Historical fiction set on the steam ship Yongala that was lost in a cyclone of the North Queensland Coast in 1911.

Boer War veteran Corben Plath has nothing to lose when the Queensland Coal Board offer him blood money and a ticket on the cruise liner S.S. Yongala. Aboard Yongala, Prof. Portland is traveling with his young niece, Felicity, and his renewable energy invention, the 'Smoke Engine'. Fearing that the Smoke Engine will ruin them, the Coal Board task Plath with murdering Portland. Onboard the ship, Plath strikes an innocent friendship with Felicity, not realizing that she is the niece of the man he has been sent to kill. As Yongala steams into heavy weather, Plath learns that there are armed men aboard looking for him and he comes to see that his own salvation depends on Felicity surviving the storm.

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Yongala under steam in the Yarra River 1905.

About Yongala the novel

The principal reason that I wrote Yongala is becuase I want to communicate to a general audience, that scientists have understood the basics of climate change for a long time. The story referrs to the work of Svante Arrhenius who's 1905 book describes the increase in global temperatures associated with the release of carbonic acid (today known as CO2). Arrhenius said that doubling atmospheric CO2 would increase average temperatures by 4 degrees Celcius. Of note, Arrhenius' calculations are consistent with contemporary climate models run on supercomputers. This goes to demonstrate that the basics of climate science are well understood.

The story also afforded an opportunity to deamonize the coal industry. This is an opportunity that could not be missed, given that it is from this industry that most of the global warming gases have been released. Once upon a time, coal was good for humanity. But that was a long time ago.

Yongala was originally written as a five page feature film treatment in 2011. In 2012, I investigated a funding opportunity from Screen Queensland. They wanted a thirty page treatment or a script. So, I converted the five-page treatment into a feature film screenplay. Following this, the script languished in a drawer for some time. Then I had the idea of telling the story of Yongala as a novella. So I pasted the screenplay into a word document and started chopping into it. The novella was first launched in March 23, 2015 at the Queensland Maritime Museum.

Yongala cover concepts
This is the first cover concept. It is a photograph of the Coral Sea that I took offshore from Cairns, when I was working on a tuna boat. The photo also has some elements of Aboriginal colours, which is appropriate given that the name Yongala is an aboriginal name for estuary.
The photograph on this cover is Sarah from The Sinking World collection by Andreas Franke. It captures the characture Felicity on the deck of a ship - albeit one that has already sunk.

Yongala author, Guy Lane, poses with Captain Knight and the bridge crew of steamship Yongala.

Plans of the Yongala that are on display in the Townsville Maritime Museum.

Screenshot from the Bureau of Metreology showing the path of the unnammed cyclone that claimed the Yongala on 23 March 1911.