March 2022 - Newsletter
In February we went on a road trip heading through the iconic South Australian Coonawarra wine region. Of course, we visited a cellar door or two for a spot of tasting. It was a lovely start to our holiday, and by the time we were ready to move on, we were relaxed and ready for the next part of our journey along the Victorian Great Ocean Road.
It has been nearly fifty years since I first travelled the Great Ocean Road, and back then, the coastal towns scattered along its length were small with holiday shacks and caravan parks. Now, of course, large homes have replaced the shacks, fancy hotels, B&B’s and no end of accommodation lure Australian and overseas tourists to sample what the rugged coastline has to offer. And trust me, there is a wealth of history to be found along the 240-kilometre (150 mile) stretch of road.
The road was built between 1919 and 1932 and dedicated to soldiers killed during World War 1. It is the world’s largest war memorial which winds through rainforest and along the rugged coastline, providing access to several prominent landmarks, including the Twelve Apostles (limestone stack formations), which are now eight due to wave erosion.
I had driven the road many times in my youth but had never stopped to learn its history. So, it was not long before my writing brain was ticking over upon learning of the hundreds of wrecks scattered along its length.
The iron clipper ship, Loch Ard departed Gravesend, England on the 1st of March 1878 bound for Melbourne Australia to become a story of survival surrounding its sinking on 1st June just days out of Melbourne. Becoming probably the best-known of all the shipwrecks along the Victoria coast. The ship ran into a rocky reef at the base of Mutton Bird Island, near Port Campbell. Only two people survived: an apprentice, Tom Pearce, and Eva Carmichael, passenger. She, unfortunately, lost her family in the tragedy. The two were washed up and eventually rescued at what is now known as Loch Ard Gorge, named after the shipwreck.
When I read about the Loch Ard shipwreck, a few elements jumped out at me:
We have action and drama with the ship sinking, and the elements are in place to build a relationship between the remaining two survivors. I found myself writing that scene in my head as I read about the Loch Ard. Now all I have to do is write the book. So, for a writer, it is never just a road trip or holiday overseas. It is about discovering the next story. The Loch Ard story is just one of many shipwreck stories along that coastline, and now, I have another action-packed adventure series waiting to be written because of that trip.
Until next time
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