and packed up when i was 23.As you said i did a lot of growing up but it was a good time to be single.Best of Luck Paul.
Karen FRANCIS 14 November, 2010 22:27
Hi... please could anyone help me? I believe that when I was just 4 months old I came to the UK with my parents. I was born in Trincomalee, Ceylon (Sri Lanka) as my father was in the Admiralty. I asked my late mother about the trip home and she could only remember that it was a P&O lines ship (she had travelled out on the Himalaya) and the name began with an 'O' possibly Orcades. I have a photo of her standing on the deck and the back is annotated 'July 1951 off Marseilles'. Does anyone have a passenger list that I could see/buy/copy? I suppose that if the ship docked in July then it will have started off from Australia about 6 weeks before but I'm not sure. My parents travelled from Colombo. Thank you... Karen
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Discovery Centre 15 November, 2010 12:00
Hi Karen, UK Incoming Passenger Lists from 1878 to 1960 can be found on the website Ancestry. You do need to pay for this service but, it is likely that, like Australia, many libraries probably offer their clients this service for free. Good luck with finding your records!
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Anne(Aine) Reid (Monaghan Marriage name) 13 January, 2011 17:40
Any passinger on the Orcades(dept.U.K.)February 1969, arriving Melbourne 1969, sailing via South Africa.Thanks,Aine
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sandy 8 December, 2012 02:47
Yeah, I was on that trip....originally scheduled to go through the Suez canal, but canal was closed shortly before departure from SouthHampton... good storm crossing the bay of biscay too as i remember :)
Rennie Hamilton 23 August, 2013 21:42
Hi Anne, I am oiginally from Cobh, I travelled to Dublin by train, them to Liverpool by packet boat, train to London and Orcades Dept Tilbury 14/2/1969. Dept. Adelaide March 18 1969. I loved the trip and met some wonderful people on board.
Avrill Elliott 14 August, 2014 19:01
My family and I came out on that sailing had a wonderful journey except the bay of biscay storm which the stabiliser s soon put right
Beverly Chadwick 28 August, 2014 08:37
Hello Anne, I was on that voyage with my parents Walter and Pauline and my brother and sister Ian and Amanda. I was 14 when we boarded in Tilbury and I turned 15 on the day we docked in Cape Town. I recall the Bay of Biscay vividly as the storm was approaching hurricane force and loads of people were seasick including myself and my family except my mother. We all had to be strapped to our bunks and given injections. I loved it on board ship though and have never forgotten it.
Andrew Young 18 January, 2011 23:27
As an 8 year old in 1965, I was with my parents and two younger sisters travelling to England on the Orcades as my father had an Army posting to Austral House in London. I have memories of crossing the equator and being dunked by the "polywogs" and travelling through the Suez Canal. From Melbourne we stopped in Adelaide, Fremantle, Columbo, Bombay, Aden, Barcelona, before arriving at Tilbury. We spent 3 years in England.
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Michele Abonnel 9 February, 2011 14:40
My french father came out on the Orcades in 1952 when he was 26. Is there anyone who has any information about this journey. A passenger list would be a dream come true. My father is 83 now.
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Anne Champkins 15 February, 2011 02:49
Hi, my mother travelled on the 1965 SS Iberia from Adelaide to Tilbury Docks. There is a long story to this which I will not bore everyone with, but any help or direction towards a passenger list could begin the search to find out who my real father is. Many thanks
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Discovery Centre 18 February, 2011 15:03
Hi Anne. The National Archives in the UK has, unfortunately, not kept incoming passenger lists after 1960 but the National Archives of Australia holds a number of outgoing passenger lists from South Australia. Oddly on the Adelaide office page they indicate that they have these from 1941 to 1964 & from 1967 to 1976 but not 1965. We recommend that you contact the NAA to enquire further about the records that you are seeking.
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Meville 16 April, 2011 16:05
My mother Mrs Olivia Estelle Mary Fernando travelled from Melbourne Aust to Colombo Ceylon (Sri Lanka) on the SS Orcades on 8th April 1954,with myself 3 years 3 months & my brother Malcolm 1 year 10 months. I will most appreciate if some good soul out there can help me with passenger list or some relevant information. Many thanks in anticipation.
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Discovery Centre 21 April, 2011 15:20
Hi Meville, please see our response to Anne directly above, which gives information about where to obtain outgoing passenger lists.
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stanley senior 31 May, 2011 02:08
Gorden I also sailed on the Orcades on the 28/03/1956.to Melbourne.Do you remmber the kidnaping which delayed our sailing time.
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Tom Hamilton 3 June, 2011 13:50
I am trying to find out the dates my family left London on the Orcades in MAR or APR 1951 and arrived in Sydney during the May
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Tineke Blom 14 June, 2011 09:30
Begin jaren vijftig wilden Jantje en Arie, zoals 16.000 andere Nederlanders begin jaren vijftig, naar Australië emigreren. Arie ging, op 17 oktober 1950, eerst en als 1 van de ca. 800 emigranten aan boord van de ss Volendam ( van de Holland America Line, 175,6 meter lang en 20,5 meter breed ), getuige de volgende ansichtkaart, gedateerd de 27e, die hij vanaf boord naar Jantje verstuurde. Hij verliet het ouderlijk huis in Bergenschenhoek, Hoeksekade 118 en vertrok vanaf de Wilhelminakade te Rotterdam, de thuishaven ( hoofdkantoor) van de HAL, bij Hotel New York. Arie zag op 20 november 1950 , na een 34 dagen lange tocht, de Australische westkust. De ss Volendam meerde op die datum aan te Fremantle / Perth ( met de niet te beschrijven combinatie van heerlijke warme lucht, rode aarde, Australische bloemen en de zilte zeelucht, met dat beroemde briesje: de ‘Fremantle doctor’ genaamd ) en op 26 november 1950 te Melbourne, waar Arie van boord ging en verbleef in Essendon Melbourne VIC, 74, Fletcherstreet 3040 Australië !!!!!!!!!! Van 26-11-1950 tot 13-02-1951 verbleef A.J. Blom te Surry Hills, 78 Middlesex Road ( Victoria ) 3127, Australië, een veilige, rustige, vredig, goed onderhouden buurt met veel Art Deco en Victoriaanse huizen aan brede straten met veel bomen en groen. Hij had als beroep ‘’ deck hand ‘’ ( visserij en maritieme werkzaamheden op land en zee in de ruimste zin van het woord ) Jantje, inwonend bij haar toekomstige schoonouders, vertrok in de 1e / 2e week van Augustus 1952 vanuit Bergschenhoek en volgde Arie met de ss Johan van Oldenbarnevelt naar Fremantle ( in totaal maakte de Johan van Oldenbarnevelt 44 Australië reizen ) en reisde over een afstand van ca. 410 km. door naar een verblijfadres, 2 miles van Albany, waar Arie op 24-12-1951 ( hij was dus al zo’n 8 ½ maand in Freemantle, Jantje opwachtend ), vanuit zijn laatste verblijfplaats te Surry Hills, naar toe is verhuisd in de tussentijd dat hij in Australie verbleef. Afstand: 1e adres in Essendon ( Melbourne ) – 3e adres in Albany: 3.068 km. Jantje was in Nederland met ‘’ de handschoen gehuwd ‘ ( Trouwen met de handschoen is een huwelijkssluiting waarbij een van de partners niet aanwezig kan zijn en wordt vervangen door een gevolmachtigde ) met zwager Johannes ( Han / Joop ) Blom, broer van Arie. Emigratie was vanaf 1946, de late jaren 40, een toverwoord. Het avontuur voor Arie en Jantje was echter, vanwege heimwee, maar van korte duur en zo waren er twee Nieuwe Australiërs minder. Arie verbleef er van 20 November 1950 tot 20 September 1953 en Jantje van 11 September 1952 t/m 17 November 1952, 68 dagen. Arie bleef nog een tijdje in Australië om te werken voor zijn terugreis. Op 20 September 1953 vertrok hij met de Engelse Oriënt liner de RMS Orcades ( http://cruiselinehistory.com/?p=5866: die op 13 september uit Sydney was vertrokken, Melbourne, Adelaide, Fremantle, Colombo, Aden ), via Port Said / het Suez kanaal, Napels, Gibraltar en Londen - Tilbury docks -, naar Nederland, aankomst ca. 18 oktober 1953 ( reisduur ca. 28 dagen ), capaciteit 773 1e klas passagiers en 772 toeristenklas. In totaal maakte de Orcades 55 Australië reizen. Terug in Nederland kreeg hij zijn baan terug bij de Sloperij van Willem Schotte, ‘s-Gravenweg te Rotterdam, familie van zijn moeder. Tot zijn vertrek naar Australië had hij al 14 jaar voor het bedrijf van Schotte gewerkt. Jantje ging na haar terugkomst in Nederland inwonen bij een familie ( conciërge lagere school ) in Bloemendaal, waar Arie in de oorlog ondergedoken had gezeten.
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Laura Potter 13 July, 2011 15:35
I and my older brother and parents travelled on the "Orcades" from England to Australia. We left England on the 23rd May 1960 and arrived in Adelaide, South Australia on the 17th June 1960. We were lucky, in that we had a cabin only one deck down from the main deck and did not therefore have the misfortune of being in the bowels of the ship like many others. The cabin number I still remember "E292". The main deck was only a few steps up from our cabin and the door to the outside was often left open. This meant fresh air was often blowing down to our cabin. This was wonderful, as I am sure it prevented us from the seasickness that many others suffered from. My father had been a physical training instructor in the British Army for 21 years. He had served time in Ghana and Nigeria during the early to mid 50's when the two countries were preparing for their independence from Britain. My brother and I went with my parents, but I only remember the time in Nigeria. My mum and dad liked their time in Africa and for a time, they were considering migrating to Rhodesia (Zimbabwe). However, dad was offerd a job in Adelaide and we headed here instead. A week into the voyage, he was asked by the ship's Captain if he could arrange some games and physical activities for the many children on board. This really helped pass the time, as the ship had more children than usual and the activities normally available couldn't cope with the numbers. Trying to keep so many children from becoming bored and therefore a nuisance was hard work, but I heard the Captain praise my dad for his good organisation, so it must have worked! We passed through the Suez canal. It was fascinating watching all the arab people, the camels, the sounds and smells coming from shore. To an eight year old it was an exotic new world. We also stopped at the Rock of Gibralter, Naples in Italy, Aden, Colombo (Sri Lanka), Fremantle (Western Australia) and finally Adelaide. We had a waiter who took a shine to my brother and I. We were too young to join the adults for afternoon tea or the formal dinner time. The waiter would sneek out cream cakes and other goodies to us and a couple of friends occasionally. Our dinner was usually sandwiches, jelly and watery rice pudding, so these cakes etc, were a wonderful treat. My family and I made a happy life in Australia, although I do have good memories of part of my childhood in England. Most of my relatives still live in England and Scotland. A few years ago, I went to see a new doctor. I entered his office and to my surprise, there on the wall was a large painting of none other than the "Orcades". I questioned the doctor and found he had come out on the same ship, a few years after me. A friend had painted the picture from a photograph. I could even see the porthole of the cabin I travelled in. What a wonderful surprise. I remember the weeks we spent on the ship, the fun we had, the friends we made, the places we visited with great fondness. What an adventure, travelling to a country I had never heard of on the other side of the world. Another "ten pound Pom" travelling on the high seas on the "P&O Orcades". Laura Potter (nee Gibb)
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Robert Peach 19 July, 2011 23:58
My late father bought the ships bell from Orcades sometime in the early 1980's. Following his death mid 1980's, I now have it & a letter from P&O detailing Orcades history, hanging on my wall.
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Patricia Kyne 25 July, 2011 10:51
I travelled from Long Beach California in October 1958 on the Orcades with my Irish parents and two younger brothers. We landed in Fremantle in WA in November of that year - having visited several ports along the way. I have a copy of the passenger list from that voyage.
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lynn howles nee barends 10 August, 2011 12:00
I travelled on the orcades from london to sydney in 1954. I have a menue with a list of birthdays during that voyage, it contains mine. I turned 2 years old during that voyage 26 august 1954
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Liahll bruce 3 October, 2011 10:38
I am trying to find out about my father and his family. My father is believed to have travelled from Australia on the 1st of September 1970. He lived in Bordertown (I think) his full name is Michael Kenneth Childs. I believe he had a brother called 'Danny' who left for America worked in computers? Wondered how I would go about finding birth records, with them I would be able to know his fathers name and mothers and try and find out more. Any help would be great.
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Discovery Centre 26 November, 2011 10:38

Hi Liahll,

You can search the National Archives of Australia's (NAA) database for your father's records. Please be aware, not all records are online yet. If you cannot find it online, you will have to contact the NAA directly and request a search.

Julien Kathleen Mazonowicz 25 October, 2011 16:40
I was only five when we came to Australia from England on the orient ship and have some information.
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Discovery Centre 27 October, 2011 12:27

Hi Julien, thanks for the comment.  Check out the donation guidelines here for information about donating objects to the collection.

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Helena Smith 5 December, 2011 07:55
My mother travelled on the Orcades to Sydney whilst carrying me. I was born in King Georges Sydney on July 12th 1950. She often told tales of a fire and losing all her wordly goods as the cabin took water. There is also a more lurid tale of spending weeks in (Aden?) after the fire with no cash, pending consulate intervention - and bids by a local shopkeeper to secure her as an additional wife. Although pregnant with one dress to her name, she remained a 'looker!' She continued on to Sydney but returned to England (after being traumatised by the spiders) whilst I was still a toddler. I hold an Australian birth certificate and my parents were permanent residents whilst there. I think my father may have been in the Australian Navy for that period of time. What is so very strange is the feeling of Australia being my "Country". Perhaps I was so relieved to reach dry land - and be born in a safe place, rather than a slightly sinking Orcades.....
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frances Fitzsimmons (nee 'ball') 17 January, 2012 16:38
I travelled to australia on the 'Orcades' from London in April/may 1965 with my sister Geraldine, and parents, Bill and Annette Ball, im interested in anbody who sailed that time, I was 8 years old my sister was 12. What an adventure it was, the memories will stay with me forever.
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John clay 20 October, 2013 02:32
Dear Frances ... I was on that voyage with my three siblings and Mum and Dad. I was also 8 years old. It was an incredible experience. ... a dream like holiday before the reality of settling in Australia (Brisbane). We came from Newcastle upon Tyne. I have never been back yet, but have one Aunty I still correspond with after all these years.
Peter Parfitt 16 March, 2014 16:01
Bill and Mary Parfitt and sons Peter, William and Ralph were on that voyage Frances and you probably remember that we were next door neighbours in Whyalla. They were wonderful days and an exciting journey for a new life. Al the best. 8
Gerry Kearney 25 April, 2014 00:29
Iwas on the Orcades which left Tilbury on 6th April 1965 arr Fremantle 29th. I was married with a 4month old daughter. We were 10pound poms. Went back on the Achille Lauro 1967 and came out again on the Australis 1968. Loved every minute. So easy to get work in those days
Cathie Lamont 23 January, 2012 00:07
Did you know that the Orcades (1960-69) features in a 20-minute P&O promotional film “I am a Passenger”, and you can view it online at http://www.britishpathe.com/video/i-am-a-passenger-reel-1? My 5-year-old loves the story of my coming to Australia when I was nearly his age in 1967, and I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw a link to a movie about it when I went online to find a photo this morning. It was quite a find! The movie was presumably targeted at migrants so shows some of the everyday aspects of the voyage, not just the glitz - visiting the booking agent, going on the boat train, and what happens to the kids, as well. If you want a trip down memory lane or to show your kids what it was like (or not, as the case may be, for I remember plotting an escape from the crèche), I highly recommend it!
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Chris 22 October, 2012 06:22
I am tying to trace Gwen who travelled 1967 to Perth any ideas please. forgotten sirname
beryl hatton (nee asprey) 18 August, 2013 23:46
I have seen that video "I am a passenger" and it brought back my childhood memories or me and my parents returning back to the UK on Orcades, leaving Sydney in September 1949. Wonderful times. I have the passenger list and a menu and postcards from that trip.
Dennis Lloyd 25 January, 2012 09:54
I travelled on the Orcades for a 14 day cruise from Southampton in September 1972, just before she was sent to the scrapyard later that year. Does anyone happen to know the ports of call on that particular cruise? I know the ship left Southampton bound for Vigo in Spain and I know it called at Lisbon, Ponta Delgarda in the Azores and it was suppose to call at Madeira but a message was flashed from London saying that there was an outbreak of polio in Madeira and so the ship diverted course and made a unscheduled stop in Casablanca. Does anyone still have a list of all the places it actually called at (in the correct order)? I would dearly love to know so as to complete my family history.
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Lance Bryant 7 March, 2012 22:33
In the 1970s, the Science Museum in Swanston St used to have an approximately 1m long model of the Orcades III. Does the Museum still have it or was it on loan from the Orient Line or P&O?
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Lance Bryant 7 March, 2012 23:11
(Oh, I found an image of it at http://www.flickr.com/photos/24233011@N06/2342761184/ - looks like it's back in the UK. Sigh)
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Discovery Centre 8 March, 2012 09:51

Hi Lance,

The model of the Orcades is actually on display in The Melbourne Story at Melbourne Museum.

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Esther Elligens 31 March, 2012 20:29
Hai, I was a traveller on the orcades. My parents where dutch emigrants from Holland to australië. They couldn't make a living there. So we left australië in January 1972. I would like to met some people who travelled on this same trip.
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Muriel Peers 30 April, 2012 19:33
Stan and Muriel Peers sailed from Tilbury April 1st 1962 on the Orcades with their five children. Doug 16,Linda13,Ronnie10,Karen 3 and Janet 6 months old. We arrived at Outer Harbour Adelaide 30th April ( fifty years ago today). Disembarked here and spent three weeks at the Elder Park Hostel in Adelaide, it was comfy enough but nothing like the service that we had received on the Orcades, we all loved it, particulary me as I loved the no cooking,no washing and willing baby sitters. After three weeks in Elder park we bought a house in Elizabeth Vale ,loved Elizabeth, there was a few migrants that were on the Orcades with us settled in Elizabeth to name a few Ian and Jean Rose and Mr and Mrs Bill Presswell who had young families. My family have all loved their life in Australia and we definitely call Australia home. Ron is one of Australia's leading guitarists performing in many bands including " Stylus" It was a great decision of my husbands to bring us out here, sadly he passed in 1980.
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Edward Holt 6 May, 2012 15:32
I was an officer aboard Orcades in the early 1950's and sail with a ray trustee and peter everett, if any one knows the whereabouts of these two men please adv.
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Geoff Mower 3 August, 2012 11:00
I saw on ABCTV's Paper Giants last night a contemporary news clip which included the bows of the Orcades docked in Circular Key with the Opera House and ferries in the background. The date stated in the show was 1974, so a little continuity error there, but it was amazing to see "my" ship again (and prompted me to find this website.) I was a 5-year old immigrant with my parents and 2yo brother in May-June 1964. The four or five families we befriended all eventually went back (for a variety of reasons), but not us! To the best of my memory we travelled Tilbury - Athens - Suez - Aden - Colombo - Fremantle - Adelaide. What an experience for a five year old! It ranks with the moon landing as one of the highlights of my life.
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Edward holt 20 September, 2012 02:00
Do u have any crew lists for 1950 thru 1953?
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Discovery Centre 20 September, 2012 12:41

Hello Edward,

The Museum does not hold any passenger or crew records. We suggest you contact the National Archives of Australia to see if they can help you with your search.

chaswin 24 January, 2014 11:03
Hi Edward [Ted] Holt. A name I haven't heard for many a year. A family from London England A husband,wife two daughters they told of a "Ted" Holt who was a Petty Officer aboard "SS ORCADES". Melbourne Australia 1950. One daughter had a photo taken by a Melbourne newspaper, she was sitting on the ships rail. She was 17 & quite beautiful, Both parents now deac. she is now in her eighty's still a beautiful person. could you be the same "Ted Holt". Where are you now, would you have a photo of the "girl" on the ships rail, how old are you now? do you remember her? So long ago.
Discovery Centre 22 October, 2012 12:24
Hi Chris, The National Archives of Australia holds records like passenger lists. Perhaps a keyword search there would get you started?
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David Fitzsimmons 23 October, 2012 16:24
I have in my possession the personal trip record of a Mrs T. Sutcliffe of Clifton Hills in Victoria who travelled on the Orcades from Sydney in June 1957. She travelled to NZ, USA and on to the continent. She kept a pretty good log of the journey. I do not know Mrs Sutcliffe or how the journey log came into my mother's possession, but would like to pass it on to a relative of Mrs Sutcliffe as it would mean more to them.
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Patricia Potts 29 October, 2012 21:39
As a young Canadian girl, I married my Australian husband, Neville, in July 1970. We travelled to Europe and sailed out of Southampton in October, 1970, on our way to Australia. Our ports of call were Rotterdam, Lisbon, Dakar in West Senegal, Capetown and Durban in South Africa and then, after a 9-day crossing of the Indian Ocean, Fremantle. We stopped again in Adelaide before arriving in my new home, Sydney, Australia. We made a wonderful group of friends onboard and thoroughly enjoyed our five-week journey.
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Paul Kubel 25 August, 2013 09:46
I think I was also on the ship at this time, we hit a sand bank and ship listed at 45 degres all crokery was smashed toilets flooded and many hurt including me hit by a suitcase in the cabin, there was a suiside and some money was stolen police were used in freemantle to arrest the thieves. we have some film footage of the voyage photos with captian and an ash tray from the ship
Steve Murray 4 January, 2014 16:43
My family arrived in Australia from England in March 1970. We came on the Orcades too, visiting the same ports that you mentioned. I wonder if you were on the same boat?!
Roger Freeman 14 December, 2012 20:29
As a 15 year old in 1964 I emigrated from the UK to Melbourne on the Orcades with my mum & dad & two brothers via the Suez canal. We arrived in Melbourne on Septemeber 7th. This was for us a trip of a life time, we visited countries that we had only read about and had a great time. I won the junior section of the fancy dress ball dressed as Doctor Kildare and I still have the photo to prove it as well as an Orcades embossed autograph book which was my prize. I also have a dinner menu with a picture of the Orcades on the front. I had in my possession up until a few years ago a copy of the passenger list but lost it in one of my house moves. Great memories and it seems just like yesterday.
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Deb Meredith 4 March, 2013 13:36
I was a passenger on the Orcades In April 1972. The voyage before its last one, with my parents and two brothers. I was 11 years old. We travelled to Japan, Hong Kong, (where the ship caught fire) Also to Guam. Had a great time with the other chidren, Always lots of games. I went in a fashion parade and remember the Seekers paying on board one night! The ship was caught in a cyclone at one stage, ropes all over the ship for hanging on, things smashing and the resturant flooding. At the time my brothers and I thought it was all great fun, but of cause now as an adult, I would be completely freaking out... Still, it was a most memorable and happy time. Does anyone know where I could find a list of the passengers that where on that cruise?
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Allan Fleming 2 April, 2013 19:23
travelled on the Orcades from Melbourne to Durban in 1972 Think this was the last trip back to UK. Lots of South Africans returning from a cruise around the south pacific I seem to recall? Be interested to hear of anyone else on that trip
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Graham Bee 29 September, 2013 15:41
Hi Allan, My wife and I and 8 month old baby were on that trip.We boarded in Sydney june 3rd then around to each Aussie port on our way to Durban. We spent a day there, then another in Capetown before going on to Dakar in Senegal. We were on our way to be missionaries in Ghana. We ran a Bible Study on the ship to which 16 people came.
Keith J Cayley 28 May, 2013 13:12
With Micheal Finn & 2 others we arrived in Auckland NZ 27thdec 1960 from Canada ,took about 3 weeks On the Orcades.I would like to know if Micheal is still around .Last saw him in 1962 in Christchurch nZ
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Susan Doyle 4 July, 2013 14:32
Before passing my father gave me a little ( approx. 9" high) sailor doll with his Orcades sailor cap on collected on one my parent's trips on Orcades. Also a sailor cap (Orcades) coin purse. My parents enjoyed sailing on both Orcades and Oransay and had many fond memories. If anyone is collecting items and are interested please contact
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Sharon Maguire 14 January, 2014 18:42
I am currently organising a party for a friend who travelled from England to Australia in May 1964 I would love to find some memorabilia if it is still available she will love it thanks
Catherine (Hamilton) Chapman 7 September, 2013 04:10
I traveled on the Orcades in May/June 1958 from San Francisco to Sydney with my Mother and Sister. We traveled again on the Orcades from Sydney back to San Francisco in Sept/Oct 1958. Would love to hear from anyone that was on either one of these voyages.
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Tony Hewett 9 September, 2013 20:03
My wife and her 2 brothers and her Mother left Tilbury on 26th October 1953 bound for Adelaide on the Orcades. Anyone on that same trip? Mrs. Cecily Violet Chalk. Michael Chalk. Geoffrey Chalk. Lesley Anne Chalk.
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Suzy Tulloch 10 October, 2013 17:12
I am transcribing my grandfather's (Albert Edward Tulloch) journal of his and his wife Rose's 1957 cruise on the Orcades to the Orient, which visited Rabaul, Hong kong, Yokahama, Manila, and Port Moresby. I also have official photos of the cruise dinners, going ashore in Rabaul, various feast and the names of several crew members and passengers they befriended. The were big cruise fans and also went on the Orient in 1952 to England and the Orsova in 1956 to New Zealand also extensively journaled and accompanied by photos and postcards.
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josephine Bacayo 3 November, 2013 19:28
My aunt ,Marian McLaren sailed on the SS Orcades on February 8th 1957 from Sydney to England. I am reading through her diary that she kept, detailing her time on board. The ship made stops in Melbourne ,Adelaide , Capetown ,Las Palmas before berthing in England. I have a passenger list for that journey, and a menu. Unfortunately, she was killed in Germany that year.
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Mark McGuire 5 November, 2013 22:25
My Mother (Marjorie Duffy) and Father (Michael McGuire) both travelled from the UK Dec 16 1949 and arrived in Adelaide in January 1950. They got on board single and Married in Sept. 1950. They both came from Glasgow, never knew each other before getting on the ship.
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ric 21 November, 2013 06:37
I traveled as an 8 year old with my parents from Long Beach, California to Sydney, via Hawaii, Fiji and New Zealand. I had the time of my life while my parents were sea sick most of the voyage. Would love to find some pictures and the passenger list from that trip.
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David Gerrett 14 December, 2013 02:56
My mother and I travelled to Australian on the Orcades in 1962. I was 5 years old and distinctly remember dressing up as a bunny rabbit for the obligatory fancy dress. It was hot, I was ill - indeed I think we were both ill all the way. I never found out if it had stabilisers - but if it did, they didn't work! My mother recently died aged 80, but we never forgot that journey!
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Trevor Colley 30 December, 2013 10:07
I was a ships writer aboard the Orcades 1967-1968. I was 20 years of age. I have fondest memories on the ship. It was an experience I will never forget. I think the captain at that time was Hayles. Purser was Burton. I now live on Vancouver Island, and I become excited when I see cruise ships sail up the Juan Fuca Straits to Alaska.
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Christine Goyen 26 January, 2014 20:07
I was 2 and a half on the trip from England to Australia in 1967... apparantly I had chickenpox and they put me in spotty pjs. I'm currently researching the trip. I had a certificate from King Neptune and don't remember too much but I'm finding this blog fascinating :)
Tony Francis 11 January, 2014 11:09
I was a crew member on the Orcades in 1963 to 1964 i enjoyed the ports we visited it was great any other crew members from that period?
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David Alexander 10 June, 2014 03:41
I worked as a hairdresser in the first class salon in 1963/64,a great friendly ship and some good times.then went onto the Iberia for about a year or so.
Carol Cornish 16 January, 2014 23:07
Our family migrated to Adelaide on the Orcades in Jan 1970. We departed Durban in very rough seas and even crew members were sea sick. The magnificent pool was never filled as the sea was too rough and many meals were served in cabins. My poor sister was so sea sick all the way across. It was a beautiful ship, and I remember watching the movie Oliver several times, playing table tennis with the ball moving backwards because of the ship swaying so rigorously. We did make some friends and I remember learning to ballroom dance! Great memories.
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Corrie Cimarosti 17 July, 2014 08:48
I emigrated with my Grandparents, Mum, Dad and 2 sisters on that voyage Carol and remember being terribly seasick after leaving Durban. I also remember getting stuck if one of the lifts one day when it opened between floors (I think because my sister and I were fighting over the controls and had pushed the buttons too many times) Dad was in a different cabin to us on the other side of the ship. And my Grandparents were on another deck completely. It was the best "holiday" I had ever had as I child and we loved every minute of it. I remember how caring the cabin stewards were and the crossing the Equator party with King Neptune. My youngest sister fell in the pool and was pulled out by her pony tail by my Grandfather. She proudly told everyone for days that she had Drownded !!
James (Bob) Marsh 19 January, 2014 14:32
I sailed on the Orcades in 1964 and purchased a cigaret lighter with the ships flag on it. I still have it and will be taking it with me when I sail on another P & 0 ship later this month to show other passengers.
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Michelle Heath 1 February, 2014 22:58
My father was on the Orcades sept 1951 and dec 1951, he was crew, a boilermaker called Ernest Burkey, just wondering if anyone has any pictures that he might possibly be in?
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Anita Yee 14 February, 2014 20:03
My husband myself and our 18 month old daughter sailed from Auckland to England aboard the Orcades in August 1967. It was a terrific trip calling in at Fiji, Pago Pago, Vancouver, San Fransico, Mexico, Hawaii, Panama and a few more ports. Does anyone else remember this voyage? We became friendly with a family Deane, Christine and Laurie and they had four children, three girls and a boy. They settled in Blenheim. Would love to know where they are.
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Catherine Newell 24 March, 2014 08:49
As a 6 year old I travelled on the Orcades with my family to England in 1955. I am amazed and thankful for the many memories I have of the voyage and the exotic places we stopped at. It remains a highlight of my life to this day and watching the British Pathe film ,I am a passenger, bought up many more memories. I especially remember crossing the equator ceremony,being plastered with ice cream and thrown in the pool!
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Lisa 3 April, 2014 19:57
My father Alan King was crew on the Orcades in 1950s . I have a photo of him and some of the other Crew round a piano. How would I post the photo on here
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Roger Freeman 17 November, 2014 11:24
Hi Lisa I knew an Alan King when I taught at Rockingham tafe in WA in the a990's. Could it be the same Alan King? I know that the Alan King that I knew had served as a marine engineer and I remember him telling me he had spent time on the QE2.
Sylvie McKay 21 April, 2014 13:23
I travelled with my new husband on the Orcades leaving Tilbury on 23rd April 1958. There were 5-course meals at least twice a day and we had a cabin to ourselves consisting of two berths and a porthole. Luxury! At the fancy dress night, I folded my single bedspread in 4, sewed the sides and the shoulders, borrowed a tie from another passenger to put around my short hair, and another for a belt for my hips, did the Charleston and won 1st prize for my depiction of a 1920s' flapper. Dancers came aboard at what was then Ceylon and I think a snake charmer. I bought for 2/6d a sort of banjo made of half a coconut shell and some string, followed the vendor around watching him and by the time I got back to the ship, I could play "For He's A Jolly Good Fellow adequately. When I left the ship the ship's Liaison Officer gave me a silver kookaburra for my charm bracelet. It was the most sumptuous, the best holiday I have ever had and I still dream of the Mediterranean along the coast of Italy and then Aden. The crew were very friendly and helpful and we all made friends and had a great time.
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Brian Gates 26 April, 2014 00:59
I worked in the engine/boiler room on the 'Orcades' doing the world cruise September 1968 - February 1969, any of that crew please get in touch.
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Jonathan 30 May, 2014 23:30
I was 16 when I emigrated to Australia with my parents on the Orcades. We left Southhampton on 13th October 1965 and stopped at Port Said. I remember a colourful magician came on board there and he was called the gully gully man. I had befriended our table waiter, David Smith, and we hired a motorbike and rode around the town constantly breaking down. Sailing down the Suez Canal, we were then supposed to stop at Aden, but there was a lot of strife going on there with riots and agitation against the British. So we stayed a day at Djibouti instead. Following that we moved on to Bombay and a fascinating day your of the city. Next stop was Colombo with a similar tour. We arrived in Fremantle on November 5th and then across the Bight and disembarked in Melbourne on November 9th. From there we flew to Adelaide that day and I have lived here ever since. The trip was a fantastic eye opener for a teenager like me: many parties, table tennis, the juke box, poker machines and an introduction to many Aussies returning home. One was a brilliant piano player and all made this young man feel very welcome. I won a fancy dress prize as Bob Dylan, playing 'The Times They Are Changing' on my guitar and harmonica. I have a photo of Captain Riddelsdel giving me a prize of an Orcades autograph book. The times certainly changed for me!
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jack wind 5 June, 2014 07:33
I would like to know the date in 1960, about july I left Vancouver Canada on the orcades to Sydney Australia. vancouver to san Francisco, then los angeles, hawaie, Fiji, new Zealand and finally Sydney.
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discoverycentre 5 June, 2014 12:02

Hi Jack,

While we can probably give you a date of arrival into Sydney on the Orcades, we don't have access to departure information from foreign ports, just arrivals into Australian ports.  In order to confirm a specific date of departure in Vancouver, you may need to contact a Canadian institution that deals directly with emigration records.

Chazwin 25 June, 2014 11:08
Attention Edward Holt, does the name Glazier ring a bell? The big "O" Sailing to Australia October, November 1950? I believe you were a Petty Officer on that voyage. Which country do you now live? I know the Glaziers very well, your name was one mentioned of the many people they met on the voyage. Was surprised to find your name coming up in the "Orcades" Victorian Museum. It was a "fluke" that I found the museum a bigger "fluke" that I found your name as it was one of the names a daughter of the Glaziers spoke of.
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Dr Peter Tate 14 July, 2014 00:57
I was surgeon on Orcades last voyage to and from Australia. I wrote a book about the voyage called 'Seasickness' available on Amazon Kindle.
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Maureen Pratten 3 September, 2014 22:34
I travelled to England on Orcades in November 1965 returning again on Orcades in March 1966 as a sixteen year old I loved it. I later worked for P&O and was lucky to travel on Arcadia ,Iberia ,Himalaya and Cathay
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Jill Corcoran 13 September, 2014 18:55
I sailed with my parents Dot and Arthur Budgen, brother Michael (12)and sister Claire (8), I was 13. We left Tilbury on April 1st 1968 and sailed via Rotterdam, Lisbon, Dakar, Cape Town and Durban, arriving in Fremantle on 28 April. I still remember the sadness at leaving UK and holding onto the last streamers but the excitement of going on a holiday. There was a woman in a fur coat on the dock, who looked as though she'd had a few drinks and maybe changed her mind about embarking and a couple of burly crewmen carried her on board to the cheers of the passengers! The ship seemed very luxurious for kids from a small town in the north of England. We were amazed by the meals and the bowls of tropical fruit on the table, many of which we hadn't tasted before. My bother and I were too old for the Kids Club (which my sister loved) and felt too young for many of the adult activities so spent a lot of our time playing table tennis. Afternoon tea was a highlight of the day! While were docked in Lisbon for the day we took a train trip to the seaside at Estoril. We missed the train to get back and ended up in a taxi who took us to the Oriana which was also berthed there. I remember the feeling of fright by my parents that we might miss the ship and be stuck in Lisbon with three kids and very little money! Thankfully we got back to the Orcades just in time to embark. It was an amazing trip and one that stays very firmly in my memory
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Graeme 18 September, 2014 00:10
The Orcades left Melbourne on 3 February 1949, and Fremantle on 7 February 1949. Can anyone tell me if it stopped in Adelaide to pick up passengers?
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