Ex-Crew Member Josie Worked As A Stewardess
My trip working as a stewardess for the SS Australis is an experience I always remember, and is often a topic of conversation even now when I speak to people. It started in 1976, a friend told me how to apply for the job by contacting Chandris Lines. I was called for an interview to be held near Liverpool Street Station, London, and they told me I could start in June 76 for a round trip to Australia.
I was really excited as my father waved me off from Southampton. I was shown to my cabin, which was on C deck (below water level) and there were 7 other girls sharing the same cabin. We got on really well together considering we were tight for space. Their names were Mary, Jackie, Pauline and Jill, I cant remember the others' names.
We were given uniforms and lifejackets, and were told to be ready for a lifeboat drill. We had to stand to attention on deck in the hot sun for ages. Our first meeting of the passengers was at the Captain's Cocktail Party. We had a photo taken when we stood in a line holding trays of food. We worked 6 days a week carrying the trays around, so we could serve drinks and collect empty glasses on them.
Shifts would often go on till late at night, and when they were finished we would make a beeline for the bakery for some rolls to eat. On our day off we weren't allowed to go anywhere on the boat, except between the funnels to sunbathe. With all the black smoke bellowing out the funnels it was hard to get a sun-tan.
Jackie, Mary and I met some English guys, who were going out to work on the Iron Ore Mines in the outbacks of Australia. They stayed in cabin 757, and if we wanted to go and see them we had to wear our uniforms and carry the trays with us incase we got caught. When the ship docked we often had time off to go ashore and explore, so we would meet up with them and go for a drink.
I was told one day to go and get some clean linen for the beds. I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw all these "Chinese Laundry Men". It was like stepping into another world, and it was the only time you would ever see them.
There were always lots of parties with the other crew members. Often they were held in the mess and sometimes in the cabins. I remember going to a fancy dress in an Indian outfit with a turban on my head.
We laughed from start to finish on the trip, and it's had a positive effect on me, which has lasted my whole life.
Josie can be contacted on this e-mail address
: JOSIE KING
Many thanks to Josie for her contribution to the site
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