Journey to Horseshoe Bend
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.