Saturday, 14 February 2015

Perth Festival's The Giants and a Carnamah connection!

The major attraction of this year's Perth International Arts Festival is The Giants, who launched the festival on 13 February and continued to wow Perth crowds over the following weekend. A large part of the story behind the little girl giant is the teenage life of Fay Howe, who resided with her father Robert Wilkinson Howe on Breaksea Island off the coast of Albany.

Inspiring the Little Girl Giant: Breaksea Island's Lighthouse Girl 
by Karla Arnall of ABC Great Southern WA

"Fay Howe was 15 years old at the outset of World War I. Living with her lighthouse keeper father on the remote Breaksea Island, the young girl began responding to signals sent by soldiers onboard ships bound for Gallipoli and Egypt. Fay relayed semaphore messages to their loved ones via telegram and received their postcards from the frontline. She is regarded as one of the last points of contact with Australia for many who did not return. 

Fay's story was unveiled by Albany author, Dianne Wolfer, in her 2009 book Lighthouse Girl, which imagines her existence on the island. The narrative struck a chord with Royal De Luxe company director, Jean-Luc Courcoult, who visited Albany in 2014 looking for inspiration to tour his Giants." 

[Full article at]

Carnamah connections!

Fay's father Robert and stepmother Emily both resided in Carnamah, years later in 1942, when the world was in its second global conflict. After retiring from lighthouse keeping, they had shifted to Perth but fled north to Carnamah when Darwin was bombed by the Japanese.

Fay's stepbrother Ned Wells ran the Wells & Wells Pyramid Tea & Dining Rooms in Carnamah for many years - a building that is now our museum!


Tracy Willet said...

What a great story and interesting connection! I remember as a little girl of about 5 years old going into this tea room to purchase some lollies after Sunday School. I can still see the counter and all the table and chairs. I also remember seeing an older lady, must have been Mrs Wells, with a little dog outside the house that was connected to the tea rooms. There was a small grassed area alongside the fence line. I have not thought about that in years.

Andrew Bowman-Bright said...

Thanks Tracy! The tearoom was run by Ned and Peg Wells until 1960 and then had a series of different proprietors. If you haven't seen it already, there is a virtual exhibition on the tearooms at