Inspired by history

Michelle Morgan - Wednesday, January 11, 2017

In January 2013, I wandered into the quaint Gerringong Historical Society Museum on the South Coast of New South Wales to see their special exhibition. It was 8o years since Sir Charles Kingsford Smith (aka Smithy) landed Southern Cross on nearby Seven Mile Beach at Gerroa, before taking off again early the following morning, 11 January 1933, on the first commercial flight to New Zealand.

I'd been toying with the idea of somehow including this amazing historical event into the new novel I was writing. As I wandered around the exhibition, inspecting each old photo and artefact, reading every newspaper and magazine, I became more and more excited. A couple of hours later, I walked out of the museum and headed straight to Seven Mile Beach.

After parking my car on the side of the road, I headed along one of the sandy tracks to the beach. I walked slowly, taking in every sight, sound, smell, taste and texture in the surrounding bush. I ran over the sand dunes to the beach, just as I'd imagined my main character would. I was channelling the teenage boy deep inside who I could picture there on the beach when Southern Cross landed and took off  in 1933.

That historic event was the hook I needed to develop an important part of my main character's story. Over the following months, I finished the first draft of Flying through Clouds. It has taken me nearly four years to edit and reshape that raw manuscript into a novel that will be published in April 2017. I went back to the museum recently to thank them and to once again be mesmerised by their modest and unpretentious exhibition.

I am sincerely grateful to the Gerringong Historical Society Museum for bringing to life what I had read about in books and online resources. But I am most indebted to pioneering aviators like Sir Charles Kingsford Smith who flew such basic planes with canvas bodies and timber wings across oceans and continents. If it wasn't for their courage, tenacity and adventurous spirit, the airline industry wouldn't have developed at the rate it did. Many of the early aviators lost their lives, including Sir Charles Kingsford Smith, who disappeared in his plane, Lady Southern Cross, off the coast of Burma in 1935.

» Share this post

Recent Posts


lovereading4kids kindle indigenous literacy day elizabeth gilbert literary events Mitchell Library giveaway di bates atyp bill condon plays barbara braxton barnes&noble australian reading hour festival of dangerous ideas scbwi australia kids' book review refugees school visits nook children's / YA literature nowra library CBCA book of the year awards international children's book day 2014 QBD bologna children's book fair clancy tucker literary lunch goodbye frankie better read than dead indigenous literacy foundation spark award 2017 jamberoo public school flying through clouds smsa library mETAphor act writers centre readhowyouwant writing process blog hop scbwi heart of australia book trailer writers' festivals iTunes alexander mccall smith St Paul's Primary School jump for jordan fishpond nsw writers' centre Bookshop Bowral martin luther king, jr Spotlight On Quirindi Library ulladulla library CBCA Children's Book Week australian federation of graduate women all the buzz about books australian standing orders festival of golden words Dymocks Brisbane highlife magazine society of children's book writers and illustrators allen & unwin canberra skylight books book fairs too late for love eBook mall jackie french frankfurt book fair libraries tom keneally centre Grafton Library seven mile beach booktopia berkelouw books australian text bookloons sir charles kingsford smith indie publishing sydney mechanics school of arts library Anniversary Day amazon kindle narrabundah college combined book exhibit Muswellbrook Library blog tour believing Tamworth City Library reviews self-publishing NAIDOC week storytellers festival ann harth Taree Library ANZAC Day shoalhaven libraries book tour theatre lyn linning WritingNSW ainslie + gorman arts centre YA fiction playwriting festival copyediting songs racing the moon gerringong historical society museum griffin press writing workshops sharon mcguinness southern highlands writers' festival Broadbeach Library holidays eBook author talks Historical Novel Society gorman arts centre elaine ousten children's book council of australia two of a kind Books + Publishing amazon Australia Day book cover design southern cross kate gordon mabo day romy sharp book depository Sydney Harbour Bridge berkelouw book barn playwriting deep sky Gordon Library bushwalking hnsa sally odgers smashwords Dymock's Canberra Abbey's Bookshop sandy fussell bookstop[ Magpies playwrights retreat mother's day tasmania ReadPlus goodreads giveaway historical fiction State Library of NSW sophie masson arielle gamble spark award older readers 2017 good reading magazine Kings Cross Theatre chloe mauger captain tobias furneaux authors luke johnson karma national simultaneous storytime griffin theatre children's book council of australia illawarra south coast bookshops Lismore Library read3r'zrevu paperback Port Macquarie Library middle grade fiction sydney australian literature Paperchain Manuka ubud, bali just write for kids children's book council of australia national conference KXT Newcastle writers' festival Waterstones southern highland news hans christian andersen deb robins buzz words Woollahra Library dymocks 19 March 1932 awards decimal currency interviews teachers' notes ubud writers & readers festival byron writers festival book launch festivals valentine's day children's book council of australia NSW branch Reader's Companion Armidale Moss Vale Campus Library bradman museum lachlan philpott 12 curly questions michelle morgan telopea park school author videos bookworld big book day out refugee week books bay of fires Bowral Art Gallery MacLean's Booksellers autumn revel coming-of-age fiction 14 february 1966 tanika gupta sydney writers festival 2019 Reading Time Good Reading potts point bookshop sydney opera house kobo illustrators historical novel society australasia goodreads fran knight short plays Tamworth Country Music Festival john reed books reconciliation teen fiction