Launch of Ma's Garden Well Attended

Oct 30 2012
Launch of Ma's Garden Well Attended

This is a back to front photo of the old Printing Office in the Main Street of Trafalgar

On a beautiful late spring day the view of the Latrobe Valley was stunning as we gathered to give birth to 'Ma's Garden' the new novel that is set in this lovely place.
Here is a sampling of some of the emails I have received from people who came. We all had a wonderful afternoon.

I thought I'd write to tell you that a couple of days ago I finished reading Ma's Garden. I really did enjoy it. You've told a most interesting story about the family, and the community they become part of in Traf. The way you blended the details about the family along with the social history at the time of how the town and the district was developing was done very well. It was entertaining and a great read, and a really interesting way to present an aspect of family history in a semi-fictionalised genre. The people came across as very lively, 'real' people.

One question I have for you - you mentioned Christy's brother George, who appeared along the way in the story. I realise that you've fictionalised a lot of the details, but I'd be keen to know what actual information you may have about the real George (who of course was my great-grandfather). I don't have much information about him other than dates and places of birth and death, and that he died as a result of burns suffered in a bushfire at/near his property at Budgeree in 1905.

I spoke to Mum this afternoon and she's still reading it, and enjoying it, but she says she has to keep reminding herself it's fiction, as she gets caught up trying to 'correct' your dates/ages etc with what she knows happened with the members of the family. Funny.

Again, we both very much enjoyed the day helping you launch the book up at Traf, and having the opportunity to meet some of the Johnstone clan. It's amazing: the older I get, the more relatives I seem to discover I have.
Kerry Biram


Hi Elsie and Graeme,
Congratulations Elsie I did enjoy Ma's Garden and have left it with my sister to read. So many names were familiar and of course I knew all the streets. I was hoping that Margaret Donovan [Leo's wife] may have been there . I was in the same grade at St. Joseph's as Joan Good and Syd Slatter and both of them went to work for your paper. I know that Syd died but don't know about Joan who married Paddy Oates and went to live in Traralgon. You know there was a Mrs.Griffiths mentioned on page 229 I think and it's quite a coincidence that my grandfather came to Gippsland in 1900 but his sister and one of his brothers went to W.A.
Our neighbours were the Albert Magnuson family, The Bill Kenny family, the Boyles family and Mrand Mrs Rees. Betty, Joyce and Isobel Boyles were my playmates so it was nice to meet Elaine at the launch. Miss Smallacombe was a very dear friend to us. I did enjoy the chapter on the Morwell church. Did you know that Dean Coyne is buried in front of St.Laurence's here in Leongatha.?
Because I did a year of student teaching at Traf. State school I knew a lot of the non-catholic families too. IT was a great read for me and I wish you both lots of luck and success in the future. THANKS ANN Roughead.


Dear Elsie,

Apart from Barry's comments may I add a few.
Elsie thank you for the invitation. It was great to be with you all.
The weather was brilliant and to be in the beautiful environment made it
a very memorable day.
Elsie your organisation was much appreciated... the cushions and those
chocolates... a lovely idea.
Elsie enjoying the book so far...just so nice to live with the people..
Love and best wishes, will be in touch re show when we return from New Zealand
Johanna Sykes. Ansje.