Iron Mountain by Mavis Thorpe Clark

Melbourne: Lansdowne, 1970.
182 pages; hard-cover; 23cm; b/w illus by Ronald Brooks

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About the story

"Joey Simpson is seventeen and in trouble with the police. In an attempt to get away from poor home conditions in Melbourne he heads west to the Pilbara, the frontier country in Western Australia, where the discovery of a mountain of ore has led to a new mining boom.

A chance meeting with the Rose family, who are driving across the Nullarbor Plain to join their father at Mount Tom Price, gives Joey a lift all the way but involves him too deeply with the family, especially attractive Leah - who has a secret of her own."

- Iron Mountain (1972) blurb.


Iron Mountain was written after extensive time and travel in Western Australia's the Pilbara, and extensive research. It was followed by a short factual book, Iron Ore Mining, in 1971.

"Like the Rose family in Iron Mountain, Mavis Thorpe Clark herself drove the 3,000 miles from her home in Melbourne to Adelaide, across the Nullarbor Plain, through Perth and on to Mount Tom Price, to carry out the background research for her story. That is why every detail of its setting, from the minutely observed natural details of bush and scrub to the clearly described mechanical processes of the mining works, is presented with such conviction. The author has been there; she has met the people who belong to this remote mining community, and felt the exciting spirit that belongs to this frontier project of Western Australia."

- Iron Mountain (1974) blurb.


"As the afternoon advanced the wind blew harder and the sky took on the yellow-red colour, too. Soon the wind was moaning across them - licking at them with a raspy invisible tongue, scratching them with grit, kicking the car sideways into the rough edges of the track. It began to exert a power that was intimidating because it had no bodily presence.

Presently the wind began to scream and throw up stones and pebbles. Leah was terrified that the windscreen would be broken. Soon the whole countryside, the road, the air around them, was yellow-red, and visibility was reduced to nil.

Leah was driving; she could not see the road, and she could not hold the car straight against the screaming wind.

Now Amanda was wailing from the back seat. "I can't see! The dust's choking me! I can't see! Where are we, Leah? Where are we?""

- Iron Mountain (1970) page 34.

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Cover: illustration of mining equipment.

Cover of 1970 edition of Iron Mountain.

Cover: A man, some children and a four wheel drive in the desert.

Cover of 1976 German paperback edition, Das Erz in den Bergen.