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


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