Article de la journaliste australienne Elise Van Aken sur le roman "Gaborone", paru dans plusieurs journaux australiens dont The West Australian.
You may expect the debut novel of a Frenchman to tell romantic tales of far-off exotic lans, but Mt Magnet may not be one of them.
But the small gold-mining town is the star of an omportant chapter in Nicolas Coursault's "Gaborone: Across the Southern Lands of Australia and Africa", the captivating and humorous memoir of his travels as a young backpacker from Paris to Sydney and eventually through to the capital of Botswana.
"Africa would be the ultimate test", Coursault said, "1996 was the official end of apartheid, and the populations were disoriented".
In 1996, when he was 21 years old, Coursault embarked on his "journey of a lifetime" along Australian roads, where he discovered the farms of Tully, the Whitsunday islands, the Great Central Road, Mt Magnet, Margaret River, Perth, and much more of the outback, while meeting a cast of unique characters including Indigenous people and rough-around-the-edges bushmen.
Twenty years later, he took out his travel diary and decided to find everyone he had met, including two couples from the Mid West.
"My time at Mt Magnet had been particularly memorable and I hoped to see or hear from those who had welcomed me," he said.
"Doris Gingingara and her husband Danny Rey, as well as Lesley-Jane and David Campbell from Wogarno Station.
"Mt Magnet is a very isolated hamlet... and visits are very rare. No doubt they hoped I would stay longer.
Internet and social networks did not exist. Twenty years later, as I started writing my first novel, inspired by my odyssey, I tried to find them. Alas, they were no longer with us."
This led him to write the novel "Gaborone" in their memory.
Gingingara (1946-99) came to prominence during the 1990s when her detailed images of the natural world were part of the art portfolio promoted by Desert Designs, alongside prolific Great Sandy Desert artist Jimmy Pike.
In 1974 Gingingara moved to Perth, then later to Geraldton and on to Mt Magnet, staying with her French-born husband Danny until her death.
"When I met her in 1996, at the foot of her little pavilion, I had no idea that I was entering the house of such a talented artist. I knew nothing", Coursault said.
"She opened her arms and welcomed me with such simplicity, such kindness, that my memory will never erase that moment.
" She painted with an acute sense of colour harmony and (had) already begun to be recognised. Her husband Danny was French and had great admiration and affection for his wife."
Coursault's adventure would not be complete without a touch of romance, with love interest Julie guiding the protagonist's route.
Copies of the self-published novel are on Amazon, translated into English by Kate Dutens. The ebook is available at Booktopia.