All That Glitters, by Ron Bunney

‘I’m told the journey is a long one and that good horse handlers are scarce. Confound it! I can’t look after them myself.’ He smiled at Martin. ‘Would you accept the job?’
Martin’s thoughts bolted. A trip to the goldfields. Once he found some gold he’d no longer have to knuckle his brow to anyone. This could be the opportunity he’d been waiting for.

Martin Graham knows a lot about horses. A stable hand at a Guildford inn, he jumps at the chance to join the travellers heading to the goldfields around Coolgardie. Whilst his job with the Honourable Cecil Thornton-Flatbury is destined for failure, Martin is determined to continue his journey. Along the way he joins forces with Beth Wilkes, a serving girl whose path he has crossed several times before. Their relationship is a stormy one – Beth trusts no man, including Martin. But when they come across other women needing help, Beth is all heart. Together Beth and Martin make a life on the Goldfields, and learn that finding gold isn’t the only life to be had there.

All that Glitters is a solid historical novel for readers aged 12 and over. Exploring an intriguing part of West Australian history, it does so through a plot which holds plenty of interest. Beth and Martin are likeable characters and their exploits will keep teen readers turning the pages.

Bunney has an obvious interest in Goldfields history, with the detail of the book showing depth to his research.

All That Glitters, by Ron Bunney
Fremantle Arts Centre Press, 2005

No One Owns Me, by Ron Bunney

Joe has an unorthodox life for a girl – she dresses as a boy and travels with her father, a cameleer who runs a carting business. Joe loves the way things are and wouldn’t change them. But change seems to be forced upon her. A chance meeting with a stranger leads Joe to wonder who she really is. It seems the man she calls ‘Dad’ is not her father her all. Many years ago, he found her, a tiny baby, alone in the outback with her dead parents and took her in.

Now Joe must struggle to come to terms with the tale of her past, as well as coming to grips with the new feelings she struggles with when she meets a young boy her own age. There are also changes coming for the camel team she and her father have worked all her life. Now trucks are able to do the work that the camels once do – and they are able to do it faster.

No One Owns Me explores an era of Western Australian history which will be unfamiliar to many young readers – with events taking place in the Goldfields and interior in a time before motorised transport. At the same time, the story explores issues of cultural difference, family and loyalty, with Joe having to deal with the differences between her blood family and the ‘father’ who has raised her, as well as his reasons for keeping her past from her.

With a dearth of historical fiction set in Western Australia, this one is a welcome find.

No One Owns Me, by Ron Bunney
Fremantle Arts Centre, 2004