Drawing on selected images from across the world, in this personal presentation Brisbane-based author D R (Darryl) Dymock compares the spectacular but very different life journeys and tragic endings of two remarkable Australian aviation pioneers: Harry Hawker and Bert Hinkler.
Saturday 18 June2pm -3pm, St Matthews Church Hall,
cnr Sherwood & Oxley Rds Sherwood, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
We had a great State Library (SLQ) session on Sunday morning 29 May 2022 at Anzac Square Memorial Galleries, Brisbane. Four other ‘Chalkies‘ and I recalled our experiences as conscripted Army teachers in Papua New Guinea 1966-73.
An amazing selection of images from the time, professionally assembled by Mt Nebo Multimedia. Terrific backup from SLQ’s Alice and Greg.
Thanks to librarian India Dixon, the videos will be added to the State Library of Queensland resource collection as part of their military memories program.
Exclusive extract from ‘A Great and Restless Spirit’ by D R Dymock:
Unaware of the mid-ocean drama, Muriel continued to mark off the hours Harry had been in the air. As the day went on, she began to prepare to head over to Brooklands, hopeful she would soon be reunited with her husband. There was quiet anticipation among the Sopwith representatives, military officers, and government and aero club officials gathered at Brooklands that Monday afternoon, 19 May, 1919. It promised to be a momentous occasion for the future of cross-Atlantic travel and for British aviation.
Muriel and her brother, RAF Captain Laurence Peaty, had driven over from Hook in the Sunbeam. Word had come through that the American fliers were trapped in the Azores by the weather, so NC-4 had not yet been able to make the final hop. There was still a possibility that Harry and Grieve could claim the transatlantic gong.
Nevertheless there was also an undercurrent of anxiety about the two fliers. No messages had been received; no sightings reported. Based on the reported Sunday departure time from Newfoundland, by Muriel’s 22-hour timeline the Atlantic should touch down at Brooklands at around 4.30pm. Unlike some others, she wasn’t worried by the lack of contact with the plane because she knew Harry and Grieve weren’t counting on the wireless during the flight.
But as the afternoon ticked by, concern started to grow. The Royal Air Force sent planes out from its Aldergrove base in Ireland to probe along the transatlantic route, but the pilots came back with nothing to report.
When Muriel crossed off hour number 22, and there was still no sign of the plane, the tension among the waiting group must have been palpable. They all knew that by then the Sopwith’s fuel tank would be close to empty. When a full 24 hours had passed without any contact, no one had to say what that meant.
Title:A Great and Restless Spirit: The incredible true story of Harry Hawker, Australian test pilot, aircraft designer, car racing driver, speedboat racer, world-beater
High-profile mystery plane crashes have confounded and intrigued the world since flight began – but this dramatic true story was the first.
A Great And Restless Spirit by D R Dymock tells of the disappearance of record-breaking Australian pilot Harry Hawker and his navigator over the Atlantic Ocean in 1919… and of how kings and nations were captivated by the event. The book has just been released.
A transatlantic feat
In May 1919, 30-year-old Harry Hawker and his navigator attempted the first transatlantic flight, from Newfoundland to Ireland, and in a plane with no radio or radar.
Millions waited for news of their triumph – but the plane never arrived. After six days, and with no sightings or leads, almost everyone gave them up for dead. Banjo Paterson wrote a eulogy for Harry’s passing. King George V sent Harry’s English wife, Muriel Hawker, a telegram of condolence. But Muriel refused to believe her husband was dead.
If things don’t go quite right, never give up hope, Harry had told Muriel before he left. She took him at his word.
‘As there seemed to be two sides to the question whether he was alive or not, and no definite proof of either,’ Muriel said, ‘I decided I’d cling firmly to the belief that he was alive.’
An extraordinary life
Muriel Hawker’s faith in her daredevil husband had reaped rewards before. Harry’s ‘need for speed’ made him a fierce competitor in car and speedboat races around the globe and, when he wasn’t racing, Harry designed and tested WWI planes.
His boss, aviation guru Tommy Sopwith, believed Harry was a genius – but Muriel kept her husband’s feet firmly on the ground. Would this remarkable woman’s hope be rewarded this time, too?
In A Great and Restless Spirit, author D R Dymock tells the incredible true story of Harry Hawker MBE AFC and the woman who refused to give up on him.
About the author: D R (Darryl) Dymock (author site) is the Brisbane-based author of several well-received non-fiction books, including Hustling Hinkler and The Chalkies. This is his second aviation biography. He is a mentor with the Queensland Writers Centre, and an Adjunct Senior Research Fellow at Griffith University.
Here’s A Great and Restless Spirit in good company for March events at Avid Reader Bookshop, West End, Brisbane.
A Great and Restless Spirit will be launched at Avid Reader at 6.30pm AEST on Friday 25th March, 2022. And you’re invited! In person, or online.
All you have to do is click on this link to register for the launch. You can also pre-order the book (ISBN 9781925380415. Armour Books)
Here’s an extract from A Great and Restless Spirit to whet your reading appetite:
Outside, the weather matched their mood as they set off—sombre, dark and cold. The wind was whipping the trees around their house, and the rain danced in the headlights as they headed to Euston Station. For some reason, despite the almost cyclonic conditions, Harry opted to take the Sunbeam.
The big car might well have had a neatly riveted bonnet, but it also had no hood over the passenger compartment. So, as they roared through deserted London streets in drenching rain slashed by an occasional knife edge of sleet, Harry crouched behind the whisper of a windscreen.
Muriel hunched in the well on the passenger side, her head resting against her husband’s knee. She quietly wished that she’d married someone without ambition, like a farmer’s son. Someone who didn’t feel the need to go where no man had ever gone before. If only I could sleep away the time ahead, she thought.
When they reached Euston station, they had one final hug, said one final goodbye. As Harry disappeared into the carriage, Muriel was inconsolable. She couldn’t wait for the train to pull out.
Heading disconsolately back to the car, all she could think was that Harry had gone from her. The only thing she could do was wait for the future to unfold itself.
I’d like to introduce you to Harry Hawker, the subject of my latest book, A Great and Restless Spirit. And below you can find a link to the YouTube video.
Harry Hawker was an Australian-born test pilot, aircraft designer, racing car driver, speedboat racer, and all-round world-beater.
In his day he was a celebrity before there were celebrities.
But he wasn’t looking for fame. All he wanted to do was push the boundaries.
He had a dream of speed that he pursued throughout his whole, regrettably short, life.
I wanted to write about Harry Hawker firstly because of the way he insisted on pushing the boundaries in the air, on the racetrack and on the water. But I’m also fascinated by what made him ‘a great and restless spirit’.
And how did his wife Muriel cope with that insistent restlessness, especially when it became life-threatening?
You can register for the in-store and online book launch at Avid Reader Bookshop, West End, Brisbane, at 6.30pm AEST Friday 25 March here
If you’re free and in the vicinity, I’d love to see you at the Brisbane launch of my new book on Friday evening, 25 March, 2022. (Covid permitting!).
The book is called A Great and Restless Spirit: The incredible true story of Australian Harry Hawker – test pilot, aircraft designer, racing car driver, speedboat racer, world-beater.
It will be published by an independent Brisbane publisher, Armour Books.
If Victorian-born Harry Hawker MBE AFC (1889-1921) was alive today, he’d be churning desert dust in the Dakar rally, strapped in a rocket on a SpaceX flight, or taking pole position on the Formula 1 start line.
Hawker moved to England at age 22, and in his day flew faster, higher and for longer than anyone else in Britain. His one need was speed. And if he couldn’t find it in the air, he was a fierce competitor in racing cars and international speedboat races.
When he wasn’t racing, Hawker was designing and testing WWI planes. His boss, aviation guru Tommy Sopwith, was convinced the Australian was a genius.
In the book you’ll also meet Harry’s remarkable wife, Muriel, who mostly kept his feet on the ground. But even she worried about his need to go where no man had ever gone before.
And in the background there bubbled away an underlying weakness that would eventually contribute to Harry Hawker’s death in a flaming solo plane crash. He was just 32 years of age.
I hope you might be able to join me for the launch of A Great and Restless Spirit at Avid Reader Bookshop, West End, Brisbane at 6.30pm on 25 March. It should be a good occasion, and there’s no obligation to buy😊.
Please put the date in your diary. You’ll be able to register nearer the time on the Avid Reader website: avidreader.com.au
And if you’re not from Brisbane, please keep watch for the book’s publication. I hope it will be available in both print and electronic form.
Please feel free to pass this message on, or to post it on social media. All welcome.
When you’re writing, do you sometimes go off at a tangent? Head off in some absolutely fascinating direction, only to discover later that’s not where you wanted to go? Or perhaps you decide the tangent is the new direction, and that what you wrote before is mostly irrelevant. (Maybe life is like that too?)
In this final blog of this series, which first appeared as guest blogs for Margaret River Press, I’d like to re-introduce the three people I interviewed for the earlier blogs and let them talk about tangents in a different way.
Each of them introduces a fascinating spin-off from their main area of work, a spin-off that in its own way tells us something special about writing and publishing in Australia.
Where the Wild Things Are – Fiona Stager
How big a market is there for children’s books in Australia? Big enough to generate a spin-off specialist bookshop alongside an existing one, according to prominent independent bookseller Fiona Stager.
If you’re a regular, you’ll recall that my second blog in this series was based on an audio interview with Fiona, co-owner of Avid Reader Bookshop in West End, Brisbane. In the audio extract below, she explains how a flourishing children’s ‘corner’ in that bookshop developed into a stand-alone bookshop when the property next door came up for rent.
It augurs well for the future of books and bookshops in Australia that 30% of sales are of children’s books.
Of the two passions Fiona mentions – cook books and travel books, I reckon sales of the former might have risen during the Covid-19 slowdown as locked-in citizens looked for creative in-home activities.
I’ve heard that banana bread was a hot favourite (perhaps literally), but no doubt there were some who pushed the culinary boundaries.
The sales of travel books, especially for overseas destinations, must have surely slumped this year, however, and Fiona was no doubt fortunate she expanded into children’s books instead 🙂
Ambassadors for editing – Karen Lee
If you’ve seen earlier blogs in this series, you may remember that Karen Lee, CEO of the Institute of Professional Editors (IPEd), told me that if you really want to upset an editor, then suggest to them that what they do is ‘just proofreading’.
To try to address what they see as a major misconception of their contribution to the writing process, IPEd developed an initiative to send out some of its members as ‘ambassadors’ to explain what they do.
Karen tells us the origin and purpose of this IPEd ‘spin-off’ in this video clip.
Funded by the Copyright Agency, access to IPEd ambassadors is free, and Karen encourages writing groups and classes of all kinds to contact the Institute if they are interested in hearing about how editors can help them.
Postcards from future Queensland – Kim Wilkins
In addition to being a well-published author of fantasy and historical adventure stories for women, Kim Wilkins is Associate Professor in Writing, Publishing, and 21st-Century Book Culture at the University of Queensland (UQ). You might have met her through video clips in the first blog in this series.
In April this year, Kim and a colleague, Dr Helen Marshall, launched an initiative from UQ’s School of Communication and Arts which invited senior high school students to imagine a better world, post Covid-19.
In this video clip, Kim talks about the project’s aims:
You can catch up with the progress of the postcards project and see some of the many postcards Queensland high school students have submitted on the project website.
I suggested to Kim Wilkins that asking students to use their imagination in the postcards project fitted closely with her own use of imagination in writing her fantasy and historical fiction novels.
You can see her thoughtful response to that suggestion in the video clip here:
I hope that your own imagination has been sparked by Kim’s comments and also by the insightful inputs from Karen Lee and Fiona Stager into this blog. I’m very thankful to all three of them for their willingness to take part in this series and for their stimulating responses to the questions I posed.
What impressed me overall was not only their openness but also the enthusiasm each one showed for their particular contribution to the writing and publishing world.
Through these four blogs I’ve learned a lot about writing, editing, publishing and bookselling and a little bit more about technology. I hope you enjoyed the ride.
If you haven’t yet seen the three earlier blogs in this series, you can find them on my Writesite blog: drdymock.wordpress.com