top of page

The Fair Wind series

   FRAN's first published novel, was based on a true story told to her by Lucy Purcell about her great grandparents' arrival at Geelong, in the newly minted colony of Victoria. The travellers' bags were thrown on the beach, there being no wharf in 1850s. When counted, one was missing, so the husband went back to the ship to find it. The wind changed and the captain, eager to avoid losing crew to the goldfields departed. The husband was still on board, his wife stranded on the beach. How did they manage: a fragile artist thrown back to sea, his wife left to cope in a turbulent environment?  

   This story begged to be written and was self published as The Other Side of the Wind by Flying Pony Press. The limited edition print run sold out and was reprinted twice. The books include Fran's illustrations - linocuts and drawings.  Readers asked "what happens next, so a sequel Winds of Rebellion brought events to  Victoria's only armed conflict – the Eureka Rebellion in December 1854. This is told from the perspective of ordinary people caught up in extraordinary events. Rebellion sold out and again being reprinted.

   This series was half intended to be a trilogy, so when readers still wanted to know 'what happens next',  work began exploring the role of key and ordinary Victorians in Federation and An Imperfect Calendar resulted. In the fiction business you never know what those characters will do. That story did not reach the period of Australian history of Federation as intended.  A lonely child is shuffled around three homes. No one will talk about her mother or father though Polly knows the latter is alive. Edward Anderson is walking away from grief, drawn back home with a cache of drawings featuring Victoria's diverse landscape. What happens next? The Coriolis Effect, published 2022, does bring the series up to Australia's decision to Federate, with Polly, now an author, travelling to London to observe the Constitution pass through Westminster as her father would have wanted. Her journey home on the 'Empire Star', travelling with Australian delegates and emigrants, proves life changing which the Coriolis force, while invisible and fictional, is prone to inspire. 

 To order the books individually or Christmas set: (RRP $30ea plus p/p within Australia; Christmas set $125: email Also download via Amazon or order from Peterson's Bookshop, Hastings


THIS interview was done with John Balmain when I was editing the Cranbourne Independent newspaper in the late 1990s.  


I was learning portrait with tonal impressionist Brian Armstrong, who told about what a mentor Balmain had been to him and Balmain's link to tonalist Max Meldrum.

As it happened John Balmain's studio was a block away from our Dandenong office. Brian's recommendation encouraged John to allow us in for a chat. He was founder of McClelland Guild of Artists where I later became president, rebuilding with Reg Warrington the tiny studio, to create more room for classes and demonstrations enjoyed today. 

Recently at an Artisans Weekend at McClelland Gallery, I was reminded of the role of Balmain there, which many wouldn't know, so started ferreting through yellowing clippings for this interview.


Turns out was a rare privilege, almost nothing can be found online about this influential Australian master.

bottom of page