by Barbara Greenwood
A well-illustrated book describing the voyages of two Manx-built vessels – the schooner Vixen (built 1851, 93 tons) and cutter Peveril (1848, 59 tons) – from the Neb River, in the Isle of Man, to Melbourne, and which should be of equal appeal to those living in Australia with an interest in the earlier settlers, and those closer to the port of origin, Peel, who wish to learn more about those intrepid adventurers. Vixen made the passage to Melbourne in only 92 days during 1853 whilst Peveril took just over four months the following year. They arrived at the start of the gold rush sweeping Victoria. Many of the ships’ crew and passengers became engaged with this bonanza and the author has provided a large amount of well-researched detail on the rush for gold, in addition to describing the subsequent voyages made along the southern and eastern coasts of Australia, Van Diemen’s Land (renamed Tasmania in 1856), Fiji, Antipodes Island and New Zealand. The Vixen’s adventures eventually saw her make a return journey westward during which she visited Mauritius, Cape Town and Trinidad & Tobago before being wrecked in mysterious circumstances off the Calf at the southern tip of the Isle of Man. The Peveril remained in Australian waters and foundered in a gale in Cooktown some twenty years later.
Approximately one-quarter of the 122 pages of this book is devoted to describing the ancestry and descendants of the crews of both ships. Barbara Greenwood, the author, is two times great grand daughter of John Mylchreest, the first master of the Peveril, and whose name is well known in the Isle of Man. Two of his sons were on the epic Peveril voyage. One son, also John, was the first harbour master of Cairns, Queensland.
This eminently readable book contains a variety of illustrations – including 60 colour and black & white photographs, maps, and many wonderful copies of water colours and engravings from the State Library of Victoria and Manx National Heritage. A dozen or so of the photos are of recent vintage and record sites both in the Isle of Man and Australia relating to the ships and their crews.
The publication is dedicated to Lieutenant Colonel Brian Mylchreest (1916-2014), the author’s uncle who passed down much of the information upon which the book is based.
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