Novel set in 1940s TRINIDAD
Talking Location with author Patricia Leslie – Sydney
7th December 2016
#talkinglocationwith… author Patricia Lesley talks about the Royal National Park where you can imagine her characters lurking….
The Royal National Park nestles the southernmost reach of Sydney. It has beaches, lagoons, waterfalls, and rivers; picnic areas, walking trails, amazing ocean cliffs, caves, and Aboriginal carvings. Day-trippers pile in every weekend eager to experience the bush. And it’s safe… so long as you don’t wander off the trails or get too close to the cliff edges that glisten so invitingly in the sunshine. Yes, perfectly safe, but stay close to when swimming in the crystal sea; careful where you place your feet as you explore rock pools, and please, don’t take your eyes off those beautiful foam-topped waves crashing all around you. If you’re there in the gloaming, be wary of strangers and eerie lights swirling around tree tops or settling like fairy dust over rocks, and steer clear of the marshy lagoon.
The Australian bush, like the deep dark woods of Europe, has a dangerous quality all its own. A person cannot afford to take it too light-heartedly. I grew up in Bundeena and spent my life, either side of that period, visiting relatives and wandering through the bush. I chose the Royal as a setting because it seems so safe and innocent, yet just step a few feet away from the paths and you’re surrounded by thick bush, deep gullies, and tall trees. If you don’t keep your wits about you, you’ll be lost within minutes. It is that ordinary veneer of the Park hiding extraordinary potential for danger that makes it a perfect location for a ghoulish race to create some havoc.
Our world is host to more than we know. The Bledray and the Afflür, once a single race, split eons ago. The Afflür preferring a more philosophic life and the guardianship of the Rydri (us humans, that is) and the Bledray more focussed on the satiation of their hunger and their favourite means of sustenance (you guessed it, us again). They have fought time and again, and the Bledray are starting to tip the balance in their favour. A Gathering of Ghouls is forming and the Afflür must find a way to stop the devastation of the human race. A Single Light, tells the story of a group of individuals who come together to battle the hungry Bledray. An Afflür Hunter and five ordinary humans will attempt to save us all from extinction on the cliff tops of the Royal National Park, just a stone’s throw from Australia’s most populated city.
The story follows the investigation from the initial case of mysterious disappearances around the country to a sudden increase of vanishings south of Sydney in Kurnell (gateway to Botany Bay), the Cronulla beaches, and the sleepy village of Bundeena on the edge of the Royal National Park. It ends with an all out battle and a raging bushfire, with sacrifice and acceptance, choices and purpose fulfilled. You will never treat a walk in the bush lightly again. The main entrance to the Royal National Park is about 40 minutes by car from the city or a train to Cronulla and walk down to the ferry wharf.
The boat ride through Gunnamatta Bay and across Port Hacking can be a peaceful jaunt on a clear day when the waters are flat or a hair-raising adventure when the swells are coming in from the Ocean. If you’re lucky, you might see dolphins! From Bundeena Wharf it’s approximately 20 minutes of walking to reach Jibbon Beach where you can swim, walk or laze on the sand. From here you can access the Aboriginal Carvings behind Jibbon Headland or follow the narrow trails into the bush to the lagoons (if you dare!). Follow the coast to several more beaches and the cliffs where all the action takes place in A Single Light. It’s an easy walk, though I recommend closed-in shoes: uneven path, tree roots, rocks, and bull ants are all waiting for the unwary.
At the cliff tops you’ll have an amazing view up and down the coastline. Explore the cliffs and you’ll find Fisherman’s Hut, the Balconies, Wedding Cake Rock, and the track that will take you to Marley Beach, Wattamolla and beyond. You’ll see and hear plenty of birds – Kookaburras, Black, Sulphur-Crested and Rose Cockatoos, Currawongs and honeyeaters are common. Closer to the ground you may see Blue Tongue Lizards, snakes and those vicious bull ants. Take water, a snack, and wear a hat – there are shops in Bundeena, but that’s it until you reach Wattamolla. Have fun and remember, stay on the trails!
Thank you to Patricia for sharing the details of such a beautiful part of the world!
A Single Light is an urban fantasy tale of ghoulish monsters and non-human protectors battling to save humanity amid the spectacular and rugged landscapes of the Royal National Park south of Sydney.
You can buy her book here