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Big Sky festival: Open house at famed Geraldton author Randolph Stow’s old family property a literary delight

Phoebe PinMidwest Times
Author Brigid Lowry reads some of Randolph Stow's work.
Camera IconAuthor Brigid Lowry reads some of Randolph Stow's work. Credit: Phoebe Pin

Few people have the chance to revisit the homes in which their favourite literary works were penned or inspired by, but this was the experience of those who visited the former residence of Geraldton-born author Randolph Stow’s grandparents at the weekend.

The open house at Weelaway was organised as part of the Big Sky Readers and Writers Festival.

Author Brigid Lowry read snippets from Stow’s poems and his book Merry-Go-Round in the Sea, which contains many references to the house.

Now owned by Geraldton residents Jackie Gill and Brian Poller, the property was purchased by then-Geraldton Mayor and Stow’s grandfather George Sewell in 1922.

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Weelaway House was once owned by the grandparents of Randolph Stow
Camera IconWeelaway House was once owned by the grandparents of Randolph Stow Credit: Phoebe Pin

Ms Gill said Stow’s sister Helen recently returned to the family home to explain what life was like during Geraldton’s formative years.

“Helen came and stayed with me a couple of years ago and bought the Sewell family map ... she spent the whole day here telling me what the house was like and what Geraldton was like at the time,” she said.

“The kitchen was originally just two deal tables … which is an old pine table that would be scrubbed and it was used as a cooking surface. The house was originally called Heathcoate House when George Sewell bought it.

“He renamed it Hadleigh House because the Sewell family had come from a place called Hadleigh in England.” Ms Gill and Mr Poller now run an AirBnB at Weelaway, with rooms named after Stow and other authors with connections to Geraldton.

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