Literary Locations of Australia with Jane Harper
The Australia of Jane Harper
The Australia depicted in the novels by Jane Harper is a very unique one. I have never been to Australia in real life *yet but I yearn to go. Maybe not to the places Jane writes about though as these are small towns in the middle of nowhere with killers on the loose and small town secrets just read to burst free.
Jane sets her novels in places that are remote and this adds to the underlying tension and claustrophobia that pervades each novel. The fact that an approaching car can be seen for miles around, that everyone knows everyone and that family ties run deep here all add to the sense of ‘locked-room’ style mysteries. You just know that these small communities are hiding some very big secrets and that Jane Harper is going to tease them out for your reading pleasure.
Location : Kiewerra (Victoria)
The town of Kiewerra is fictional but is heavily based on the drought-stricken community of regional Victoria, Australia, about five hours from Melbourne.
The author explains that the town itself is an amalgamation of many rural communities she visited while working as a journalist in Australia and the UK.
The town in the novel is a small community but not a close-knitted one by any means. People have known each other here for years, if not for most of their lives. Lives which are controlled by the weather, the land and what ever blows across their paths. For these people, their land is their homeand they will do whatever it takes to protect it.
“The river is a dusty scar on the land”
And the land – so dry and dusty – it is dying and decaying before their very eyes. So too are those who live here through the lack of hope and opportunity.
This is a landscape in the final throes of death, a choking claustrophobic place to be with the power to burn into your conscience and memory. With those flies who live off the heat of dying flesh, buzzing around your ears as you read. The setting here is very memorable and will stick to you for a while after you close the final page.
Location : Tasmania (fictional Evelyn Bay)
Again, the setting of this novel is fictional, but it is one of the most vivid and all consuming you will ever read. It’s a small coastal town where Kieran has returned to with his family.
The setting is integral to the plot – places identify us and hold our memories as we hold them close to our identity. We may move away but like Kieran, we are often called back.
Evelyn Bay looks pretty but it was the scene of tragedy. Years ago, there was a tragedy here and there is now a statute of who they call the survivors to mark it. Characters in the novel return to this place years later and some live in shacks on the beach. This setting is raw, wet, full of foreboding and dark memories. Wet dirty sand and dark cold caves. This beach is a haunting place and it’s interesting to see a story unfold with such stark connections to a pretty landscape where normally novels might depict an area of woodland or wasteland.
Location : “Balamara” Queensland, Australia Queensland, Atherton, The Outback
In The Lost Man, we head back to the desert and you can’t get more desert than the outback. Cattle stations and houses dot the landscape. If you get lost out here without water supplies, you die:
“Even the cattle didn’t linger. The ground was typically sparse for eleven months of the years and hidden under murky floodwater for the rest. The cows preferred to wander north, where the pickings were better and trees offered shade.”
Balamara is a lonely, unforgiving place, a bleak, raw place where people live great distances from each other. The novel plays on that isolation and explores it.Despite, the heat and the “monstrous sky”, it can be extremely cold and unforgiving.
“ As far as he could see, the land stretched out, deep and open, all the way to the desert. A perfect sea of nothingness. If someone was looking for oblivion, that was the place to find it.”
The sense of isolation is palpable. And then there’s the legend of the Stockman:
“The name of the man buried beneath had long since vanished and the landmark was known to locals – all sixty five of them plus 1000,000 head of cattle, simply as the stockman’s grave. That piece of land had never been a cemetery; the stockman had been put into the ground where he had died, and in more than a century no one had joined him.”
Australia – Giralang Range
Anyone who has been forced to go trekking on a outward bound, bonding experience weekend with workmates is going to nod in sympathy with much of what goes on here. Then there’s the lack of food, having to do things in a team, someone not listening and going it alone, someone acting as the boss…
The landscape out here is not your friend, there are dangerous ravines and whistling woods, the branches of the trees scratch and grab you….the weather closes in and traps you, there is hardly any shelter and the road to freedom is arduous and long.
Of course there is no phone signal out here in the wilderness, there is only you and your team members. Search parties are hindered by wind, rain and darkness that envelops you and drags you into the abyss. Raw, brutal landscapes and you have the fight against the elements to deal with……the thick carpet of treetops, the blanket of darkness…..sound proofing against any call for help.
What a good selection of locations and what an Australia Jane Harper has created!