Journey of a Lost Manuscript

You don’t get handed a Yorkshire parchment from the sixteenth century every day. But Lorraine Smith, the proprietor of a used bookshop, experienced this. It was a mystery, for sure.

A customer discovered the antique document while flipping through the pages of a 1924 version of Alice in Wonderland and showed it to Lorraine.

Like Alice, Lorraine then went on an adventure – an extensive adventure to discover answers to the mystery. She also wrote a book about the story: ‘Journey of a Lost Manuscript’. It’s been described as ‘an Elizabethan manuscript… the enthralling story of its travels from Gildersome, Yorkshire in 1583 to Warrnambool, Victoria in 2013. It is a journey with so many twists and lucky escapes it should be a novel – but this is a true story‘.

There are so many unanswered questions. Who was the document’s author? Exactly how did it get to Warrnambool? When did the paperwork arrive in Australia? (a little town three hours west of Melbourne)? Was Lorraine able to locate family members?

Reading Lorraine’s book is highly recommended if you want to get the answers.

Even better, you may listen to Lorraine describe her experience. She frequently speaks at gatherings and organisations.

Take a look at Lorraine’s website to see her speaking engagements. 

From Warrnambool (‘A City For Living’) to the picturesque Bellarine Peninsula, Lorraine loves life at Portarlington.

Bellarine Peninsula. Map: .idcommunity

The Stats

Port Arlington/St Leonards
Population: 9048
Median Age: 60 years

Country of Birth, Top Responses
Australia: 75.8%
England: 4.7%
New Zealand: 1.5%
Italy: 1.2%
Greece: 1.2%
Malta: 1.2%

(Source: ABS 2021 Census)

Why did Lorraine move from Warrnambool?

‘When Neil and I retired, and closed the bookshop and Neil’s printing business, we thought we’d have a change of environment. We were both born in Warrnambool and lived there for most of our lives so we are country people who like the slower pace in the country.

Our four children have grown up and three of them have moved away. We love the coast and decided to move closer to family in Melbourne but still live on the coast in a small town.

In Portarlington we can still enjoy the country lifestyle for now. ‘I hope it doesn’t get too big’.

Portarlington is perfect for us. We can take the ferry across to Docklands for shopping or to catch up with family or take the car ferry from Queenscliff to Sorrento (and we have done this often when giving my talk on the Mornington Peninsula).

Summers on the coast are wonderful.

After a hot day the house can be opened up to catch the cooling breeze. You don’t get that living inland.

The scenery is amazing and we can take our dog for invigorating walks along the pier or the beach.

Close To Facilities

‘Everything is within walking distance – the shops, supermarket and bakery, bank, beach, pier, restaurants etc’.

The area is also popular because it is close to the medical facilities Geelong has to offer. Medical facilities are always high on our list when researching for editions of Where To Retire In Australia.

As Lorraine notes, ‘Geelong is only a 30 min drive away for larger shops, specialist medical facilities and anything else that we can’t get in Portarlington or nearby Drysdale or Leopold’.

White ferry three stories high on a blue ocean with hills in the background, mystery,.
Sea Road Ferries Photo: J. Weeks

Journey Of A Lost Manuscript, by Lorraine Smith

What an amazing mystery. What an incredible story.

Jill Weeks has been an educator and author for many years. She is the author of 21 Ways To Retire, which gives insights into how 21 Australians from different backgrounds adjusted to retirementShe is also the co-author with her husband, Owen, of several editions of Where To Retire In Australia and one of Retire Bizzi.

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