Category Archives: Uncategorized

Darwin Hop on Hop off bus

I found the best way to explore Darwin was to pay for 24 hours on the double-decker Hop on Hop off red bus.


I used it three times before my ticket ran out.


Just around from the Palm City Resort was the Information Centre where we caught the morning bus. The first time Alan and I stayed on board and enjoyed the unique and informative  Northern Territory style commentary. I made notes of the museums and art Galleries I wanted to visit .


Paul picked Alan up in the hired Mitsubishi Sportsman SUV diesel car. I didn’t realize that the bus didn’t run until 1.30 pm in the afternoon but it gave me the opportunity to shop. Once on the bus I hopped off at East Point to explore the Darwin Military Museum, an important location during WWII. The Defense of Darwin Experience provided me with an immersive, interactive experience of the  story of Darwin’s role during the war .


However, I lost track of time wandering around the beautiful tropical gardens containing a myriad of artefacts. (walk through the cafe and out into the gardens. I nearly missed it). I climbed up steep steps to see the guns that were considered obsolete by 1943 and remembered when we came in 1973 we had not realized the extent of the bombing of Darwin. We were amazed at our ignorance and applauded what we saw then as the ingenuity of homemade guns created out of logs and large wheels and the non-government funded museum. Little did we know that for generations the country was kept in the dark about the true dimensions of the Japanese attack. At the time Mr Curtin suppressed all news about the bombing of Darwin in case it caused ‘anxiety and distress’.


At 9.58am on February 19, 1942, just four days after the supposedly impregnable British garrison in Singapore collapsed, Japanese bombers escorted by Zero fighters appeared in the skies above Darwin. The first wave attacked the CBD and harbour infrastructure, and sank 11 ships either at anchor or berthed. A second wave came for the RAAF base. By noon, 243 people – including 53 civilians – were dead, 400 wounded. The wharf was cut in two, 30 aircraft were destroyed and the post office levelled; postmaster Hurtle Bald, his wife Alice, daughter Iris and six post office workers died when a bomb hit their slit trench.

In 2019 the bombing of Darwin in 1943 is now celebrated. Darwin had survived. Sitting in the Museum reminded me  of the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbour, although many more American lives were lost in that conflict. More than 2,400 Americans died in the attack, including civilians, and another 1,000 people were wounded. Darwin was bombed over twenty times and many lives were lost but these facts were hidden from the population at the time. People lived in ignorant bliss unless you lived in Darwin or Adelaide River in the Northern Territory during WWII.


I spent so long there that I caught the last Hop on Hop off bus to the Flying Doctor Museum at Stokes Hill Wharf. I was determined and excited by the thought of trying virtual reality for the first time and to see the Holographs used to accentuate the visitor experience


Racing through the exhibit in the hour before they closed I had to ring Paul to pick me up. Fortunately he was available and knew where to get me. He and Marian had taken us to have a delicious dinner on the wharf the night before. We had a round table between two wharf-side buildings where we got the evening breeze, so cooling after Darwin heat. We ordered our green Thai curry meal from a wharf cafe. Delicious.


I was up and on the bus early the next morning because I wanted to experience the Northern Territory Museum and Art Gallery. Of particular importance to me was to see the Cyclone Tracy exhibit. We had been there the year before Tracy but I remember reading about the devastation and disbelief of Darwin residents that this could happen to them on Christmas Eve 1974. Having two small boys myself at the time I could truly empathise and relate to their problems.  they couldn’t reveal the actual wind speed of the cyclone as all the gauges were destroyed


I arrived at stop 7 ready for action only to find the NT Museum didn’t open until 10am. I only had half an hour to dash into the Gallery, take as many photos as possible for later research and dash out again, but at least I had seen it for myself.

8 darwin cyclone tracy 2019-04-15 10.12.46 (2)

For those interested I’ll list some of the stops along the way. stop 1: Information Centre. 2: Crockosauras Park. 3: Fish feeding (10 min walk) 4: the commentary said during the war Catalina amphibious aircraft became fighter bombers. 5: the site of Darwin Hospital. Opened after 17 days then bombed and later damaged beyond repair by Cyclone Tracy. Cullen Bay (protected modern beach front homes). Fannie Bay Goal didn’t open until Wednesday. Old Millyn Heritage Area (old Queenslander homes that survived the bombing and Cyclone Tracy). George Brown Darwin Botanic Gardens. Mindil Beach Market. WWII Oil Storage Tunnels are some of the fascinating stops available to anyone interested to hop on and off the bus.

We finished our three days in Darwin with a trip to Coles (just around the corner) for travelling supplies and later a sunset cruise and buffet meal on a catamaran .


The next day we left Darwin to head for Mary River Wilderness Retreat. The Mary River region is Jawoyn land and I want to know more about the indigenous culture


May 2019 Be Kind To You All

Another Christmas and New Year have been and gone. I’m always amazed at how quickly time flies. The lead up to Christmas is hectic, the holiday season is fun and the wind-down enjoyable. But now we have to pick up the threads and get stuck into this brand new year.

I love this old postcard with a traditional Scottish toast wishing everyone well for the coming year. Here it is for friends and family. I wish you all well and every happiness in the year ahead.

It will be a full year of teaching, writing, book launches (others, not mine because I’m still working on my 3rd book ) and attending writing groups, giving workshops on How To Write A Memorable Memoir, and attending conferences etc. The passion is still there.


Marketing is always a problem. There are so many books now available on Amazon and Kindle that my two books, Pickle to Pie and Something Missing are now well down the ladder and I simply don’t know how to breathe new life into them. However, I am eternally grateful for all they have given me and my academic journey means I am alumni to Monash, Melbourne and Swinburne Universities. Fantastic.

However, at this brand new start to this new year my horizons are broader. I am optimistic that as the world gets smaller so our hearts will get larger and we will embrace people different to us and wish them peace

Family is very important to us. Our eldest son and wife left for a snowy Christmas in the USA and Canada and sent photos and texted often. We have the grand-dogs for company while they are away. Our youngest son, wife and two grandchildren drove down from Queensland for a great Christmas get -together. He did all the cooking and we had a lovely time. We played Uno and swam in the canal. The memories will keep me warm during our cold winter months but for now I’m simply enjoying life and taking advantage of every moment of sunshine, warmth and Summer living.

Patterson Lakes comes alive during these warm days. People have barbecues, sit on their deck drinking coffee (or something stronger) and watching the kayaks paddle past on the waterway outside our doors.  The birds are a joy to watch as they swoop and play. We see pelicans, sooty terns, swifts, ducks…even the laughing duck and the ever present seagulls squabbling for anything left over. The plover’s call at night lulls us to sleep.

May you all have a wonderful year filled with happiness and joy


Meeting Other Writers And Sharing Ideas

It is so important not to lock yourself away in an attic to produce your latest work. Writers need to be with other writers, to share ideas, successes and discuss problems.

Last Sunday I caught a bus to the station and spent an hour reading as the train rattled its way to the city. Melbourne was buzzing. Buskers performed, played unusual instruments and generally entertained. The street market was in full swing. A French style black felt hat caught my eye but at $120 was soon replaced on its stand. The Yarra river was bustling with boats ferrying happy passengers and the coffee shops were full.

At the Vic Restaurant at the Art Centre under the spire I met a group of Hysterical Melbourne Historical writers.

It was so uplifting to sit and talk about our latest projects and discuss the highs and lows of the writing life. I know Pickle to Pie fits nicely into Historical Fiction but I’m afraid Something Missing and this latest book are a little too modern.  But it doesn’t matter. What matters is to be communicating with like minded people. It refreshed my soul and inspired me to jot down hasty notes in the train going home and pound the keyboard of my trusty computer late into the night.


Thank You, Dr. Charles French

This is my first reblog but I join many others in thanking Dr Charles French and Jennie for all their help and support over the years

A Teacher's Reflections

I posted on my blog yesterday, “A Gift of Charlotte’s Web.”  As I scrolled down to print a hard copy (yes, I have a hard copy of every blog post- it’s wonderful), I looked at the three suggested readings of similar posts.  One was titled, “Death and Dying and Chapter Reading.”  What? I could not remember the post, as it was quite old.  Well, I read it again, and it was terrific.

Then, I looked at the bottom of the post.  There was only one ‘like’.  One!  That ‘like’ was Charles French.  He has been a follower and supporter of my blog since way-back-when.

I learned everything I needed and wanted to know by following his blog.  I learned how to thank people, how to follow people, and how to reblog.  I learned, and Charles French kept reading and liking my blog posts.  His blog has become a favorite and a gold…

View original post 773 more words

Celebrating Women Writing History

An excellent Saturday afternoon at the Eltham Library talking with other authors about why we write history.

Catherine Padmore (on the left) from La Trobe University was excellent as chairperson for our panel discussion

Most of the authors attending write amazing books about Tudor Queens or fascinating people who have led interesting lives. I have eventually accepted that I write to unravel my recent history;  to delve into my past. To look back at the world of my parents leads to understanding them as people, their culture and their lives. By doing this often I come to terms with my past and finally understand many of the decisions I have made along this fascinating life journey.

Program: organised by

Wendy J Dunn, author of Falling Pomegrantate Seeds along with several helpers

Women’s History Month at Eltham Library
Panther Place, Eltham, Victoria Australia 3095

Generously supported by Eltham Library, Swinburne University and Madeglobal.

Eltham Library celebrates Women Writers of History by giving readers of history the opportunity to meet local (writers living in or near Melbourne) women writers of history in a series of readings and panels.

Sunday, March 5th
1.15 to 2.45
Panel discussion:
Why women write history.

Authors taking part:
Kelly Gardiner
Barbara Gaskell Denvil
Elizabeth Jane Corbett
Kate Mildenhall
Glenice Whitting
Kathryn Gauci

Chaired by Catherine Padmore.

2.45 – 3.15 Afternoon tea

3.15 – 4.45
Historical Fiction readings and book discussions.
Kathryn Gauci, Barbara Denvill and Wendy J. Dunn

Bookings taken by the Eltham Library, Phone: (03) 9439 9266, or book your ticket here:

Saturday, March 11th

Starting at 12.30pm with readings from and discussion about their works:

Katie Holmes, Janis Sheldrick, Christina Twomey, Liz Conor

Afternoon tea

Starting at 2.30 pm.

Panel –
Liz Conor, Katie Holmes, Christina Twomey
What draws you to write about the past?
Chaired by Wendy J. Dunn
Bookings taken by the Eltham Library, Phone: (03) 9439 9266, or book your ticket here:

March 18th
Meet the author day.

Elise McCune
Wendy J. Dunn

Afternoon tea

Rachel Rossignol
Elizabeth Jane Corbett

Bookings taken by the Eltham Library, Phone: (03) 9439 9266, or book your ticket here:

March 25th

The powerful and different ways that non fiction and fiction tell the stories of the past, and why women are so good at telling these kinds of stories.

Professor Josie Arnold
Barbara Gaskell Denvil
Kelly Gardiner
Glenice Whitting
Chaired by Eloise Faichney

Closing celebration – wine and light refreshments provided.

History panel 5th march: Some possible discussion points to get us started on the topic of why women write history:

In preparation for this event I asked for a list of possible questions. When they arrived I quickly answered them in a stream of conciousness way by simply jotting down whatever popped into my head. Why don’t you try it. I found it an amazing, clarifying  writing exercise.

What was your catalyst for writing about the past?

The past deals with my own life and writing about it is a great way to sort stuff out. To see what really happened and why. My writing records the recent past. Pickle to Pie is about a boy, a greathearted German Grossmutter and a man caught between two worlds. It was my way of dealing with my fathers death and growing up in Parkdale to a parent of German descent. Something Missing deals with the next stage of my life. In 1975 I met my older American poet penfriend and reveal how that friendship changed our lives.

Do you prefer your protagonists to be actual or fictional figures?

I like my main characters to be based on fact and veiled in fiction. For authorial freedom I always turn the story into fiction.

Some writers choose well-known historical figures while others inhabit lesser-known ones – what choices have you made and why?

My choice is to write about everyday, non famous people. I believe their stories need to be recorded and their voices heard.

What was the most challenging aspect of your rendering of the past?

The most challenging aspect was the amount of research involved to make sure dates of major events were correct and to attend to every small detail. The grossmutter makes herbal tea and then reads what kind of leaves. Definitely not chamomile because that is made from flowers. Spearmint

What ethical dilemmas kept you up at night?

Worrying about how other people would react to my novel. Had I portrayed the motives of my characters correctly? If , heaven forbid, someone thought they recognised themselves would they be upset?

What is your sense of the relationship between the characters’ past and our present?

We learn by understanding the past. By understanding the past we can come to terms with our present.

 How do you approach ideas of authenticity in historical fiction?

Research and more research from reliable sources. It is an essential part of writing historical fiction

 What lessons have you learnt through writing the past?

By writing about my past I can now see it clearly and put to rest many things which worried me in the past. I have come to terms with my hidden German heritage and understand why my father was so withdrawn and self protective. I also now understand why I was so self driven to achieve academically and how, and why I became an author instead of a social worker

 How has writing as an Australian affected your approach to these people and events?

I try not to let nationality influence the way I think and feel about people in the past. However, it is only natural that my Australian culture and values influence the way I write. Therefore I seek help and advice from people of the nationality I’m exploring. For Pickle to Pie German born Herbert Etienne translated old postcards and helped me with my research. For Something Missing, I sent the manuscript to American author and editor Cindy Vallar and followed her advice.

How does your gender influence your approach (to history, to fiction)?

Being a woman living in a patriarchal society definitely influences my approach to fiction and to writing history. I find the cultural expectations and the roles women play affects their lives and those around them. To write about cultural values and inconsistencies means my stories often strike a cultural chord with other women. I am telling their stories as well as my own.

My First Video

Becoming a writer stretches you. You find yourself trying different things, making a video is one of them. Below is my first video made with the help of Wendy and David Dunn. Such supportive and kind people willing to extend themselves to help another in need.

Less than a week to go

I can’t believe it is less than a week to the book launch of Something Missing at Swinburne University Sky Lounge.


The book launch is on Sunday 11th Dec , 3pm on the 3rd floor of the AMDC building of Swinburne University on the corner of Burwood Rd and William St. I believe there is a lift when you enter via the Burwood Road entrance. I hope the link below leads you to a map of the campus and parking should be available in Williams Street. I can’t wait to catch up with everyone.  SWINBURNE.EDU.AU

It has been an amazing lead up to this free event and my big day, hosted by Swinburne University

Tuesday it was a radio interview with Neil on 3WBC 94.1fm’s Roundabout program. I blogged about that last time


Friday was another radio interview with Graeme for Southern Radio 88.3 fm

Saturday was an author talk with Julia at the Mentone Libraryimg_4337 img_4343

 So many fabulous, supportive friends came to cheer me on and to celebrate the publishing of my latest book by Madeglobal Publishing. My wonderful and talented friend and colleague, editor, teacher and writer, Mairi Neil blogged about the day and I could resist posting it here.


Introducing Glenice Whitting

It is a privilege to introduce my dear friend Glenice Whitting to you today, although looking around the room no introduction is necessary for so many here, who are already aware of Glenice’s writing ability and talent.

Glenice has been a valued member of Mordialloc Writers’ Group since 1999, and we were lucky to workshop her writing, and later publish early excerpts from both her novels in our anthologies:

Pickle to Pie first delighted us in the story Grossmutter And Me published in 2000 in the anthology Casting a Line and we gleaned the first hint of Glenice’s latest novel, Something Missing, in 2004, with the story What Time is it There? in the anthology Eleven O Four.

Over the last two decades nurturing and teaching local writers, I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve heard: ‘I’m writing a novel’ ‘I could write a book’ ‘I want to write a novel.

Sadly, few follow through with the task or achieve their goal. They may give up by choice or circumstance, or they don’t put the work into the manuscript to realise publication, the traditional or even non-traditional way.

Having a published book in your hand is no mean feat – the journey is not for the faint-hearted. You need dedication to the craft, incredible determination and effort, as well as talent. Networking and luck such as serendipity can play a part, but overwhelmingly it is sheer hard work and a belief in self that finishes the book. And if you are looking for success you need to write a story others want to read.

Glenice ticks all the boxes: she has created recognisable characters and interesting worlds we can identify with – both novels are mainly set in Australia and span historical periods many will recognise. However, they also cover universal themes of family relationships, love and grief, desire, disappointment – real life! Her storytelling style sweeps the reader along and we turn the pages!

Glenice has worked tirelessly at being the best writer she can be, her personal learning curve an inspiration. She went back to school as a mature age student, onto university studies that culminated in a PhD in creative writing.

She has drawn on her own life experiences for her novels, which makes them resonate but has added that infinitesimal quality that good writers possess – imagination!

Enjoy her presentation.

And we did!!


Thanks Mairi for all your help and kindness over the years. Writers supporting other writers. How good is that!

Rebecca Jane: Public Relations

Last Friday I met Rebecca Jane in a coffee shop in Lilydale Vic Australia.



We are going to work with MadeGlobal Publishing to plan how we are going to market my latest novel, ‘Something Missing’.

Rebecca is studying at Swinburne University for her Bachelor of Arts, majoring in Creative Writing and Literature. Her minor is in Film and Television. At the moment, we are simply discussing how best to market my latest book.

The book launch is only 10 weeks away and there is so much to do.

Wendy Dunn and Swinburne University have kindly arranged to launch my latest novel, ‘Something Missing’ at 3pm Sunday 11th December at Swinburne University at Hawthorn. . We still have to decide on the final book cover but Mary Jane Neil designed this one for me and I’ve passed it on to the publisher. I feel it captures a story about two countries,two women, a life altering pen-friendship and the lies they tell each other.


This is a free event, but to ascertain numbers for catering please obtain your ticket for the launch via this link:

It is so good to see the book launch actually in print. It makes me feel it may all actually happen. How wonderful it will be to hold this book in my hands and know that it will be in hard copy as well as on as a kindle book.

Check out Rebecca’s interesting interview at Wendy Dunn’s website 

No emails, but I Can Still Blog

I am annoyed, frustrated and yes, angry.

Last Sunday, Telstra, without notifying me, deactivated the email address I’ve had for years. Five days later they are still trying to restore it.

At the time I was emailing MadeGlobal about my latest novel and clicked ‘send’. My email didn’t go.  A notice popped up, ‘Please type in username and password.’ I followed instructions. Twice. Nothing moved. Nothing was active. I desperately hit ‘send’ again, praying that the email I’d just completed would wing its way to MadeGlobal’s submissions editor.  The email didn’t go.  Again. It is then that I notice no emails are coming in.

My ipad skype calls. A friend in England says, ‘Are you alright? My email bounced.’ A Facebook message from America asks the same question. I am so touched that they care but also upset to think that they are worried about me. My fingers working overtime, I rang Telstra, A voice in India told me, ‘Your email account and address has been cancelled.’

To be a writer, or anyone these days for that matter, to have no email is a disaster. I rely on it, need it, want it restored…Right Now!!!

The submissions editor had given me a link to Dulwich Picture Gallery in London featuring the paintings by little known artist Winifred Knights. The exhibition reminded me of a study a fellow Swinburne University PhD-er is currently researching about an unrecognised Australian painter, Clarice Beckett.

Later today I’ll post a blog about these two amazing women.

Our Memoir Writing Group

We write for pleasure, but whose pleasure? Our own? Do we want to keep our stories to ourselves or do we want to share them with others?


In our group our objective is to produce an extract from our work in progress and turn it into a publishable short story for our end of year anthology.

Today, for me, is ‘Back to Normal’ day. Our fortnightly Memoir Writing Group workshops  begin today for the next semester. The house, post burglary,  is protected within and inch of its life. With much help and guidance from Paul, we now have, along with new deadlocks, ‘Ring’ Video doorbells that chime when someone is at any of our doors and takes a video which is stored in The Cloud. We are locked up tighter than Fort Knox. I know, it’s a bit like closing the stable door after the horse has bolted, but it feels like we have done the best we can to protect ourselves. It’s time to move on.

Today our Memoir Writing Group resumes at the Godfrey Street Neighbourhood House in Bentleigh and I can’t wait to hear what members have been doing over the holidays. We all have writing projects ‘on the go’ which we share with each other for help and feedback. When we meet, we also write a 15 minute splurge where we just ‘go for it’ and write whatever comes into our heads. Before we start we knock that editor critic off our shoulder and tell it to take a holiday. There will be plenty of time later to revise and get things right.

I believe that everyone has a story to tell. The memoir writing group assists and encourages us to do so in a safe and friendly environment. Members read and discuss historical and personal events from their own point of view. They may wish to write a memoir for their family, or to publish for wider distribution. I am in awe of the talent in our group and can’t wait to hear the next installment of their work in progress.

We are all passionate about writing and I try to make the class handouts on the craft of writing as relevant to our writing as possible. Later in the year, with their permission I hope to showcase members and their work in progress. I’m sure you too will fall in love with their unique and different stories.

Why not grab a pen and start recording your life story in the pages of an exercise book? In the beginning, don’t worry about time lines or order. Just jot things down as they come to you. You can always sort it out later.

The book that most changes your life is the one you write.

Perseverance, Positivity, Practice and Patience

Post robbery, (19th February) the replacement car has still not arrived. It was promised on the 30th March. This week it was going to be on Monday or Tuesday. The recent update is for today. I wait with baited breath and fingers crossed that it actually arrives.

However, the lessons I’ve learnt through writing are standing me in good stead. When you are a writer you learn all about perseverance, how to remain positive, to  practice your craft of writing and to be patient. I remember the positivity of my novel being short listed for the Victorian Premiers Literary Award for an Unpublished Manuscript. The perseverance needed to withstand seventeen rejection letters from publishers before it won the Ilura Press International Fiction Quest. The practice of the writing craft and patience needed to revise the manuscript before the delirious joy of publication.

I am so grateful for these skills when they spill out into everyday life and become part of my nature, part of me.

I have been fortunate. Paul has lent us his car so we can at least continue with our day to day existence. With Paul and Marian’s generosity we are still able to go shopping, visit friends and are not isolated in any way. But we have had it for over a month and it’s time for it to go back.

In the meantime, I’ll call on my writing training and will persevere, be positive and practice patience.

dream it