As the River Runs by Stephen Scourfield


This work of fiction was written by an award-winning travel writer from Western Australia. The Kimberley, an especially beautiful area in northwest Australia, is really the main character here, and I must say, the most well-drawn one in the book.

The other characters are Kate, a well-connected political operator working for an ambitious politician; Cole, a relentlessly nasty developer; Dylan, a greenie loved by various folks in the Kimberley; and Uncle Vincent, the wise beloved Blackfella who knows everyone in the area.

We begin the action in the unnamed city (Perth) where Kate's boss hatches a scheme to get himself elected premier by piping water from the Kimberley to the parched city. Kate and Cole are dispatched to scope out the strength of the opposition (those who would be flooded by a dam) using a cover story of a government plan to provide the mechanisms for solar energy production to the area. They are guided by Dylan who only knows about the welcome solar energy plan. The city girl falls for the seductive Kimberley personified by Dylan and Cole is so awful that everyone is happy when he is bitten by a poisonous snake. 

The locations in the Kimberley are fictitious, I suppose, as I couldn't find any of the names on a map, but as I said the author loves this amazing tropical area which has a Wet season when roads are impassable and a Dry one when all is brown. Dylan visits various locations to introduce Kate and Cole to the area, including a large area which a conservationalist has fenced off to make it possible for plants and animals from the pre-European era to thrive. When Cole is called away for business for a 24 hour period, Uncle Vincent takes Kate and Dylan an area where three songlines meet and talks about the importance of singing songlines and keeping the Dreaming of the ancestors alive.

This book is not in local libraries, and is available in paper and kindle version through Amazon.

Stephen Scourfield, As the River Runs, University of Western Australia Publishing, 2013, 318 pages (I read kindle version).

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