Baden Scholefield novel: Life on a harsh terrain

Former Naracoorte resident Baden Scholefield's latest novel paints a brutal picture of life at Cockatoo Creek; the enormous cattle station after which the novel is named.

It is a story about the people shaped by a harsh and uncompromising land.

Born in Naracoorte, author Mr Scholefield travelled extensively through Australia after working as a cabinetmaker.

"I spent a lot of my life in construction working for big companies in very remote areas," Mr Scholefield said.

His work on native missions and with remote schools throughout the Kimberley and Western Australia sparked a passion for studying "the ways of the old days".

After working in Western Australia and Darwin, Mr Scholefield said he grew to become more familiar with the landscape and with the Aboriginal people of that area.

It was these some of these experiences across Australia that prompted Mr Scholefield to write this latest novel.

A work of historical fiction, the novel is set in the 1930s North Western Australia at Cockatoo Station, a huge cattle station greater in size than some European countries.

The novel shows the natural beauty of the landscape next to the harshness of an era when "men as dangerous as any that rode through the pages of the American west lived with apparent impunity".

In the novel, Jan Muller, the manager of Cockatoo Creek Station, is adangerous, sadistic man with no regard for the Aboriginal people who work on the huge property he manages, or those that roam the wild lands that waxs the Kimberley of those days.

As a long and terrible drought grips the lands, the lives of the several wandering Aboriginal tribes and those on Cockatoo Creek Station are soon intertwined.

The book deals with the racial tensions, violence and harsh realities of life at the time.

Yet, the author says the book is a heart-wrenching story of true love despite the demeaning racial hatred of those days.

Mr Scholefield is currently working on his next book,Tears of the Gods, which is set in the 1930s in the pearling grounds off the Kimberley coast and in the town of Broome.