Far North Queensland, Australia in the 1970s & 1980s is tough, tropical and sparsely populated. Infrastructure is minimal. In a big wet, monsoon rains and cyclones cut highways and railways, and knock-out electricity grids. Locals are pretty hardy and self-sufficient.
Racism and misogyny is commonplace, the status quo masculine. Most men work hard, drink hard, and fight hard. Anything less is suspect. Women cop a lot of shit. Corrupt politicians, violent police, and their criminal friends rule the roost. Indigenous Australians are heavily persecuted; freaks and hippies too. At times, 'straight' society is enforced at the point of a baton or a gun.
In spite of these inequities, 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.
Seth Kelly is a local: grown up fishing, diving, shooting, riding motorbikes, and driving boats. He learnt boxing at school and found an aptitude for the biff out of it. Though big and blonde - he's not dumb. Instilled with a strong sense of justice and fair play, and a rep for getting things done, he's a bloke who always helps a mate.
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 escapades and crimes, is a path he must travel on. Somewhere between the bent and straight worlds are the choices he makes - and their consequences.
Gawain Barker spent three decades cooking professionally around the world, with many years in Far North Queensland. This story is told in his culinary memoir - 200 Kitchens.
Now retired and writing a series of retro crime thrillers, he's using decades of personal experience, much research, and many interviews, to bring an untold era and place to life.