Shadows On The Goldfield Track
Building a medical practice in Brisbane 1867 was never going to be an easy task. Neither was the mission by the Goldfinch Entourage to provide aid for the desperate miners of Cooktown in 1873.
Maureen Ryan has an urgent need to find her father somewhere on the Palmer River goldfields in 1873. Can she really trust the packhorse trader, Silas?
London 1867, why did the recently widowed Abigail Baldwin choose to leave behind a life of comfort and emigrate to Australia? With her twin brother, Doctor George Goldfinch, they set up a medical practice in the fledgling town of Brisbane.
Six years later, Abigail rescues a stowaway girl, Maureen Ryan, on the coastal trader the “Northern Orchid” travelling to Cooktown, North Queensland. Maureen must find her father, a gold prospector. Dressed as a young boy, Maureen joins a pack-horse teamster, Silas, trading between Cooktown and the Palmer River goldfields. He claims to know Bert Ryan, her father.
Will her disguise survive a two-week journey of two hundred miles along a track which daily claims the lives of miners seeking gold? And if she is discovered, can the naive young girl trust Silas?
Quotes to sink your teeth into
The sun disappeared beyond the horizon. The cloak of night descended forming deep shadows around the group gathered near the vehicles. One was a coach harnessed to two grey horses and the other a dray with just one brown horse. Hooves stamped impatiently and tails whipped at the cloud of mosquitoes thickening with the falling of night. Frequent slapping at exposed flesh accompanied the subdued voices of the people who were also treated to the attentions of the biting insects.
Two men gripped the poles at either end of the stretcher as they exited the house. A black sheet covered the body. They slid their burden onto and along the floorboards of the dray. The children set up a loud wailing. Their mother had, that very morning, prepared their breakfast and now, here she was, being taken away, for the last time.
Ned was already moving forward when a man in a dark suit rose from within the bushes. The stranger’s right arm was raised. It was the glint of the fading sunlight reflected on the knife blade that caused Ned to snatch up a rock from the edge of the garden path. It felt good in his hand…
“We’re finding witchety grubs to eat.” Henry held up a fat whitish grub with a sprinkling of dirt over its body. Without another word, her son threw his head back and opened his mouth. Before she could call out, the grub disappeared down his throat. He then sat with a smile no less wide than that of his companion. Abigail bit her lip in an effort not to scream. She wanted to tip her son upside-down but knew how futile it would be. No doubt many witchety grubs had been consumed by Smiley’s people without any untoward effects.
“That is interesting.” Her voice wobbled. “If you’re hungry, can I get both of you a piece of bread and preserve with a cordial drink?”
“Yes, please, Mama. The grubs are a bit squishy and crunchy with dirt.” Henry turned to his new friend. “Come on, Smiley.”