Nancy Bentley the First Australian female sailor.

Author; Tracey Hawkins

Illustrator; Jacqui Gantford.

Published by New Frontier Publishing 2011.

ISBN; 9781921042768

4 – 8 years

RRP. $24.95

Reviewed by Vicki Griffin.


An interesting account of Nancy Bentley told in a simplistic tone with wonderful illustrations that help the story flow nicely. Nancy fell over after twirling and dancing to the music coming from a big ship in the harbor, she was trying to catch up to her siblings Dorothy and Lindsay when she fell. Nancy had been bitten by a snake and they needed to get Nancy to a doctor as the ‘whip’ snake was poisonous. It was a long way to town so her father decided he would take her to the ship, the Mascot Bentley 000001 that was docked out at sea. With Nancy in his arms he hoped into a small rowing boat. ‘Is there a Doctor on board’ her father asked the Captain of the ship, as Nancy was taken to the sick bay. She was very ill and couldn’t be moved from the ship but the King’s rules in 1920 were ‘no female was allowed to be aboard a naval ship’. What would they do? Nancy was only six years old they didn’t know what to do. I won’t spoil this delightful adventure story but I am sure it will warm the cockles of children’s hearts when they read it.

Nancy Bentley the First Australian female sailor born on 6th October 1914 was the third eldest child of seven children and lived in a cottage at Port Arthur. The Women’s Royal Australian navy wasn’t established until April 1941 twenty-one years after Nancy had been bitten by a snake. A nice touch to this book is the copy of the certificate in the back of the book, a very educational book whilst fun to read!

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