Inspiration for The Min-Min

The Tucker family

In the 1960s Maloomba was one of the outstations of Mulgathing, a large sheep station which bordered the Great Victorian Desert in South Australia. The McPhee family of Maloomba became Mavis Thorpe Clark's Tucker family of Gulla Tank in The Min-Min. She describes her first meeting with the McPhee family which occurred in 1960 as follows:

"The Maloomba dwelling was a squat stone house, sitting flatly on the flat earth as though it had a right and a belonging. It had no company in miles, but there was a comfortable homely look about it. There was washing on the line, a motorbike in its own small kennel, tools spread on a hessian bag, and a magpie, blind in one eye, sitting quietly on a grill at the side of the verandah...

A handsome white-haired man (Mervyn), not old, with a trim white moustache, clear olive skin, wearing new Yakka overalls, came out to greet the van...

The door opened into the very lived-in kitchen where three boys ... were doing the dishes; three handsome well-built boys with almond eyes and curling black hair that had recently been barbered by their mother...

Joan McPhee was a woman in her mid 30s, with dark eyes and black curly hair, slightly grey at the temples, tied back with a red ribbon...

The boys hung around, watching, listening. They could all read well and were eager to change last month's library books for new ones...

Each boy would receive a gun at 12 years old, Mervyn told us; a small gun to start with, one that would fire one shot and then must be reloaded. Lionel already had his...

Our time spent here, camping overnight in the yard, was warm and friendly with the boys and their parents, and I carried away with me memories of a loving family at Maloomba. They were to become my Tucker family in The Min-Min."

- Trust the Dream (1999) pages 108-111.

These excerpts from The Min-Min introduce the Tucker family of Gulla Tank:

"Sylvie and Reg had never seen Gulla Tank - out-station of one of Australia's large fenced sheep-stations ... It was an old square stone house of pioneer days, built of local yellow-red sandstone - picked up, not quarried - on the property. It squatted flat on the earth, with a wide verandah back and front, wired-in from floor to ceiling against flies and mosquitoes...

They followed Mrs Tucker into the kitchen which opened directly off the verandah.

It was a big, long kitchen, but it was very full. Just inside the door to the left, two small rifles rested in a rack on the wall...

(The three boys) were solid-looking fellows, with their mother's dark eyes and curly hair...

At the head of the table, carving knife and fork poised in hand over a cold roast leg of mutton, was a handsome grey-haired man - not very old. He had a trim iron-grey moustache on upper lip and clear olive skin..."

- The Min-Min (1966) pages 98-102.

See also The Min-Min

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Faded photo of the McPhee family.

The McPhee family - Mervyn, Joan and their three sons (with unknown baby) - standing in front of the "fall-out shelter" and their out-station home, 1963.
This family was to become the Tucker family in The Min-Min.

Faded photo of the McPhee's home.

McPhee's home and fall-out shelter, 1963.

Illustration from the book.

Illustration from The Min-Min (1966)
Out-station home of the Tucker family.

"When the dishes were finished, Jeff and Frank picked up the two small rifles from the rack by the door, and a handful of bullets from a box...

"Give me a go with that thing."

Jeff looked (Reg) over. "How old are you?"

"What's that got to do with it?"

"That's a rule dad made - you can't handle a gun until you're twelve.""

- The Min-Min (1966) pages 116-119.