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At the age of fifteen, Charlie left his home in Bendigo and signed on as a drover with Nat Buchanan. Two years later he was a key man on one of Australia’s greatest cattle drives – the Durack family’s epic journey from Cooper’s Creek, Queensland – to the Kimberley.
Stumbling on Charlie’s largely unknown story, and filling in the gaps with fiction, the author has created a novel unique in Australian literature. An unprecedented adventure, and a passionate love story, Whistler's Bones is both a celebration of the good things in the settlement of Northern Australia, and a damning indictment of the bad.
Review in Country Update Magazine:
This is a work that takes the true diarised story of Charlie Gaunt, the Durack family and an epic droving trip of more than two years of unrelenting deprivation – from western Qld to the Kimberley, nearly 5000 ks, in the 1880’s – and upholsters it with fiction, recreating a genesis of Australia’s pastoral history.
Confronting and uncomfortable, and raising more questions than it answers, it seems unbelievable to contemplate this was a real way of life when the west was the last frontier – yet it was. Chapters are preceded by true diary entries and notes that chill and fill the reader with dread yet instil empathy for the hero, the vanquished or the victim, forged to a ruthlessness none so young should ever know.