Thursday, April 23, 2009

AJ “Sandy” Mackinnon

Author AJ “Sandy” Mackinnon is the kind of person who has adventures. Not jumping-off-a-cliff extreme sport type adventures but proper, old-fashioned adventures.

When he was nineteen, he decided to travel to Iona, a tiny isle lying off the west coast of Mull, which in turn lies off the west coast of Scotland. He went in search of the Well of Eternal Youth.

At age thirty-five, Sandy decided to leave his job as a teacher in England and row his dinghy down the River Severn. He ended up still rowing, in Romania, a year later. Along the way he crossed the English Channel; was arrested by the River Police; tear-gassed in the Budapest Metro; trapped without funds in Serbia under threat of bombardment; and captured by Balkan river pirates.

Currently Sandy is a teacher at Geelong Grammar’s Timbertop campus. His interests include conjuring and home-made fireworks.

Here’s a great clip of Sandy talking about his life and book, if you want to know more. (His book, by the way, is The Unlikely Voyage of Jack de Crow.)


  1. Read your book - are you married? If not, marry me. If you are, at least have dinner with me in Geelong.

    Lucy Jones
    Call me on 0433 233 543

  2. I have just finished reading your book, Sandy. What an enjoyable read! It kept drawing me back, so I found I was sneaking off to read it when I should be doing other things. There are passages that the words so delight, that I found I was re-reading for sheer enjoyment. I have visited many of the places you travelled through. I could relive your trip up the Rhine and Danube, but I must confess I was in one of those grand river boats. Mostly on our trips we try to get off the beaten track and experience the real people and the way they live: not just seeing them through TV viewing eyes like goggling tourists. I agree wholely with your sentiment that the world is full of kind and lovely people. We ran a B&B for 9 years, after teaching, in Albany WA. The experience left us with a world full of friends, invitations to meet and promises to show us their country. Since shifting to Tasmania we have every year set off to do this. Meet up with all these people, and see their piece of the world. Yes the world is full of wonderful, interesting, kind, thoughtful people. You don't have to look far. The ticket is a smile.

  3. Also read your book. Loved it, although not necessarily to the point of wanting to marry you.
    Eoin (Phone number withheld)

  4. Loved both and now buying one of these books for others that the name Ben and the words El and Cid also have meaning.
    Do these words have meaning to you too Sandy??
    Kerryn and Marty (Perth WA)

  5. Hi Sandy, Good to see you again, "in the flesh" as it were. Both Ann and I were really pleased to come across this and your ramblings brought back fond memories of you, EC and the Skellegs. The copy of the book you kindly signed for me has really done the rounds here on Menorca. It now looks a little sorry for itself, but is always returned with assurances that they will buy a new one for themselves. I hope they do. A real treasure. Thanks you. Coming down under in Jan 2011, but not near Geelong unfortunately. Perth, Ayres Rock and Sydney, before jetting off to NZ to see Ann's Brother. Find me on Skype, Facebook, or Flickr if you want to get in touch. Lots of love, Iona's Dad & Mum

  6. Oh no, Lucy got in first... (but maybe she hasn't read about the Laotian princess). More seriously though, thank you for your books. I read "Jack De Crow" last year and it cheered me up during a very hard time. It made me laugh so much on the train that the lady opposite had to ask what I was reading! I've just finished reading "The Well at the World's End" and realised that I must've crossed paths with you in Darwin in 1990. I was hitching east on a couple of yachts as you were hitching north. Thank you again for your books, I've been so glad to learn that there are others who see their travels through the prism of Arthur Ransome, CS Lewis and JRR Tolkein (etc...).
    Love (but not to the point of stalking)

  7. “Sandy Mackinnon is a luminous literary rarity – an engaging, funny writer who is also an engaging, funny raconteur,” writes author and journalist Graeme Johnstone.
    For his full review of Sandy’s urbane and uproarious performance at the 2012 Bayside Literary Festival, “In Search Of The Secret To Eternal Youth”, go to:

  8. The "Unlikely Voyage of Jack de Crow" is truly one of the best books I have ever read. A masterly work by a gifted writer. Uplifting and inspirational. The book captures the essence of true adventure.