When you look at the names of many people that arrived in Australia in the mid 1800’s you expect the list to be dominated by English, Scottish, Irish and Welsh names. After all it was a British colony developed to house convicts when Brittan was thrown out of America by the revolution. So naturally the expectation is a population made up of soldiers, convicts and free settlers from Brittan.
The fact is that there was also a lot of migrants from the German states and surrounding countries that left their homes during the late 1840’s and became known as the fortyeighters. This part of Europe was in a state of revolution during the 1840’s. some were just protesters upset at the establishment due to the level of poverty, others took it further and battles were rampant across the region. Things settled for a while but the region was in a state of famine and poverty and it was only a matter of time before more unrest would ensue. Governments having squashed an uprising had, “wanted lists” of the main protagonists and young men were being conscripted to bolster the armed forces in readiness for any future uprising against the State.
Large numbers of people migrated from Germany and the surrounding countries and headed for America, Australia and England in the hope of a new start. Many of them were farmers, stonemasons and builders prepared to do it tough in order to carve out a new life in a new country. This was not easy and they went through much in their chosen country. In America they were subjected to the horrors of Indian attacks as they crossed the country to find good farm land only to run into the cattle ranchers and their open ranges who did all they could to prevent these farmers from fencing in the land.
Australia was similar as they were not welcomed by the squatters who also ran herds on open ranges and resented farmers fencing in the best grass country for farming. Fortunately the Australian Squatter was not as vicious as the American rancher and the law of the gun did not exist to the same extent here. The aboriginal was not as warlike as the American Indian making Australia a safer place for them, but they did have to face animosity and the hardships of a brown dry country with its arid countryside and deserts.
This is the story of one of those German families, told by Christianna Wilhelmina Auguste Henriette Petschel, born 23rd March 1840, who made the trip at the age of eight in 1848 as her parents set out to start a new life in Australia and ended up in the Wimmera and Mallee.
Read her story carefully and you will learn about the trials and tribulations of these early German settlers who brought their skills, knowledge, religion and culture to add to the mix in a new country.
For further reading and a description of the German states in 1850. See
For Christianna’s full story go to the link below or look in the
Mallee History section