The National Maritime Museum in Sydney, Australia, in their exhibition called PASSAGES brought alive the experience of sea journeys, from the convict era to the modern story of Australia's refugees. Exhibits included diary excerpts, recorded memories, clothing, precious mementos, shipboard souvenirs, and cultural baggage, all avenues by which family historians can trace the voyages undertaken by their ancestors. The exhibits at the Museum explored the various reasons for leaving a homeland, the perils (and pleasures) of the voyage, attachments to home, and the challenges of settling in a new country. In the age of the sailing ship the voyage from Europe to Australia was long, uncomfortable and often boring.
For those who chose to make the journey by steerage, accommodation was dark, damp and uncomfortable. Relics from the wreck of the Dunbar (1857) are poignant reminders of the dangers of sea travel. The stretches of ocean and long ship journeys were measured in days, weeks and sometimes months. For those on board, it was usually the longest and most significant journey of their lives.