Writing Inspiration: Victorian Queanbeyan

Queanbeyan, New South Wales lies just over the state border from Canberra (about a fifteen-minute drive from where I live). It serves as inspiration for my town in my book, The Landowner’s Secret, which is set in the 1880s and on sale tomorrow! (I don’t use the same place name, however.)

I’ve spent a lot of time in Queanbeyan over the years because I’ve always had family who lived there, and so I know the place very well. I was christened and made my first communion there, in the Ukrainian church my refugee grandfather helped to build. We also have a bit of a family tradition of Friday or weekend lunch at one of the old pubs in town.

However, being able to track down some images of the town from the Victorian era, of the buildings that the reckless developers pulled down in the 1970s, has been invaluable.

Here is John Bull’s Store, circa 1883:

The Landowner's Secret by Sonya Heaney. John Bull's Store, Queanbeyan Australia, c. 1883. From Queanbeyan–Palerang Libraries Historical Photos.

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Here is the old post office, built between 1879 and 1880:

The Landowner's Secret by Sonya Heaney. Built 1879-80. Post office in Queanbeyan, NSW, Australia. From the Queanbeyan Museum.

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And here is Monaro Street, which is still Queanbeyan’s main street, circa 1880. It’s a faded old photo, but I notice the town’s transformation over the 1880s, as the population grew and the railway arrived (in 1887), and I have tried to incorporate that into the series:

The Landowner's Secret by Sonya Heaney. Monaro Street, looking East, Queanbeyan c. 1880. From Queanbeyan–Palerang Libraries Historical Photos.

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More images can be found on the book’s Pinterest board.

The Landowner's Secret by Sonya Heaney blog-sized

The Landowner’s Secret

New South Wales, 1885

When Alice Ryan wakes to find thugs surrounding her cottage, on the hunt for her no-good brother, she escapes into the surrounding bush.

It is wealthy landowner Robert Farrer who finds her the next morning, dishevelled, injured, and utterly unwilling to share what she knows. With criminals on the loose and rumours that reckless bushrangers have returned to the area, Robert is determined to keep Alice out of danger, and insists on taking her into his home-despite the scandal it may cause. Convincing her to stay on with him for her own safety, however, is going to take some work.

What Robert doesn’t expect is his growing attraction to the forthright, unruly woman staying in his home. Before either of them can settle into their odd new situation, their home and wellbeing come under threat and they will need to trust each other to survive. But they are both keeping secrets, secrets that have the potential to ruin their burgeoning love, their livelihood … and their lives.

 

 

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On this day: Australian troops in France

Troops of the Australian 7th Brigade (Australian 2nd Division) pass the former German bunker known as “Gibraltar” in Pozières, France on the 28th of August, 1916.

The Battle of Pozières was part of the larger Battle of the Somme, which claimed around a million casualties. Pozières marked a victory against the German Empire for Australia, with the help of British troops. First World War.

From the collection of the Australian War Memorial, Canberra.

Gibraltar_bunker_Pozieres_(AWM_EZ0098)Australian 7th Brigade (Australian 2nd Division) pass former German bunker known as Gibraltar western end of Pozières 28 August 1916 during the Bat

On this day: Australia joins the war

A First World War One Australian propaganda poster by Norman Lindsay. Lindsay_quick

A World War One Australian propaganda poster by Norman Lindsay.

On the 4th of August, 1914, Britain declared war on Germany. As part of the British Empire, Australia – who had already begun war preparations – immediately became involved in the conflict.

Nearly 422 000 Australians – of a population of less than 5 million – served in the military during the First World War. More than half of them were killed or wounded.

On this Day: British Royalty on the Front

German_Spring_Offensive_Q294 King George V escorted by Lieutenant Colonel Reginald B

30th March 1918: Britain’s King George V, escorted by Lieutenant Colonel Reginald B. Rickman, inspects troops who survived the Battle of Bullecourt the previous year. The photograph was taken in Hermin, France in the final year of the First World War.

Part of the bigger Second Battle of Arras between the German and British Empires, the conflict claimed hundreds of thousands of casualties.

From the collection of the Imperial War Museum.

On this day: the death of Granny Smith

Granny_Smith Maria Ann Sherwood known as Granny Smith Granny Smith Apple Inventor 19th Century Victorian Australia Victorian Era

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Maria Ann Smith – known as Granny Smith – the creator of the green “Granny Smith” apple, died in the colony of New South Wales, Australia on the 9th of March, 1870.

In 1868 Smith was handed a box of French crab apples from Tasmania at a market in Sydney. After she used them for baking, she discovered a seed in the discarded peels had sprouted in a compost heap. She continued to tend it in its place near a creek.

After her death the property’s new owner marketed the fruit as “Granny Smith”.

Smith married in England, having eight children (who survived early childhood) before emigrating to Australia in 1838.

Australia Day

Increasingly controversial as it is, tomorrow is Australia Day, marking 231 years since the British First Fleet arrived in New South Wales.

Here’s a publication from 1901, announcing the “new” Australian flag.

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The edition of the Review of Reviews; front cover signed by Egbert Nuttall, after the winning designers of the 1901 Federal Flag design competition were announced. Australian flag 1901

 

And things aren’t going to be very comfortable for the official, mostly outdoor events here in Canberra (the capital city), that run over the 25th-26th!