Researching WIP

I have just returned from a research trip to the area around Wahgunyah and Beechworth where my great grandfather settled when he came from China to Australia in 1853. It is a beautiful part of Victoria and is a significant gold mining region. Beechworth has been extremely well preserved and still carries the old world charm of the mid-nineteenth century. It was easy, therefore, to imagine I was back in 1864, the period my WIP is set.

For many months I have been researching and writing using books and photographs. But actually going to the places I am writing about was so exciting. When I saw a place name that I recognised from my research, it was like seeing a movie star in the flesh. The names of rivers, towns and the various gold rushes suddenly came alive. I had been to this area several times before but never thought I would write about it. This trip made me look at every detail with new eyes.

The customs house. One of the few remaining old buildings left in Wahguhyah.
The customs house. One of the few remaining old buildings left in Wahguhyah.

I took my camera, ipod (which has a tape recorder gadget on the end) and a notebook, so I was very busy recording every aspect. I didn’t want to miss a thing. I had the curiosity of a child and my quest for more information was insatiable. If only I could bring this ‘way of seeing’ back home with me. But it is so hard to remember to do when you are in familiar surroundings. The mind numbs once more. Being in the moment is the key – the power of NOW.

I’m enjoying this writing – of fusing fact and fiction. I never thought I would like writing historical fiction until I wrote Little Paradise. All my other books have come straight from my imagination with little research necessary.

In this series of four novels I’m working on, my young heroine, Poppy, meets some real historical figures like my great grandfather Jimmy Ah Kew Chen, the famous aboriginal artist, Tommy McRae, and the infamous gentleman bushranger, Harry Power who tutored Victorian’s most famous bushranger, Ned Kelly.

harry

Harry Power's Cell in Beechworth.
Harry Power's Cell in Beechworth.
Pen and ink by Tommy McRae, an aboriginal artist in Wahgunyah in the late 1800's.
Pen and ink by Tommy McRae, an aboriginal artist in Wahgunyah in the late 1800's.
Mt Pilot Dancing
Mt Pilot Dancing
Lake Moodemere (aboriginal name Bulgeaba meaning black swan) was a favourite encampment spot for aborigines where ceremonies were held.
Lake Moodemere (aboriginal name Bulgeaba meaning black swan) was a favourite encampment spot for aborigines where ceremonies were held.

gold office

Elephant trunk
Elephant trunk
The Mass Tree Wahgunyah
The Mass Tree Wahgunyah

rocks

Beechworth
Beechworth

track

track 2

track3

Find the rosella
Find the rosella
Chinese workers dormitory, All Saints Vineyard, Wahgunyah.
Chinese workers' dormitory, All Saints Vineyard, Wahgunyah.
Woolshed Falls where alluvial gold was found
Woolshed Falls where alluvial gold was found

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