Guide to the Diary of John Bond (as filmed by AJCP)



National Library of Australia View Catalogue Record

Created: 2018

Collection Summary

Bond, John James
Diary of John Bond (as filmed by the AJCP)
Date Range
1853 - 1855
Collection Number
1 item
Language of Materials
Australian Joint Copying Project
The Australian Joint Copying Project (AJCP) online portal was created with the assistance of the Australian Public Service Modernisation Fund, 2017-2020. The National Library of Australia gratefully acknowledges the contribution of the other foundation AJCP partners, the State Library of New South Wales and The National Archives of the UK, and all other organisations which supported the work of the AJCP, the world's most extensive collaborative copying project, operating from 1948 to 1997.


Scope and Contents

Diary (89 p.) written in 1915 by Bond recalling his voyage to, and stay in, Australia in 1853-1854. He quotes from letters he wrote to his mother at this time and adds some details gathered from letters written to him from Australia in 1868 and 1874. The first part of the diary describes the voyage to Australia in the Lady Flora. He continued his voyage to Sydney and returned to Melbourne in the steamer Waratah. He stayed with his uncle at Benalla, Victoria, for some months and gives a detailed account of the town and its residents. He also gives his impressions of Sydney and Melbourne and notes in some detail the features of buildings and the prices of certain commodities. Before sailing from Melbourne in the Marco Polo Bond visited the Victorian goldfields of Ballarat and Bendigo and describes problems experienced on the diggings, such as lack of water and poor communications.

Conditions Governing Access

Available for Access.

Conditions Governing Use

Many of the records digitised as part of the AJCP are still in copyright. Readers wishing to publish or reproduce documents should seek permission, in the first instance, from the owner of the original material.

Preferred Citation

Acknowledgement of use of this material should refer to the location of the original material and to the Australian Joint Copying Project.

Items from this collection should include references to the location of the original material and to the AJCP nla.obj number, which serves as the online identifier for the digital copy.

Example: M Series: Journal of Capt. James Cook, 18 February-23 September 1770, British Library Add. MS 27885 (AJCP ref:

Archival History

Filmed at the private residence of Misses A. and E. Bond, England, as part of the Australian Joint Copying Project, 1969 (AJCP Reel: M724). Original microfilm digitised as part of the NLA AJCP Online Delivery Project, 2017-2020.

Existence and Location of Originals

The private residence of Misses A. and E. Bond, Somerset, England.

Existence and Location of Copies

The original AJCP microfilm of the records filmed from this collection is available at the National Library of Australia [] as well as other institutions holding AJCP microfilm.

Finding Aid Note

This finding aid is a revised online version of the original finding aid prepared by the Australian Joint Copying Project (AJCP), published by the National Library of Australia in 2018. The original AJCP finding aids were unpublished typescripts or photocopies available from libraries that held copies of the original microfilm.

Dates used in this finding aid refer to the date range of the records selected for filming rather than to the date range of the Series or Files.

Advisory Statement

Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are advised that this Finding Aid contains material and descriptive information which may be considered culturally sensitive and may cause distress, including names and images of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people now deceased. This Finding Aid contains terms that reflect authors' views or those of the historical period, but which may not be considered appropriate today. While the information may not reflect current understanding, it is provided in an historical context.


Australia: visits to; Ballarat, Victoria; Bendigo, Victoria; Bond, John J.; Gold and goldfields: Victoria; Lady Flora (ship); Marco Polo, emigrant ship; Melbourne, Victoria: visits to; Sydney, New South Wales: visits to; Victoria; Waratah, SS (ship); Diary


Originally cited in Australian Joint Copying Project Handbook. Part 8: Miscellaneous (M) Series. Third Edition, published 1998. Entry 43, p.15.

Biographical / Historical

John James Bond (1831-1922) sailed to Australia in 1852, apparently with the intention of visiting his uncle, who lived at Benalla in Victoria. He stayed for about two years and visited several of the goldfields, although as a tourist rather than a digger. He returned to England on the Marco Polo in 1855. In his later years he was a farmer in Somerset.

In 1897 Bond discovered the letters that he had written in Australia to his family and in 1915 he and his daughter-in-law transcribed parts of them to make a kind of diary of his time in Australia. In 1969 the original letters were still in the possession of his family, but were too fragile for microfilming by the Australian Joint Copying Project. They had, however, been filmed by Margaret Kiddle in 1954 and copies of this film are held in the State Library of New South Wales and the State Library of Victoria.

Item Descriptions

Diary of John James Bond, 1853 - 1855 (File)

Retrospective 'diary', based mainly on a few letters that John Bond wrote to his family, recording his visit to Australia in 1853-1855. (89pp.)

The first part of the manuscript (pp.1-36) records in some detail the voyage from London to Melbourne on the Lady Flora. It refers to the departure from Gravesend (17 April 1853), Bond's fellow-passengers, sea-sickness, rough seas in the Bay of Biscay, accidents suffered by passengers, the sighting of St Antonio (Cape Verde Islands), sightings of other ships, the ship's newspaper, the Crossing the Line ceremony, shipboard entertainment, sightings of whales, sharks, flying fish, birds and albatrosses, fights among passengers, the first sighting of the Australian coast, Port Phillip Bay, Bond's reflections on the voyage and the behaviour of the crew, and the disembarkation at Melbourne (17 August 1853).

The rest of the manuscript records Bond's travels and experiences in Victoria, including a few months in the Benalla region where he stayed with his uncle and his family. The letters record his first impressions of Melbourne, prices and wages, the sight of drays and horsemen setting off for the goldfields, and the desertions from ships. He visited Geelong and described a long walk from Melbourne to Kilmore and Benalla, referring to the state of the roads and the inns and encounters with convict gangs at work. Staying with his uncle (who had emigrated in 1840), he wrote of a visit to the Beechworth gold diggings, the drunkenness of both squatters and stockmen, bushrangers, visits to sheep and cattle stations, his work as a pound-keeper, rides in the country, church services, funerals, and the skills of Indigenous Australians. The later pages mention a visit to Sydney, meetings with former convicts, visits to the Ballarat and Bendigo goldfields and his repeated falls from horses.

The last letter that Bond transcribed was dated July 1854 and the last section, which is rather digressive, seems to be based on his memories. He refers to letters that he received from Australia in 1868-1874, and noted the growth of Benalla in the previous twenty years and the experiences of a few of his former Australian friends in that time. He apparently returned to England on the Marco Polo in 1855, but there are no details of the voyage.