Busselton Jetty. Gus and Effie swam off the jetty here.

Busselton Jetty. Gus and Effie swam off the jetty here.

Historic Australian circus photos by Mark St Leon. An excellent book about the history of the circus in Australia. I read many of Mark St Leon's books while researching the history of Australian circuses for my novel. The St Leon's were a famous Australian family of circus performers.

Historic Australian circus photos by Mark St Leon. An excellent book about the history of the circus in Australia. I read many of Mark St Leon's books while researching the history of Australian circuses for my novel. The St Leon's were a famous Australian family of circus performers.

Six generations of the Ashton family have performed in Australian circuses.

Six generations of the Ashton family have performed in Australian circuses.

This performer is doing a 'dental' act - similar to the sort of act that the character Vytas Gatevackas performed in the novel Zarconi's Magic Flying Fish.

This performer is doing a 'dental' act - similar to the sort of act that the character Vytas Gatevackas performed in the novel Zarconi's Magic Flying Fish.

Australia has a long circus tradition. From 1848, circus was one of Australia's favourite forms of entertainment. Because of the great distances between towns, travelling circuses were one of the few forms of entertainment that reached every Australian.

Australia has a long circus tradition. From 1848, circus was one of Australia's favourite forms of entertainment. Because of the great distances between towns, travelling circuses were one of the few forms of entertainment that reached every Australian.

I interviewed Doug and Phyllis Ashton several times while researching and writing Zarconi's Magic Flying Fish. Warm, generous and great storytellers, many of their anecdotes about their lives as circus performers worked their way into my novel. Doug told me many stories about riding the Ashton family circus, Mother, when he was a boy. His stories of Mother helped me create the elephant character of Kali in the novel.

I interviewed Doug and Phyllis Ashton several times while researching and writing Zarconi's Magic Flying Fish. Warm, generous and great storytellers, many of their anecdotes about their lives as circus performers worked their way into my novel. Doug told me many stories about riding the Ashton family circus, Mother, when he was a boy. His stories of Mother helped me create the elephant character of Kali in the novel.

Gus's journey across South Australia and Western Australia - map by Elwyn Murray, fish motif by Geoff Kelly.

Gus's journey across South Australia and Western Australia - map by Elwyn Murray, fish motif by Geoff Kelly.

Cover of Zarconi's Magic Flying Fish - 2nd edition 2006.

Cover of Zarconi's Magic Flying Fish - 2nd edition 2006.

Original cover for the 1999 edition of Zarconi's Magic Flying Fish, designed by Sandra Nobes. Cover art by Geoff Kelly.

Original cover for the 1999 edition of Zarconi's Magic Flying Fish, designed by Sandra Nobes. Cover art by Geoff Kelly.

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