Outback, by Christine Harris

Before I came up north, I imagined that the outback would be dead quiet. But it never is. The bush is alive. It might sound silly, but it’s true. There’s the wind shaking leaves or blowing dust. Bird calls. The pounding of kangaroos…And even on a day when there is no wind and no animals or birds close by, if you sit really still you can hear bugs scratching under tree bark.

When Jimmy Porter’s dad is sent to prison, Jimmy is sent to live with relatives he’s never met, who live in Central Australia. It is 1927 and life in the outback is harsh. There is no communication with the outside world, no power, water supplies, education or shopping facilities. Jimmy misses his father and their city life, but soon comes to see the beauty of this strange place, and to form a bond with the cousins who make up his new ‘family’. When disaster strikes, Jimmy and his young cousins have to trek for help.

Outback is a diary-form novel, part of Scholastic’s My Australian Story series. Jimmy’s story is one which will intrigue young readers, with its contrasts to modern life. Harris creates likeable characters, set amidst events which are both exciting and significant. The storyline also provides an opportunity for readers to learn about the birth of the Flying Doctor service, and its importance to remote communities.

Outback: The Diary of Jimmy Porter, by Christine Harris
Scholastic, 2005