Author(s): Ivan Southall
On a fateful day in Hills End, a timber-milling town in the mountains of Victoria, seven children and their teacher set off to explore caves in the nearby mountains said to contain ancient Aboriginal rock art. While they are deep inside the mountain caves a storm of tremendous violence all but sweeps the town away and threatens to leave them stranded on the mountain. Tackling flooded creeks and washed out paths and fallen trees, the children make their way back to Hills End injured and exhausted, only to face a new battle to survive in the denuded town.
'The author has the power to get inside his characters, and through them express his faith in human nature in the goodness of man...a solid work, strong in action, mood and discipline.'A New York Times 'A book that has haunted me for years.' -- Ramona Koval By the Book
Ivan Southall was born in Melbourne in 1921. His first published story appeared in the children's pages of the Herald newspaper in 1933. Southall left school at the age of fourteen, following the death of his father, and worked in various jobs, including as a copy boy at the Herald. He captained a Sunderland Flying boat in the RAAF during World War II and was awarded a Distinguished Flying Cross after sinking a German U-boat. (Southall was always grateful that forty-one members of the crew were rescued.) Many of his early books were based on his wartime piloting experiences. Southall met his first wife, Joy Blackburn, in England, and the couple returned to Australia after the war and lived in various semi-rural Melbourne suburbs. They had four children. Southall's first children's book, Meet Simon Black, was published in 1950 and he went on to write more than thirty works for young adults and several for adults. Hills End, published in 1962, marked a new direction in his writing and in Australian children's literature as he explored realism and a stream-of-consciousness style of narration. Southall's books were published widely internationally and he won more than twenty international awards including the Carnegie Medal in Literature and four Children's Book Council of Australia awards in the 1960s and '70s for Ash Road, To the Wild Sky, Bread and Honey and Fly West. In 1976 Southall married Susan Stanton. In 1981 he was awarded an Order of Australia, and in 2003 the Dromkeen Medal for services to children's literature. He died in 2008.