The man without a face

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  • Published 20150203
  • ISBN: 9781922182678
  • Extent: 264 pp
  • Paperback (234 x 153mm), eBook

BEFORE I WAS born, my family arrived in Western Australia from Europe and moved into a ramshackle brick house on three-plus acres in Kelmscott, then a semi-rural locality on the outskirts of Perth. The property featured an orchard that ran down to a wide stream, a minor tributary of the Canning River. The creek – which my family always called ‘the river’ – was full of life when they arrived, including local species of fresh water catfish, colourful pigmy perch, various kinds of molluscs and a range of crustaceans, of which the most marvellous was an abundance of that mighty crayfish endemic to south-western Australia, the marron.

The river was my father’s delight. He would clamber among the rocks, burning off and clearing brambles when necessary, and would often end up with his white vest, shorts and gumboots generously daubed with the rich, aromatic mud from the shallow pools beneath the paperbarks. Until his last years, Dad would recall his instant love of the river – an affection that deepened when he noticed big marron clambering across submerged stones and logs in broad daylight. Once they’d settled in the house, my family would periodically fish a plate of marron out of the river for a meal of imperial quality over which my father, once a frightened and penniless refugee, would preside over contentedly, extolling the beneficent wealth of his adopted state.

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