Archive for March, 2010

Monk connections at Chermside booksigning

Borders booksigning brought together the author's descendants: from left, Ann, Gerard, Gloria, Tony Monk, Georgia and Rhonda.

ON Sunday 21 March, Novel Lines bookshop at Paddington hosted a scholarly band of book-lovers whose taste ran to limited editions and hardbacks. Consequently, shop owner Anne Jolly’s consignment of hardbacks of Tom Hurstbourne was happily depleted after the talk and book-reading by Gerard.

Novel Lines

Tom Hurstbourne surveys Latrobe Tce Paddington, with Anne Jolly (left) of Novel Lines and Gloria.

Novel Lines provides a congenial smogasbord of literary delights for visitors to the Latrobe Terrace mini-shopping-mecca centred on the former Paddington picture theatre-turned Antiques Centre.

By contrast, Borders at Westfield Chermside is an impressive endorsement of the breadth of the reading tastes of Brisbane bookophiles. Sales reflected strong interest in Tom Hurstbourne, following plenty of advance notice of our booksigning on Saturday 27 March (including Laura Stead’s notice on p. 8 of The Courier-Mail’s “Etc” that day), thanks to the co-operative efforts of store manager Wayne and Boolarong’s team.

Relatives appeared, eager for their copy to be endorsed, while for another couple, Tom Hurstbourne proved the perfect birthday gift for their South African friend who has just officially become an Aussie. “This book will show him what the pioneering days were really like,” Anne and Ian explained. As always, Gloria’s superlative handwriting drew awed gasps and reminiscences of when copybooks were de rigueur in the classroom.

Aline at Borders

Aline (centre) was keen for her connection to the author's family to be marked by a signed copy.

Carindale booksigningThanks to Lynne at Angus & Robertson Carindale who laid the groundwork for our visit on Sunday 28 March. The display attracted keen inquiry and indicated to us that the interest in Australia literature is growing. It’s also clear that many historically-minded people would like to record their own family histories in the more lasting book form. The Carindale visit raised the possibility of yet another local Library talk, a medium proving to be increasingly popular.


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Bega Memorabilia

Memorabilia and photos helped to navigate through the family tree...

“HOW green is my valley,” might well have been a recurrent thought among the 40 plus attendees at a Wood family reunion in Bega on Saturday 13 March. Descendants of local pioneer and Shropshireman Peter Horsman Wood (1838-1907), who included the connected names of Jauncey, Rogers, Gowing and Hyland, arrived from as far afield as Cairns and Prosperpine to mark the 150th year since their 21-year-old ancestor set foot in Sydney.

Bega Greenery

Bega at its greenest after recent rains. No wonder immigrants from Shropshire and Wales settled here.

With him that day in June 1860 was his elder brother John Clavering Wood (1837-1910) who gravitated to Queensland, while still at school in England was their younger brother William Rigby Wood (1846-1923) who settled in New Zealand with their sister Emily in the 1890s. JC Wood’s descendants were represented by Gerard Benjamin of Brisbane, while Richard Wood of Melbourne, his wife Patricia, his son and granddaughters represented WR Wood.

Superb planning by Kaye Jauncey (with the kind assistance of her sister Helen) and Peter Rogers ensured that the guests at St John’s Parish Hall in Bega were greeted with nametags and a display of photos and memorabilia, quickly followed by a morning tea which did credit to the ascription, ‘country hospitality’. David Clavering Wood of nearby Tarraganda officially welcomed everyone. He marvelled that he only discovered in later life that he literally travelled the same local roads as his great-grandfather PH Wood, as if there are plenty of threads that still connect us with our ancestors.

Bega reunion

Reunioning in earnest! (from left) Chris Steel, Peter Rogers, Sandra Florance, Kaye Jauncey and Alison Holmes.

Understandably, some who were present did not know that PH Wood had a brother who went to Queensland. Even more surprising was it that this brother achieved a remarkably literary effort, writing Queensland’s second novel entitled Tom Hurstbourne or A Squatter’s Life in 1865. Gerard addressed the gathering explaining not only how the novel came about but also the extraordinary coincidence that led him to its whereabouts, on the shelf of his 2C2R, Richard Wood in Melbourne!

Considering that Richard’s father, brother and son were all named ‘John Clavering Wood’, it’s possibly no wonder that Edith Wood of Gosford (daughter of Edward “Ned” Lancelot Wood, d. 1971) thought that the manuscript notebook should be in their keeping.

Bega foursome

Gerard & Gloria with local nurseryman David Clavering Wood & wife Sue.

The published volume Tom Hurstbourne or A Squatter’s Life, with its semi-autobiographical insight into the Wood family, certainly created a ‘buzz’ which continued in the form of many booksignings.

No correspondent could possibly keep track of the dozens of excited conversations, but suffice to say that the family tree chart was a constant source of reference to work out who was connected to whom, and deal with questions such as, ‘What ever became of so-and-so?’, etc. etc.

Reunion morning tea

Morning tea gets underway in St John's church hall.

If morning tea was generous, the ladies of St John’s Guild surpassed themselves with lunch, producing an amazing variety of home-cooked delights. Table conversations could well have lasted all afternoon, but the well-planned program meant a hurried departure to nearby ‘Yarranung’, Ron Apps’ truly splendid property just across the Brogo River from town. It was a sentimental journey for many family members who had either lived there during its Wood era or had simply been an occasional wide-eyed visitor to the outstanding colonial homestead.

Yarranung homestead

Owner Ron Apps introduced visitors to the delights of 'Yarranung'

Owner Ron Apps declared it ‘open house’ and delightedly guided his awed visitors on a room-by-room tour of this substantial homestead dated c. 1851. Through strategic acquisitions Mr Apps is gradually bringing together the property that was broken up after PH Wood’s death.

For an ardent dairyfarmer, no tour of Yarranung would be complete without visiting the impressive rotary milking machine which was milking 800 cows in a matter of hours. The milk goes to the Bega Cheese factory, just a few minutes away, and helps to give the brand a growing worldwide reputation. Ron Apps even lends personal support to helping put Bega Cheese on the map by appearing in their TV advertisements.

Meanwhile, afternoon tea beckoned and once more the ladies of the St John’s Anglican Guild excelled themselves. Some visitors bid their farewell, but for the rest, the festivities took just a short break before reconvening at the nearby Bank Hotel for dinner.

Wood Family dinner at Bank Hotel Bega

Reunion Dinner: (from left) Kaye Jauncey, Betty Gowing, Michael & Kathy Gowing, Lorna and Alison Holmes, and Patricia Wood.

Colin Rogers of nearby ‘Kingswood’ summed up the feeling of attendees by thanking the organisers for planning such a first-rate get-together!

The Franklins

Peter and Susan Franklin (nee Hyland) from the Gold Coast

For those staying on in Bega, Kathy and Michael Gowing of Jellat Jellat hosted a large post-reunion dinner at their property. Early attention was drawn to the birth of a calf, while Kathy and Michael’s grandchildren later took centre stage. One day, many decades hence they may remember the evening when so many relatives from near and far were under the same roof. The youngest attendees could well take heart from the oldest person present, 89-year-old Betty Gowing (nee Rogers) who manages to redefine the word ‘spritely’!

Bega Threesome

Stephanie & Ted Williams of Bateman's Bay, with Pat Moloney (centre) of Cairns

Gerard and Gloria were still in town on Monday 15 March at the Bega Pioneers’ Museum autographing books, being interviewed by Bega District News‘ senior journalist, Claire Lupton, exchanging notes with local history researcher Sandra Florance and receiving photographic prints from Alf Gowing.

Bega Booksigning

Gloria was in great demand signing copies of JC Wood's 1865 novel.

It was appropriate that Gerard and Gloria’s final evening in Bega should be spent with his kinsman, Peter Rogers and wife Wendy. If Peter hadn’t been on duty at the Museum during a previous unannounced visit in 2007, then the Queensland-Bega connection may never have been made.

Sincere thanks to Kaye Jauncey and Peter Rogers for a very successful event!

Another foursome from Bega

John Rogers, Rosemary (nee Rogers) & Chris Steel, and Brian Maloney of Cairns.

Alf Gowing

Alf Gowing supported the event with his photography

Another group of Woods at Bega

Richard Wood of Melbourne, with his wife Patricia (left) and son John (2nd from left), along with Gloria and Gerard

Mr Apps of Yarranung

Owner of Yarranung, Ron Apps with Melbourne visitors, Abby Lee Wood & Emma Wood

Sunroom at Yarranung

What a place to relax! The sunroom at Yarranung

Fivesome at Bega

Wendy & Peter Rogers, with Peter's daughter Janet (left), and son Richard (right) and his wife Lyndal (2nd from left)

Bega road to town

The old road from Yarranung to Bega, past the old bank building

Bega Museum

Bega Pioneers' Museum, within a stone's throw of St. John's Church and Hall.

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GERARD couldn’t claim to be ‘Rocky born and bred’, but his parents were and an early morning amble along Davis Street to No. 94 reconnected him with memorable boyhood holidays spent at his Benjamin grandparents’ home. Gloria’s local associations were a little further afield: teaching posts at Parkhurst on the northside and Upper Ulam (near Marmor). These early Rocky links gave no clue that one day, Gloria and Gerard would discover a remarkable new-but-old Tom Hurstbourne connection with the capital of Central Queensland.

The book launch venue was the Fitzroy Room at the city’s brand new Southside Library, and making all more than welcome was MC, Cheryl Haughton (Manager, Community Information and Planning). Attendees numbering around 50 heard from publisher Dan Kelly who spelled out that this 1865 novel, with its literary and historical dimensions, was a whole lot more than just a lively yarn.

The top table at the Rocky Launch

Cheryl introduced (from left) Gloria, Gerard, Mayor Brad Carter, and Dan Kelly

Mayor Brad Carter, ever ambitious for Rockhampton’s expanding reputation, endorsed Tom Hurstbourne and expounded on the city’s possible link with the causation of British Petroleum (via Mount Morgan) and Bega Cheese (via John Clavering Wood’s brother Peter Horsman Wood)! It was merely left to Gerard to step the audience through a slideshow of key images connecting the book and the Wood family, before offering a humorous sample of the author’s prose. After this, the meeting was declared ripe ready for morning tea. Booksigning followed providing a wonderful opportunity for all to make personal contact with the editors, plus spend a moment in awe of Gloria’s superlative penswomanship – all of which came at no extra cost, despite Dan Kelly’s quip that one of his authors charges $10 per signing because, as she claims, “A signature adds more value to the book.”

Rocky foursome

CQFHA stalwarts Karl and Beth Makela welcome the editors

The organisers were very happy with the event (reflected in sales of books by Angus & Robertson’s representative, Di Richmond), a view confirmed by a local on-the-ground assessment:

The launch went extremely well. I thought that the presentation was very effective, clear and concise.

The gathering was honoured by the presence of two Bowmans – Professor Scott Bowman, Vice Chancellor of Central Queensland University, and his wife; as well as Pam Bauman of “Monklands” via Alpha, one of Gloria’s pupils at Jericho State School in 1949. Sincere thanks to Noel Curran who earnestly spread the word about the launch, as well as Cherith Weis who did the same via her first-rate press coverage. Cherith’s report in the Morning Bulletin (10 March 2010 – see “In the News“) will ensure that Tom Hurstbourne’s debut in Central Queensland’s capital is counted as another important event in the city’s history.

Gerard and Gloria in Rockhampton

Booksigning complete! (photo: Noel Curran)

The followup good news is that the extra signed copies of the book have all been sold and: “the opinion of buyers is that it was an interesting and lively read – so word of mouth is good.”

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Emerald Mayor Peter Maguire (left) performs the honours for "Tom Hurstbourne".

SENIOR librarian Margaret Forbes was on hand at Emerald airport to welcome Gloria and Gerard for the regional launch of Tom Hurstbourne on Friday 5 March – meanwhile publisher Dan Kelly was on the road from Rockhampton battling rising rivers to make the rendezvous.

Luckily the sun came out and despite the Springsure contingent’s bowing out because of water-logged roads and Councillor Penny Bulger phoning in from a flooded creek with her apologies, there was a welcoming crowd at Emerald’s congenial library. A special guest was Mrs Flora Jaques formerly of Bogantungan, whose prodigious memory has helped many local historians.

Margaret invited Dan Kelly of Boolarong Press to address the literary and historical significance of Tom Hurstbourne, before Mayor Peter Maguire declared this remarkable 1865 novel, officially launched.

Gerard Benjamin, the author’s great-great-grandson, explained how the book came to be written as well as how the manuscript was discovered after being ‘lost’ for so long. A humorous excerpt from the novel reminded listeners that some things never change even over the course of 145 years…

Coincidental attendees were a couple touring from Wales who had a particular interest in the author’s Shropshire origins.

There’s something magical about having your copy of freshly-published book signed, so the editors only earned their place at the impressive afternoon tea after more than 25 copies were signed. Luckily, there are still a couple of signed copies still available from Joanne at Blossom’s Gift and Homewares (4982 2489) in Emerald.

Emerald book launch

Sincere thanks to Margaret and staff (Ann, Jenny and their trainee, not forgetting Dylan who managed the slideshow) for making Emerald a memorable stopover in the territory that author John Clavering Wood once knew so well.

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Mercy Heritage Centre, the setting for Tom Hurstbourne's launch

Perfect day, perfect setting...

JOHN CLAVERING WOOD could not have hoped for a more successful debut for his novel penned 145 years ago. 150 people gathered at the congenially-historic Mercy Heritage Precinct under miraculously clear skies to enjoy a socially, intellectually and historically interesting afternoon.

The unexpected and unofficial attendance of a high-profile public figure, who wished to pay tribute to John Clavering Wood’s achievement, was the cherry on what was already a well-iced cake.

All Hallows Chapel, setting for book launch

Brisbane History Group President, Lisa Jones.

Newly-elected President of the Brisbane History Group, LISA JONES, welcomed attendees in the beautiful All Hallows’ Chapel, before handing over to DAVID HINCHLIFFE, Councillor for Brisbane Central, who discharged his ‘mastery of ceremonies’ with consummate skill and humour.

GUEST OF HONOUR, Ian Callinan AC QC provided a 20-minute address in which he expressed surprise at the novelist’s detailed grasp of the essentials of colonial outback life. Despite difficulties with the microphone, David elicited from the retired High Court Justice the pivotal one-line verdict: “It is a very important book”.

Books on Sale

Many attendees invested in a signed copy!

The publisher is the one who enables a manuscript to see the light of day, so DAN KELLY of Boolarong Press, put his case in a nutshell: “You are not purchasing a book, but making an investment.” Whether it was this point, or David’s repeated requests for those who hadn’t yet bought a book to raise their hands, the result was 90 sales of the softback edition and several inquiries about the hardback version.

In his reply, GERARD BENJAMIN paid tribute not only to his fellow-editor GLORIA GRANT, but also his second cousin twice removed RICHARD WOOD who generously gave the manuscript to Gerard.

Guest of Honour

Guest of Honour, Ian Callinan AC QC, described the novel as "a very important book".

Following afternoon tea and tours of the centre, the seminar commenced with the editors’ remarkable account of what historians and genealogists only dream about – finding a long-lost manuscript of historic and literary importance.

Professor PATRICK BUCKRIDGE offered an absorbing account of how the novel was comprised of several different literary styles and themes. If the result appeared somehow ‘unpolished’ in part, whereby the ‘stitches’ were visible, this only added to the understanding of how the author constructed his narrative. Besides, the editors verified that the manuscript was unedited as regards content, in contrast to most books which undergo significant editorial modification before they are published. Patrick’s illuminating examination will be available in a coming issue of the Queensland Review along with an extract from the novel.

David Hinchliffe and Rod Fisher

MC David Hinchliffe (left) & chief planner Dr Rod Fisher.

ROD FISHER spelt out Tom Hurstbourne’s historical perspectives, contrasting it with an earlier novel, Fern-Vale (1862) which was published in London. Its author, Colin Munro, later became a Brisbane shop-keeper.

Historical Group

Gerard and Gloria with Stephen Sheaffe, RHSQ and Sue Finnigan, National Trust of Queensland.

Gloria and Gerard were kept busy throughout the whole afternoon signing copies of the book. Costumed members of Dance Kaleidosocope entertained attendees and helped to evoke the 1860s era.

How happy John Clavering Wood must have been that six of his direct descendants were present, as well as his grandnephew, Richard Wood, who had travelled all the way from Melbourne just to be there.

Who was the mystery guest? None other than the gracious, intelligent and down-to-earth Penelope Wensley AO, Governor of Queensland.

Dance Kaleidoscope members Denis and Sheree

Dance Kaleidoscope dressed for the period.

Awaiting the first arrivals

Gloria, Patricia & name cards await attendees.

Publisher and Editor

Publisher Dan Kelly of Boolarong Press with Gerard

Launch Conversations

The event generated conversations and contacts galore.

The outlook from All Hallows'

The Story Bridge overlooked the event.

Grateful thanks to Chris Derrick for the excellent photographic record of the event (plus last photo by Gaye Fitzpatrick)

Booksigning was in demand

Booksigning was in demand

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