Research Trip #1: Broome Flying Boat Wrecks

AdiSunriseAfter the busy and delightful madness of Children’s Bookweek (Thank you IONA, Our Lady’s Assumption Primary, Woodvale and Vic Park Libraries), I took a week off from writing to go north. I needed to do more research for one of two novels I’m writing for my PhD. Both are linked to my thesis ‘Anthropomorphism in Children’s Literature’ – more about that in a future post…

The story I’m researching is set in Port Hedland and Marble Bar. It links to the WW2 attacks on north-west Australia and my first stop was Broome to see the wrecks of the Dutch flying boats.

AdiWing AwreckHoverV

In 1942 hundreds of families fled the Dutch East Indies in the final days before towns fell to the Japanese forces. The evacuees flew south to Broome then onwards to other parts of Australia. Early morning March 3rd, fifteen flying boats were waiting to refuel in Roebuck Bay. They were packed with women and children. A squadron of Japanese Zeroes, on a long range mission from Timor, strafed the boats causing the death of over eighty people. Amidst the horror, there were stories of great courage. At extreme low tide, some of the wrecked planes can still be seen. Exploring them at dawn was poignant and deeply moving.

AkarenandPlane Arib

Synchronicity is an amazing thing. More and more I believe that some stories are meant to be written. On the mini-bus trip to the hovercraft I sat by a woman, Karen Hasselo. We began chatting and she told her father (99 and in good health) was one of the pilots! Karen had travelled from Melbourne to visit his plane.

Karen Hasselo and Dianne at her father's plane

Karen Hasselo and Dianne at her father’s plane

Research trips are an important way for authors to immerse themselves in the setting of their story. To better imagine how things might feel, sound, smell…  You never really know what treasures will be discovered until after you arrive. Meeting Karen was one of those amazing moments that will give me a deeper understanding of my story.

I also found wonderful information and records at The Broome Historical Museum and Broome Heritage Centre. After a few days in Broome, I travelled south to Port Hedland and Marble Bar. More about that in the next post…  Akaren walks to wreck

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