On a sunny Sunday morning on the 8th October, the Buffalo Rebels Road Crew set off on an adventure to the Nth East of Victoria for The Rebels of Mount Buffalo Pre-release Road Trip! The crew consisted of myself, my husband John, and our 15-year-old son Maxwell. I organised the tour myself, and it took many weeks of my life to get everything into place. I had some help from the fantastic Belinda at Edgar’s Books and News, who hooked me up with some local bookshops and press, and was kind and generous. My publisher made sure I had plenty of books, as it’s not yet officially released, and marketing materials. We packed the car full to the brim, Maxwell sitting beside 320 books!
As a person with type 1 diabetes and other chronic conditions, I will say honestly, it was not all smooth sailing. There were lots of alarms from my diabetes tech during talks, issues with getting said tech into line on some days, high blood glucose spikes from the post-event adrenalin surges, which with daily events was exhausting, and anxiety raising its head and making me feel like running home at times. I used my mindfulness meditation tracks each morning and whenever I felt overwhelmed, deep breathing, positive visualisation in a warm shower or bath, walking in nature, and my lovely family, to get through those moments. And I am incredibly proud of myself for juggling chronic conditions with the expected stress of a book tour like this one. I am also very proud of John and Maxwell for their hard work, love, and unending support.
Overall, book tour was an epic experience, with some moments of difficulties, much magic, lots of laughter, memory making, and warm and welcoming people everywhere we went. I would go back and do it all again in a heartbeat.
As a debut author, this was all new to me, although I have spoken to many different groups of people in my life, here and overseas. Once I was up there in front of students in schools and library groups and in bookshops, and at The Chalet event, I was in my element. I had a few people remark that I was made for this and it certainly feels that way! I have definitely found my place in the world for the rest of my days. Although, a little break between such big road trip tours is needed!
We drove the first day to gorgeous Lake Boga and slept the night. On the Monday morning we headed off for Bright, after meeting the lovely folk at the Lake Boga Catalina Flying Boat Museum, as they’ve asked me to speak at their International Women’s Day event in February! My next book is a WWII story, mostly set at the secret Flying Boat Base.
Our first event on the Tuesday morning was a visit to Myrtleford P-12 College to speak with the year 5 and 6 classes, followed by Bright P-12 after lunch. The students and teachers were very enthusiastic and many of them had been to Mount Buffalo and some knew who Guide Alice was. The old cameras were a hit, and they loved the reading and getting involved creating historical fiction stories. Some bought books, others rushed home to tell their parents to go to the bookshops to get copies, and to come to my signing event on Saturday! So many brilliant questions, and surprisingly, LOTS wanted my signature on pieces of paper and my bookmarks. It was quite surreal…I was blown away by how many young people love books and authors!
Wednesday morning bright and early, we loaded the car and made our way up to The Gorge at Mount Buffalo for the Chalet event. This was my dream from when I first began writing the book. And what an incredible day we had! Thank you so much to everyone who came to celebrate with us. The Rebels Road Crew were kept very busy! Everyone wanted to hear the history and the inspiration behind the book. About 8 people turned up who are relatives of Guide Alice’s oldest brother, which blew our minds. Her granddaughter Anne joined us, and some local legends of the mountain. We walked afterwards across some of the trails and took a lot of photos and videos. I wanted to stay there forever.
The sun was shining bright and bold, and the Chalet had her best dress on. Mount Buffalo was glimmering gold. Thank you to the 100 or so people who drove up the mountain on a mid-week morning to celebrate with us. Thank you for being so passionate about The Rebels of Mount Buffalo and the history of this wonderful place, for asking me so many questions, and for buying copies of the book. I had no idea that many people would want books and had to go into a signing and lyrebird stamping frenzy!
Thank you to Parks Vic and the rangers who opened the Chalet and hosted us for the morning. Thank you to Alice’s granddaughter, Anne, David from Visit Mount Buffalo and Mandy who lives on the site of Alice’s hotel, for joining us, and all of the Manfield descendants who turned up!
And most of all, thank you to John and Maxwell – the best road crew anyone could ever ask for. I could never have done it without you. Here is a small sample of the day.
The next day, we shifted to Wangaratta, quickly unpacked, and drove to Yarrawonga, where we met the lovely Sue from Yarrawonga News & Gifts who is now stocking The Rebels of Mount Buffalo and three year 5/6 classes at Yarrawonga College P-12, one of which was my Author penpals class! We’ve been exchanging letters all year. The children were so excited!!! As was I. Their concentration and engagement were incredibly high, and there were many brilliant questions. They even asked me to read them my first ‘published’ book I wrote when I was 6 years old, and they loved it! They also knew about type 1 diabetes as their PE teacher has it. A real treasure of a day. Many students went away inspired, and my heart was full. I could have easily spent the day with them. ‘This is living the dream,’ I said, at the end of the day. 😍
On Friday, we went to Albury for a talk with the Junior Book Club at Albury Library Museum & Lavington Library. They were all very interested in books and reading and meeting an author. They loved creating a historical fiction story together. It’s a fantastic library with a gorgeous Story Tree!
It was an overcast and blustery day when we drove back to Bright on the Saturday, but the audience at Alpine Shire Council Bright Library were warm and welcoming. There was a brilliant response to my talk. I met Colleen from the library, who I’d been working with in the lead-up, and nearly everyone bought a book! Next we spent an hour at Bright Newsagency where we met a few fans, some lovely locals and another Manfield family descendant! Simon and Wanida are now stocking the book at the Newsagency.
Then we visited Guide Alice at the graveyard, where we had been before. I read her some of the book, left flowers and thanked her for being a guiding light. It was pretty special. And a group of kangaroos were hanging by the graves.
We finished Saturday with a gorgeous experience in Beechworth meeting Charles from Beechworth Books and leaving copies there, as well as having some family tourist time in this very pretty historic town. Sunday was a rest day and we took things slowly and walked along the river in Wangaratta.
We had a great day in Wangaratta on the Monday, starting with me speaking with four classes of year 5/6s at St Patrick’s, who were very attentive for a Monday morning! Later in the day, we met the lovely Liz and Belinda at Edgars Books & News for an in-store event, where Guide Alice’s granddaughter Anne joined us to mingle with customers.
My final school visit was on the way from Bright back to Lake Boga on Tuesday, with my author penpals class from Tatura Sacred Heart and their fellow year 5/6s. It was wonderful to meet students I had been writing to, and to inspire interest in books and history!
I was unwell when we got to Lake Boga, with some chronic illness issues, but I rested in bed and managed through it, and was bright and ready for the final drive home.
There were bits that were difficult and the odd ‘what happens on book tour stays on book tour’ moment! But overall, it was a dream come true and a great way to welcome The Rebels of Mount Buffalo into the world. I’ll always hold the special parts, especially the day at The Chalet and on the mountain, in my heart and memories.
The Rebels of Mount Buffalo officially releases into bookshops on 30th October and is making its way into stores and libraries now! You can find it online in various places for pre-release. If your bookshop or library doesn’t have it in, just ask them to get it for you. My Adelaide events will begin with a launch on 29th October at Burnside Library. Book here.
Thank you again to everyone who embraced us on this tour. It was more than I could have imagined and a wonderful introduction to life as a children’s author on the road.
We will be back in the region again in the future!