Larrimah by Caroline Graham, Kylie Stevenson

‘There was a time when Larrimah mattered.’

Larrimah, I read, is a flyspeck on the map of the Northern Territory. It is on the Stuart Highway, 75 kilometres south of Mataranka and 95 kilometres north of Daly Waters. It was from this hot, barren place that Paddy Moriarty and his dog Kellie went missing at dusk on 17 November 2017. Neither Paddy nor his dog have been seen since.

‘Stories are usually sprawling, murky things.’

Journalists Caroline Graham and Kylie Stevenson won a 2018 Walkley award for their podcast ‘’Lost in Larrimah’, and then visited Larrimah to assist them in writing this book. While they did not find Paddy or solve his disappearance, they found plenty to write about in Larrimah. After Paddy disappeared, Larrimah only had eleven human residents. The menagerie at the Larrimah Hotel (aka The Pink Panther Pub) includes an eyeless croc and it is fair to say that each of the humans that lives in Larrimah is a character.

Ms Graham and Ms Stevenson share some of the history of Larrimah (how and why it was established) and some of the stories they were told as they stayed in Larrimah, including speculation about what happened to Paddy and why.

I was intrigued by the mystery of Paddy’s disappearance, interested in the history of what seems to be a dying town and fascinated by some of the characters who live there. I am glad I read this book during a comparatively cool spring in eastern Australia: I doubt that I could be comfortable in the outback heat. Will we ever know what happened to Paddy? This year, the NT Police announced a $A250,000 reward for information. I wonder.

This book is an interesting blend of a mysterious disappearance and history, of people and place.

Jennifer Cameron-Smith

#AWW2021

#AussieAuthor2021

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