Scratch the Surface – Flower power

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  • Published 20080808
  • ISBN: 9780733322839
  • Extent: 296 pp
  • Paperback (234 x 153mm)

The first sight from the air is a glint in the distance, a hill, an impression of water, a scattering of buildings. Then the plane banks and skims across a stretch of mangroves and an arc of river the colour of rust. Cooktown. Outside, the air is warm with its own particular tropical smell: sweet, like a touch of coconut oil, but spicy too. There is the faintest whiff of bat shit.

The knoll known as Grassy Hill rolls down to the river, houses hidden on its slopes. On the track to the beach, waist-high grasses grown in the Wet are browning off as the Dry settles in; sand squeaks underfoot. Lushness and harshness jostle in this part of the world. It’s a place that both draws people in and repels them.

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