A fragment of Rothwell’s life

Yanchep Community School pupils have a lesson outside their classroom in 1976. Photo: Picture Joondalup
Yanchep Community School pupils have a lesson outside their classroom in 1976. Photo: Picture Joondalup

The writer, former journalist, singer, pianist and Yanchep Community School founder has crammed plenty into 85 years, the past 40 in Yanchep.

Having written novels and short stories, Yates Rothwell has just turned the spotlight on herself with autobiography A Fragment of Life, written for her children and grandchildren and as a record of the area’s early development.

‘Several |people have said I’ve had an interesting life and should write about it,’ said Yates Rothwell, who also wanted to document late husband Derek Moore Morgan’s life as an acclaimed musician, composer, teacher and music reviewer.

‘I’m glad I got it down on paper to make it easier for those in the future to know.’

Born Hebe Blake (Barbara Yates Rothwell is her pen name) she came to the fledgling area with ‘Derry’ and their two youngest children from Surrey in 1974.

They had chosen the ‘strange and exotic- sounding’ place from developer Bond Corporation’s UK advertisements, signing for a home from an artist’s impression.

‘Having come from Dorking, an old coaching-market town, where everything we needed was within about 10 minutes of home, it was strange to realise the only thing that came to the house daily was the milk,’ she writes.

‘Mail was delivered to the resort that would one day be Club Capricorn and we |collected it from our own pigeon-hole at the little holiday village shop, where one could buy the necessities of life ” as long as they were not too exotic.’

Concerned about her children’s education, Yates Rothwell opened a community school at the ‘sail loft’ at Two Rocks |Marina for 46 high school students in 1976, sharing classroom space with ‘two massive and beautiful ocean-racing yachts’.

When Atlantis Marine Park opened nearby, Yates Rothwell ” who still laments its subsequent loss ” recalls coming back for a new term to find seals in pens just outside the front door.

‘Surely we could have kept that splendid (dolphin) pool, cleaned it out thoroughly, filled it once more with sea water and let the area have a swimming pool big and deep enough to allow for diving as well as swimming,’ Yates Rothwell writes. ‘Central to Two Rocks, it could be a delightful spot once more.

‘A good clean-up and then a gardener to maintain it as it should be ” why not?’

The school moved to new inland premises in 1981 ‘when the America’s Cup Challenge created a pressing need in the yachting world to have their building back’.

It closed a couple of years later, freeing Yates Rothwell for music reviews and play writing. She is now finishing a novel about adoption started during Derry’s long battle with Alzheimer’s disease.

Published by Trafford Publishing, A Fragment of Life is available from barbarayatesrothwell.com, trafford.com or call 9561 1125.