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There is something compelling about ‘Going South Constructing the Railway - Kiama to Bomaderry’. It makes you want and sit down and read this well-researched book.
The powerful cover image makes you want to turn the page to find out more about the sheer laborious effort it took to get the South Coast rail line built.
With pick and shovel these workers, all those years ago, helped open up the region and we still benefit today from their sweat.
The book was produced as part of celebrations to mark the 125th anniversary of the arrival of the first train into Bomaderry.
Celebrations, on Sunday, June 3, start at 12.22pm at the Bomaderry station, with the book launch and other events to follow at Waratah Park.
There will be music, food, croquet, community and vintage car displays, but the highlight will be the book launch.
Going South was co-written by historians Alan Clark and Robyn Florance.
The authors did a great job and the book is full of wonderful stories and interesting facts.
The Shoalhaven Historical Society received a heritage transport grant to produce it and the authors did the rest.
Mrs Florance said they worked well together.
“I love researching but I am not so hot on the writing part and so I love Alan to use his red pen on my words when he edits my manuscripts,” she said.
Mrs Florance does get nervous about what the final product will look like, particularly when so much effort goes into the process.
“A book like this takes quite a long time to write,” she said.
“Researching is quite easy for me but setting out the chapters takes a bit of time. The research usually defines the chapters.
“Typing a manuscript takes a great deal of time as you need to add the reference to everything you write.”
She began the research and writing in April 2017 and the manuscript was completed by the end of February 2018.
Researchers enjoy finding out interesting facts as they go along.
“Every book I have written I have always found something interesting,” Mrs Florance said.
“I have a great admiration for the workers who used just pick and shovel and explosives to construct a line that is still here 125 years later.
“This project began with an album of photographs taken by Samuel Cocks recording construction of the railway line.
“Now we know how the line was constructed, by whom and when.”
Mrs Florance has written many books, including The Chinese in Shoalhaven, A Touch of Greece in Junction Street, Broughton Village in Past Times, The Nowra School of Arts, The Soldiers’ Memorial Gates and many others.
She is a rail supporter.
“I think a great deal of money is spent on putting more cars on the road which caused a great deal of traffic congestion,” she said.
“I have travelled on the underground in New York to get me from place to place and travelled on the railways in England.
“I have also travelled by train through parts of Australia.
“With the traffic congestion now on roads wouldn’t it be much simpler to upgrade the railway line which already exists?”
The always busy Mrs Florance has a few other books in the pipeline.
She added knowing about a region’s history was important.
“Knowing the past helps shape the future. People should be proud of the area they live in,” she said.
Books will be available at the Bomaderry launch on Sunday and at the Nowra Museum for $35.
This article first appeared on www.southcoastregister.com.au
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