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[Page 146]

90 W.As. to be quarantined for a few days ashore. They steamed off in their tug amid tremendous cheers. Our ship's boats were returned to us and the Port L. left at 3 p.m. for Melbourne, everything quiet again.

Sund. 22nd Dec.
Arrived at Port Phillip Heads at 9 a.m. to-day and passing through the rip went inside. Much to our dismay we came to anchor off Sorrento & hoisted the yellow flag. Soon after we learnt our fate – Notwithstanding the fact that we were absolutely a clean ship, three days had to be done in quarantine with more throat spraying & taking of temps. The boys took it fairly quietly after a speech from the O.C. although our chance of getting home for Xmas Day was now absolutely nil.

Tues. 24th Xmas Eve
I never want to spend another Christmas Eve like this one. Why in the dickens didn't I take my furlough in Europe as a number of others did and thus miss all the absolute bungling. The three days of quarantine had nearly dragged themselves out when another staggerer hit us this evening. Orders were received from shore that all N.S.W. & Queensland chaps are to transfer to-morrow morning to another troopship and go round by sea to Sydney, and this after 9 weeks on a ship infected with lice & rotten tucker and without once setting foot on land. Shall we never get on land again? Men & officers are scattered in groups round the deck and there is talk of refusing to transfer on to the new ship. A number of us would like to get ashore and stay in Melb. until the joy riding public filling the Sydney-Melbourne trains kindly condescend to allow us to have seats on the train, or the military authorities ashore pull themselves together after their Christmas festivities and see about disposing of the common soldiers returning from abroad. What a nice Xmas Day we expect to have to-morrow.

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