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Exploring Geelong

Today I found some interesting books at a bookshop in Geelong called Barwon Booksellers ( The staff were extremely helpful in searching for books and I bought The Snowy: the people behind the power by Siobhan McHugh and Redgum & paddlewheels: Australia’s inland river trade by P.J. Phillips. The second book has a cracker of a photo of a camel train crossing a bridge in Wilcannia with a paddlewheel puffing down the Darling River under the bridge. Located 200 kilometres east of Broken Hill, Wilcannia was the third largest port in New South Wales in 1890.

Barwon Booksellers

 I also visited the Geelong Naval and Maritime Museum ( and the National Wool Museum ( Both museums were quite interesting but I think the most exciting thing for me is that I am beginning to see at the museums I visit ships, aeroplanes, places and things related to each of the people I am interviewing. For instance, at the Maritime Museum I saw paintings of several of the ships Don Garnham sailed on and a radio much like the type Jean Nysen used during WWII. 

Door from the Courier, a steamship (now scuttled at the Ships' Graveyard off Port Phillip Heads), at the Geelong Naval and Maritime Museum

Wool being used to make a wool rug at the National Wool Museum

Interview with Captain Donald L. Garnham the 'Cape Horner'

I flew down to Hobart today to interview Captain Donald L. Garnham. At ninety-eight, Don is one of the few remaining ‘Cape Horners’, who sailed aboard a four-masted barque from South Australia to Europe in 1936. The ships were laden with grain and used sand, shovelled by hand into cane baskets in the hold, for ballast. It’s estimated only about thirty-two of these Cape Horners are left in Australia.

It was a wonderful interview. Don showed me the painting of him done by Dennis Adams where he is clinging to the sails of the Herzogin Cecilie during rough seas. I also bought a copy of Old sea dogs of Tasmania by Andrew Wilson from him ( It is a beautiful book, full of photographs of sailors in locations around Tasmania. Don is featured in one of the chapters.

Keep checking back here on the blog, I’ll post a chapter teaser on Captain Donald L. Garnham soon.

Down at the harbour in Hobart

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