Far North Queensland, Australia in the 1970s & 1980s is tough, tropical and sparsely populated. Infrastructure is minimal or non-existent. In 'the wet', monsoon rains and cyclones cut highways and railways. The power grid gets knocked-out for days, even weeks. Locals, for the most part, are hardy and self-sufficient.
Racism and misogyny are common, and corrupt politicians, violent police and their criminal friends rule the roost. Indigenous Australians and free spirits like hippies, are persecuted - sometimes murdered. The status quo is a very masculine one, and men work hard, drink hard and fight hard. Anything less is suspect and unhealthy. Consequently, women know their place, and the ones who don't - get reminded of it real quick.
In spite of these inequities, most Far North Queenslanders appreciate the beauty and wildness of the natural world around them. Life goes at a slower pace - operating on local time. Social mores are less rigid, many niceties are discarded, and for those who seek it - absolute personal freedoms can be attained. It's still frontier country, and not just physically either.
Seth Kelly is a local, born and bred, so he's grown up fishing, diving, shooting, riding motorbikes and driving boats. He learnt boxing at school and found an aptitude for brawling out of it. Though big and blonde - he's far from dumb. In a very macho world he's lucky to have had educated parents who instilled a strong sense of justice and fair play in him. Righting wrongs and helping others is important to him.
Yet he is no white knight. Sex, drugs and rock'n'roll, not to mention powerful cars, firearms and cold beer, have helped define who Seth is. In many ways he is a true son of the era, epitomising the tough guy ideal. But beyond the adventures, escapades and crimes, is the path he must travel on - somewhere between the bent and straight worlds, somewhere between right and wrong. The choices he makes on the way, and their consequences, is the real story.
Gawain Barker spent nearly 30 years cooking professionally around the world - especially in Far North Queensland. These culinary adventures can be found in his book -
Now retired from the kitchen, he is writing full-time and currently focused on a trilogy of crime thrillers set in the tropical north of Australia - the first being The Colour of Shadows.
Through extensive research and much personal experience, and with many long interviews with old-school personalities, he is bringing this untold era to life.