GREGORY Bryan is no superman. Nor is he is an Olympic athlete. But he’s definitely determined

August 29, 2012

GREGORY Bryan is no superman. Nor is he is an Olympic athlete. But he’s definitely one determined bugger.

In his novel To Hell and High Water Walking in the Footsteps of Henry Lawson, Bryan an Australian academic now living in Canada, completes a journey undertaken by his hero, the great Australian poet, from Bourke to Hungerford and back.

It is a journey that Lawson completed over a century earlier with a mate as he sought work and inspiration for his much lauded poetry.

As the title suggests, Bryan’s reason to complete the 440 outback walk, across dusty plains, was to experience part of Lawson’s life and learn of the warmth of the outback and its people. Lawson led a deleterious lifestyle and in the
bad times, as his health dwindled and his friends deserted him, he looked back on his time on the track for emotional nourishment. Never was life as good as it had been then.

A century later and Bryan’s trek, undertaken with his brother `Baz’, has the mark of revitalising his faith in himself following a disastrous experience completing his thesis. This is no glossy look at Bryan’s travels. It is a warts and all account …

When Lawson’s travails through stifling heat are eventually revealed they are a refreshing account of our greatest poet’s life.
An accomplished Lawson academic, Bryan comes into his own towards the end of the novel, as his inner strength takes him to the finish line, we also learn about the final years of the poet’s life a great Australian who studied our identity and
took pride in it while many of his contemporaries were still clinging to the skirts of the Motherland.

Lawson famously wrote that if “you know Bourke you know Australia”. It is indeed possible that to know Lawson and Australia, you must read this book.

Rob McLean (Book Reviewed)

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To Hell & High Water – W alking in the Footsteps of Henry Lawson
Gregory Bryan
Big Sky Publishing

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