5 chapters to go

The weekend was productive because I managed to get through four chapters in total. This means that I’ve not only gone past the three quarter mark, I’ve only got five chapters to go. Hopefully I’ll be finished by the end of the month.

April is the first workshop for the 2005 anthology so if I do manage to get the rewrite finished, I’ll be able to focus 100% on what has to be done with the workshop. That will suit me just great.

Getting back to my manuscript–the next five chapters were edited only a few months ago, so I don’t expect these chapters to be difficult. Then, I will send the whole thing off to the editor and see what comes back. 🙂

Bubonic Plague in Australia

Some people believe the plague ended in the seventeenth century, but this is not so. There have been many outbreaks around the world right up to the present time.

In mid-January 1900 bubonic plague made its first recorded appearance in Australia, being officially declared in Adelaide on the 15th of the month and in Sydney four days later. The Adelaide outbreak subsequently came to very little. In the case of Sydney, however, the disease, introduced by infected rats aboard overseas vessels berthed at Darling Harbour, quickly invaded the nearby dockside streets and within a few months had spread to encompass much of the city.

The death toll was nothing like European outbreaks. Yet it must be remembered that although Australia is a large country, the population was small. Between February and August 1900 some 300 persons were struck down by the infection, of whom more than 100 died. Probably the toll was much higher due to misdiagnosis and the fact that many cases went unreported.

Sutton Forest Butchery. No. 761 George Street, Sydney, 1900 - photo courtesy of State Library of NSW
Sutton Forest Butchery. No. 761 George Street, Sydney, 1900 – photo courtesy of State Library of NSW
Johnstone's Lane, Sydney (NSW) - photo courtesy of State Records NSW
Johnstone’s Lane, Sydney (NSW), 1900 – photo courtesy of State Records NSW

Like all plague outbreaks, the epidemic caused a degree of human tragedy and suffering out of all proportion to the numbers of cases and deaths actually involved. More than 1750 people were uprooted from their homes and forcibly quarantined at North Head. Many homes and outbuildings were demolished, fences knocked down, sanitary conveniences destroyed, chattels removed and people virtually turned out on to the streets. Whole districts of Sydney were cordoned off, quarantined and invaded by an army of “sanitary inspectors” and public cleansing teams.

Exeter Place, taken during Cleansing Operations, Quarantine Area, Sydney, 1900 - photo courtesy of State Library of NSW
Exeter Place, taken during Cleansing Operations, Quarantine Area, Sydney, 1900 – photo courtesy of State Library of NSW
Professional ratcatchers, Sydney, 1900 - photo courtesy of State Library of NSW
Professional ratcatchers, Sydney, 1900 – photo courtesy of State Library of NSW

Curfews were imposed upon infected zones of the city and people’s right of movement were severely restricted. Organised teams were engaged to collect and kill rats (and in some cases domestic dogs and cats). Popular cures and home remedies became vogue. Especially blood purifiers, bile beans, Dr Morse’s Indian Root Pills and uncontaminated dairy products. One senior government minister went as far as to urge people to burn barrels of pitch and tar in the streets to purify the air.

The outbreak of 1900 highlighted the inadequacies of Sydney’s sanitary and housing situations, and also demonstrated that the public authorities were unable to cooperate and act decisively in times of crises.

There were twelve outbreaks of bubonic plague between 1900 and 1925. In total 1371 cases were reported and there were 535 deaths. The 1920’s saw most cases reported in Queensland.

There has been no further outbreak of the plague in Australia since 1925.

**Reference: Plague in Sydney: The Anatomy of an Epidemic by Peter Curson & Kevin McCracken

Want more photos?

Visit Library of NSW. Click on “Context” located in the darker grey navigation bar (the second one, not the top one). Then click on the volume you wish to view. Now click on “Images” located in the navigation bar. Each volume has about 65 photos to view. And believe me, they are worth looking at.

Most Common Names

I’ve decided to change the name of my fantasy world.

Firstly, because there is an online fantasy game using the current name and even though I can prove I’ve been using the name for at least 8 years, I don’t want to bother with any legal hassles later on should this story find a publisher.

Secondly, the existing name doesn’t fit with the history. So I have decided to change that. In truth, one man would name the world and I believe he would connect the fantasy world with his past. The logical answer would be that he’ll name the world after his deceased mother and his beloved wife. He will use their christen names to come up with an unusual name for the world. Or, perhaps he’d use the name of his former property which would be a combination of his parents names. Lastly, he might bring his political outlook into play.

Hence, I need to know what the Most Common Names of the early 1600’s were. I will then have to play around with the names until I find two names that (in part) will join together to become the new name of my fantasy world.


I have to find a strange, awkward name that will be the “real” name of the world, but it won’t play a big part of the story and even when the truth is discovered, the characters will continue to use the name they know.

Fantasy World Names

Yesterday I discovered that there’s an online fantasy game which uses the same name as my fantasy world. The fact that the fantasy game’s name describes the land is even more disturbing, because should my novel be published I wouldn’t want anyone to think I stole the name even though I’ve been using it for over 10 years and well before the internet existed.

So what do I do?

I considered changing the name but felt loathe to do so because I haven’t stolen anything and why should I change something that means so much to me?

But then…I came up with another thought (which is dangerous). A few weeks ago, I gave my fantasy world a complete new history. At the time, I never gave the names of the two kingdoms a thought but perhaps this is the time to think on that.

I’ve already got some ideas running around in my mind so I will give this some thought and let you know what I decide to do.

The Plague

Book 3 of my trilogy will deal with the bubonic plague. Although I know a lot about this disease because I’ve already researched it through my love of Medieval times, there are certain facts that I need to know for my book. A friend’s husband, who is a pharmacist, has graciously offered to help me get the facts right. Many thanks go to the Ramseys.

My main character needs to know the basic facts of The Plague, such as it’s transmitted by rodent fleas. The link provided gives a brief history which will be a great refresher course.

I’m told that the drug of choice for treatment of the plague is streptomycin (an aminoglycoside antibiotic).

Aminoglycosides are derived from a type of bacteria – actinomycetes – streptomycetes are one species.

This link gives more information on streptomyces – found commonly in soil worldwide, and compost – they are easy to culture or grow and can feed on many substances.

Thank you, Terry, for the above information and all the other details you provided. I now know that my character can cultivate a cure for the plague and take it back to a fantasy world and save some lives. What a relief!