There are many loners in the Outback and this is a story about one of them. His name doesn't matter as he is just a servant – a servant to his property, his livestock and all the associated duties that are required for outback living. His own needs are secondary. His priority is to the never-ending demands made by his property and the welfare of his sheep and his dogs – especially Ben. Ben is his best mate and they both have an unquestioning, devoted rapport which is the only reliable feature of friendship in his deliberately isolated existence.
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The closeness he feels with Ben is a powerful embodiment of the attitude that he has carried through his life – defined by a confidence in his own abilities and a determination to overcome the harsh conditions in which he lives.
Ben is written in the simplest possible language, achieving its richness through its vivid imagery of the outback and, in particular, the remote property and everyday tasks that fill the isolated protagonist’s life.
The story of his life – past and present – is the readers reward and is told through his conversations with Ben. His life has been simple, tough and testing. But he will need every inch of his well-honed reserves for the battle before him.
He has coped on his own for so long. At this stage of his life the last thing he needs is trouble. Nevertheless a disturbing presence enters his and Ben’s life; one they both have to fight together. One they have to beat, with so much at stake.
When a lone dingo savages a flock of sheep, the decision to trap the dingo is made, setting in motion a series of events that charges him further into his solitary battle.
Every piece of bush skill and guile is employed in his war with the dingo. But, for the safety if his companion, it is a war without Ben. It is a decision Ben refuses to understand.
The dingo is trapped, but not in the way he had planned. So alone he sets out, guided by his own tracking skills, to follow the maimed animal. But by now Ben has tracked his master and when they meet they close in on the dingo together.
Their relationship, built on everlasting respect and admiration, will be tested. Their strength must endure until the very end if even one of them is to survive.
One reviewer described Ben as a ‘haunting story of man’s quest to be alone in the harshest of all lands; the untrodden places of the Australian bush…..”
Such a compelling book, it will be read from beginning to end in an instant, but its imagery will linger for a lifetime.
This unique tale is based on the real-life experience of the author, as he walks us across new ground to a fresh clearing he has made for us in Australia’s literary landscape.