Sid Harta Publisher
My Voyage Around Spray ( with apologies to Captain Joshua Slocum) is not only about the author's love boats and sailing, it is a social commentary about the return of native son and his re-discovery of Australia after an absence of nearly 40 years.
Val Wake describes himself as an itinerant journalist. He worked in Sydney, London, Toronto and Ottawa but spent a lot of time on the frontier learning about making life tolerable in difficult circumstances. He learnt how to survive when the odds were against him.
On retirement Val Wake settled in Port Macquaire on the Australian eastern seaboard. He found that he was part of a mass movement popularly known as the sea change movement. He was quoted as saying:
" When we first came to Port Macquarie there was one set of traffic lights. Today there are more than 10 and counting. I'm not saying that development is wrong but when it is forced on a community at the expense of the quality of life I think that something is wrong.'
Val Wake uses his forensic skills as a journalist to examine a small Australian coastal town. What he finds should provide some useful pointers for a better future for all Australians.
The book was launched in Port Macquarie on December 9 and sold more than $500 worth of copies within an hour.
Interested readers can get copies from the Sir Harta publisher's site or on Amazon.com. The book has already received a rave review from James Cumes, retired diplomat, economist and author based in Vienna.
When I was four my parents gave me a metal pedal car, a sort of sophisticated billycart in which I would play on the street, There were few real cars then; the streets were safe. The pedal car gave me my first impression of mobility and independence. We lived on Beard Street in Auchenflower, not far from the Brisbane River, in the sub-tropical Australian state of Queensland. Beard Street was on a slope and one one side of the street was a row of wooden houses in stilts. The elevated positions of these houses allowed them to breathe in the hot, sticky, Queensland air. Desperate houswives tries to create a draft through their houses, leving their doors and windows open. Few of the houses had flyscreens. The housewives were more successful in inviting in a variety of sub-tropical insects, especially large cockroaches that flew in unhindered much to the horror of my Scottish-born mother.
The elevation of these houses did not interest me very much until one day, while peddling my car up the hill, I noticed some brown water seanking into the lower levels of Beard Street. I stopped peddling and watched as the waer expanded, extending its fingers into gardens and under houses. From out these houses, with the water lapping around the stilts came boats. It was my first recollection of seeing such a craft. The children being transported in these vessels were clearly much better off than me. They did not have to work their legs off to move. They slid across the brown water with apparent effortless ease,graceful and elegant, with any of the grunts and groans that accompanied my own efforts to move forward. My interest in my make-believe car quickly waned. My parents did not understand my sudden lack of enthusiasm for my four-wheeled metal box. It was difficult for me to explain that I had discovered a new and better way of finding pleasure in motion.
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Reader Reviews for "My Voyage Around Spray with Apologies to Captn. Joshua Slocum"
|Reviewed by James Cumes
|This is a memorable piece of Australian literature. I had expected a collection of sailors' yarns, mostly adventure and often perhaps too technical for the average dumb Landsman.
The funny thing is that I got it: from early sailing - Val must have been ten or younger then - on Brisbane's Moreton Bay to selling his beloved yacht Spray at a bargain price when he was a veteran living in Port Macquarie.
However, I enjoyed a lot more besides. I read about the author's father as a prominent figure in the earliest formation of Australian intelligence services. He also has some interesting memories of the war when Pearl Harbour and the Americans hit the sleepy town of Brisbane in 1941-42.
I read about early newspapers in Port Macquarie and the rather dreary townships we had before we got rich and used Victa Motor Mowers and owned in-ground swimming pools to improve the gardening, the exercise and the view.
Above all, the writer is a journalist of some decades experience around the world. Some journalists never learn to write English but this one certainly has. He is a delight to read and without the reader really knowing it, he gets a course in Australian history and the history of a few other countries such as Britain and Canada, without ever feeling the pain of learning. This is a book you will be glad to read and you will hope for a sequel from a writer who does his job so well. Grab a copy while you have the chance.