Story telling from Australia
Love in the Outback is now available as an ebook in the UK, USA and Europe.
The paperback was released in Australia and New Zealand last year and you can now order it online at ebook retailers in America, the UK and Europe.
Here’s an extract from the prologue…
LOVE IN THE OUTBACK
Forty-five degrees, that’s what they’re forecasting for today. There’s a total fire ban and Maggie has left her kennel and retreated indoors. I’m freezing bottles of water so I can wrap them in towels and slip them into bed tonight. The curtains are drawn, the blinds are closed and the evaporative air cooler is struggling to cope. It might bring the temperature down a few degrees but only if I leave the doors and windows open so the air can circulate. That seems like madness on a day like today.
Open windows are a sure invitation for blowflies – hateful creatures that settle in ugly clusters on furniture and countertops. At least we’ve still got power. A main transformer blew yesterday and half the town was cut off for five hours.
The sparkling waters of Sydney Harbour are twelve hundred kilometres away from this remote Outback town. It’s a place of regular dust storms; plagues of mice and crickets; hordes of red-back spiders, snakes, moths, locusts, cockroaches and small black beetle things no one seems able to identify. It’s also a place of sunsets that take your breath away, until the next morning when you realise sunset was simply the prelude.
Heritage-listed buildings of majestic beauty tower over crumbling miners’ cottages, modern bungalows stand next to ancient shacks seemingly built entirely out of scrap metal. The road I live on dribbles to a stop when it reaches the edge of town, as if the original road gang simply lost interest, turned around and gave up, leaving the desert to reclaim its territory. Sharp sand nibbles at broken bitumen. Pavements are optional.
It’s an odd place for a middle-aged English woman to live, a vegetarian with a lifetime of failed relationships behind her, but life has a strange way of sending you in the right direction when you finally stop fighting the tide. When I gave up on love and concentrated on like this is where it led me.
I dreaded the thought of living in such an isolated place. How would I fill my time? Who would I socialise with? It was only when I let go of my preconceived ideas and prejudices that I learnt to appreciate life in such a remote spot. This town didn’t expect me to be smart or funny or engaging, it simply accepted me. The welcome was unconditional, friends easy to find and the sense of community tangible. It was like stepping back in time, to an age when shops shut for the weekend by Saturday lunchtime, when jars of homemade jam appear unexpectedly on your doorstep and kindly neighbours offer to put out your bins.
Saturday nights no longer involve tickets to Sydney Theatre Company or expensive restaurants in Balmain. We throw camping chairs into the car, pack an esky with steak and eggs and drive out to an empty creek bed, where fallen branches from the Coolabah tree form the basis of a roaring campfire. When the fire dies down, we settle a battered frying pan onto a bed of glowing charcoal and brew a billy for tea. Some nights there can be a dozen of us out there, surrounded by silence and empty space, the roof of our theatre a million stars, the walls a line of majestic trees.
Love turned up too, much to my surprise. There was no spectacular electrical storm, no bolt of lightning or clap of thunder. Love simply stood beside me and waited, with infinite patience, for me to notice it was there. Having spent years chasing the wrong men, pursuing a romantic notion of love based on fairy tales and fiction, when the right man turned up I was convinced he couldn’t possibly be the man of my dreams. He wasn’t. (And boy am I lucky he wasn’t, the man of my dreams would have made a rubbish partner). Sometimes it’s hard to recognise the value of a real man until it’s almost too late.
I’ve found a level of contentment I didn’t know existed and I’ve never been happier.
Five years ago it was a different story.