They Came South by Mavis Thorpe Clark

Melbourne: William Heinemann, 1963.
234 pages; hard-cover; 21cm; illus by Joy Murray

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About the story

When in 1839, 13-year-old Angus McIvor accidently burns down the Squire's haystack, he faces hanging. His sister Jeannie persuades him to escape to Australia where they hope he can earn enough to repay the Squire. Working his passage to the new settlement of Melbourne as a galley-boy, Angus meets Edward Foster, who rather mysteriously carries a well filled money-belt. And this is not the only surprising thing about Edward...


"There was a scrunchy shudder, a writhing of timbers, and a sharp lurch sideways. Women screamed, men swore with sudden violence, even little Tod let out a wail. It was a lurch that loosened Angus' grip and, with a half-smothered cry, sent him plunging towards the water. "Angus!" Ettie screamed, with little Tod almost wrapped round her to keep her balance. "Angus!"

Only those who could clutch the rail or some support kept upright. The rest slithered, with everything else that was not bolted down, with the angle of the decking. As the vessel settled, there was a terrifying gurgling and sucking of water.

"She's struck!" A sailor's voice shouted above the alarm.

"Angus!" screamed Ettie. "He's fallen overboard!""

- They Came South (1963) page 43.

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Cover has three white children in the foreground and three aboriginal children in the background.

Cover of They Came South, 1963.