I bought this book in 2017 during my first (brief) visit to Townsville. I’m visiting Townsville again later this year (a much longer visit this time) and I read this book to get some sense of the history of the city.
I read that Townsville has been known as the ‘Queen City of the North’ since 1895, given its stature as the premier city of North Queensland. I read of some of its early tragedies, of its bombing during World War II. I read, too, of some of the natural disasters in the shape of floods and cyclones. I’ll see for myself some of the damage done by the most recent floods earlier this year.
This is a history, mostly, of European settlement and while it brings early Townsville to life, I want to know more about the Indigenous people of the area.
‘Dead men didn’t talk’.
Remote outback Queensland provides the setting for Jane Harper’s third novel. At the edge of two properties owned by members of the Bright family, in the middle of nowhere, is a grave known to all sixty-five of the locals as the stockman’s grave’. Only three words are visible on the headstone: ‘… who went astray’. It is here that Nathan and Bub Bright find the body of their brother, Cameron (Cam). They are shocked. Cam’s car is nowhere to be seen and he has no water or other supplies. Why would he have left his vehicle, and why was he there?
There’s no evidence of foul play, Cam clearly died of dehydration. His car is located some nine kilometres away, stocked with water and other supplies, and starts easily. So what went wrong?
Slowly, while the Bright family (which includes Cam’s wife and two daughters), prepares for his funeral, Nathan reflects on the past. He’s struggling to work out why Cam died. Some aspects just don’t make sense to him and he can’t let it go. And, as Nathan tries to make sense of it all, he revisits his own past, his failed marriage, a mistake he made which led him to be ostracised.
‘But two people can remember different versions of something and both think it’s the truth.’
To write more about the story might spoil it, and I don’t want to do that. It’s a complicated journey and it’s not always easy to differentiate red herrings from clues. The setting is important: the vast distances, the isolation, the red dust and the burning sun. There is more than one lost man in this story, but there may be some hope.
This is Ms Harper’s third novel. I have enjoyed each of them but this one is my favourite.
‘Ivy’s hand trembled as she drew the brush over her lips, in danger of smudging the bright colour.’
Ivy Dunmore lives at Roseglen, a remote North Queensland cattle station, currently drought-stricken. Ivy, aged in her nineties, has lived alone since her husband Charlie died. Ivy has three children: Ken who is close by, Georgina who is an international pilot and Felicity who nurses in Brisbane. Ivy is increasingly frail and concerned for the future. Not only is she concerned about the consequences of drought, there are family secrets as well. And Ken, Georgina and Felicity are not close to each other. Ivy is right to be concerned about the future for Roseglen: her neighbour Mitch has helped, but she knows that Ken can’t stand him.
Through Ivy, we are introduced to her children, each with their own challenges, and Mitch. Mitch seems like a great neighbour, so why does Ken dislike him so? I kept reading, enjoying the way the story unfolded with Ivy at the centre, worrying about her frailty, concerned about how her son was treating her. Ms Young’s characters are well developed, facing issues that at least some readers will be able to relate to. But beyond the more common, more everyday issues of frail old age, of relationship breakdowns, of choices made and regretted, there’s a secret at the core of this story. Can Ken, Georgina and Felicity move beyond their differences to work together? And what about Mitch?
I picked up this novel and found it very difficult to put down. I wanted to know how it would end, wanted certain outcomes and dreaded others (no spoilers here!). This is the first of Ms Young’s novels that I have read: I’ll certainly be looking to read others.
I don’t read a lot of fiction for younger children these days, but every so often I am tempted. And I’m especially tempted when book is written by an Australian woman :-). So, now for something completely different:
‘Sand thieves operating on Whitehaven Beach. Prepare for immediate departure…’
Megan and Marcus Morgan, aged 8 and 9, are no ordinary school children who enjoy time at the beach. No, Megan and Marcus are secret agents working for ‘The Environmental Protection of World Beaches’ or ‘EP’. They are the latest of generations of Morgan children to serve EP. The family has a beach hut, known as Parry, which is filled with amazing gadgetry and doubles as a very fast rocket ship. So, when Megan and Marcus receive a message to travel to Australia to save Whitehaven Beach, it takes them only five minutes to travel to Whitehaven Beach from Bexhill-on-Sea in the UK.
When they arrive, they see a massive crocodile which has been swallowing the famous soft white sand on Whitehaven Beach. But their investigations lead them into danger. Can Megan and Marcus recover the sand? What is the story behind the crocodile? And why is Whitehaven Beach so special? Will it be lost forever?
In this fast-moving children’s adventure, Ms Maisano has combined information about Whitehaven Beach, an engaging pair of heroes, appropriately dastardly villains and all the whizzbang gadgets that heroes need when trying to save the environment. The story unfolds over nineteen chapters: the sort of story children will enjoy hearing, and adults will enjoy reading to them. A story for children about children: perfect. Me, I‘d like to visit Whitehaven Beach one day and I’m looking for children to read the story to.
This is the first in a series of books (The Paradise Beach Mysteries) by Ms Maisano. Three have already been published, and a fourth is expected next year.
And here, courtesy of Wikipedia, is some more information about Whitehaven Beach.
The dispute over the Adani Group’s proposed Carmichael mine and the associated port at Abbot Point has long been cast as a choice between jobs and the environment. Climate change is already well on…
Source: JOHN QUIGGIN. Jobs bonanza? The Adani project is more like a railway to nowhere | John Menadue – Pearls and Irritations
20 Brisbane birds you might encounter around the city.
Source: Urban birdwatching guide to Brisbane – Australian Geographic
I recently spent a few days in Townsville in far North Queensland, catching up with my youngest sister. I was fortunate to have accommodation on The Strand, so getting up early to capture photographs of the sunrise was easy.
There’s something magical about watching the sun come up over any body of water, but especially over the ocean. There’s also something magical about escaping to tropical Queensland from Canberra during the winter as well.
Tomorrow I’m off to tropical Queensland for a week. I’ve not been north of Brisbane before. There’s something very appealing about tropical Queensland at present: although I love living in Canberra, this winter feels particularly cold.
I doubt that I’ll post here while I’m away. I’ll be too busy seeing the sights, catching up with friends and family, making new friends. But I hope to have lots of photos to share when I get back.