I love social history – how ordinary people lived, forgotten stories, ruins, relics, mysteries – Christmas Island (Indian Ocean) has the lot!
I have visited Christmas Island six times now. The first trip was in 2016 with my husband, some family and several friends. For them it was a very special and emotional trip. A return to their old home; the place where they had grown up. Some hadn’t been back in 31 years; others even longer. Our family’s tie to the Island started in 1973 when my father-in-law left Penang to work on “the rock” and we have family and friends living on the Island.
On that first trip my husband and his sister were very fortunate to be able to walk through the front door of their childhood home and explore inside. Their house in Settlement, opposite the CLA (Chinese Literary Association), had been converted into a museum; a plaque on it’s wall showing its opening date sharing the same day and month as my husband’s birthday!
For me, I was a newcomer. 30 years of hearing stories about Christmas Island made it feel familiar to me. Yet I carried no expectations other than to share the happiness of my travelling party returning to their young past.
What I didn’t expect was for the island to cast its spell on me almost immediately. I was mesmerised by the lush jungle, stunning land and seascapes and wildlife. The locals were lovely, and I made new friends. (You can read the various personal stories of Christmas Islanders at christmasislandstories.org.au) The hectic and chaotic outside world just melted away. I spent the next 10 days visiting and exploring and along the way discovering that the Island is also a very spiritual place.
The early history of the Island, coupled with ruins, old sites, an exciting find and stories from friends and family piqued my curiosity to an all time high. So on my return, I started researching for more information about this tiny dot in the ocean and sharing my findings with an online group of over 600, mostly former and some current, Christmas Islanders.
After some time I realised that it was a shame that my findings were restricted just to the online group. I decided I had accumulated enough material to populate a website so the information could be more widely available. This is how the ever growing and unique “Christmas Island Archives” website, has come about.
Perth, Western Australia
Author of “Christmas Island Archives” and
“The Roebourne Bank Murders” websites.