Beth Camp Historical Fiction

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Book Cover from Oz . . .

There's something unexpected about researching online. Since it's increasingly unlikely I'll be traveling to Tasmania anytime soon, I've been searching out videos on YouTube and images about key points, Port Arthur, Hobart Town, and the midlands of Tasmania, then trying to imagine what these places must have been like in the mid 1840s -- what plants, what birds, what bugs, what weather, what people. I've found impossibly blue skies and a rich terrain from tropical fern forests, to trackless brush covered mountains, a myriad of small islands, and milder flat plains, ideal for sheep and cattle. 

Intrepid photographer, historian, motorcycle buff, antique book lover, and writer Murray Bernard of Tasmania has posted many exquisite photos online. But this picture of Sarah Island seems to capture the essence of my current work in progress, Years of Stone

Sarah Island (@ Murray Bernard)
Perhaps the sharp contrast between the ruined stones of what was once a prison on Sarah Island and the natural beauty of towering eucalyptus draws me. Few letters or books speak to what conditions were like so long ago for those men and women transported to Tasmania, to the land beyond. But should I choose to self-publish in about a year's time, this will be the cover. Thank you, Murray!

Sarah Island, active between 1822-1833, has the reputation of being the harshest penal colony in Van Diemen's Land. I've read somewhere that writers are to 'torture' their characters, but because my story is set in 1842-1844, my characters didn't have to go to Sarah Island. They suffered enough. Here's my other favorite of the view from Port Arthur, also taken by Murray Bernard.

Port Arthur (@ Murray Bernard)


  1. My husband and I traveled to Tassie in 2001, about a month after the
    Twin Towers fell. We were to ferry across from the mainland and drive the majority of our one-month stay on the island, but I was talked out of a ferry reservations, because,.. "well, not many people go there and you shouldn't have a problem." Turns out most Aussies cancelled their foreign vacations that year and a goodly share of them went to Tassie. So, we had to leave the rented camper van in Melbourne and fly to Hobart. We only had a few days there, but I fell in love with it. Hobart was very much like Portland in the 1960s. In general. the island reminded me very much of parts of Oregon with an Australian twist, eucalypts instead of firs, tea tree bushes instead of mesquite, etc. Port Arthur was fascinating. I hope you will be able to travel there one day...perhaps with the generous advance you'll get when it's mainstream published.

  2. Beautiful photos. I love the one with the old brick ruins too. The massive tree fern to one side is amazing. I saw many like this in Fern Tree Gully, Victoria, where my father and step-mother lived when I was sixteen. There's something about them that fascinates me.