Law Text Culture


On Tuesday 10 August 1915,2 a 25 year old Russian3 named Neplen Matanakes was allowed to disembark from the SS Empire in Brisbane, the capital city of the state of Queensland in the recently federated Australia. A year into World War I, Neplen’s journey had started a few weeks earlier in the Chinese Russian city of Harbin. Like other Russians before him, Neplen made his way to the Japanese seaport of Dairen (or Dalny), also located on the Chinese mainland. He then joined the SS Empire at Kobe, Japan, on one of its regular round trips to Australia and, after brief stops in Hong Kong and Manila, the steamer arrived in Darwin on 1 August 1915. The three unnamed Russians on board were mentioned in dispatches telegraphed south.4 Brisbane was the SS Empire’s first capital city landfall in Australia and, by disembarking here, Neplen followed the path of thousands of other Russians who arrived in Australia through its most northerly state capital.