Welcome! I’m Lachlan Ness – and well-named too, if you happen to believe dear old ‘Spud’ Murphy, my English teacher at Leeton High. We were on first-name terms, Spud and I. He called me “Ness” (or sometimes “Rabbit”) and I called him “Sir.”
It’s good to have you on board. I thought I’d share a little information about myself and my rather chequered career, which began a long time ago. I’m a Leeton boy, and proud of it -born and bred in the good ol’ MIA – the Murrumbidgee Irrigation Area, in the south-west of NSW, Australia. We used to grow beautiful fruit down there in my day.
I was ordained a Presbyterian minister in 1970 (a fact that must have astounded Spud) and served in two NSW country parishes before a strong call to military service resulted in my spending the next sixteen years in the Australian Regular Army. I loved it, although my wife Janet was faced with problems she never expected when she married me – one was having three of our five kids at school in three separate states (NSW, Qld and WA) at the same time. Parent-teacher nights were a trifle difficult!
Back in civvy street, I served in two more marvellous parishes before my restlessness surfaced again. In 2008 we went to Shetland and a parish in Britain’s remotest north: The North Isles. What a remarkable experience! What wonderful people!
The following year, adventurous spirit still not satiated, Janet and I travelled to mainland Scotland, where in Britain’s most northerly mainland county, Caithness, I took on another locum ministry in a small Highland parish. Again, it was a memorable, wonderful experience among those unforgettable folk. Naturally, while there I made a point of trying to contact my family member in the dark waters of Loch Ness, but he must have been out that day.
I’d love to return to either place – Shetland or Caithness. We still keep in touch with folk in both places.
I spend my retirement days at our house, “Puddleby on Sea” close by the (usually) tranquil waters of Lake Macquarie, NSW, Australia. (I took that photo you see here about 100 yards from our back gate).
I enjoy writing in my spare time and also continuing my ministry in vacant parishes when called to do so. All our five children have left the nest of course, but we have Tonkie (Tonkinese cat) and Jock (border collie) with us. I’m still a part-time NSW police chaplain and have been for the past seventeen years, and a Queensland police chaplain before that. Janet, who is far more practical than I am, has a lovely garden and runs the house and garden with efficiency and skill, born of long years of nursing. I’m there as required to ‘lift dat bag, tote dat bale’ as Paul Robeson sang so beautifully. (“Ol’ Man River”).
I’ve written six books. The first, “A Kangaroo Loose in the Top Paddock” tells yarns, tall tales and true, of my first year in a country parish in the high country of northern NSW, soon after Janet and I were married. There are some hilarious stories in that book.
The second, “A Kangaroo Loose in Shetland: Excerpts from a Diary” is an account of our life among the unforgettable folk of the North Isles, Shetland. We lived on a small island, called Unst, which is Britain’s most northerly point, in a little village called Baltasound.
As I write, it’s mid-summer there now and it’s 12 degrees centigrade. (Must be a bit of a heatwave on at present).
The third book, “One Memorable Summer – A Scottish Adventure” contains more wonderful stories, this time of our little Highland parish in Caithness, up near Wick. There are some characters up there too, believe me, as there were in Shetland.
The fourth book, “The Ness Fireside Book of God Ghosts Ghouls and other True Stories” is nothing like the other three. When I was eight years of age I had a very strange, supernatural experience, which I record in this book. Over my years of ministry, people from all walks of life have told me of their own strange experiences: paranormal, supernatural; even strange UFO stories. You’ll find many of them in this latest book. Most are from people I know, and I have not the slightest doubt that they are telling me the truth. Suspect stories have not been included. After my own experiences, which I never sought in the first place, I know that mysterious things can and do happen for which there is no rational explanation. We live in a very strange and mysterious universe.
More recently I have written two quite different books, the second of which is a sequel to the first. “The Magic Mist” is a magical journey by a boy through a strange mist with wonderful, colourful animals of the Australian bush. You will be surprised at what you will find in this forest! The book, in poetic form, has been beautifully illustrated by Helen Marshall. The sequel, “An Australian Bush Fantasy,” extends this story when the boy, now a man, once again finds the magic mist and is confronted with an astonishing choice. Again, this book has been delightfully illustrated with line drawings by Helen. These books draw their inspiration from works such as Matthew Arnold’s “The Forsaken Merman,” C.S. Lewis’s “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe,” and the biblical prophecy of Isaiah 11:6-9.
Oh well, that’s it. Have a look at the books. If you live outside Australia, and would like to purchase one, it would be a lot cheaper to go to Amazon, but it’s also available on Kindle e-books. If you would like to follow my blog, you can, from this website. I’d love to have you along for the ride.
With my warm regards and blessings,