floodtide by judy nunn sample chapter

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Floodtide is a brilliant observation of turbulent times in the mighty 'Iron Ore State' - Western Australia. The novel traces the fortunes of four men and four families over four memorable decades: The prosperous post-war 1950s when childhood is idyllic and carefree in the small, peaceful city of Perth . . . The turbulent 60s when youth is caught up in the conflict of the Vietnam War and free love reigns . . . The avaricious 70s when Western Australia's mineral boom sees the rise of a new young breed of aggressive entrepreneurs . . . The corrupt 80s and the birth of 'WA Inc', when the alliance of greedy politicians and powerful businessmen brings the state to its knees, even threatening the downfall of the federal government.Each of the four who travel this journey has a story to tell. An environmentalist fights to save the primitive and beautiful Pilbara coast from the careless ravaging of mining conglomerates; a Vietnam War veteran rises above crippling injuries to discover a talent that gains him an international reputation; and an ambitious geologist joins forces with a hard-core businessman to lead the way in the growth of Perth from a sleepy town to a glittering citadel. But, as the 90s ushers in a new age when innocence is lost, all four are caught up in the irreversible tides of change, and actions must be answered for.Floodtide is a character-driven, merciless rush of blood from the pen of Judy Nunn, one of Australia's master storytellers.

TRANSCRIPT

THE AUSTRALIAN BESTSELLER

Floodtide

Four men. One unbreakable friendship. Forged in the mighty Iron Ore State.Copyright Judy Nunn 2007. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior written permission of the publisher.

This is a work of fiction. All central characters are fictional, and any resemblance to actual persons is entirely coincidental. In order to provide the story with a context, real names of places are used as well as some significant historical events. A number of high-profile people, such as Brian Burke, Laurie Connell and Alan Bond, are also referred to, but there is no suggestion that the events described concerning the fictional characters ever actually happened. An Arrow book Published by Random House Australia Pty Ltd Level 3, 100 Pacific Highway, North Sydney NSW 2060 www.randomhouse.com.au First published by Random House Australia 2007 This Arrow edition published in 2008, 2011 Copyright Judy Nunn 2007 The moral right of the author has been asserted. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted by any person or entity, including internet search engines or retailers, in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying (except under the statutory exceptions provisions of the Australian Copyright Act 1968), recording, scanning or by any information storage and retrieval system without the prior written permission of Random House Australia. Addresses for companies within the Random House Group can be found at www.randomhouse.com.au/offices National Library of Australia Cataloguing-in-Publication Entry Nunn, Judy. Floodtide / Judy Nunn. ISBN 978 1 86471 247 6 (pbk) Western Australia History 20th century Fiction. A823.3 Map by Caroline Bowie Typeset by Midland Typesetters, Australia Printed in Australia by Griffin Press, an accredited ISO AS/NZS 14001:2004 Environmental Management System printer 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 The paper this book is printed on is certified against the Forest Stewardship Council Standards. Griffin Press holds FSC chain of custody certification SGS-COC-005088. FSC promotes environmentally responsible, socially beneficial and economically viable management of the worlds forests.

Copyright Judy Nunn 2007. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior written permission of the publisher.

CHAPTER ONE

Y

oung Michael McAllister could swim before he could walk. At least that was his mothers claim. He just crawled into the river one day and started swimming, Maggie would say. He was barely a year old. Three years later, Mikes baby sister, Julie, followed his lead. Literally. Baby Jools crawled across the sand into the river and dogpaddled out to her brother. It wasnt really that extraordinary. Their father, Jim, was a boating man and a prodigious swimmer himself. His children, like many youngsters brought up by the banks of the river, were born to the water, and throughout the years of their childhood the river would continue to serve as a never-ending playground. For hours, Mike and Jools and their mates would chuck bombies off the end of the jetty, or hurl tennis balls with all their might out into the river and try to reach them before Baxter, the McAllisters two-year-old black Labrador, beat them to it. It was some time before they met with success Baxter was an obsessive ball-chaser and a powerful swimmer. There were also the repeated attempts to break the record of eight aboard the inflated tractor-tyre inner tube, an exercise that met with no success at all. But

Copyright Judy Nunn 2007. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior written permission of the publisher.

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FLOODTIDE

as the children grew older, Baxter would concede defeat, the tractor tube would be replaced by dinghies and sailing boats, and the competition would begin in earnest. The McAllister home, a rambling old colonial house, fronted on to Victoria Avenue and sloped down the hill to Freshwater Bay, with Claremont jetty to its right and, further along the beach, the old Claremont swimming baths to its left. Built in the latter part of the nineteenth century, during the early development of the area, the house had seen better days, but it had a ramshackle elegance. Deceptive in design, it appeared from the street to be a single-storey bungalow with surrounding verandahs, but steps at the rear led from the balcony, which overlooked the river, to a below-stairs area that had once been the batmans quarters. The original owner had been a military man. The batmans quarters now housed mainly storage space along with a large playroom, Jims extensive workshop and a laundry. The houses sprawling back garden was abundant with fruit trees and grape vines, and a large vegetable plot yielded corn, tomatoes, beans or peas according to the season. Beyond the garden was a flat grassy area with an open boatshed where the dinghy and tackle was stored, and beyond the boatshed was the Swan River where, fifty yards from shore, Jims modest twenty-four-foot yacht, Alana, named after his mother, rested peacefully on her mooring. It was a comfortable home that offered a comfortable lifestyle. Perth was a sleepy town in the fifties, and there were many such homes along the banks of the river, providing an idyllic childhood for those like Mike and Jools. On hot summer nights Mike and his best mate, Spud Farrell, who was in the same class at school, would trawl for prawns. They wore old sandshoes to protect themselves from cobbler stings, and Spuds brother Billy, two years younger, carried a hurricane lamp. Wooden poles

Copyright Judy Nunn 2007. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior written permission of the publisher.

JUDY NUNN

25

over their shoulders, Mike and Spud would drag the twenty-foot funnel of netting behind them, while Billy led the way, the lamplight attracting the prawns to the net and warning the boys of snags up ahead. Relentlessly, they trawled between the jetty and the baths; it was hard work but rewarding. Each time they returned to the beach Jools would be jumping up and down excitedly, Baxter by her side letting out the odd bark, both of them eager for the thrilling moment when the contents would be spilled from the nets pocket onto the sand and the prawns would jump and glitter, pink-eyed, in the light of the lamp. Jools was always allocated guard duty. She wasnt strong enough to haul the net and too young to be trusted with the lamp, but Mike had assured her of the importance of her role. Someone could come along and nick our catch, he told her, and so, during their absence, she paraded the beach like a diminutive pig-tailed sergeant major. Upon the boys return, she and Baxter had a tendency to get over-excited and Mike had to constantly warn her, as they sifted through the weed and gobbleguts and other small fish, to keep Baxter away and to be wary of cobblers. The stings of even the smallest cobblers occasionally caught in the net were shockingly painful. The boys would boil up the prawns in the laundrys old copper, and after theyd feasted there was always an ample supply for both the McAllister and Farrell households. Mike invariably gave Spud the lions share though there were five Farrell kids so it seemed only fair. The old copper came in for a great deal of use. The blue manna crabs that Mike and Jools caught at dusk in their witchs-hat drop nets off the end of Claremont jetty ended up in the copper. So did the mussels they dived for during the baking hot afternoons of midsummer, when others were indoors beside fans praying for the arrival of the Fremantle Doctor the welcome afternoon breeze that came in from the sea.

Copyright Judy Nunn 2007. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior written permission of the publisher.

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The mussels, which grew in abundant clusters on the pylons of the jetty, were Jim McAllisters personal favourite. When the children returned with their catch, hed pour himself a glass of beer and join them, hauling a bucketload of steaming mussels from the copper and emptying them out in a heap onto the old wrought-iron table that lived in the back garden and served the specific and ingenious purpose of mussel strainer. Jim always made his own contribution to the exercise, mixing the vinegar and mussel juice in the pickling jars, and concocting a hot dipping sauce which the kids avoided like the plague. Theyd sit around the table, each with a pickling jar, and Mike and Jim would do their best to ignore Jools who always insisted on chanting One for me, one for the pot, and was quick to catch her father out if he ate two in a row without contributing to his pickling jar. Not that it mattered. By the time theyd pickled and eaten their way through the first lot they were bloated, and the second bucketload from the copper was purely for pickling. The old copper had proved very efficient over the years. Maggie had gladly donated it in order to preserve her kitchen from the stench of seafood and the assa