There was a review of Nicholas Rothwell’s book “The Red Highway” in the Weekend Australian a month or so before we left home. I read the review and thought it would be an interesting book to read while traveling.
I carted the book all the way up the Queensland coast, across the gulf and up the Stuart Highway to Darwin, where I finally began to read it.
Coincidently, the opening chapters of the book are set in Darwin, so as we were wandering around Stuart Park, Nightcliff, the Military Museum, Knuckey Street, all these places started to emerge from the book. I was starting to wonder at times if I had been to places or had just read about them.
We left Darwin and wound our way across to the Kimberley, and so did The Red Highway. Familiar places like the Gibb River Road, Mt Elizabeth, Gogo Station, Fitzroy Crossing were all popping up in the text as we made our way through what was left of them.
The book also touched on the life of Maxine McDonald, a Kimberley personality we had drinks with on the verandah of Fossil Downs in the early 80’s. It was all quiet amazing, a book with so many twists and turns triggered by chance and coincidence should coincide so closely with our travels.
Beyond the geographic movements of The Red Highway are the mental dips and peaks. Traveling for a long period of time through this country seems to open up all sorts of strange mental doors. Rothwell sweeps you with him through these openings as he journeys from place to place and engages with many interesting characters.
The Red Highway is a great story, made even better for me, running parallel with its movements across Australia.