Tag Archives: Breaksea Island

Breaksea Island -photos & aerial maps

Yesterday I was fortunate to return to Breaksea Island, long ago home of ‘lighthouse girl’ Fay Catherine Howe. The weather was perfect. After circling the island, Rainer our pilot landed on the helicopter pad just below the lighthouse.

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We circled the ruins of the original lighthouse then walked down the hill to visit the old cottages. Each time I visit I have a strong sense of Fay in the furthest keeper’s cottage, particularly in one of the front rooms.

Just before this visit there’d been robust discussion, accompanied by some impressive forensic laptop studies of several old photos at the Albany History Collection. We were looking at a photograph of a young woman outside this furthest cottage. I’d always hoped it was Fay, but had been told it was an earlier keeper’s wife, however… it now seems it may actually be Fay. More on that in a later post. The young woman is standing by the cottage steps (below), with two donkeys, dogs and goats.

A highlight of the trip was hiking down the old zigzag donkey track to the jetty. I hadn’t been to the jetty since the original research trip over ten years ago, long before there was the helicopter option. There have been a few changes; with a safety cage around the swinging boat access ladder, but otherwise it all looked similar.

 It was great to see Elephant Rock again as that appears in the story.

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Our allocated island time whizzed past and soon it was time to climb back into the chopper for the short trip back to the mainland. I’m already looking forward to next time.

 

 

 

 

The Real Fay

Just in time for Anzac Day, I’ve added a new website link giving further details about Lighthouse Girl Fay’s life after she left Breaksea Island. Thank you to Fay’s descendants for ongoing help and support.

Here is another link to a Destination WA interview clip showing more about the island and Fay’s story. Enjoy!

Booktrailers

Book trailers are a wonderful way for readers to peek into a book and gain a quick understanding of what the story is about so they can then decide whether to buy/borrow and read.

James Foley and Fremantle Press created a cracker clip for my Light Horse Boy, and there are multiple clips linked to Lighthouse Girl (details below), however as yet, there are none for my other books. And so, my resolution for March, is to make at least one more book trailer…

There are two specific Lighthouse Girl clips on Youtube. I love the trailer that was created by Year 4 students at Rosalie Primary School in 2010 – great that it’s still out there…

Then there is my own first attempt at creating a trailer. It’s quite factual and a bit basic as far as clips go, but it gives a nice view of King George Sound and Breaksea Island.

There are many, many YouTube clips linked to the Little Girl Giant, a character which was inspired by the book, Lighthouse Girl (more details on earlier posts). Amongst the terrific clips below, is one posted by Tracey Timmins, the granddaughter of Fay (the lighthouse girl). It’s a crackly but close-up view of Fay as the Little Girl Giant at PIAF 2015. There’s also one that I posted, and others by people I don’t know.

The first waking up

Walking

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A lovely soundtrack version clip linked to Lighthouse Girl is by Caddy Cooper  Her clip features a song that she wrote, The Lighthouse Keeper’s Daughter which was inspired by Fay.

I hope that more clips of my books will appear soon. In the meantime, you might like to check out these clips by other WA authors and illustrators:

My Dead Bunny , The Last Viking Returns, Ned Kelly and the Green Sash,  A is For Australia, Zac and Mia,

This is just a sample, you will find more on most authors’ websites…

 

Breaksea House @ GSG

This morning I went to Great Southern Grammar’s Start of Year Assembly to donate copies of my historical novels, Lighthouse Girl and Light Horse Boy. The occasion?

black and white photograph of the real Fay Howe

The real Fay, image courtesy of Don Watson

GSG’s new boarding house has been named Breaksea House to honour Fay Catherine Howe, the ‘lighthouse girl’ who signalled to the departing Anzac nurses, troops and horses in 1914.

I was honoured to present signed copies of my books to boarding house student leaders; Emma Taylor and James Gonzales.

LHG cover  LHB cover

GSG has also purchased original artwork by illustrator, Brian Simmonds. The image appears on page 94 of Lighthouse Girl and shows Fay searching the Albany Advertiser for news about the troops in the Middle East. This lovely charcoal illustration will now grace the walls of the new boarding facility. I hope to see it when I visit for an informal book chat.

The full school assembly was a terrific occasion, welcoming the 2016 student leaders who then offered a badge to each Year One student, celebrating their new beginnings.

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Fay’s story continues to touch a chord with readers, particularly those living in WA. I often wonder how Fay would feel to know that so many people remember her…

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Farewell 2015

The last day of the year: a time for reflection and forward planning.

Tucked in a holiday house in the hills behind Apollo with my family, its also a time for counting blessings; we’re all relatively healthy and we have homes to return to.

2015 has been a huge year for me with several highlights including:

  • Lighthouse Girl’s close link to ‘The Giants’ performance through the streets of Perth. Following the Little Girl Giant as she searched for The Diver was an unforgettable experience. My special pass enabled me to stand right beside the fabulous giants.
  • signing with Newman Agency. Clive Newman has some exciting ideas for reinvigorating some of my backlist and also new markets for new titles. More info soon…
  •  The Shark Caller’s acceptance for publication with Random House in mid-late 2016. The final edit is almost complete and I can’t wait to share this story with readers. 
  • the presentation of Granny Grommet and Me to the Duchess of Cornwall. I do hope those young royals enjoy hearing about Albany’s surfing grannies.
  • Moss Vale High School selecting Light Horse Boy to be the 2015 book that the entire school reads (all 700 students and staff) as part of their school book club.
  • Light Horse Boy being serialised over 10 weeks in The West Australian newspaper.
  • flying to Breaksea Island in a helicopter to be interviewed for Channel 9’s TV show, Destination WA
  • my daughter’s Masters graduation ceremony.

Thank you to the schools and libraries across WA and beyond who hosted me in 2015. I believe teachers and librarians are unsung heroes of literacy. They open doors to learning, empathy and understanding for children and teenagers – the extent of their influence may not be known for years, but they enrich our community in immeasurable ways. I’d love to see teachers and librarians honoured and appreciated more in 2016.

Next year:

In addition to the launch of The Shark Caller, for YA readers, I hope the illustrations for my picture book, Nanna’s Button Tin will soon be completed. The artwork so far is lovely.

My main aim at the moment is to complete my PhD research ready to submit before mid-year. Hopefully the next blog post will have an update on my progress.

I have school and library bookings in Albany, Busselton, Bunbury and Perth and plan to visit Sydney/Melbourne, Canberra and regional NSW. Please use the contact page if you would like me to come to your school/library.

Back to Breaksea Island – after 9 years…

aud's choice 020It’s been nine years since I visited Breaksea Island in the very early days of my research for Lighthouse Girl. So much has happened since then…

When I last went out, the only way onto the island was via a swing & breaksea 055ladder, then a hike from the jetty up to the lighthouse and cottages (just like Fay would have done to meet the monthly supply boat). Back in 2006, very little was known about Fay’s early life, but going to the island gave me a strong feeling for how things ‘might’ have been when she signalled to departing troops in 1914. After that first research trip, Lighthouse Girl took another three years to research and write.

Now there is a helicopter service to Breaksea, which makes things much easier! I was excited to go back to Breaksea with the team from Channel 9’s Destination WA to film a segment that will go to air on Sunday 16th April at 5.30pm on WIN and Channel 9 with presenter Tod Johnston.

The Albany weather was at its wild and woolly best. I didn’t think we’d be able to fly, but pilot Rainor of Skyhook Helicopters has nerves of steel. He is an amazing pilot. After multiple flybys of the helipad; which gave us great views of the cottages and lighthouse, Rainor decided it was safer to put us down on a granite slab further down the island.

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The following clip shows how windy it was when we arrived. Forty knots plus.

20150318_153920 We walked up the hill to the lighthouse, battling the wind to explore the ruin of the original lighthouse and the sturdy second lighthouse (now solar powered). After taking lots of photographs, fighting wind and rain to do an interview, we went down the hill to the restored lighthouse keeper’s cottages.

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When I was at Breaksea in 2006 we camped overnight. I slept in a swag in the far room of the far cottage. I’ll probably never know which house Fay and her father lived in, but as I lay there listening to birds squawking in their burrows at night, I had such a strong sense of Fay having a link to the room I slept in. I had the same feeling this time.

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I loved being in the cottage which might have been Fay’s, looking out the windows to views of Bald Head and the wild Southern Ocean, imagining again how her life might have been. Thanks to Keir Tunbridge for the photo of me in that room. kkkkkk - Copy

And also for this one of me and the lighthouse.

 

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IMG_4982Thanks also to the intrepid team from Guru Productions  for organising the trip. I can’t wait to see the complete story on Destination WA.