Journey to the stone country by Alex Miller

June 19, 2011

This 2003 Miles Franklin Award winning novel is based on the true story of two of Alex Miler’s friends and draws both a powerful and magical picture of the Australian bush landscape. Starting briefly and unhappily in Melbourne, the story moves to the land of the Jangga people in the ranges of the Bowen Mountain in North Queensland. Central character Bo Rennie is an aboriginal who uses his native beliefs and landscape knowledge confidently in his mining work. When Annabelle Beck, who new Rennie as a child, returns to her family home in Townsville and meets Rennie again, she begins to question her understanding of  her upbringing, her European ancestors, their way of life and their secrets.

While this novel may be predominately about understanding and acceptance of race relations, it is the hauntingly beautiful descriptions of the countryside that drew me in. I could feel the landscape, the isolation, the wind. I could smell both the dust and the wattle blossom. I could taste the strong billy tea, the sausages on the fire. I could believe that this is a country where only those who understand it and work with it will survive, a country that is unmistakably Australian and must be seen, but  will never be owned.

Helen

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