Kathleen’s Voyage: A Love Story

20 April 2021

Kathleen’s Voyage: A Love Story

Caption on bottom

Join curator Margot Riley for an online talk for the State Library Foundation and Friends about the illustrated logbooks of the voyage of the Kathleen Gillett (1947–48) by Jack Earl, one of the founders of the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race. Currently on display in the Amaze Gallery, these lovingly crafted artworks were created during only the second circumnavigation of the world by an Australian yacht.

From the start of their happy married life, Sydney sailor and marine artist Jack Earl and his wife Kathleen shared the romantic ideal to build the perfect boat and sail around the world. It took every penny they had and six years, from 1933 to 1939, to construct their sturdy little ketch, carefully crafted and designed to withstand ocean sailing. But, delayed for eight years by the Second World War, the couple reluctantly realised that to achieve their goal, Jack would have to leave his wife and young family behind. The voyage of the Kathleen Gillett captured the Australian post-war imagination as a symbol of escape: the kind of adventure most people could only dream about.

Setting out with his crew of four from Sydney Harbour in June 1947, throughout the 18-month long journey, Jack created a series of 12 beautifully illustrated logbooks to share the adventure with his young family back home in Sydney. The logs became an extended love-letter to Jack’s wife, the original Kathleen for whom the yacht was named.

They were acquired by the Library from the Earl family in 2018 and are now on display for the first time.

The opinions expressed in this talk reflect those of the presenters. They do not represent the views of the State Library of NSW.