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Coal Creek

4.01  ·  Rating details ·  892 ratings  ·  165 reviews
The new novel from Australia's highly acclaimed literary treasure is an extraordinarily powerful exploration of tragedy, betrayal, the true nature of friendship and the beauty of lasting love.

'Me and Ben had been mates since we was boys and if it come to it I knew I would have to be on his side.'

Bobby Blue is caught between loyalty to his only friend, Ben Tobin, and his bo
Paperback, 304 pages
Published October 1st 2013 by Allen & Unwin
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Average rating 4.01  · 
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 ·  892 ratings  ·  165 reviews

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Apr 12, 2021 rated it really liked it
*****4.5 Stars*****
This story depicts the gulf between the new, outsider constable arriving from the urbanized coastal region of Brisbane and the people living in Mount Hay, a small country town within the harsh Australian outback. Bobbie Blue, a local young man of 21 years takes the job as the new constable’s assistant. He is a man of few words, but what he lacks in education he more than makes up for with his honest sensitivity. He is devoted to the memory of his mother…so much so that he call
The official blurb to this story does not do it justice by a long shot. This book simply ripped my guts out.

It is the story of Bobby Blue ( real name Robert Blewitt), his parents, his brother, his friend Ben Tobin, his new boss Daniel Collins, with the latter's wife, Esme, and two daughters, Irie and Miriam, who arrived in Mount Hay, where Bobby Blue becomes a police officer. It is the Australian outback of the 1940s. Tough people with a gentle core are misunderstood and read incorrectly when th
Nov 21, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Howard by: Margitte
“Miller absorbed the history and geography, the language and love of both black and white worlds in that region, and over the decades transformed them into a personal totem: a story fund, a moral frame, an outback aesthetic.” – Geordie Williams, The Monthly

“The characters have been me.” – Alex Miller

Coal Creek, Miller’s eleventh novel, is set in the stone country of Queensland during the late 1940’s, a region that he knows intimately, and it is populated by authentic characters based upon his kn
Apr 07, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: literary
Coal Creek an Interesting Story

I always panic when I receive a book that has been endorsed by various literary publications because we all know the amount of verbiage the London Literary idiots can spout in one review article. Having read Barracuda earlier this year being a case in point to the London Literary knobs were spouting about it like the emperor’s new clothes. So you can imagine my surprise to be presented with another book based in Australia the colour drained from my face with the po
Oct 19, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4.5 stars

In step with the digital revolution, the publishing industry has burgeoned with new writers, new genres and new stories. Never before has there been such an output of new writing, whether it be on line or in hard copy. So how does an author make their work stand out from the crowded marketplace? It seems to me that some authors jump on board emerging trends, dare I say gimmicks, to set their work apart from the others. A popular trend I have noticed recently is an increased frequency of
Steve lovell
Dec 31, 2013 rated it it was amazing
As another drought starts to bite across the Outback vast herds of cattle are being shifted out of those areas affected to better pasture further south. Most of the owners of the mega-acred properties, many bigger than European countries, now use the thundering automotive road trains to get their beasts from A to B. Others see the advantage of using the tried and true method of the cattle barons of the days of yore, the Duracks and Kidmans et al – the 'long paddock'. Currently eighteen thousand ...more
Dale Harcombe
Jul 17, 2014 rated it really liked it
Four and a half stars.I admit to being a fan of Alex Miller’s writing, so I was keen to read his latest offering. It did not disappoint. Alex Miller is first and foremost a storyteller. I loved the voice of Bobby Blue who is telling his story and his way of looking at the world. He is loyal and true to what he believes even when others see things differently. It shows a great picture of a friendship between Bobby and Ben. It also covers such issues as how background and family can influence deci ...more
Shelleyrae at Book'd Out

"The way I saw it was that Daniel and Esme never thought too much about how it was going to be for them coming in to police a town like Mount Hay from the outside the way they did." p13

Told in the first person, Coal Creek begins in the late 1940's and is the story of twenty year old 'Bobby Blue', born and raised in the back country of the Queensland Highlands. In need of a way to make a living after the death of his father, Bobby gets a job with the the new police sergeant of Mount Hay, Daniel C
Jennifer (JC-S)
Jan 11, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: librarybooks
‘It was such a familiar music I believe we stopped hearing it.’

Central Queensland in the late 1940s provides the setting for Coal Creek. Robert Blewitt, known as Bobby Blue, is the hero of this novel and its narrator. Bobby has worked with his father mustering bullocks, but when Bobby is almost 21 his father dies and he looks for new work. Bobby approaches Daniel Collins the new local constable at Mount Hay, and becomes his offsider. Bobby lives in the fibro two man quarters at the back of the p
Ashley Hay
Sep 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I had the great pleasure and privilege of talking with Alex Miller about his new book, "Coal Creek", at the Brisbane Writers' Festival last Sunday - I relished this book, and read it in a gulping and compelled kind of way.

As I said in the session on Sunday, "It’s a tightly wound story – everything in it is essential. Set in the Queensland highlands in 1946 or 47, as its narrator, Bobby Blue, puts it, its evocations of place and people deliver both exquisite clarity and something terribly inexor
MarciaB - Book Muster Down Under
They say “a picture paints a thousand words” but in the case of Alex Miller, his words paint a thousand pictures! His evocative descriptions of the Queensland landscape bring it into such keen perspective that it almost becomes a character in the story with Bobby Blue, his main character, an uneducated man, telling us the story in the only way he knows how – in simple language that resonates with deep insight into the events leading up to that fateful day.

Our narrator, Bobby Blewitt, or as his m
Rob Carseldine
Sep 03, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
It could be called The Ballad of Bobby Blue. A first person narrative of what happened when poorly educated but bush-wise country boy and orphan Bobby takes a job as the police assistant at a remote north-Queensland town. And how it all went to hell due to the inability of the policeman and (particularly) his wife from the coast to understand the ways of the locals.
This is not Alex Miller's best work by a considerable margin. Autumn Laing and Journey to the Stone Country are so much better. It
May 23, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This one has stayed with me through two subsequent and unrelated novels. Don't be fooled by the Brokeback Mountain-esque cover - this is a gritty Australian novel full of gritty Australian characters told in a know I want to use "gritty" again, but this voice is simply... real and true, and totally believable. I must constantly remind myself that Bobby Blue isn't a real person. I love his patience and humility, his loyalty, his devotion to his mother, his almost spiritual connectedness to ...more
I enjoyed this atmospheric yet understated novel set in rural Queensland in the 1950s and 1960s.

The story highlights both the wholesome and toxic relationships existing between the
significant players in the story. Although there is a preponderance of male characters in the story whose rivalries and friendships provide the slowly-built but palpable tension of the novel, the female partners, family and friends of the males can perhaps be considered to be as responsible as the men for the catacly
Max Coggan
Feb 13, 2020 rated it really liked it
I thought the author did an excellent job in building the tension in the story and portraying the trust and loyalty that is so often seen in outback Australia.
His characterisation of the women showed an understanding of human nature.
I will read more of Alex Miller.
Feb 27, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I promised myself a re-reading of Miller's novels this year and I left the best to last. This is a compelling story and even though I remembered the ending, I was driven to read into the early hours to finish it. Miller creates a memorable character in Bobby, unschooled in literacy but an expert in reading the landscape of Queensland's western ranges. Miller is also the master of a plot which is driven inexorably by the flaws of the characters, by their innocence and lack of self knowledge.
Poppy Gee
Mar 30, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Easily one of the best books I've ever read. On one level Coal Creek is a gripping, page-turningly good literary interpretation of a Western - police search the unforgiving Australian bush for an alleged criminal. But it is so much more than this - it's about our relationship with the wilderness; the complicated and various ways people love each other; revenge; loyalty; familial bonds. I've been thinking a lot lately about Australian literature and Aust art's fascination with the theme of people ...more
Sep 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Coal Creek is a slow, meandering, exquisitely written book about friendship, loyalty, misunderstandings, distrust and devastating consequences. It is full of wonderful descriptions of the landscape of outback Queensland and the animals that inhabit it. Bobby Blue, the central character, through whose eyes the story is told is sure to become one of the most memorable and loved characters in Australian literature and Coal Creek an Australian classic.
A really lovely book with a wonderful array of
Jacquie South
Apr 15, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I didn't start this with high hopes - having abandoned Autumn Laing (one of the few books I have ever not made it all the way through). Let's say I was pleasantly surprised. This book had me right from the start. The contrast of the slow and meandering style of storytelling by the narrator and the tension it created was very clever. The pictures Miller paints are so vivid the book is effortless to read. I wanted to take the characters and shout at them and shake them ... But could only read on a ...more
Oct 03, 2014 rated it really liked it
Slow to start but then really grew on me
Mar 16, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Before receiving this novel for review, Alex Miller was something of an unknown entity to me. Born in the UK, he moved to Australia at the age of 17, a country which, judging by the evidence of his previous novels, has greatly informed his life and his writing.
Coal Creek is no exception. Set in the late 1940’s and exclusively located in the remote scrublands of Queensland and the small outlying areas of Coal Creek and Mount Hay the novel sets out as a love letter to the history, geography and Ab
Penne Moschetti
Feb 15, 2020 rated it really liked it

Alex Miller is probably one of my favourite Australian authors. In this book, the character of Bobby Blue who narrates the story, is depicted with such clarity and simplicity that the reader at once knows the type of man he is. The way he speaks and thinks shows so clearly his naivety and lack of sophistication which marks him for a man of the scrub country and leads him into tragedy and ultimate redemption. It was his faith and integrity that shone through for me.
If you want hauntingly beauti
Allison Brown
May 01, 2014 rated it liked it
Published by Allen & Unwin I received a free copy of this book to review by Real Readers. This is my opinion on the book and has not been moderated.

Set in the late 1940's in the remote Queensland outback, this is the tale of 'Bobby Blue' - an uneducated Bushman in his 20's, who finds himself working for the new police officer in his local town.

Daniel Collins, ( a decorated war hero), his wife Esme, and two daughters Irie and Miriam, have recently arrived in Mount Hay, and find themselves out o
Apr 08, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This was an incredible read!

A singularly haunting Australian cowboy story. But if you like your action-packed westerns, lots of galloping around and adventure, this isn't the book for you.

There's not much plot in this book - the story is very very simple - Bobby Blue, one-time csttle ranger, joins the police force, and lives with the family of the new Constable Daniel Collins, fresh in from the coast, with his family and no clue about life in the bush.

Bobby's friend Ben is living with a young ab
Martin Chambers
Mar 31, 2014 rated it really liked it
For the first few chapters, this book challenges the reader with its language and style of narration by its protagonist Bobby Blue. As a poorly educated stock boy from the outback whose grammar and English are less than perfect, and with frequent repetition and wordy sentences, I found this a challenge initially. Being a paid up member of the Grammar Police didn't help me. But then, I survived and enjoyed Riddley Walker (Russell Hoban) so I persevered. And it was worth it, because once settled i ...more
Excellent! This story is about a family new to outback Australia and the repercussions that eventuate through misunderstanding the ways of the people who are native to the area. It is a haunting story and narrated by a young man who was born and raised in the area. The language used adds to the authenticity of the story and gives the reader a real understanding of the culture and the people who live and work in these remote communities.

The "new" family consists of a father who, after serving in
Gill Chedgey
Mar 31, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Alex Miller Coal Creek

I am not one to judge a book by its cover. In most cases I don’t even notice the cover, as I’m too eager to see what’s inside. But for some reason I did look at the cover of this novel sent to me by Real Readers and immediately Brokeback Mountain came into my head, the short story not the film. And whilst I am not offering a comparison between this writer and Annie Proulx there was a similar ambience cast throughout as I read this.

I enjoyed it very much. I found it a well-c
Banafsheh Serov
Jan 29, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Another short- listed title from 2014 Indie Booksellers' Award. Beautifully crafted, quiet & regal, Coal Creek reads like a sad lullaby.

The hero of the novel is Bobby Blue, a recently orphaned 20 year old stockman who having spent his life in the bush, decides to take the job with the new constable, Daniel Collins.
Arriving from the coast, Daniel, a veteran of a WWII POW camp, and his wife, Esra, though well-meaning are unfamiliar with their new surroundings and are viewed suspiciously by the t
May 01, 2014 rated it liked it
Bobby Blue is a stockman from Mount Hay, a small community in the Australian outback. When Bobby's father dies he decides that he doesn't want to carry on in the same profession and accepts the job as offsider to Constable Daniel Collins. Daniel and his wife Esme have moved up from the coast with their two children Irie and Miriam. The outback is a whole new life for them. Bobby is welcomed into the family and young Irie becomes his teacher, showing him words and books.

Ben is Bobby's childhood
May 15, 2014 rated it it was ok
2 and a half stars!

When i first received this book I must admit I wasn't that attracted to it. it is not mormally thr type of book I would pick up in store.

The story is set in small Australian town in the outback. It centres around Bobby and his relationships in the town, especially the Daniel, and his family. They become involved with a situation between a local (Ben), and the fall out afterwards.

I must admit that I felt the book dragged at the start for me. It took me a long time to get into t
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Alex Miller is one of Australia's best-loved writers, and winner of the Melbourne Prize for Literature 2012.

Alex Miller is twice winner of Australia's premier literary prize, The Miles Franklin Literary Award, first in 1993 for The Ancestor Game and again in 2003 for Journey to the Stone Country. He is also an overall winner of the Commonwealth Writers' Prize, in 1993 for The Ancestor Game. His fi

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