There’s often been some conjecture about who, how and when the Parer’s first arrived in Australia. This is partly due to a some misreporting with regard to the ship the Alabama, this was not our Parers, but a Charles Parer who is unrelated to us, a seaman who worked the routes of South East Asia during the period. Mainly the confusion of the Parer’s arrival stems as it was not by a normal passage and the records at the time didn’t name them. It’s only through the marvel that is Trove that we have been able to trawl the newspapers of the time and discover evidence of their arrival.
Joseph (Josef) and Francis (Francisco) Parer had had a reasonable time in the Americas, but were homesick and desirous of a way home. It’s likely they found a way to gain a cheap passage home on the Greek brig the Telemacho from Monete Video.
It has been reported that they received this cheap fare by helping work the ship. One wonders if they did this as cooks or seamen.
At the age of 23, Joseph had left the home town of Alella, north of Barcelona for Monte Video in South America in 1852 to try his luck in the gold fields. A year later his younger brother Francis joined him having just turned 18. There they remained until 1855.
The Telemacho captained by G Chuppa was a brig which is a classic sailing vessel square rigged on both masts. The main mast of a brig is made from three parts and equal to that of a fully rigged ship: a mast, topmast and topgallant mast. It was 222 tons measurement, which is a reasonable size. Brigs were known for their adept manoeuvrability.
Ships in those days much preferred good going seas and brigs with their sail arrangements were especially slow against the wind. So it was for the Telemacho in sailing to Europe decided to head via Australia. The typical route from Europe to Australia was to traverse the Atlantic to the east coast of South America and then tack and head around Cape Hope and hit the wild winds of the roaring 40s at latitude 40 and head across the bottom of Australia.
The Telemacho did likely just that and arrived in Sydney on the 29th March 1855. The Age reported that the Telemacho, “experienced very heavy weather during the voyage and lost the greater part of her sails.”
The Alella magazine reports, “They were offered by the employer of a ship to work the passage… the ship did not go directly to their national beaches, but rather they had to stop at other ports, and perhaps sail many months [until] tired one day of the sea life, and being in the remote regions of the Oceania, decided to leave the ship and wait in one of those ports for a departure of a European ship that would direct them to the old world”
The arrival was reported in the Empire newspaper at the time as, “a very unusual occurrence and speculations have been rife as to the design sending the brig Telemacho from Monte Video to Sydney. Being only 222 tons measurement and arriving in ballast, it is probable that her appearance here is only the consequence of her meeting passengers desirous of trying their fortunes in Australian and is not at all indicative of any prospective commercial enterprise.”
The Colonial Times reported that the ship, “bringing 58 passengers, the whole of whom are foreigners (chiefly Spanish and French.) Two of those passengers were Parer’s, Joseph aged 25 and Francis still 19 years of age.
The brothers had heard of the gold rush in Australia and this may have piqued their interest, but perhaps it was this rough voyage that convinced the brothers that they needed a break from the seas.
The Jubilee History of Victoria and Melbourne in 1888, describes, “Landing in Sydney in 1855, they found great difficulty in making much headway, on account of their inability to speak the English language; but with a little persistency made their paths easier in this respect and with a foresight which characterised the wiser portion of the emigrants of that time, they determined to start in business and forego the perilous life of gold-seeking. Their first venture – a poultry farm at Petersham – was unsuccessful, a disease carrying off the whole of their stock.”
Then from Sydney they ended up in a tin hut in Melbourne one stormy night and started a catering empire, but you can read about that here.