Watching the Climbers on the Mountain
"'The naked stockman was undressing her and she was holding him, both hands thrust down between their bodies. The fine cross-hairs of the sights follwed their movements, inching across their bodies . . . '
"Watching the Climbers on the Mountain is a story of elemental passion and brooding suspense.
"Set in the rmeote Central Highlands of Queensland, it focuses on Ward Rankin, the disaffected station owner, and on Ida, his unhappy wife who sees the solution to her problems in her love for the young English stockman Robert Crofts. His arrival on the station changes their lives forever.
"And against the backdrop of heat and torrential rain, of the weird and lonely landscape, rises Mt Mooloolong, the scene of the novel's thrilling conclusion."
A small Queensland cattle station during the height of summer is a place where events that are quite out of the ordinary may sometimes occur. There is, at that time of the year in such places, an enforced dislocation of the regular rhythms of daily life. The sense of isolation deepens with the coming of the season of storms and the intensification of the heat. In addition to distance there is the problem of periodically impassable roads. The herd of beef cattle is better left to its own devices until the autumn mustering, and so the occupants of the station have nothing to do. Or at least they must make an extra special effort to do something because - except for the small everyday chores the very repetition of which tends to emphasise the monotony of life - there is nothing that must be done.
There is a cattle station in the Central Highlands of Queensland where a few years ago an event took place which shocked the local community and for which there seemed at the time to be no rational explanation. The people involved in this tragedy were a young stockman, the owner/manager of the station and his wife, together with their two children, a boy aged eleven and a girl aged thirteen.
From the Pan paperback edition, 1988.
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Last modified: December 15, 2004.