Every day Mustara and Taj look out onto a sea of yellow-red dust and stones. The sand rolls and shifts. Taj’s father says it is like the waves of the ocean and the Spinifex bushes are little boats blown about by the wind.
Taj’s father is an Afghan cameleer who trains camels to be used by explorers and for transporting supplies from Port Augusta to central Australia. When the explorer Mr Giles arrives, Taj hopes desperately that his favourite camel, Mustara will be chosen. But Mustara is too small and Taj and his friend Emmeline, the station owner’s daughter, try to feed him up so he will grow.
When Taj and Emmeline ride into the desert on Mustafa, they are caught in a sandstorm. Mustafa provides shelter for the pair, then brings them safely home, proving that, although he is small, he is ready to join the expedition.
Mustara is a beautiful story bringing to life part of Australia’s history which children may not be familiar with. It is brought to life by the stunning watercolour illustrations by Robert Ingpen, who captures both the starkness and the beauty of the Australian desert.
Mustara, by Roseanne Hawke & Robert Ingpen