13 Things You May Not Know About Me, Nor (perhaps) Be Likely to Ask

Some things simply don’t come up naturally in a conversation –

Why my eyes are two slightly different colours 

Getting married in a 6-seater airplane over the Indian Ocean

I drew the maps for Lonely Planet’s 1st edition of Australia  

So here are 13 things you most likely don’t know about me, Linda Fairbairn… Nor (perhaps) would think to ask?

1. I worked in the Great Sandy Desert of Western Australia.

I’m mesmerized by outback Australia, and dreamt of living and working out bush.
Focus on a dream hard enough and you can get drawn into its reality!
So from the Pilbara in Western Australia to the Gulf of Carpentaria in Queensland I’ve worked on all manner of geological projects in outback Australian bush camps.
Most were 3-month stints, where with the annex of my canvas tent as an office, which in places like the Great Sandy Desert meant in sweltering heat, I’d draw up the geology maps from the geologists’ messy field notebooks and create sun print copies to work on. (For elaboration read my post: Sun printing in the Great Sandy Desert)

linda fairbairn

2. I repainted the numerals on an historic town hall clock dial in Australia’s savannah gulf country 

When on an exploration job investigating the gold tailings in Croydon (in the Gulf of Carpentaria – 560km west of Cairns in tropical north Queensland), which in its heyday had mined more than 40 tons of gold…

croydon gold

I put my drawing abilities to good use by restoring the roman numerals on the dial of the [huge] historic Croydon Town Hall Clock (seen in its hey day in the photo below), as a goodwill gesture for the local shire.

Croydon Town Hall

3. I first left England to travel when I was 18

My (now) husband and I set out on our first travel adventure to Nord Kapp (Europe’s most northerly point) north of the Arctic Circle when I was 18. By the time I was 22 we’d traversed 30 countries across the globe to Australia and back again overland through south east Asia (including Burma), India and Nepal and the middle east (via the Khyber Pass to Afghanistan), Turkey and finally Europe.

4. We were married in a 6-seater plane over the Indian Ocean.

The pilot was one witness, a TV channel 9 camera man was the other witness.
I’ve never changed my name.

5. We chartered a helicopter to pick up my mother from Brisbane airport.

When my mother made her first trip to Australia to visit us we were living on a 100 acre property in northern NSW accessed via corrugated and pot-holed dirt roads –
My unsuspecting mother was arriving with a broken knee, so my husband suggested we should chopper her in as it would be a more comfortable option.
We met her at the airport (after her 24 hour journey) and whisked her off to the helipad where her first view of the Australian landscape was seeing Mt Warning from above through the fish bowl glass bottom of a helicopter. 😉

NSW pictorial map

6. It took me a month to plant 2,500 rainforest trees on our 100 acre property.

Situated in the sub tropics, at the base of the Border Ranges National Park, in northern NSW (part of the Gondwana Rainforests of Australia World Heritage Area), our land had been previously cleared for farming, and subsequently become degraded and weed infested (thick lantana). Needing rejuvenation, each day for a month I planted a selection of bush tucker trees, and a mix of 2,500 native rainforest timbers.

7. I drew the maps for Lonely Planet’s 1st edition of Australia and Burma

I drew little pen and ink pictorial maps of each of Australia’s States and Territory, applying numbered regions that were then expanded upon in the text (see NSW above). And city maps highlighting some of the main attractions. (eg Adelaide below) ~ Click here to see more of the originals 🙂

Adelaide pictorial map in Lonely Planet's 1st edition of Australia

For Burma (as it was then called) I created three pictorial city maps for Rangoon, Mandalay and Pagan, which I illustrated with its many temples.
When we had travelled through Burma a few years previously, it had been at the time of the water festival – So when I sent the finished maps to Tony, I enclosed a letter telling him the tale of my water festival experience. He published it as part of the book.

8. The first home I bought was a cobbler’s cottage in York, Western Australia. 

Bygraves Cottage was built by the shoe maker Samuel Bygraves in about 1880 in York, which is Western Australia’s oldest inland town (100 km west of Perth).
Built of red brick, inside you looked right up to the open high pitched jarrah lined roof. Adjacent to the cottage was the cobbler’s separate workshop.
It’s a listed National Trust property.
A stray cat came to live with us here – We called him Sam.

bygraves cottage

9. My right eye is a slightly different colour to my left eye

When renovating our 16th century stone cottage in north Wales, GB I was up a ladder re-plastering the under side of the slate roof between the batons using a traditional lime mash when a splodge of the white lime mix didn’t stick and fell back into my eye – My eye turned an immediate smoky white. It took many weeks to clear… but the scarring of the cornea has left its mark by way of a darker coloured tinge.

10. I was invited to a Garden Party at Buckingham Palace

Where, I had tea with the Queen

11. I used to restore antique painted Grandfather Clock dials.

My husband has a passion for old clocks and watches. He finds them in various states, then carefully repairs the movements – I initially did his dials but it developed into a business.
I am lucky enough to have a very great friend who’s a renowned painting conservator so she guided me on how to conserve, rather than merely restore.
Where the paint had totally flaked off due the metal plate rusting (see left hand image below – ‘before’) I’d remove the yellow aged varnish (so as to see the original true colour) and then investigate under a magnifying glass what had gone (but left feint hints) so as to reconstruct and infill the missing area – see the right hand image below for the ‘after’ of this one.

grandfather clock dial

The dials with a rolling moon in the arch (showing the 29 and a quarter day lunar cycle) often had quirky antique maps of global hemispheres, which required careful retouching having been virtually erased from years of being ‘wiped clean’. These mini-arches cover a section of the moon dial as it revolves throughout the month so the moon appears to be waxing and waning.

longcase clock dial

12. I’d never have thought of drawing maps as a career if it wasn’t for…

chance encounter at Darwin airport with a German guy called Henning. He was a draughtman for a mineral exploration company who, in the course of this passing conversation said his workplace needed a ‘tracer’ –

“What”, I asked, “is a ‘tracer’?”

Two weeks later I was one 😉

13. The inspiration behind Journey Jottings is early day explorers

Early day explorers had a burning desire to see what lay over that next horizon, then record what they saw and experienced by dotting their routes on self-created maps whilst jotting reminders in the borders.
Modern day travellers have a burning curiosity to discover what lies beyond the bounds of their everyday lives.
My quest is to offer travellers and holidaymakers an enchanting way to recount and recall their adventurous highlights with pictorial travel journal maps to plot their trails, allowing space around the edge for annotating their fun travelling tales.

explore australia

 Have I missed anything?

Or is there a story that needs elaboration?

Fire away in the comments below 😀


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25 thoughts on “13 Things You May Not Know About Me, Nor (perhaps) Be Likely to Ask

  1. Well, we have at least one thing in common … but MY eye story is due to iris disintegration turning my right eye black. My left eye continues, for the moment, blue!

    For someone like me who doesn’t even share my name, you’re very game!!! It’s all very fascinating – perhaps you should expand on everything and turn it into an autobiography!!!
    Red Nomad OZ recently posted..7 Days … from Adelaide to Darwin!My Profile

    • So its not just us both loving travel in Australia that has us saying ‘SNAP’!
      Life itself takes us on such an interesting journey thought it would be fun to share a few of those stories too this week 🙂

  2. WOW! What fascinating things you have done for both work and in your personal life and yes, lots of things I did not know. Love the York cottage and fancy that, you have starred in a Lonely Planet edition. I hope you have a copy of it! 😉

    • I think like me Kirsty you love the countryside –
      The cottage in York was gorgeous… as was our old stone cottage in Wales set on the side of a hill overlooking the sea… *sigh*!

      I do have a copy of the 1st Lonely Planet edition of Australia (and also the one for Burma)
      – and the hilarious thing is it’s all of about, ONE cm thick!
      A tad skimpier than the thick current editions – which then have whole books dedicated to sub-topics! 🙂

  3. Some great stories Linda, loved reading them. I have started writing a series of eBooks the first one is on our website called ‘Characters and Campfires‘ when I was driving roadtrains in the Kimberly, hope you have a min to read it. I plan to write about 9 more.
    Love your work.

    • Thanks for dropping by Graham –
      You certainly have some great yarns to tell about your roadtrain exploits!
      And your flight tours to outback Australia look very exciting –
      I’ll have to try one sometime 😉

  4. Hi Linda
    What fascinating stories. I enjoyed hearing about some of the amazing things you have done,and particularly loved number 12.
    Isn’t life amazing the way things sometimes take us by surprise? Of course you had prepared for the opportunity and that made it yours to take.
    I am going to do a “Things you might not know about me” blog as soon as I can. Thanks for sharing.

    • I’m a great believer that if you’re open to opportunity wonderful things happen!
      When I bumped into Henning I didn’t even know what a draughting pen looked like…
      But it ‘felt’ as though it could be interesting so I took the opportunity to veer off one track and explore another!

      It’s surprising when you stop to think about it, what you have done in the past!
      I look forward to reading what you come up with!! 😉

  5. What interesting facts about you Linda – you have led a fascinating and interesting life. Loved reading these facts about you ?

    • Its surprising when you sit down and think about it what one has done – You should try it Kerry!
      But looking back makes me think all the more what else I need yet to get done 🙂

      Amusingly I’ve just heard from the British Library in London that they’re going to include the original hand drawn maps that I did for Lonely Planet’s 1st edition guide book on Australia in an upcoming exhibition – May have to pop over there to see that! 😀

    • The cottage is on the south bound road on the edge of town heading for Beverley ~
      I’ve often wondered if the pictorial map I did is still on a board in the centre of the High Street with a ‘You are here’ arrow right in the middle??
      York is a gorgeous little place 🙂

    • No – we sold that little piece of paradise and have been living overlooking a glorious Bay inhabited by a mass of wonderful coastal birds – Pelicans, egrets, ibis, sea eagles, black swans and spoonbills; as well as a marvelous array of sea creatures – dolphins, stingrays, dugongs (like a Manatee) and loads of turtles!!
      But our feet are beginning to itch and we’re looking forward to doing a little more travel this coming year 🙂

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