Review Blog

Sep 18 2013

Ash Road by Ivan Southall

cover image

Text Classics, 2013 (c1965). ISBN 9781922147493.
Where to start with this award winning Australian Classic novel?
Three boys on a camping trip accidentally start a bushfire that spreads over an enormous area threatening lives and property. Whilst mainly concerned with the residents of Ash Road the story looks at the impact on the surrounding districts as well.
The book has a vintage feel, there are no mobile phones, no computers and the lack of communication devices would be unfamiliar to most young people.  Also the respect shown to older people is now not so familiar.  However the description of the fire and the atmosphere of the day are so vividly described, that it brought back for me very unpleasant memories of Ash Wednesday in 1983.  What it also highlights is how the children involved have to rely on themselves and their own resources and how this changes them in positive ways.
This is a deservedly classic story as it shows how life in the bush, even close to cities, can never be taken for granted as the right combination of circumstances can easily conjure up the catastrophe that is described so chillingly in the story.
David Rayner

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