Biggles in Australia by W. E. Johns was first published in 1955 by Hodder & Stoughton. There have been 7 editions altogether in the English language. The events in the book take place late in the early 1950s in Australia.
Note: The sections below contain spoilers. In particular, the plot subpage (click here) has an extended summary of the narrative in the book
The Special Air PoliceEdit
- Air Commodore Raymond
- Algy Lacey
- Ginger Hebblethwaite
- Bertie Lissie
Friends and alliesEdit
- Toto Wada
- Joe Hopkins
- Taffy Walsh
- Harry Larkin
- Johnny Bates
- Greeky Apergoulos
- Unnamed elderly mariner - at bar in Darwin. Gave Biggles background information about the Matilda, Boller, and the Daly River.
- Otter amphibian - Johns calls it a "Sea Otter" this time. The 2nd appearance of this aircraft.
- Handley Page Halifax
- Lockheed Constellation operated by Qantas
- Auster J1 Autocrat - VH-NZZ
- Singapore - transit. Algy and Bertie spend a few days here when their Halifax developed engine trouble.
- Broome Airport
- Continental Hotel
- Eighty Mile Beach
- MacLaren Hills
- Daly Flats
- In modern day Australia, the term "willy-willy" refers to a whirlwind on land, known elsewhere as a "dust-devil". However Johns' usage of "willie-willie" to refer a tropical cyclone does occur frequently in meteorological publications, even recent ones, especially those published in the United States. The glossary of the US NOAA notes that tropical cyclone was the former meaning. Significantly, a 1938 document by the Australian Bureau of Meteorology uses "willy-willy" to mean a tropical cyclone, as does a 1950 UK Air Ministry document. A History of Northwest Australia also notes that a cyclone was at one time called "willy willy" in that part of Australia. Hence Johns wasn't wrong but the meaning of the phrase has shifted, probably within the last 50 years.
References to the pastEdit
- In Chapter 1 Biggles mentions flying over a stretch of Northwest Australia, during events narrated in Biggles Works It Out.
- In Chapter 1, Biggles mentions he will use the Sea Otter last used in the West Indies (Biggles in the Blue). Significantly, he calls it "Sea Otter" and not "Otter".
- Chapter 2, Biggles meets West, a control officer at Darwin he had met previously.
In Chapter 11, Biggles sees an Auster landing at Darwin. Believing that it might be coming in to collect von Stalhein, Biggles instructs Algy and Bertie to stand by with the Otter and follow the Auster whenever it should go. A few paragraphs later, Johns states that the "Halifax's engines started up." Biggles tells von Stalhein that Algy would be going wherever von Stalhein was going. Johns next writes that von Stalhein was mentally working out the comparative speeds of the two machines (meaning his Auster and Algy's aircraft) and wrote that there was not much between them. There is obviously some confusion about which aircraft Algy was supposed to be using. If it was the Otter, it would be true that there was not much between it and the Auster. The Halifax would be much faster.
(see also table at Timeline of the Biggles Stories
- The previous air police story Biggles Foreign Legionnaire has a date range between May 1952 and Nov 1954. The British atomic bomb test at Montebello island mentioned in chapter 1 of this book took place in Oct 1952. But then again von Stalhein was not in Australia to collect data on the nuclear tests specifically--the geiger counter was intended to help in the prospecting of radioactive minerals useful for nuclear research,.
- ↑ Helen Helga Wilson, Cyclone coasts: Australia's north-west frontier, (Adelaide : Rigby, 1980), 98.