I decided to plug my last name into Google last night in an attempt to understand where my family came from…

It was thanks to that amazing search engine called Google that I discovered that the earliest records of the Ripper family (my Dad’s side) dates back to 16th Century in Cornwall, England, where they survived through farming and mining.

Due to a downturn in the Cornish economy, as for centuries Cornwall had depended on the export of tin and other ores, and with the discovery of new mineral deposits in Australia, that the first Rippers ventured to Australia (and surprisingly North America!).

The first Rippers arrived in South Australia on the ship “Lysander” in 1851.  I cannot believe I have actually located the ships log, which includes the names of 4 of my family – http://www.theshipslist.com/ships/australia/lysander1851.ht (oh Google – you truly amaze me!).  In those days, the trip averaged 110 days (I obviously did not get the sea-faring genes, as I still have not managed to survive a boat trip to Rottnest, which is a little island not far from the coast of Western Australia).  To put that into, perspective there were 3 births and 5 deaths on that journey.

Notably, immigration of the Ripper family followed the first fleets of convicts, trades people and early settlers to Australia, which means my family had been in Australia for more than 150 years (and that we did not appear to be convicts which actually surprised me!).

Which brings me to this century.   My Dad grew up on a farm in Quairading –  a country town a few hours out of Perth, with his parents and siblings, living off the land.  And when he grew up, well he became a miner – in nickel and gold.

So it seems that for hundreds of years part of my family were farmers and miners.

Technology is amazing! I would never have know had it not been for the internet and my friend Google!



I’ve wanted to write since I was little.  In fact, I still have the stories I wrote – and illustrated – in primary school, filed away in a falling apart folio, crammed into a box of  sentimental ‘stuff’ that I just cannot bring myself to throw out.  I decided to get them out yesterday, for old times sake (and as a way to motivate me to stop procrastinating and really get out there and do what I still want to do – which is ‘write’).

I’m especially drawn to ‘Kalgoorlie and the Sad, Giant Tomato‘.  This story was about a school science experiment gone awry. Janine (moi) accidentally creates a living, friendly, giant mutant tomato. His name is Vincent and he talks (it does appear that he was named after one of the dogs I had as a kid – Vincent – he died of cancer). One day, Vincent the Tomato runs away and hides in one of the mines in Kalgoorlie (where I lived as a little-un). There are a few ‘citings’ by people and hysteria spreads, as accusations are bandied about of ‘a big red blob’ attacking miners (witnesses refer to ‘it’ as being a Russian weapon – funny how a 10-year-old can pick up on what was going on in the news at the time).  Stereotypically, Vincent is just misunderstood (King Kong anybody?), and the story ends after a climax of helicopters, guns, army barricades, and tears. Vincent ends up shrinking back to his normal size – whilst remaining alive – with Janine and her best friends taking ‘turns of keeping the Tomato for a week each, at their houses…probably still doing it to this very day.’  I got an A+.  The spelling and grammar were atrocious.

Then there is ‘Time Zone‘, a 13 page story written in running writing, broken down into chapters, and illustrated by moi. This one involved time travel, had loads of dialogue between characters, a romantic sub-plot, mermaids, action and suspense.  I’m impressed – why can’t I create something like that now?  My teacher commented ‘A very imaginative effort Janine.  You have done well.  More care with spelling would improve your effort. I’m impressed how you’ve maintained your story line so well. Great descriptions.’ I wrote this in 1989 – I was 12, and as you can see, yes…I still had bad spelling.

And then there was my attempt at starting a teen series (at this moment in time I was obsessed with Sweet Valley High and Nancy Drew). This ‘master-piece’ was created on an old type-writer – so I’ll blame the inability to delete and correct spelling on the machine itself, and not on my apparent laziness…It was called ‘The Teens – The Night They Saved Daylight,’ and it was an adventure story with another romantic sub-plot (I’d graduated to a love triangle by now!), with the premise of a group of young teenagers saving the world from the ‘evil’ warlock, witch, and their ‘evil followers’ Gizmo and Gremlin.  This must have been written off of the back of my two weeks worth of nightmares as a result of watching the movie ‘Gremlins‘, which contained a Gremlin called Gizmo.  Although wasn’t Gizmo the nice one?

Of course, there are others.  There’s the collaborative efforts from primary school, that somehow I managed to physically keep. I do have a vague recollection that it wasn’t a very pleasant experience – tantrums and tears over who did the most work, and who ‘deserved’ to keep it.  I seemingly came out on top as I was good at tears…oops.  And then there’s the Uni years – where I will not acknowledge any of my poor attempts in the creative writing department (apart from the fact that I kept a ‘consistent’ writing journal). I will never take another creative writing course as long as I live, as I found it stifling, and it succeeded in ensuring that I did not write for many years to come.  Of course, after a bit of self-analysis, this can probably be blamed on my lack of confidence and inability to accept criticism at the time – so maybe ‘never’ was a bit harsh.

Which brings me to now. Writing, or should I say blogging, which is a form of writing.  This is my attempt to actually DO what I have told myself I should be doing all of this time, whilst sharing stories from my life, family, friends, pets, travels – and whatever else may flow through these fingers and end up in these ‘pages’.