Elsa Goody, Bushranger Author, Darry Fraser Shares the Real Story Behind the Tin of Gold

Elsa Goody, Bushranger Author, Darry Fraser Shares the Real Story Behind the Tin of Gold

In all of my stories, there’s something that has happened to me, or something that is a part of my personal history, the ancestral part. (There are always historical facts in my stories that have nothing to do with me!)

In Elsa Goody, Bushranger, Elsa’s siblings were three brothers, all deceased at the time the story opens, and a sister. Elsa and her father live on a very poor farm and in the distant past, the family moved there and purchased land. On that land, their father found a tin of thirty sovereigns, a fortune in those days.

The story behind that was true, in part, in my own family going back to the early days on the land in Victoria during the Depression. Legend has it my grandfather discovered the stash after he took up a land division. When no one came forward for it, he was very careful how he spent the find. A dirt-poor farmer would’ve had a hard time trying to change a sovereign back in those days, much less thirty of them. It was said that perhaps the previous land-holder had pigs, because the tin was found under what had been a stye.

My dad was three years old at the time the Depression in 1929 but things were already pretty terrible by then. He remembered having to set the rabbit traps in the early evening, then clearing the traps before school. The family skinned rabbits, used rabbit skin in their boots—when they had boots—sold rabbit skin and carcasses, and they ate rabbit, surviving the same way as many others. Dad never ate rabbit in his adult life but just when he stopped eating it, I’m not sure. I suppose as soon as he was old enough (and not hungry) to refuse it. He never wore felt hats either.

They had one horse. I don’t remember if I ever knew his name. Dad told me he rode him bareback to school some five miles away, with his younger brother on the horse behind him, and that was only after they’d done their chores. So Zeke’s kids in the story do the same.

Even though my book is set some years earlier than my family’s era, as a nod to Dad I added the rabbito kids to the story who would have been around in the day, ‘around the traps’. (Elsa and her sister Rosie meet the rabbito kids briefly.) The rabbit plague of South Australia and Victoria that started in 1870s and lasted into the 1890s offered many destitute people food and funds. In the 1930s, in my dad’s early years, rabbit numbers continued to do massive damage to crops and feed.

Back to the tin of sovereigns. I’m not sure I ever knew how the money was spent, or what my grandfather did on the farm. I have a fuzzy memory it might have been potatoes, but then I also remember being told that the land was too poor even for potatoes. (I wish now of course that I’d taken more notice.) I do know the family lived in Gippsland in Victoria, at Stony Creek, and also at Meeniyan. Dad’s early life is a mystery. He rarely spoke of it. Well, except for that one time when he played William Tell with bow and arrow, and his brother had the apple on his head.

I have this photograph, c1935, of Dad (taller) and his brother, with good clothes, a lunchbox, books and both wearing shiny new boots. Something good (however short-lived, we know that now) must have come from that tin of gold.

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                  Synopsis

                  Elsa Goody is a woman on a quest for buried treasure - and her own freedom. A thrilling historical romance adventure from a bestselling Australian author.1896 Robe, South AustraliaWhen Elsa Goody's father and brother George die in quick succession she and her sister Rosie are in trouble. Pursued by an unpleasant suitor with dubious motivation, Elsa leaves for Victoria on the hunt for a fortune in gold coins that her brother has hidden. If Elsa can find it she will be able to save Rosie and herself from married slavery.Their quest leads them on a cross-country journey to find the last man who saw her brother alive, Ezekiel Jones. But Elsa is not the only one looking for buried treasure. She and Rosie are beset by bushrangers and in the confusion Elsa is accused of being an accomplice. Luckily not everyone believes that Elsa is a criminal. When she finally catches up with Ezekiel, it's clear that for him she can do no wrong.But with everyone chasing her and bloody violence on the horizon, life is becoming increasingly complicated. Will she and Rosie ever manage to solve the mystery, find the gold and free themselves from a dark future?
                  Darry Fraser
                  About the author

                  Darry Fraser

                  Darry Fraser's first novel, Daughter of the Murray, is set on her beloved River Murray where she spent part of her childhood. Where The Murray River Runs, her second novel, is set in Bendigo in the 1890s, and her third novel, The Widow of Ballarat, takes place on the Ballarat goldfields in the 1850s. Darry currently lives, works and writes on Kangaroo Island, an awe-inspiring place off the coast of South Australia.

                  Books by Darry Fraser

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