Moving to Substack

2023 is the year I follow my intuition. Initially, this started with regard to stories. When I came across a little-known Sydney story, I decided to follow it. As I researched, the familiar feeling of anticipation washed over me. It was a story I had to write.

I decided The Dusty Box needed a refresh. Searching for a new theme took time. Investigating whether to move to one of WordPress’s full site editor themes took time. Tweaking it took time. Time away from research. Time away from writing. Nothing about my endless clicking felt intuitive. There had to be a better way.

Some people know that podcasting has been at the back of my mind for a while. Again, it’s something that takes time. The initial setup was also very overwhelming. Recording, editing, and finding somewhere to host it. I kept the goal at the back of my mind knowing I would revisit it when I was ready.

I felt stuck, not with writing and research, but with the website. Something wasn’t quite right. At the start of February, a flash of insight hit me: Substack.

I read other writers’ work on Substack, but until that moment, I hadn’t thought of moving there myself. After thinking about it for over a week, I set up an account for The Dusty Box. I wanted to see what it was like.

From the start, everything clicked into place. All the artwork designed for me in 2021 fitted perfectly. I moved my current story into a Substack draft and continued to work on it. I loved how it felt to write. I loved how it looked. I loved that I didn’t have to think about the nuts and bolts of a website. It all felt intuitive.

Substack has the option to add a podcast, so I added it. I thought of the artwork created in 2021 that had been waiting for years (my guilt ever-increasing that I hadn’t used it yet). I downloaded it from my files. Would it work? In a moment, it was uploaded. Again, anticipation rippled through me. It all felt right. I connected it to Apple Podcasts. The Dusty Box podcast was ready to go. I just needed to use my voice.

For the longest time, this, and solely this, has been what I want to do. To write, create, and bring little-known historic stories to life. Another benefit of Substack is that it allows writers to offer paid subscriptions. It means I can provide additional stories and information to those interested in reading more. In saying this, please only take up a paid subscription if you are financially able to. I plan to have plenty of stories available for everyone to read (and listen!).

Finally, the existing stories will remain on this website. Everything new will be on Substack. If you are a current or new reader and would like to receive stories direct to your inbox, please subscribe here: https://thedustybox.substack.com

Thank you always for reading and supporting The Dusty Box. I hope you will join me in a new intuitive space that, I feel, will enable me and my writing to grow.

History, WA History

Poisoned at Day Dawn

Dressed in her best clothes and halfway through drinking her tea, Georgina Hussey doubled over in pain. Unable to bear it, she went to lie down. In bed, she proceeded to have a fit. Horton Sibley, the man she lived with, hovered nearby. He decided to find a doctor. Before doing so, he asked their neighbour, Ellen Clarke, to sit with her. Ellen tried giving Georgina water, but it did not help. After reviving a little, she had another fit. Frightened, Ellen told her younger sister, Janet, to fetch their older sister, Sarah Ann.

Sibley returned without a doctor but received some advice from the chemist, Andrew Taite. It was of no use. Georgina knew her condition was fatal. As Sibley sat beside her, she turned to him and said, “Kiss me Jack, and say goodbye.” On 16 September 1906, at about 7 pm, less than half an hour since the pain started, Georgina Hussey died.

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Fashion, History

Sea Bathing in the Victorian Era

…it is, unquestionable that bathing in the open sea is, in itself, a powerful restorative agency, which many persons may employ with very great advantage.

Scientific American Volume 49 Number 07 (August 1883); Page 104; Sea Bathing

It was this belief in the sea’s ‘powerful restorative agency’ that resulted in the increased popularity of sea bathing throughout the Victorian era. People flocked to the beach to partake in the benefits of bathing as it was considered “absolutely essential to enable the skin to perform its important bodily functions…” Of all types of bathing, sea bathing was considered the best.

…but sea bathing excels all other modes of ablution in that it has a strong tonic effect on the system, and is combined with fresh air and thorough though not exhaustive muscular exercise.

The Port Augusta Dispatch, Newcastle and Flinders Chronicle (SA : 1885 – 1916); 2 November 1885; Page 2; Bathing
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Australian History, History

The Haunted Swing

Invented by Amariah Lake of New Jersey in 1893, the haunted swing was a Victorian era amusement ride. Participants entered a room and took a seat on the swing provided. When the ride got underway, the attendant gave the swing a push. As it moved, it appeared to rotate, creating an illusion that the people on the ride were upside down. In truth, the swing stayed in the same position, and it was the small room surrounding them that rotated.

The original patent for The Haunted Swing circa 1893. Courtesy of Espacenet.
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History, WA History

Rocky Bay Joe

Looking upon the decade as a whole, we can see that many interesting events took place throughout the 1830s. William IV succeeded his brother to the throne of the United Kingdom in June 1830. The Slavery Abolition Act 1833 (abolishing slavery in the British Empire) was passed. Charles Darwin set off on a voyage of discovery in 1831 with the information collected later used in his book, ‘The Origin of the Species’. On the other side of the world, Western Australia (settled by Europeans in 1829) was still only a fledgling colony.

It was also in the early 1830s (approximately 1833) that Joseph Byron was born and, unlike the aforementioned events, his birth would have gone unnoticed except to those closest to him.

Attempts to establish the place of his birth have thus far been unsuccessful. While it is possible he was born in England, there is also the chance that he was born elsewhere.

Later evidence indicates that Joseph was lucky enough to receive an education. He was literate which gives rise to the assumption that he came from a family of means. Nevertheless, as he grew older, a career in the military called to him.

Again, details of his life in the military are sketchy. He served time in India and may have been part of the forces in Jhansi during the Indian Rebellion of 1857. By early 1864 and in his early thirties, he was certainly stationed in Jhansi as it was there that he was court-martialled.

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The Cornish Pixie

On the night of Jan. 5th, 1905, a fearful storm raged on the South and South West coast of England. A vessel was seen making desperate struggles to keep her course. She was, however, lost to sight and the eager eyes watching, could see no more. Next morning some fishermen searching among a quantity of wreckage, discovered the mannikin, known as Dick Trelawny, tied to a beam of timber.

Washed up on the coast of Penzance in Cornwall, the fishermen who initially found Dick Trelawny eventually became wary of him and came to think of him as something sent to them by the Devil. He went to live with an old lady and, so the story goes, it was there he remained until Captain Jack Neville came across him.

Captain Neville said that he recognised the “importance of this little mite from a scientific and physiological standpoint…“and, after several Doctors looked him over, they came to the conclusion that Dick Trelawny was between 48 and 75 years of age, weighed over four kilos and was about 65 cms tall.

Cornish Pixie ImageHe initially spoke in a “guttural tongue” unable to be deciphered by linguists but soon learnt English and French.

His features, though pensive, are constantly illumined by a sweet smile which, with his merry little laugh and winning eyes, make him a most interesting and pleasant study.

He was given the name ‘The Cornish Pixie’ and agreed to go with Captain Neville to be exhibited around the world.

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