Last Horse Standing
In 1971 bushman Jack Camp went mustering wild cattle - 'cleanskins' - in a vast and isolated stretch of the Kimberley coast. The potential profit would be huge - but so were the risks. It was the unpredictable and dauntingly hot wet season, the forbidding region was infested with snakes and crocodiles, and the cattle would have to be swum out across a river notorious for its dramatic tidal surges.
Everything was going according to plan when out of the blue a cyclone struck, flooding the area and wreaking devastation. The cattle and horses were scattered, the camp and equipment destroyed. Jack, his young son and a teenage stockman were left without food, fire, shelter or a means of escape. No one knew their exact location as they were covering a huge area during the muster and they were expected to be gone for some weeks.
As time passed without rescue and they grew weaker, Jack decided their only chance was to head for a cattle station some fifty kilometres away. Though he knew it would be deserted for the wet season, Jack was pinning all his hopes on finding supplies and a two-way radio there. The trouble was, to reach it they would have to strike out across the shark- and crocodile-infested tidal estuary. With them went the recaptured Bluey, the only survivor after the horses grazed on a poisonous local plant when feed was scarce.
And so began a journey that would take them to hell and back. How they made it out is a gripping yarn and an inspiring testament to the grit and determination of the outback spirit. In classic Mike Keenan style, this is an action-packed, page-turner of an adventure that is sure to appeal to fans of his previous books and anyone who is fascinated by tales of bush heroism and endurance.
270pp. First published in 2006