With authenticity that sometimes surprises the reader, Idriess introduces us to Aboriginals from Northern Australia, Papuan head- hunters, and Islanders around the Great Barrier Reef, all still in the colonial phase of European contact. Chinese gold diggers appear too, well before the rise of China. Idriess knew these individuals; he met them, lived with them, before the contemporary world had a chance to make so much difference. The first peoples in the stories are in their tribal state, infused with age - old traditions and behavioral norms, proud but fearful of the white colonialists. It wasn’t so long ago – barely three generations. That closeness in time can be said to offer a benefit to the reader; to some extent it helps us understand better their descendants who are alive today and within our society’s reach.
Ion Idriess (1889—1979) is one of Australias best-loved writers, with fifty-six books to his credit and millions of copies sold. When he returned from the First World War he wrote The Desert Column, about his experiences with the 5th Light Horse. Prospecting for Gold was his first major successful work; it immediately sold out and was reprinted constantly in the following years, as were many of his books. Idriess spent much of his life travelling throughout Australia, collecting material for his true-life stories, including Flynn of the Inland, The Red Chief and Nemarluk. He was awarded the O.B.E. in 1968 for his contribution to Australian literature.
* Rare North Queensland material, unpublished 50 years, with new introduction by Tony Grey, regular writer with the Australian newspaper; with lots of Chinese interest.