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Guest blogger: Jennie Jones

15 May 2016

What brought me to Australia?

Jennie JonesSome might say it was because I married a Kiwi who had lived in Western Australia many years before travelling the world and meeting me in London. But that was just the next step in my fate, and one I couldn’t believe was really happening.

I became fascinated with Australia when I saw A Town Like Alice (1956 film and 1981 TV series) and then read the book, which remains one of my favourite books (I think we’re due a remake film too, aren’t we?). Then came the film My Brilliant Career. I then read the book, and My Career Goes Bung. Next came The Thorn Birds, and yes once again I saw the TV series before I read the book.

JJones much read books

So from my late teens to early twenties, although my life followed the path I’d arranged for myself, anything Australian caught my attention. Not that we had much news and views on Australia in Wales earlier than this. But once I got to London and lived in Earls Court for a while, news and views broadened and I even met actual Australians (this was novel and very exciting back in the early 80s). I had a date with one Aussie guy who told me he flew helicopters on his parent’s cattle property. I thought he might have been exaggerating, but hoped he wasn’t because I mean—wow! That didn’t happen in Wales. I needed to go to this country but couldn’t imagine it happening anytime soon.

Cue meeting my Kiwi husband-to-be some few years later. A wedding in Wales, a short two-year stay in New Zealand and on to Western Australia. I’ll never forget my Welsh roots of course, but I’m happy to love two places and call them home and I’ve now been here 20 years.

A number of years back, before I started writing, I turned my hand to family history and genealogy and discovered that not only did I adore this fascinating research, I was also quite good at it. I hoped to trace a convict or two in my family who’d been transported out here but haven’t yet found one. I thought perhaps I was the first in my direct family line (maternal and paternal) to land on Aussie soil. Then I discovered my Faulkners.

Deborah Faulkner, baptised 1818 in Staffordshire England and the sixth of eleven children, was my 4th great aunt (paternal side of my direct family line) and her sons George Faulkner (born 1839) and Edmund Faulkner (born 1842) my first cousins, five times removed.

Deborah is recorded as the mother of both boys, and there is no father’s name. In the census of 1841 she’s living in Staffordshire on independent means and she’s calling herself Ann (her mother’s name). But I wonder if the father was supporting Deborah in some way as her sister, Jane, was in the Union Workhouse by 1851 with three illegitimate children. This would have been Deborah’s fate had someone not supported her and the children.

By 1851 Deborah was living in Lancashire, working as a house maid, so perhaps her financial benefactor ended the support, or maybe died. Sons George and Edmund went to live with family members in Staffordshire. Deborah married John McLeod in February 1852 in Lancashire. John was a Scottish born farm bailiff working for the same family as Deborah. They sailed to Victoria, Australia c1852. Deborah died of fever in Collingwood in 1856, age 42.

But a little earlier, in 1855, four young men—her sons George aged 16, Edmund aged 14, and their cousins James and Joseph Bates—sailed to Australia on the clipper-ship Lightning.

Edmund Faulkner’s history is yet to unfold for me, as is that of his step-father John McLeod as I wasn’t able to find any records of either after the death of Deborah, although I have research possibilities but truthfully, I’ve been too busy writing books to do family history research in the last seven years. George Faulkner, Deborah’s eldest son, initially achieved the most solid and prosperous livelihood of all four young men who sailed on their adventure.

In 1860 George married Irish born Mary in Prahran, Victoria. Perhaps his brother Edmund died too because George and Mary named the first of their seven children Edmund (although he died, aged four). After the birth of their first child they moved to Stawell, Victoria where they stayed.


Concongella Vineyard gate (photo credit: Lisa Ireland)

During his life in Stawell, George Faulkner’s occupations were: gardener, market gardener, orchardist, and vineyard and garden lease owner.

On 27 Jan 1872 Pleasant Creek News (Stawell) reported that George Faulkner had taken on the lease for vineyard and gardens at Concongella Creek, Stawell.

I often wonder why I don’t write historical fiction. Maybe one day I’ll put something together combining historic fact with fiction, and tell a story of my extraordinary Faulkners.

If there are any Faulkner or Stawell readers here, please do get in touch as I have a lot of information from the UK side of things and I’m happy to share. Just email.


“To forget one’s ancestors is to be like a brook without a source, a tree without a root” (Chinese proverb)

JJones 4 generations grandmothers

Jennie’s grandmothers, mothers to daughters: 4th great grandmother, (sadly no photo of 3rd), 2nd great grandmother, great grandmother, and grandmother. The lady on the left is Mary Bates née Faulkner, Deborah’s older sister and mother to the boys who travelled to Australia with George and Edmund Faulkner.

Jennie Jones is a bestselling author of feel-good fiction with romance (and a touch of humour) at heart. Her books include the Swallow’s Fall series set in the Australian Snowy Mountains and A Heart Stuck on Hope, which is Jennie’s latest release from the A Dollar for a Dream series set in country New South Wales. 

You can find Jennie here: Website | Facebook

A Heart Stuck on HopeA Heart Stuck on Hope

A dying town, a desperate plan, and dreams that can be bought for a dollar…

Dulili is suffering a people drought, and now only a handful of young families and elderly residents are left. The locals put a plan into action to entice newcomers: offering the town’s empty houses to newcomers from anywhere in Australia.

There’s nothing left for Adele Devereux in Sydney: no job, no relationship, no hope, and no diagnosis for her shy, uncommunicative daughter Ali. So she packs her bags, takes her meagre savings, and moves her small family to the country. She never expects to meet Tom Wade, a man facing his own hopeless situation, but whose kindness reaches her daughter in an unexpected friendship. As the small town of Dulili attempts to regenerate itself, Adele finds herself drawn further in to the community – and into her attraction to Tom.

Tom is not back in Dulili to build a relationship. He’s there to heal wounds, help his grandmother, and make new plans. Plans that don’t come with his grandmother’s new tenant, part of the Dulili dollar scheme. But as Adele and Ali effortlessly work their way into his thoughts and his heart, he realises that there are two crucial elements that he left out of his long-term plans – the chance for love and renewed hope for the future.

Available from Amazon AU

  1. Veronica permalink
    17 May 2016 8:44 pm

    What a great article Jennie. I’m always fascinated by family history, mine and others.
    My mother and aunt have done a lot of research and I am descendant of convict stock. My grandmother was quite embarrassed by this and would tell us about it and then say ” don’t tell anyone .”

    • 19 May 2016 11:25 am

      Hi Veronica – oh, you have what I want! A convict in your history. I think there must have been many an extraordinary character sent over here. Not all of them true criminals either. So glad we can now appreciate what some went through, and that we can talk about it now too. Thanks for reading Veronica.

  2. Lynette williams permalink
    16 May 2016 10:31 am

    I have grown up knowing all my family history so I don’t need to do research thank goodness —LynW

    • 16 May 2016 10:51 am

      Lynette that’s an amazing feat! How lovely to know so much. Don’t lose that info (not that I think you will!) but keep it alive. 🙂

  3. 16 May 2016 7:00 am

    Hi Jennie. Thanks for sharing your story, and that of the Faulkners. How fascinating it would be to research the family. I have snippets of word of mouth history, going back to a possible part Aboriginal orphaned great great grandmother in Adelaide around 1890, and a disgraced English Lord, who renamed himself Lord Thunder when stepping off a convict ship in Tasmania. Heaven knows what his role was there, but I expect the convicts trembled at his name. Definitely great seeds for a past/present novel for me to get going on. So that’s the stories from my two grandmothers’ sides… Book two could be about the paternal side!
    I’m really look forward to reading the whole Dollar for a Dream series. What a fabulous idea. Best wishes, Jay.

    • 16 May 2016 10:53 am

      Hi Jay, goodness, Lord Thunder? That’s enough to get me trembling in excitement. I do hope you discover more about him one day, and also gr gr grandmother. It’s amazing what’s out there in our pasts! Thanks for your kind words about the Dollar for a Dream series too – me, and Lisa Ireland and Catherine Evans had an awesome time writing it and are now firm friends too. Not a bad result 🙂

  4. 15 May 2016 12:16 pm

    Hi Jennie

    WOW that was so interesting I love all of that we have a big family tree on the internet from my Dad’s side a relation who lives in Paris did all the work sadly I have not done any maybe one day.

    have Fun

    • 15 May 2016 1:01 pm

      I wish I had more time to continue my search, Helen, I really do. But I love that I got to do what I did when I had the time. Mine is quite an ordinary history, compared to some things I discovered about others’!

  5. 15 May 2016 11:45 am

    Hi Jennie
    You have done a lot of research. It’s exciting to find out the history of your family. Good that you have some photos.I really enjoy the SBS series on ‘Where do you come from’ or is it ‘Who do you think you are’. either way they put a good story together for the people they are researching with relative facts about the era.

    • 15 May 2016 1:02 pm

      Dee, I used to love watching that TV series too! Oh, to have those resources to hand. But I also enjoyed doing it my way – the hard and expensive way. 🙂

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