Elaine Forrestal

The Uranie in Guam

The port of Toulon, France, where the Uranie departed in 1817 on its voyage around the world

I’m always excited to see a new translation of a story that is close to my heart. In this case it’s the story of Rose de Freycinet, who stowed away on her husband’s ship, the Uranie, in 1817. Dr J. Paul Gaimard was the surgeon on board and saved Rose’s life when she was poisoned by eating an unripe olive in the islands north of Australia. Like Rose, Dr Gaimard kep[t a very detailed account of the Uranie’s voyage around the world from 1817 to 1820. Unlike Rose his notebooks have never been translated into English.

However, my friend John Milsom from Cambridge, UK, has been working away at translating  

sections of these fascinating documents. Until recently the wealth of knowledge contained in the ten Gaimard notebooks has been accessible only to French speakers, in spite of the originals being held in the State Library of Western Australia. But because there are celebrations to mark the 200th anniversary of the visit of the Uranie to Guam this year (2019) John has decided to publish, in eBook format, an English translation of Dr Gaimard’s notebooks which describe this visit. The Uranie arrived in Guam at the end of a particularly trying stint of five months in the Pacific Ocean without making landfall. Everyone on board was exhausted. More than one third of the crewmen were ill and Rose had declared that she was heartily sick of this constant sailing in the name of science. ‘I confess that I can’t get excited about it,’ she wrote to her best friend in France. When the ship finally reached Guam she wrote, ‘The Lord be praised!’

John Milsom’s writing is easy to read. He sticks closely to the original notebooks while carefully selecting the most informative, humorous and engaging anecdotes to tell the remarkable story of this epic voyage that became an important part of our Australian history. Download The Urnaie in Guam, by John Milsom.

The Uranie in Guam

It’s always exciting to see a new translation of a story close to my heart. In this case it’s the story of Rose de Freycinet, who stowed away on board her husband’s ship, the Uranie, in 1817. Dr J. Paul Gaimard was the surgeon on board and saved Rose’s life when she was poisoned by eating an unripe olive in the islands north of Australia. Like Rose, Dr Gaimard kept a very detailed account of their voyage around the world from 1817 – 1820. Unlike Rose’ journal, his ‘notebooks’ have never been translated into English.

However, my friend John Milsom, from Cambridge, UK, has been working away at translating some  sections of these fascinating documents. Until recently the wealth of knowledge contained in the ten Gaimard notebooks has been accessible only to French speakers, in spite of the originals being held in the State Library of Western Australia. But because there are celebrations to mark the 200th anniversary of the visit of the Uranie to Guam this year (2019) John has decided to publish, in eBook format, an English translation of Dr Gaimard’s notebooks which describe this visit. The Uranie arrived in Guam at the end of a particularly trying stint of five months in the Pacific Ocean without making landfall. Everyone on board was exhausted. More than one third of the crewmen were ill and Rose had declared that she was heartily sick of this constant sailing in the name of science. ‘I confess that I can’t get excited about it,’ she wrote to her best friend in France. When the ship finally reached Guam she wrote, ‘The Lord be praised!’

John Milsom’s writing is easy to read. He sticks closely to the original notebooks while carefully selecting the most informative, humorous and engaging anecdotes to tell the remarkable story of this epic voyage that became an important part of our Australian history. Download The Urnaie in Guam, by John Milsom, from Amazon

 

It’s Official!

The centrepiece of this brooch is a gold nugget given to Clara Saunders by Paddy Hannan for saving his life.

My latest manuscript, Life Blood: the story of Clara Saunders, has been accepted for publication by Fremantle Press!

Southern Cross was the end of the line in September 1892 when gold was discovered 168 miles further out in the harsh untracked desert to the east. A huge reef of gold. One of the biggest in the world at that time. Fourteen year old Clara Saunders couldn’t wait to go out there and see it for herself.

Evan Wisdom was one of the two thousand men who immediately flocked to the area on foot, by bicycle, horse and cart or any wheeled vehicle they could find. He was not after the gold, though. He knew that the way to make money was to set up a hotel. When he came back in to Southern Cross a few weeks later, looking for an assistant for his overworked housekeeper, Clara applied. Having arrived from Queensland just a few weeks before she had no idea of the hardships she would face, the lifelong friendships she would make and the hardy characters she would meet. Paddy Hannan, Moondyne Joe, Dryblower Murphy, are all household names today. But Clara’s stories of courage, humour, loyalty and endurance had been long overlooked and almost lost, until I found her Memories in the Battye Library. Now, with the help of Fremantle Press, she can take her place among the tough adventurous pioneers of the Coolgardie goldfields.

Watch this space. I’ll keep you posted.

How Wet Can We Get?

One of Karen Blair’s Illustration from The Puddle Hunters by Kirsty Murray, published by Allen and Unwin

For the second year in a row the Rottnest ferries are cancelled, the weather is lousy and the wind has blown down all our signs. But the intrepid SCBWI Rottnest Retreaters are undaunted. At the new venue, Paper Bird Bookshop in Fremantle, the chairs are moved, power cables are found and connected, power-points and thumb-drives spring to life. And in spite of everything the good humour and camaraderie of participants and hard-working organisers remains in tact.

The International Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators plays a vital role in the lives and careers of the whole writing and illustrating community. Where else can you get to meet publishers one on one, show them your work face to face, and have it individually critiqued by them? Publishers are such busy people and most publishing houses are so swamped with manuscripts that they have to close their books to anything unsolicited. And yet each year the amazing SCBWI West committee manages to entice not one, but two of them across the Nulabor to sunny (ha ha) Western Australia to join us and our very own Cate Sutherland from Fremantle Press for four days or more of professional interaction, socialisation and relaxation.

I hate to think where we would be without you guys. Bravo and heartfelt thanks.

Poetry

Cover of ‘Celebrate: The End of Year Reciter’

Ever since I was a child I have written stuff – stories, poems, essays, reports. I have used writing as an outlet and an input. For me it has been a way of releasing anger, recording moments of great joy, clarifying my thought or explaining complex emotions. It has been my go-to method of releasing life’s tensions and solving problems.

I am a prolific story writer, but poems are rare gems and always come to me at times of heightened emotion. The last one I wrote was for my mother’s funeral in 2012. Like most authors I am a magpie, picking up ideas from everywhere, constantly searching for new ways of making sense of the world and different ways to describe what I find. Sometimes a poem delivers the words to capture an experience or an idea so perfectly that I’m totally blown away. As a child of the Wheatbelt, growing up in small country towns, I was particularly gob-smacked by this line from the poem ‘Return’ by Gregory Day, ‘… the town’s an ashtray always being emptied and refilled.’ It so perfectly encapsulates the way the population of a small town swells and ebbs away on a regular basis, taking some people with it, leaving others behind with empty spaces to be refilled.

On that note of praise for poetry I might just go and write a poem. I’ll have to do it quickly though, before someone comes along and empties the ashtray of my mind.

Elaine Forrestal’s poem published in ‘Celebrate’

(‘Return’ was published in Review, The Weekend Australian, May 25-26, 2019)