How I met Jimmy

Port Arthur Historic Site calls to me. I have been there three times now, and I can’t wait for my next visit. The grounds look nothing like they did back in the Site’s peak as a major industrial settlement in the 1840s and onwards. More than 2000 convicts, soldiers, and civil staff lived there with timber-getting, brick making, and boat and ship building, the primary industries keeping the convicts busy. After convict transportation ceased in 1853, the site gradually transitioned from a penitentiary to an institution for those convicts who were old or mentally and physically ill. Closing in 1877, many buildings were dismantled for works elsewhere, or sadly, destroyed by bushfires.

Of course, this is the briefest of brief histories, but maybe the photos will give you some idea of the site in the past, and today.

Port Arthur 1859

Why do we feel the call of a place? I honestly don’t know. All I knew of the site before my first visit was that it was a former convict settlement. I don’t know if it was the English connection (I was born in England), or… I don’t know. If I lived closer, I would definitely work there as a guide. Since my first visit, I have bought way too many books that cover the history of the site through to present day, so this will be the first in series to make the most of them :-).

I have my feet under the desk, and I’m about 55,000 words into this book, so, I think it is about time I told you about Jimmy.

I first met Jimmy in February 2021, on my very first visit to the Port Arthur Historic Site here in Tasmania. The Site was first established in 1830 using convict labour to harvest wood (of which Tasmania has a plentiful supply), and shortly thereafter, it became a secondary punishment station for repeat offenders from other Australian colonies. The Site also became the first purpose-built juvenile prison for boys transported from the British Empire, so they wouldn’t be in the company of older, more seasoned criminals in Britain. The boy’s prison was known as Point Puer.

On my first visit to the Site, I was walking through The Church. I felt a magnetic pull to visit The Church, even though I had never seen or heard of it before. Looking through a heavy iron gate at the base of the belfry and marvelling at the well-worn stone steps, I was suddenly overcome by a tremendous wave of emotion.

Jimmy’s story was that wave. I almost ran to the smaller church (St. David’s) next door to The Church’s ruin, grabbed a handful of their postcard blanks and scribbled over a thousand words to capture the essence of Jimmy’s story.

I have 15-20,000 words to go to tell you Jimmy’s story. I’m not going to give away any more for the moment. Meanwhile, I live and breathe his story, so much so, that on our last trip there a few weeks ago for more research, I said to my husband, “Oh, I can show you Reb… Oops, never mind, she’s not a real person.” Embarrassed, and thankful it was only my husband, the characters feel so ‘real’ to me that I was looking forward to showing him, her house!

The Church with St. David’s Church in foreground where I outlined Jimmy’s story.

Jimmy’s book is fictional, but I have finally found a way to write the way I want to write. All my life, I have studied. To satisfy my curiosity, I can happily disappear down rabbit holes, and wormholes doing research. I am a Jill of all trades. I know enough about many things to do them well, but then I get pulled in a new direction. Thankfully, my nursing career has enabled me to move around and keep learning, while still under the umbrella of being a nurse.

Jimmy’s story has enabled me to fulfill my desire to research and write. You will learn something about the Site during his story, but it is only just enough.

The Penitentiary
Penitentiary and Commandant’s House on the left.

I can’t wait to share the story with you. Inspired by history and with historical elements, but at heart, a paranormal cozy.

Sunrise at home

We chose our semi-retirement place on earth, well. We face due east, so we’re treated to magnificent sunrises, at least we think so.

Wherever on earth you are, I hope you have a fur baby, or snuggly rug, to curl up with while you enjoy your new favourite book. My latest find has been the Young Adult Fantasy novels by Helen Scheuerer. Both The Oremere Chronicles and the Curse of the Cyren Queen series – well I devoured them both.

Until next time.