The months are slipping by. One minute we are celebrating Christmas and now Easter, and if, like many South Australians, you like attending a picnic race meeting, then the Oakbank Racecourse in the Adelaide Hills, is the place to be.
Oakbank holds many memories for me and was the perfect place to start Racing Dream, the first book in my racing series. We meet Annabel Martin at sixteen. What sixteen-year-old does not have dreams? Annabel’s is to win the Melbourne Cup, Australia’s famous annual thoroughbred horse race, the dream of every Australian jockey.
Annabel rides well but has done her apprenticeship around the show ring. To realize her dream, she needs to adapt her riding style and learn race strategy. She also needs to prove to Andy Jones, a renowned jockey, that she has grit.
Andy’s first impression of Annabel is that she is a spoilt rich girl. He soon learns there is more to her than her father’s money. He puts Annabel through her paces at Oakbank on a cold misty winter morning. Oakbank in winter can be cold, with temperatures sometimes dropping to zero degrees Celsius. So, riding trackwork at Oakbank is not for the faint-hearted. Andy’s excitement mounts as he realizes Annabel has what it takes to become a top-notch jockey. We also get a glimpse of James McKenzie at this time. He, too, has dreams and is quite taken when he meets the young Annabel. It’s a few more years before the two become further acquainted, and by then, they’re both chasing that Melbourne Cup dream. And so the scene is set for an adventure suspense story that will keep you reading.
It would be remiss of me not to give you a little history on Oakbank. Racing started in 1876 and hosts one of the world’s largest picnic race meets, the Easter Racing Carnival, which has historically been held on Easter Saturday and Monday. Oakbank is the home of steeplechasing and jumping in South Australia, which combines with flat racing over the festival. The famous Great Eastern Steeplechase is the highlight of the weekends racing and, in its heyday, has attracted crowds as large as 70,000.
Once you have journeyed with Annabel and James, book two, Racing Time, travels to the Australian Outback.
The month of May means we are moving towards the end of the Southern Hemisphere Autumn, which turns out to be a good time for travelling through the Australian Outback, avoiding the extreme heat and dust of Summer.
The outback is another world which brings me to the setting of book two of my racing series - Racing Time.
Once you leave the southern towns behind, the journey north is on unsealed roads. At the outback town of Marree, the road divides. Turn right and you join the Birdsville track taking you northeast to Birdsville or turn left onto the Oodnadatta track northwest to Oodnadatta.
Oodnadatta is a small remote outback town, with a population of around 200, some 870 kilometres (540 miles) north of Adelaide. The town is also home of famed The Pink Roadhouse. The word Oodnadatta is derived from the Aboriginal word utnadata, meaning mulga tree blossom.
So why did I choose Oodnadatta? Firstly, it's remote. Things go wrong for the unprepared in the outback. I like testing my hero and heroines. There is a lot to learn about survival, it can bring people together or tear them apart. There is no mobile reception. No nearby towns. Few passing vehicles. Cattle stations covering many hundreds of square miles, and you could wander through them for days without seeing a soul. People do not last long on foot with no water in the hot and dry conditions.
Secondly, it is a great place to bury a body. Who is going to find it apart from Dingoes? If you fall foul of someone, there is no local police to rescue you. No local hospital to aim for.
Thirdly, after placing my characters in this environment, testing their strength and endurance they naturally learn to grow, learn to trust and in turn learn to love. Without these basic elements, life has no meaning. So, if you enjoyed Racing Dream, be sure to read Racing Time and journey into the South Australian outback.
Contemporary adventure with