Finding Kerra and the Australian Outback

The seed idea behind Finding Kerra sprang from my childhood, growing up in the semi-outback of central Queensland. My father was a grazier and we lived about ten km from a hot little town called Banana where I attended a one-teacher school. I rode to school on a converted cattle truck and it took an hour to pick up all the kids from the neighbouring properties. I was the first one on in the morning, and fortunately, the first one off in the afternoon.

Some of the events in Finding Kerra happened in my childhood: drawing on a windmill platform, riding horses (didn’t tell Mum I fell off), a haystack fire in winter, helping with a muster, nearly drowning in a dam. But the setting for Finding Kerra came from my love for the Australian Outback that has increased ever since I rode the Ghan (and a bus) through the desert to Darwin when I was fifteen.

Some years ago my husband and I took a road trip up past Port Augusta, Beltana, Farina and Marree. We even went to the Camel Cup at Maree to watch camels race and stayed at a station for a few nights. Since then we have travelled up that way again and further north up the Oodnadatta and Strzelecki tracks, Coober Pedy, Uluru and the Alice. More northern treks are planned. Maybe more stories will appear too.

One of my favourite memories of the Outback as an author is speaking on School of the Air. I was talking about Mustara and Ernest Giles’ trek to Perth. Students replied interactively that they had ridden camels and one boy had seen Ernest Giles’ tree where he left a saddle. I was moved that these kids who couldn’t play with each other still had a school community online.

I love the space and atmosphere of the Outback. I like to be able to see the horizon and the further away the better. What some call ‘empty spaces’ I think are places full of the magnificence of creation; at Uluru I felt the awe of sitting in a natural cathedral. When I lived in Pakistan it was this space and huge sky that I missed. Now I live in rural SA. People here still drive utes and lift a finger in greeting as they pass, and the Outback is only a day away. Finding Kerra is my attempt at catching a small part of the Outback for those who can’t make the trek and for those who will be inspired to go.

What do you like best about the Outback?

Finding Kerra from Rhiza Edge will be in bookshops in May 2018.

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8 thoughts on “Finding Kerra and the Australian Outback

  1. I will always remember the brilliant red earth against the blue skies of the Maralinga lands when the land was returned to the traditional owners. An amazing occasion in a stunning place on this earth. Thank you for sharing your love of the land.

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  2. Hi there Rosanne,
    I am Prabhnoor or Prabh for short. I met you at the Meet the Writers Festival 2018,
    You probably don’t remember me, but anyways I read Finding Kerra. I really related to Jamie a lot of the times, mainly because she lived in Pakistan and I am an Indian so somethings were very similar. I loved everything about the book especially all of the deep meanings. So i would just like to say , thank you for giving me an experience that I will never forget.

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  3. I have never been to the outback, but i imagine a place calm yet full of life. A place full of colour that settles at night but still continues to shine.I do wonder if what people say is true? The red dirt, the clear blue sky , the never ending fascination. In India the village area was beautiful , I have no other words for it. When I lived in New Zealand, it was an endless trail of green. I didn’t mean to sound poetic but I do wish to see what the outback is like.

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    1. You do write very well, Prabhnoor. Yes there is red dirt and a bright blue sky. A huge sky. And the stars are so clear. I hope you get to go and see it. It’s not far. Even the Flinders Ranges is the gate to the Outback and that’s not too far.

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  4. Hi Rosanne, I too, enjoy the wide open spaces of our wonderful land. That’s why I have a little piece of open space myself – but only five acres. Still, it affords a lovely view. I am not sure if you were aware that I started my teaching career at Parachilna and spent two wonderful years exploring the Flinders Ranges during that time, returning often to camp with my family in later years. Corinne taught at Blinman and that is where we met. “Finding Keera” is on my pile of To Be Read pile of books when I get back from Sydney next week.

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