A major breakthrough.
After some hours, well several hours really, of searching the net I finally managed to find the shipping passenger list with Misses Houston listed! Finding this and actually seeing their names makes them seem so real and alive. Exciting stuff. No one can remember the name of the ship they travelled on, so it was a long process of detective work and I finally tracked it down by searching the Brisbane Courier newspaper for the year 1914 and perused the Shipping information section.
On Saturday 20th June 1914 (coincidentally EXACTLY 96 years ago today), my Grandmother and Aunt left the port of Brisbane on the KPM Line ship Tasman, bound for Batavia (now Jakarta), and from thence on to Hong Kong. I am yet to track down whether or not they stayed on the Tasman from Hong Kong to Shanghai. The newspaper shows that the ship had travelled from Sydney to Brisbane and was steered by Captain Lucardie.
The Tasman was 5023 tons - relatively small when compared with the likes of the Orient Line ships which were 3 or 4 times the size and were luxury liners. My research shows that the Tasman that my ladies sailed on was version number 2 and built in 1913 by Earle's Shipbuilding & Engineering Company Ltd., Hull, England. In 1918 it was confiscated by the British Government, torpedoed and sunk by German submarine U 46 in the Atlantic Ocean. So, it was a brand new steam ship with a buff funnel with a black stripe around the top. I am still searching for a photo of it but have managed to find some interior photos of a very glamourous sister ship, the Nieuw Holland which was about 12,000 tons and luxury in the extreme. I also discovered that any passenger ships leaving ports (particularly in Sydney) were sent off in gala style, with brass and pipe bands and masses of coloured paper streamers linked between ship and shore. Remember, there were no aeroplanes yet, only sea travel.
Armed with this vital piece of information, I am now ready to begin my narrative. My task today is to write a chapter outline which will be my plan for the story. Whilst I want to primarily write about the experiences of my Grandmother and Aunt in China, I am going to also write about my own travels to China in search of my spiritual link with that country which I have become very fond of. Weaving the two journeys through time will be my biggest challenge.