I love research.
I suppose it was all those years at university?
Or possibly the endless searching through history books, or peering at low-grade video of television shows to spy that elusive seam on a specific costume?
Perhaps it was uprooting the family to attend the Janet Arnold Costume Symposium in Florence (and my chance to see extant clothing up close and quiz the costume restorers)?
Not forgetting the painstaking translation from Italian to English of hard to find tomes. (A big shout out to our library system and local pick up service. Huzzah!)
My life has revolved around research for so many years – and for so many passions. I’ve fallen down the rabbit hole often.
This week I have found it hard to concentrate on my current work-in-progress. So I worked on a short story for an upcoming steampunk anthology. I had an idea. It was to be set near Adelaide. I just needed to check a few facts…
Bring on the procrasti-research!
At least it is something constructive (well that is what I tell myself). But what amazing things I learned! Who’d have thought I would start researching the copper and gold mines of the Adelaide Hills and end up discovering unknown (to me), exciting (again, to me) historical facts and yet another set of Adelaide firsts?
Let me share my finds with you (and guess which ones you’ll find in future stories):
- Copper mines in South Australia provided a significant percentage of the world copper supply in the nineteenth century.
- There was a large number of Cornish immigrants to South Australia, leaving the dwindling Welsh mines to work in the burgeoning South Australian mines.
- South Australia had the world’s largest copper smelts (outside Swansea -Wales), in 1849.
- Mining provided unprecedented economic growth in South Australia (1845-1877) promoting education, especially the University of Adelaide.
- Lady Alice Mine opened in May, 1870 at Humbug Scrub. It was a successful copper, quartz and gold mine – so close to home and just up the road from our friend’s place where we played D&D regularly for well over a decade.
- After Lady Alice Mine was depleted, the land was bought by Tom Paine Bellchambers – a noted conservationist – and became the first wildlife sanctuary established in Australia.
- In September, 1920 Sir Arthur Conan Doyle visited Adelaide, on a speaking tour. He traveled through (my home suburb) on his way to meet Mr Bellchambers and visit his sanctuary.
- Doyle wrote articles about his visit to the sanctuary (and Australia in general).
- He stayed at the Gibson’s Grand Central Hotel – now the Strathmore Hotel, in North Terrace, Adelaide. There is a plaque to commemorate the event.
So my research uncovered, not only titbits to use in future stories, but revealed the author of my beloved Sherlock Holmes visited Adelaide, traveling less than a kilometre from my home.
Oh. My. God!
I love the ideas inspired by research. I love its unpredictable nature, the twists and turns – like those that took me from copper, to wildlife sanctuary, Doyle.
All in one day.
- A Spiritualist abroad: Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s adventures in the Antipodes
- Lady Alice Gold Mine. The Advertiser. (Adelaide, SA: 1889-1931) Wed 1 Apr, 1903. Page 6. http://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/4934044
- Lady Alice Gold Mine. South Australian Chronicle (Adelaide, SA: 1889-1895) Sat 1 Feb, 1890. Page 16. http://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/91274605
- Mr Bellchambers at Home. The Register (Adelaide, SA: 1901-29) Thurs 30 Set, 21920. Page 7: http://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/57922675
- One Tree Hill Grape Vine. Oct, 2014. Vol. 37 Ed.9 http://cdn.onetreehillhall.com.au/201410.pdf
- Photo: “Awesome Adelaide. Plaque commemorat Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s visit to Adelaide in 1920. You will”
- Recognition of Mining Heritage in South Australia https://www.ausimm.com.au/content/docs/heritage_r_keith.pdf