When Clinton Liebelt disappeared from his parents’ remote roadhouse in October 1993, he sparked the biggest manhunt in the Northern Territory’s history. Hundreds of friends, relatives and complete strangers mustered to help search for the eight year old as he wandered in some of the country’s harshest terrain.
The search became much more than a search for a missing child. As people came from around the Northern Territory, a community sprang up around the isolated Dunmarra road house and a bond was forged which demonstrated a depth of community spirit and individual courage and sacrifice which touched all involved. Despite the search’s dire outcome, the events of that week were a triumphant assertion of human spirit.
The Lost Boy is more than a recount of Clinton’s disappearance and the subsequent search. Author Robert Wainwright, a journalist who covered the story at the time, has woven a story of the building of the Liebelt family and their extended circle of friends, from the first meeting of Clinton’s parents, to the tragedy of his disappearance. This allows the reader to witness firsthand the emotion and spirit involved in the events of 1993.
This is a wrenching tale but it is also a demonstration of the core of Australia’s national identity – the strength of mateship.
A gripping read.
The Lost Boy, by Robert Wainwright
Allen and Unwin, 2004