Alice Wood, the marvellous publicist at Hachette Australia, not only arranged for me to recently do a short tour visiting bookshops and giving a talk or two about my biography of aviation pioneer, Bert Hinkler, called Hustling Hinkler, she also managed to find venues in some of the most spectacular country in south-east Queensland. But neither of us anticipated the surprise guest at my last stop.
At Maleny in the mountains
The tour started in the delightful town of Maleny, which sits at around 500 metres in the Sunshine Coast hinterland, and supports a thriving artistic community (and vice versa, no doubt). It also embraces Rosetta Books, run by the effervescent Anne Brown, who has just installed a magnificent
cyclindrical brass coffee machine in one corner, to complement the enticing display of books. My evening talk on Hustling Hinkler was well received by a mixed audience that included several pilots, and we had a stimulating question and answer session afterwards.
Next morning my wife Cheryl and I headed along the road that follows the ridge of the Blackall range, which gave us spectacular views across to the coast. We could see the deep blue of the Pacific Ocean as it pounded that part of the eastern edge of Australia, but when we got up close and
personal at the beachside town of Noosa, the sea became translucent green close to shore and the waves that surfers love to ride were almost iridescent blue. Hastings Street is the No. 1 shopping strip in that part of the world, and I was glad to be able to make a pre-arranged visit to Mary Ryans bookshop where Debbie helpfully set up a stack of Hustling Hinkler copies for me to sign.
Then it was off to nearby Noosa Junction, where Rachel Burgoine and Catherine Fisk warmly welcomed me to the Written Dimension bookshop, and they too happily pulled out their stock of Hustling Hinkler for me to sign. Rachel also persuaded me to buy a copy of ‘The last Explorer’, by Simon Nasht, the story of the Australian adventurer Hubert Wilkins, who receives a tiny mention in my book. It’s a great read.
It’s great to see these independent bookshops still holding their own in the market in these tough times.
Back to Bundaberg
Saturday morning we drove up the Pacific Highway to Bundaberg Library, where it was gratifying to see a full house for my talk, hosted by the Regional Supervisor, David Cornwell. It was great to have the local long-time Bert Hinkler expert, Lex Rowland, introduce me, and to hear his generous words about the book. I’ve been to Bundaberg a number of times while researching for the book, and Lex
reminded me that my first contact with him and the Hinkler House Museum was in 2004/5.What made the occasion even more special this time was the presence at the library of Ron Hinkler, the famous aviator’s nephew, who told me he was enjoying reading the book. Ron was there with other family members and is still very much on the ball.
I was also thrilled to catch up with old friends – local author and writing stalwart, Sandy Curtis, and a former Griffith University student, Helen Dyer, now working at the Bundaberg campus of Central Queensland University. There were interesting questions from the audience, especially about the writing process, part of which I have written about in earlier blogs, including the significant part
played by the Bundaberg writers’ festival, Writefest. Dymocks Bundaberg supported the event and I’m pleased to say I signed quite a few copies of Hustling Hinkler purchased that day, as well as the copies the library was about to put on its shelves for loan.
Blue-green at Bargara
Afterwards, we headed a few kilometres out of town to the blue-green waters of Bargara, the waves rippling only gently on to the beach because of a protective off-shore reef. It wasn’t quite as peaceful back in January 2013, when coastal dwellings were menaced by typhoons, and much of the city was flooded, including the Hinkler Hall of Aviation in Bundaberg North. I’ll talk a little about those events and my recent visit to the now re-opened Hall of Aviation in a later blog.
Today I saw a bumper sticker for a Brisbane private high school, with the slogan ‘Born to fly’. Bert Hinkler would have liked that.