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February 13 , 2011

The Lost Boy

A search for life, a triumph of outback spirit


In the stifling Australian heat of October 1993, a campsite the size of a small town was spontaneously created at a lonely desert roadhouse by the side of the Stuart Highway, which links Darwin with Alice Springs. The 1200 men and women who swagged on the unforgiving ground beside their horses, cars, trucks and even helicopters had come to this isolated place Dunmarra to help solve a mystery and save a life.
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When emissaries of the Stone Moon arrive in het Narel, Keshul, the charlatan seer of House Akkadin, is suspicious. Who are these prosperous, well-fed people, and why do they care whether the Houses of het Narel have better wells and healthier crops? It doesn’t take long for Keshul to see the breadth of their ambitions and to…

A local son had disappeared without a trace. No-one was certain if he had been abducted or lost in the hostile bush around the roadhouse, but all knew it was a search where hours could mean the difference between life and death.

But there was much more at stake. They came from all corners of the far-flung Northern Territory townspeople, stockmen, tourists, police, soldiers and emergency services to help their friends, to forge a community bond and to test themselves, emotionally and physically, in a land untamed by more than a century of European settlement. It would be a desperate search for a life and a triumphant assertion of the human spirit.

Robert Wainwright followed this unfolding drama as a working journalist in 1993 and now, a decade later, he explores the raw, gripping story of an outback family embroiled in one of Australia's biggest manhunts to find that the core of our national identity mateship in troubled times is, indeed, real and alive.
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