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Hills End by Ivan Southall

May 24, 2015

HE2A remote hamlet in the Australian bush. A boy lies, telling people that be has seen cave—paintings. Whilst the rest of the hamlet’s folk go on an annual outing, the boy and his friends have to accompany the schoolmistress to the caves to see the painting — which didn’t exist as he’d told a lie. The coach breaks down — the boy had been tampering with a cable. A storm and flood devastates the hamlet leaving the teacher and kids stranded and the coach party (the coach having broken dawn) are also stranded. Teacher & kids survive a week before help arrives and all are reunited. The boy has learned not to lie, the schoolmistress has learned to receive, as well as give, care (as she was very ill) and the parents learn that their kids are growing up as they fended for themselves marvellously. A good story about survival, organisation, telling truth and human strength in the face of disaster.

HE(Southall had lost his family farm shortly before the publication of Hills End, but its success established him as a writer both in Australia and internationally.

John Rowe Thompson wrote of the book “Hills End is almost a perfect novel of its kind…. The rapid character development and self-discovery of the children under stress are notable.”

Hills End is regarded as a classic of Australian children’s literature. The book is studied in Australia in the early years of high school both as a work of literature and to aid discussion on the impact of natural disasters.

TOLD in 2008 that he had only a short time to live, Ivan Southall replied: “I survived the war. I was given a life denied to many young men and I am grateful for that life.”

Ivan Francis Southall was born in Melbourne, the older son of Francis (Frank) Southall and his wife, formerly Rachel (Bessie) Voutier. Frank, once a home missionary in Jeparit, worked for an insurance company after failing to become a Presbyterian minister. Ivan and his younger brother, Gordon, enjoyed a happy childhood in Surrey Hills, much of it associated with the Methodist Church. If Southall were to claim any serious literary foundation, it had to be the influence of the King James Bible, absorbed during after-dinner readings or in church.)


“Adrian didn’t feel brave, but wasn’t old enough to understand that a person did not have to be without fear to be brave.”

” It wasn’t fun for Francis trying to be grown up when she was only thirteen and three months old…She wanted her mother. She wanted someone else to do the cooking and the worrying.”

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