An object in the superb British TV Antiques Roadshow caused old Cyclops to leap out of his recliner like a colt and rush to the den to search through the jumbled files for a manuscript, Books , Brothels and Bombay Bloomers , an odd memoir, containing diverse information about a wide range of subjects . The fascinating object on the screen was the above souvenir brought back to England from Australia by the first woman to fly solo to Australia , Amy Johnson (1904-41), consisting of a metal kangaroo on a plinth with an attached inscribed presentation boomerang from the West Brighton Club,Victoria, in 1930.
Over the years ,Cyclops has been gathering items about early aviators, one of them Amy Johnson, who passed through Darwin, the aerial gateway to Australia . One unusual piece in the collection is the advertisement for Parker Shoes which Amy endorsed in the South Australian Gas Company journal ...hard to imagine her flying a primitive , bucking plane in a pair of high heels.
Flying on to Sydney , Amy received a rousing welcome and was escorted by women dressed as pilots , complete with helmets, goggles, ties and jodhpurs. In Adelaide she was escorted by women on motorbikes .
A song was composed about her by Albert Beckman entitled La Aviatrix-Recherche Dance and Song-An Epic Flight in Terpsichore. The lyrics referred to her as "Johnny" who flew from her mum's nest so far away, saw Brisbane's million pound town hall,the Sydney Harbour, landed at Flemington where the horses race, and flew high over Adelaide to miss the many church steeples. Furthermore , "Yanks" reportedly described the aviatrix as "cute."
The Antiques Roadshow audience was told Amy Johnson had presented the souvenir to a man who had been closely involved in her flying adventures . And it was not known why the West Brighton Club presented her with the gift. The expert evaluating the object said it was not an Australian made kangaroo, which made it more valuable.
Newspaper accounts of Amy Johnson's time in Victoria speak of her being given a royal reception, parading before 1000 schoolchildren . There is a photograph of her rugged up at a war memorial in Western Australia wearing what could be high heels. An odd snippet appeared in the Northern Territory Times of December 19,1930, under the heading AMY JOHNSON: It is reported Miss Amy Johnson has suffered a severe mental breakdown and is now in a mental nursing home .
During WWll, Amy Johnson , in the Air Transport Auxiliary , drowned ferrying an RAF plane which ran out of fuel in bad weather and she bailed out in bitterly cold conditions, swept away in the sea from a would be rescuer, her body never recovered .