Readers, before I begin, I want to thank Ailsa for her challenge and her ideas here: http://wheresmybackpack.com/2012/06/08/oceans/
Oceans lap the Australian coastline on three sides. To the east there’s the Pacific; to the west, the Indian Ocean; to the south, the Southern Ocean. The northern coastline is lapped by seas not vast enough to be called ocean. They’re the Timor Sea and the Arafura Sea, separating us from the islands of New Guinea and Indonesia.
In 1941 ships crossed the Indian Ocean to take Australian troops to the Middle East and back home again. The photo below shows the Aquitania leaving Sydney Harbour in 1941 before she was painted battle grey. Before being assigned as a troopship the Aquitania had been a luxury liner in the Atlantic and before that she had served in the First World War. She was the last surviving four-funnelled ocean liner. The photo was possibly taken from the Queen Mary, another liner transformed into a troop carrier. There was a convoy of converted liners in Sydney Harbour in April 1941 taking on board thousands of soldiers. The Aquitania and the Queen Mary made a number of these journeys across the Indian Ocean and back. Of course, Sydney is on the east coast of Australia and the ships were heading west, so it was a long trip just to get out of Australian waters, let alone across the Indian Ocean. My mother told me that my father went on the Queen Mary, and his service record tells me he left Sydney on 1st September 1941 and arrived in the Middle East on 25th September. About three weeks at sea. On the ocean.