Heat, dust and flies

Author: Ann French
Length: medium
Publication Details: TBC p. 17-22
Setting: Coober Pedy, Australia
Character(s): Duffy, Nell, McCauley
Narrator: Duffy, a stockman
Keywords: mining, love at first sight, walkabout, stubborn, domestic violence, luck, greed, embarrassment, trickery, stereotypes, justice, twist in the tale.

Stones follows the ups and downs of an Aboriginal stockman, Duffy. Returning from a walkabout, he notices changes which are difficult to accept. As a 13 year old he had proclaimed his love for Nell but years later she has married another man.

The story illustrates the changing relationship between old flames which is shown by Nell’s reaction to a chance re-encounter with Duffy in the local supermarket. “She spins round and sees me but instead of falling into my arms like I’d imagined, she looks terrified and walks backwards, her arms out to push me away.” Why would she behave in such a way?

French sums up the setting as “heat, dust and flies.” The initial description of the setting, places the reader firmly in Australia: “You step out of the car or plane at Coober Pedy and it’s like being hit in the face with a frying pan. Heat sizzles your eyeballs and the sweat makes you look as though you’ve stepped out of a shower.”

Stones infopic

The real fly is a greedy opal miner who is not going away any time soon. He is Duffy’s nemesis and introduces one of the messages of the story:

As long as greed is stronger than compassion, there will always be suffering. – Rusty Eric

How long does the suffering have to last?


Theme(s): Greed is never satisfied. The path of greed always leads to downfall. Treat others how you expect to be treated. Sometimes it’s up to you to set the record straight. Sometimes you have to take matters into your own hands. Sometimes wrong helps us find the right.


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I am a secondary school teacher at a school in New Zealand.

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