Meet the Aboriginal tracker who features in the historical novel ‘White Spirit’

Posted: November 15, 2016 in white spirit
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In our new release historical adventure novel White Spirit, convicts who escape from the notorious Moreton Bay penal settlement, on Australia’s east coast, risk death in the form of hunger, thirst, heat-stroke, snake-bite or sheer exhaustion. If by some chance they survive all that, they must elude Barega, an Aboriginal tracker employed by the British Army.

We introduce Barega early in the novel. He’s a tracker without peer – and he’s a born killer if ever there was.

Here’s an excerpt from White Spirit:

A wiry Aboriginal tracker ran fast through the undergrowth, following tracks only he could see. He carried a spear in one hand and a nulla nulla, or club, in the other. Wearing only a loincloth, he covered the ground with effortless ease, his bare feet hardly touching the sun-baked earth.

This was Barega, one of the last surviving members of the mysterious Joondaburri, a tribe whose menfolk were renowned up and down Australia’s east coast for their superior tracking abilities. In the language of his people, his name meant the Wind, which was appropriate for he ran like the wind. To the British soldiers who employed him, he was simply known as the Tracker.

Although only average height, Barega’s legs were out of proportion in that they were unusually long in relation to his torso – a fact that gave him a distinct advantage in his chosen occupation. Few men, black or white, could match him for speed in a cross-country foot race, and, like others of his tribe, he could run all day long, seemingly without tiring or succumbing to the relentless heat.

The tracks he followed were those of three convicts who had escaped custody earlier that morning. They were heading west, away from the coast and away from Moreton Bay – the site of Britain’s newest penal colony and home to two hundred or so convicts and soldiers. The route was leading deeper into the tropical rainforest that hugged this part of the coast. It became progressively steeper as the hills gave way to mountains.

Barega was accompanied by three soldiers who followed him on horseback. He glanced back at them from time to time to ensure they remained in contact. Though their horses were doing most of the work, it was clear to him the men were having a hard time of it in the heat. They stopped every so often to drink from their water bottles.

Leading the way was Lieutenant Desmond Hogan, a dashing Englishman who was a career soldier through and through. Hogan’s ambition to succeed in his chosen career was hinted at by his senior ranking, which was an achievement in itself for one so young. He was only twenty-six. His rapid rise up the ranks had undoubtedly been influenced by the fact that his father and his father’s father had both been high ranking army officers, and he was candid enough to acknowledge that, but that didn’t change the fact he was a man of some ability whose promotion had largely been based on merit.

Hogan caught Barega’s eye. “How close, Tracker?” he asked.

Pulling up, the tracker pointed at the sun, which at that moment was to the northeast, and then he pointed dead north. “Soon, Mister,” he said by way of explanation, though no explanation was necessary.

The young lieutenant had used Barega so often he could readily understand the other’s hand signals. On this occasion, the tracker had indicated they’d catch up to their quarry by mid-day when the sun would be where he’d indicated – dead north. By Hogan’s reckoning, that would be in an hour’s time give or take. He glanced around at his two men. “Another hour should do it,” he said.

 

WHITE SPIRIT (A novel based on a true story)  is exclusive to Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/White-Spirit-novel-based-story-ebook/dp/B01LWIRH9J/

 

White Spirit (A novel based on a true story)

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