The Poppykettle.

Gnomes and fairies or the little people. Stories abound. It would be nice to believe it is true. Except they would be so offended by our ignorance of them it would be easy to understand why they are reputed tobe a bit angry at times.

But what about in Australia? Many years ago – in the 16th Century – small people lived by fishing in the ocean off the coast of Peru. But the Spanish invasion forced them to look for a new land. So some very intrepid little Peruvians commandeered an old tea kettle and, using it for a ship, they set out across the Pacific and eventually landed in a far far country that we now know as Australia.

Here is that tea kettle – now known as the ‘Poppykettle‘ with the modern port of Geelong set out behind.

The Poppykettle grounded on the beach and the first of the Peruvians to set foot was Manko. His name means ‘eagle‘ and he crawled up the sand dune to check for anything hostile.

Of course there was nothing like the port that you see behind him. And what is more, behind him were his crew mates and all they could see was his behind.

That was a joke. The coast being clear, Manko called the others up and they sat and listened whilst the leader set out the future.

This was Kunak the “adviser”. He wanted to be known as Amaru “God of wisdom” but the rest of them laughed and said, “This is Australia, mate. We don’t make our advisers into Gods. You’re either Kunak or nothing.”

Kunak thought to himself, I’ll stay ‘adviser’. It’s better than ‘nothing’.

Look at that face. He’s better than nothing. I’d take advice from him.

One of the Hairy Peruvians wasn’t a great fan of Kunak……

…and leant against a rock with a supercilious air. This was Uchu, so named for his “spicy” attitude.

You can tell he’s going to be trouble.

But Kunak ignored him. And then he began the great “Populate or Perish” speech. (This speech was copied verbatim by a post World War Two Labor Immigration Minister Arthur Calwell.) But Kunak was actually addressing two particular Hairy Peruvians.

The one on the left is Sumaq “handsome” and the one the right is Urpi the dove. Personally, and I don’t want you to think badly of me, but I, personally, from my point of view and considering I am well passed it, don’t really think Urpi is the most attractive hairy Peruvian I have seen.

If  populating the new world had a chance they needed an extra feminine gene pool. And so we have ……

Nina, known for her name “fire”, was sure to add a slight tweak to the gene pool although again I am not a fan.

But whether my opinion is valid, we can all agree – can we not – that the memorial is a winner.

Please forgive the great big ugly human protrusion into this rather intricate story.

All the photographs above were taken in Geelong at the memorial to highlight the arrival in Australia of the Poppykettle. I have researched this story by reading a number of books. And by thinking about it a bit . And making up stuff now and then.

Here are my references:-The Voyage of the Poppykettle by Robert Ingpen and The Poppykettle Papers by Michael Lawrence.

This second book is a re-write of the first book by Mr Lawrence who added more information. All the pictures in the books are by Robert Ingpen. He has undoubtedly seen and observed more of the “Hairy Peruvians” than any person.

Briefly, and here I quote from

Set in ancient Peru, there is a village of miniature people who lead a peaceful life sailing and fishing. But when the Spanish invade, the little community has to find a new home. The intrepid fishermen transform an old tea kettle into a ship and set out on the high seas to find the land beyond the horizon. They dodge ferocious iguanas, crash onto reefs, and nearly sink in a terrible storm, but finally the kettle comes to rest on a strange new land the little Peruvians can call home.

The strange new land was, of course, Australia. They landed in Geelong, now a modern city on the shore of Port Phillip Bay in Victoria. Should you be fortunate to visit then make sure you go and look at the memorial.

Note: In a recent post by Leggypeggy there is a story of a similar memorial but this is to the characters of a book by John Steinbeck, Cannery Row. When you have looked at Peggy’s photographs you will note the similarities. Of course the Australian memorial is much smaller as befits the subject matter.

But the picture that set me off on this quest was.

It is bigger.  Of course it is bigger. It is in the Us of A. It is man sized. It is recent, modern, and up to date. It was dedicated in 2014. The tiny little memorial for the Hairy Peruvians in Australia was only opened in 1980 which is a much smaller number.

But even though it isn’t in a really great country it is quite nice.


PPsS All names for the little Hairy Peruvians were stolen from a Google page that I forgot but it was really cool and switched on.


22 thoughts on “The Poppykettle.

  1. Nice write-up.

    Wasn’t quite sure why you were disparaging Australia at the end, but then, I don’t live there, so I don’t know.

    We are, amazingly enough, planning a visit. Maybe I’ll see the monument, although we don’t yet know our itinerary.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Thanks for that! We always had ‘Poppykettle Day’ at primary school & we could dress up as our favourite book characters. But I never remember them telling us the story behind it… then again maybe they did & it got lost in all the blonde fluff… x

    Liked by 4 people

  3. We were in Geelong last month, but somehow managed to miss this, which is a shame. Thanks foyour post.


  4. This little state of Victoria has more delights than you can shake a stick at. (Now, I’m off to ask Mr Google about the origin of that saying.)

    I like these little people, very much.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. No wonder I didn’t see this last time I was in Geelong, that was 1953 when the Bulldogs played the Cats at Kardinia Park the Cats beat us by 20 points 11-12 to 8-10 back in July a couple of weeks before I headed north to Puckapunyal to start my National Service


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