Two Restless Spirits: Harry Hawker & Bert Hinkler

Advance notice of author talk 18 June 2022

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 June 2pm -3pm, St Matthews Church Hall,

cnr Sherwood & Oxley Rds Sherwood, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia

Books for sale on the day

Can’t make it to the talk? You can still order both books through any bookshop, including Avid Reader, Brisbane and Riverbend Books, Brisbane, Queensland. Or download the e-book online through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Booktopia, or check out ABE Books in the US.

Print ISBN: 9781925380415

e-book ISBN: 9781925380453

While other Nashos were fighting in Vietnam, Australian Army quietly sent conscripted Education Taskforce to PNG

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.

The author, centre, with other National Service recruits, 3 Training Battalion, Singleton, NSW, early 1969
Troops of 1 Pacific Islands Regiment, Education class, Taurama Barracks, TPNG, c1970
Trooping the Colour, Taurama Barracks, TPNG, c1968

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.

This is the book of the videos!

Until next time

Darryl Dymock

Harry Hawker the movie?: ‘A grand narrative set in marvellous locations’

Readers are responding very positively to my latest book, A Great and Restless Spirit: the incredible true story of Harry Hawker.

One of them told me it was ‘a grand narrative set in marvellous locations’, and suggested it would make a great movie.

‘a grand narrative set in marvellous locations’

The other good news, especially for regional and international readers, is that ‘A Great and Restless Spirit’ is now available as an e-book.

Print ISBN: 9781925380415

Print copy available from Avid Reader bookshop, Brisbane, Australia or you can order it through any other good bookshop.

e-book ISBN: 9781925380453

Already the e-book is available in different formats, including:

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/s?k=9781925380453&crid=2IQ7IAR0RW49A&sprefix=9781925380453%2Caps%2C1358&ref=nb_sb_noss

Barnes and Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/a-great-and-restless-spirit-darryl-r-dymock/1141254251?ean=9781925380453

Keep an eye out for the movie!

Until next time

Darryl Dymock

‘When a full 24 hours had passed without any contact, no one had to say what that meant …’ – Exclusive book extract

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

Author: D R Dymock

ISBN: 9781925380415

Publisher: Armour Books, Brisbane

RRP: AU$33.99 paperback

Publication date: March 2022

A poet and a king thought this pilot was dead, but …

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.

About the book:

Armour Books, Brisbane | AU$33.99 paperback | ISBN: 9781925380415

Available through Avid Reader Bookshop, Brisbane or order through any other good bookshop.

Countdown to a Great and Restless book launch

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.

What a great book launch!

Writers Group Convenor Darryl Dymock introduces writer John Brown, the founding Shed president

We had a great launch of the Oxley Men’s Shed anthology, Offcuts: Stories from the Shed, on Saturday 27 November in Brisbane. Nine men from the Shed contributed to the collection, and the first (modest) print run sold out! 70 to 80 people turned up to hear a brilliant launch by local Councillor Nicole Johnston, listen to music from the band Crossed Fingers, and enjoy a scrumptious morning tea.

Shed President Martin Rankine makes the welcome

This is no ordinary collection of stories. It draws on the varied experiences of nine men who have led very different lives, but whose paths have eventually crossed at Oxley Men’s Shed.
In this book these mostly first-time writers have taken the opportunity to share some of their fascinating stories from the past with their families and with the wider community. Many of these are never-before-told tales, entertaining anecdotes that not only illuminate the writers’ earlier lives, but often trigger our own memories too.

In these stories we meet a former fitter and turner who as a boy decided to see what would happen when he packed gunpowder from leftover fireworks into a fruit tin and lit the fuse; a retired meat inspector who had to escape hand over hand down a rope off a high church roof when his ladder collapsed; an ex-plumber who starred in a Bollywood movie and dodged bombs and bullets while driving a tour bus in the Middle East; a former photographer who once had the ultimate hand in a boarding house poker game; and a retired insurance underwriter who relives his late-night dash home to dive under the bedclothes before the resident ghost appeared.

Crossed Fingers Band

Then there’s a Vietnamese veteran driving an Army forklift who literally backed himself into an embarrassing corner with his commanding officer; an ex-teacher who was driving his prized first car through South Brisbane when the back seat caught fire; a former electrician who turned jackaroo to help out his mate on a cattle drive in northern NSW; and a retired agronomist who as a young man led a hiking group down a mountain during a cyclone, with intriguing romantic results.

This is a heady mix of yarns from a group of writers keen to tell their often remarkable stories – sometimes humorous, occasionally hair-raising, but always from the heart.

Offcuts: Stories from the Shed, Armour Books, Brisbane.

Publication date: November 2021

ISBN: 978-1-925380-378

BOOK LAUNCH COMING UP!

BOOK LAUNCH

Saturday 27 November 2021

9.30am for 10am

St John’s Community Hall: 18 California Rd,

Oxley, Brisbane, Australia

Councillor Nicole Johnston

will launch

Offcuts: Stories from the Shed

An anthology of life stories written by Oxley Men’s Shed members

A heady mix of yarns – often remarkable, sometimes humorous, occasionally hair-raising, but always from the heart

Published by Armour Books, Corinda, Queensland

A bumper restart blog

Good intentions

There’s an old saying that the road to hell is paved with good intentions. The lack of activity on my blog in recent times has not been due to lack of intention but rather, lack of time. This has been a busy year, including a period spent in the UK, Finland, Sweden and Norway, as well as a short teaching stint in Singapore. Since I believe writers shouldn’t procrastinate, however, I’m determined to restore my regular blog and to let those generous people who were following it know that I have not neglected my writing since I last posted here. So here’s a bumper blog for the restart.

With Assoc Prof Sarojni Choy and Singapore students July 2015

With Assoc Prof Sarojni Choy and Singapore students July 2015

Conscripted!

Imagine that you’ve completed your teacher training in an Australian state or territory, and have just spent your first full year in front of a class. The next year, without your willing consent, but with the full force of the law, you’re in the Army. If you’re lucky, you may still be teaching, but not in a school, and not in Australia…

From 1965 to 1973, during the Vietnam War period, almost 64,000 young Australian men were conscripted by ballot into a two-year term of ‘National Service’ with the Australian Army. Over 15,000 of these conscripts were sent to assist the American war effort in Vietnam, but some 300 National Servicemen, who had been school teachers before their call-up, were quietly posted with the Royal Australian Army Educational Corps to the then Territory of Papua New Guinea for roughly 12-month periods. Colloquially known as ‘Chalkies’, the conscripted teachers served in the 3000-strong Pacific Islands Regiment, assisting an Australian Government effort to prepare TPNG for self-government and eventually independence.

Chalkies in Territory of Papua New Guinea

Chalkies in Territory of Papua New Guinea 1971

With the aid of an Australian Government Army History Research Grant and a small reference group of ex-Chalkies, I’m currently writing the history of that scheme, drawing on official records (ask me about the frustrations of archival research sometime, when you have an hour or two to spare), historical commentaries, and more recently, the responses of more than 70 ex-Chalkies to a national survey. This is a little-known story, and the recollections of those teachers provide a fascinating picture of young men suddenly catapulted from their school classrooms into the military, of how they survived the experience, and what it meant to them.

I presented a paper about this scheme at an international adult education conference in the UK in July, and am aiming to develop the fuller material into a non-fiction book. As a writer, I’m enjoying the challenge of capturing the diversity of stories, not to mention the humour and sometimes the pathos of individual experiences. Remarkable stories in unique circumstances.

Writers group

I’ve been meeting every few months with three other writers as a spin-off from a very successful workshop I ran for the Queensland Writers Centre in 2014, ‘Harnessing research for writing’. The four of us discuss our work and read from it, and at the last meeting we also shared our thoughts on a favourite or impactful* book.

To protect their privacy, I won’t mention the other members by name, but they have also been developing their writing: one has finished a novel based on true events in Asia and Australia, and is seeking publication; another has found a satisfying online outlet for his writing, which is based on his particular professional expertise; and the other member of the group is researching a 19th century soldier with American origins and an Australian demise, with the intention of writing a biography. It’s a very supportive and productive group.

*Hand up if you think this is a real word.

Baffled by Baffle Creek?

If you’ve never heard of Baffle Creek, that’s understandable, especially if you don’t come from the mid-coast of Queensland. I hadn’t heard of it either until Kevin Sommerfeld contacted me to see if I’d be interested in writing a history of the Baffle, as it’s known locally. My name had been suggested to him by Lex Rowland OAM, who chairs the Board of the Hinkler Hall of Aviation in the coastal city of Bundaberg, where Lex ‘launched’ my book, Hustling Hinkler, a little while back.

Baffle Creek, which is more like a river, empties into the sea just north of Bundaberg,

Baffle Creek

Baffle Creek

and Kevin grew up in that area.  He’s been assembling historical material for some years,but felt he needed some assistance to write the story. After meeting with Kevin, who lives about an hour’s drive from my place in Brisbane, Queensland, we agreed that I would take the lead in using the material he had collected to write a jointly-authored article for the Queensland History Journal. It was a lot of work, but we beavered away, and the result is a 6000-word peer-reviewed article, ‘Baffle Creek: the changing fortunes of an inland waterway’, which was published in the August 2015 edition of that journal. Kevin and I patted each other on the back via telephone.

Lifelong learning

In case you haven’t noticed, I’m a strong proponent of lifelong learning (e.g. see my book, Extending your use-by date, and the Griffith Review essay, ‘Working late’), and am currently co-editing a book, Supporting learning across working life: Models, processes and practices, which will be published by the international academic publisher, Springer, later this year.  I’m also contributing as an author to three chapters in that publication.

Finally…
I believe in that adage that writers should also be readers, and read on average a book a week.  Just in case you think from what I’ve written above that I’m only into non-fiction, much of my recreational reading is crime novels and thrillers, and an occasional historical novel. I’m also working on a fiction novel and a couple of short stories, all based on real-life events.

What are you reading at the moment?

Darryl Dymock