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


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