Simon Caterson reviews 'Journey to Horseshoe Bend' by T.G.H. Strehlow

Simon Caterson reviews 'Journey to Horseshoe Bend' by T.G.H. Strehlow

Journey to Horseshoe Bend

by T.G.H. Strehlow

Giramondo Publishing, $26.95 pb, 352 pp, 9791922146779

First published in 1969 and out of print for nearly forty years, Journey to Horsehoe Bend is a literary classic that envisions an Australian epic on a grand scale. That epical potential was recognised by composer Andrew Schultz and librettist Gordon Kalton Williams, whose cantata adapted from the book had its world première in 2004.

Journey recounts the desperate and ultimately unsuccessful attempt over a few days in October 1922 to transport by horse-drawn wagon a critically ill German Lutheran pastor named Carl Strehlow from an isolated mission at Hermannsburg in Central Australia to a station where medical care was available. The painfully slow journey is infused by the author – the pastor's son – with myriad complex meanings derived from indigenous culture and his own memories of people and places.

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Simon Caterson

Simon Caterson

Simon Caterson is a Melbourne-based freelance writer and the author of Hoax Nation: Australian Fakes and Frauds from Plato to Norma Khouri (Arcade Publications, 2010).

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