Charting the route

During the 19th century, emigrant ships travelling to Australia sailed into the Bay of Biscay (off the coast of France) before heading south to the equator. Stopping for supplies either at Cape Town or Rio de Janeiro, sailing ships could often spend weeks in the doldrums waiting for wind. Great Circle sailing took ships south into the Roaring Forties, where travellers faced freezing conditions and the risk of icebergs, before heading back up towards the Australian coast. With the advent of steam-powered ships and the opening of the Suez Canal, the time to reach Australia decreased significantly.

This chart was used to plot the track of ships 'Vimeira', 'Walter Hood', 'La Hogue', and 'George Marshall' in 1851, 1855, 1857, and 1868.

A general chart for the purpose of laying down a ship's track on her voyage from England to the East or West Indies or the Pacific Ocean, 1852, by J. W. Norie. [London: Charles Wilson], 1852. Nautical chart. M Ser 4 000/1 MLMSS 6390/Map 1.