This is Desmond O’Connor’s first novella, and reflects his love and knowledge of the Australian outback, as well as his experiences with the Royal Flying Doctor Service. The story is set in the Pilbara Region of Western Australia and is well supported with maps of the region as well as the author’s local knowledge.
Two outback prospectors Paddy and Bluey, take Paddy’s teenage nephew and niece, on a driving holiday to show them what the outback is like and how prospectors live. The twins learn the signs of the desert and how to live under the stars; they even find a couple of small nuggets. All is well, until Paddy notices a second midnight flight by a small plane to a portable laboratory. The prospectors know that a European Company has set up there to search for minerals, and they have spoken to the men. These flights though are certainly out of the ordinary and appear to be on a regular schedule.
Mark and Joan, the twins, agree with Paddy that the situation is unusual and decide to investigate further. Under the cover of darkness they follow a truck that leaves the air strip and heads towards some caves. The next day the group return to the caves where the truck is parked. While Bluey distracts a man on guard there, the others go into the cave and discover the real reason for the flights. An illegal operation has been discovered and the appropriate authorities are called.
Unfortunately, while climbing down a mining shaft Bluey has a fall and the Royal Flying Doctor has to be called. Their expertise in dealing with accidents in difficult terrain is exemplary. Joan and Mark are able to finish their holiday, knowing that Bluey is well taken care of and with a couple of nuggets to show for their troubles.
This story is aimed at present day teenagers, however, minus mobile and everyday equipment most would find it hard to relate to the teenagers in the story. Several issues are brought to light, such as protection of our wildlife, and how it is important to be vigilant as sadly poaching wildlife is still a very real issue. The professionalism and expertise of the Royal Flying Doctor Service to outback people is also highlighted.
|Publisher||Short Stop Press|
|Distributor||Short Stop Press|