Blackboy Hill book cover

Thursday, 28 May 2015

Our Book, 2015, and the Camp Chronicle, 1915

Since publishing Blackboy Hill is Calling just over a month ago, we have received a delightful wave of compliments and positive feedback, both in person and via email.

Almost one hundred years ago, the Blackboy Hill camp's distinguished newspaper editor Herbert Lambert found himself in the same position after publishing the first issue of the Camp Chronicle.

And so I find myself wanting to share this feedback with others, just as he did. Though once were letters, are now emails, and what was once 'Dear Sir', is now 'Hi', the lovely Aussie spirit of contacting others to give a genuine compliment is still very much alive.

In the third issue of the Chronicle, 23 December 1915, Lambert published a long column entitled

Some Unsolicited Commendations

A hearty reception according "The Camp Chronicle" has proved very satisfying. Verbal congratulations on the new venture have been received from all sorts and conditions of men, and I print below a few of the letters which we particularly appreciate: 

I am advised by His Excellency the Governor to express His Excellency’s grateful thanks for the interesting and beautiful copy of the Camp Chronicle which you so kindly forwarded. Yours faithfully, H.A Wilkinson, Private Secretary.


(not the entire column)

A century later, I would like to echo the sentiments of Herbert Lambert - the feedback we have received for this book has been highly satisfying and made all our hard work worthwhile. This was a non-profit project, a labour of love from a predominantly voluntary group of writers and researchers, and so to receive such 'hearty reception' is particularly heart-warming.

Printed below are a few emails which we also appreciate:

Blackboy Hill is Calling
Some Unsolicited Commendations

1 May 2015: Dear Shannon and Valerie, My son and daughter attended your book launch and bought a couple of books. They said it was wonderful listening to the stories and loved meeting people there. Unfortunately I was in Bali at the time but watched the Dawn Service (WA was represented) and the Gallipoli Service as well.  I am looking forward to reading your book. Congratulations on a job well done. Yours, Joan Sadleir

7 May 2015: Hi, I came to the launch on Sunday and got my books, they are amazing, congratulations on putting together such a professional book. I am looking forward to reading more of it, the 1st few pages have really impressed. Regards, Judi Blood

13 May 2015: Hi Shannon, I pre-paid for two copies of the book and received one today which looks fabulous. Thanks, Russell Bishop

18 May 2015: Good afternoon, I attended the book launch at Greenmount for Blackboy Hill is Calling where I collected my ordered books. We had a lovely afternoon and thoroughly enjoy the book. Kind regards, Stacey Baker

18 May 2015: I have attached a completed order form in .pdf format. Thanking you for your grand effort in producing this book. I enthusiastically look forward to receiving it. John Strauss

19 May 2015: Hi, I have just received my order of copies of the book today and felt compelled to immediately send a note of thanks and congratulations on the production of this volume. So far I have only been able to have a quick look, but enough to see that it is full of history of this place and those who passed through it, during momentous times. All who have been involved in this project should be congratulated. Kind regards, Les Emery

19 May 2015: Many thanks for this book. It is very impressive! Congratulations. Susan Hall, Historian/Local Studies Librarian, City of Armadale

Blackboy Hill is Calling is NOW LAUNCHED

It is now just over a month since the 2015 Centenary of Anzac Day, and also since the launch of the KSP Writers' Centre's commemorative book project, Blackboy Hill is Calling. I am pleased to report that in this time we have sold and donated almost 700 copies of our 1,000 copy print run, including a complimentary copy to the Australian War Memorial, the Shire of Mundaring and every state library in Australia.

A partial team shot at the Battye Library launch, Monday 27 April 2015, including (from left to right):
Valerie Everett, Mardi May, Shannon Kayne, Joanne Godfry, Mimma Tornatora, Anne Watkins, and Betty Pyke.

We were thrilled to have a large turn out at both the library and the KSP Centre book launches. Big thanks to Denis Connelly, Vice-President WA State RSL, and Hon. Donna Faragher, representative of the WA Premier's department, who officially launched the book at each respective event. Also to Paul Bridges (historian and contributor) and Susanna Iuliano (Battye Library historian) who appeared on the presentation panel.

Both 'launchers' praised the book for its comprehensive information, and emphasised its importance in preserving never-before told stories of the life of this significant Western Australian World War I military training camp, Blackboy Hill. Denis stated that 'every student in WA should read this.'

It was an additional surprise to have special guests from the Great War Living History Association appear onstage with Denis Connelly, Paul Bridges, Valerie Everett and Susanna Iuliano during the library launch presentation

KSP Chairperson Tabetha Beggs at the KSP Centre book launch, Sunday 3 May 2015

Hon. Donna Faragher at the KSP Centre book launch

Since the launch, we have received overwhelming support and praise from the public - we thank everybody who has shared stories with us or purchased a book. It has been our pleasure to finally put this history out into the world - and an absolute thrill to see so many people interested.

Friday, 20 March 2015

Blackboy Hill is Calling Book Launch


Countdown to Anzac Day 2015

At a recent visit to Greenmount Primary School, Valerie and I were impressed with the level that the school engages its students with the meaning of the 25th of April, Anzac Day. As the Centenary approaches, it is important to remember this tragic period in our history.

The year 6 and 7 students at Greenmount Primary School worked hard to contribute soldier profiles for our book.


As Anzac Day approaches, so too does the launch of Blackboy Hill is Calling. Please join us for one of TWO book launches planned for Monday 27 April (from 11.00am at WA State Library, Perth Cultural Centre) or Sunday 3 May (from 3.00pm at KSP Writers' Centre, afternoon tea provided). Books will be available to purchase on the day for $15 each. We hope to see you there.


Please join us to celebrate the launch of our book.
This has been an enormous project and we are very proud of what has been achieved.
We thank everyone who has been involved and all the dedicated hours of volunteer time they have given to bring the book together. And all the members of the public who generously provided photos and stories about their family members who served in the War, thank you.

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Editing, and other dirty words

It's crunch time for our writing team, as the publication date draws near... and we are busy gathering our final drafts, checking and cross-checking the grammar, structure, quality of content, and the accuracy of all historical facts. This is a long, hard process - just see the concentration on our faces below! - but we are beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel. And the book is shaping up to be a FANTASTIC read. You can download a pre-order form from the KSP Writers' Centre website now: (limited copies available at this low price) 

Betty Pyke, Anne Goodhue-Watkins, Mimma Tornatora, Valerie Everett,
all crowded around our resident Editor Extraordinaire, Dr Joanne Godfrey 

Peter Moss, Paul Bridges

Valerie Everett, Jo Godfrey, Betty Pyke, Anne Goodhue-Watkins, Mimma Tornatora

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Diggers Depart: WA line-up of commemorative events

There will be a line-up of events rolling out this week due to the 100-year World War I anniversary. 

On 31 October 1914 the first Western Australian troops departed from Fremantle on two troops ships. Two days later they joined the rest of the convoy that departed from Albany. This began their journey to active service in World War One. One hundred years on we commemorate their departure.’

One of them is a free community event being held on the Greenmount Primary School oval (next to the Blackboy Hill training site), which will include a massive line-up of activities including re-enactments, talks, games for kids, live music, story-telling and memorabilia displays including period bell tents. THURSDAY 30 OCTOBER, 5PM – 7.30PM.

KSP Writers’ Centre will be holding a stall with pre-order forms for the Blackboy Hill book due out next year. A PowerPoint display will feature snippets of the book so far and many photographs donated by the public. Bring your kids along to our marquee and take them through the process of World War I enlistment, with an attestation paper and fitness test!

Please find details on this and other Anzac departure events here:

Hope to see you there!

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

'Some Impressions of a Raw Recruit'

Published in the Camp Chronicle: Soldier's Paper, 16 December 1916

The whole article is pure poetry. Here is a snippet of my favourite parts...

"Ye who would view fair Melrose right
Go visit it by the pale moonlight."

Writes Scott, and ye who would see Blackboy Camp at its fairest go visit it at sunset, when the wooded hills draw about them their stately night-robes of purple shadow, and the fertile valleys change their striped afternoon frocks of emerald green vineyard and good red earth for quiet homely gowns of fading sage and grey.

Truly it is a spot that a poet might love. I have travelled much in WA, and I know of no places excepting Bridgetown and Albany possessing the same picturesque charm.

There is an exquisite harmony in the whole design. The bold bluff outline of the hill itself stands out against the wider background of Greenmount rising sheer above it; but between is a subtle grading of the valley and a slow ascent of vine-crowned terraces, with here and there a prosperous villa tastefully designed to blend agreeably with the landscape. The wider horizon conveys the same pleasing impression, as if this Blackboy Hill had been selected by some Thoreau or Whitman as a vantage ground from which to view a perfect scene at every point of the compass.

The camp itself is an ideal site for its purpose, not only as regards natural drainage, but for its hard sun-baked soil which, although dusty enough in all conscience when an Easterly wind blows, is nevertheless about as clean as a camp-site possibly could be.

[wandoo or white gum] Both red and flooded gums give a delightful shade much appreciated by the men when a kindly drill sergeant permits a few minutes rest and smoke-oh.

Tea break at Blackboy Hill campground during early years.