Imagine Agatha Christie needing an introduction. ๐Ÿ˜Ž The following article appeared below a small photo of her in Sydney’s Evening News a century ago. (1922).

Agatha Christie, photo taken circa 1922.
AGATHA CHRISTIE CIRCA 1922

Wife of Colonel Christie, a member of the British Empire Mission at present travelling through Australia to spread the details of the Exhibition to be held in London in 1924.

Mrs Christie has written two detective stories. John Lane has published them both and they have been in the London Times as serials. The last, just out, is The Secret Adversary.

Colonel and Mrs Christie will be in Sydney this week. (Evening News, May 27, 1922)

Here is a photo of the touring party. In charge was the pompous and irascible Major Ernest Belcher. The Major was often an embarrassment for Agatha, as she noted early on that Australians ‘..don’t like swank‘. He later appeared in her novel The Man in the Brown Suit as Sir Eustace Pedler. Agatha thought he would enjoy being a ‘Sir’. ๐Ÿ˜

Agatha Christie and the 1922 touring party.
FROM LEFT – ARCHIE, MAJOR BELCHER, SECRETARY BATES, AND AGATHA (Source -Wikipedia)

From Sydney a trip was organized to the Blue Mountains, which Agatha described as being cobalt blue, and looking as though they had been transferred onto drawing paper from a paintbox.

The party’s main excursion, to the renowned Jenolan Caves, did not begin well, It was late June, and winter in the Blue Mountains is very chilly;

We started in style, much to Archie’s annoyance. He hates motoring in the cold, and much prefers going by train any day. Our car went well until we started climbing miles from anywhere when it proceeded to turn nasty. We induced it to go on for a bit but it broke down about six times and eventually we arrived at the Jenolan Caves at 6pm instead of 2.30, freezing cold and dead tired.

Fortunately the caves made up for that onerous journey. Here is Agatha’s description of the spectacular Orient Cave, written in a letter to her brother;

…It really is wonderful, you go for two miles through the bowels of the earth, up and down steps (1500 in all- and you know it next morning!) twisting in and out through labyrinths and coming to different chambers, the Egyptian, Indian etc., one with crimson stalactites hanging and great pillars and fringed hanging shawls, and the Indian one is all white….

Orient Cave at Jenolan, visited by Agatha Christie.
ORIENT CAVE (Source – jenolancaves.org.au)

We saw another cave, ‘Right Imperial’, quite different style , full of very delicate stalactites and miniature fairy grottos, you had to lie down on your tummy to see. We had to start back at 2 o’clock unfortunately. I could have spent a week there quite happily.’

FAIRY GROTTOS IN THE IMPERIAL CAVE

I did have to smile at one complaint in her letter;

The worst thing to bear is the guide’s humorous remarks! Oh dear me Agatha, you have my sympathy. I have suffered this so often at tourist spots. I suppose some people love the jokes though, so I just have to put up with it as graciously as possible. No doubt Agatha did the same. ๐Ÿ˜จ

Agatha Christie was clearly a better writer than photographer. In fairness, cameras were pretty basic back then. She took a snap of Caves House, the well appointed hotel where they spent the night.

Photo taken by Agatha Christie of Caes House, Jenolan Caves,
Source – jenolancaves.org,au
Caves House, where Agatha Christie stayed in 1922.
CAVES HOUSE TODAY. (source – nationalparksnsw.org.au)

The book Agatha’s grandson Matthew Prichard edited about the grand tour (including Australia) is on my Christmas list.

Book on the tour by Agatha Christie.

The Australian pavilion at the Exhibition featured a model irrigation farm.

THE ROYAL FAMILY VISITING THE AUSTRALIAN PAVILION (SOURCE – WIKIPEDIA)

A HEARTBREAKING POSTCRIPT FOR AGATHA

Major Belcher had a friend called Nancy Neele. The ongoing association between Belcher and the Christies over the next few years would culminate in Archie Christie’s affair with Ms Neele. In turn, this prompted Agatha’s famous disappearance in 1926, and the couple’s subsequent divorce in 1928.

In September 1930 Agatha married archaeologist Max Mallowan.

Agatha Christie in old age.
AGATHA CHRISTIE REFLECTS IN OLD AGE

TO WATCH A VIDEO ON ORIENT CAVE, CLICK HERE.

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