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Go on a journey with Taj and Mustara in the desert near Beltana, South Australia in 1875. A picture book written for primary school children.

Themes: Afghan culture in early Australia, explorers, camels, history, station life


Shortlisted in NSW Premier's Awards 2007

CBCA Notable Book 2007

Published 2015 (Paper Back edn)

Wombat Books


(Hdk published by Lothian in 2006)

What people are saying

A work of art, claimed Joyce, must have unity, harmony and radiance. This book has all three.
            Maurice Saxby, Reading Time Vol 50 No 3

Rosanne Hawke's tale opens up the life of a past era in our country and dramatises more by hint than direct exposition the lot of both the white and the 'native' dwellers on a desert station in that period. More than a story of fulfilled ambition 'Mustara' explores relationships and prevailing attitudes that arise from the desert environment. The overarching metaphor is that of the 'ship of the desert'. Robert Ingpen's atmospheric illustrations capture both the landscape and the historical period providing readers with what the artist calls 'imaginative space' from which to create their own intellectual and emotional response.
              Judge's comments, NSW Premier Literary Awards

Hawke's text is spare and simple, tightly focused but not without rhythm and poetry and a satisfying sense of character. Ingpen's characteristic sepia tones lend themselves perfectly to the depiction of the desert, dust storm and tanned and swarthy skin; his outback characters are full of movement and detail, and the personality of his wise-eyed, soft-nosed camels is palpable.
Five stars
              Katherine England, The Advertiser March 18, 2006

Hawke's poetic and well-researched writing effectively combines with Ingpen's sublime illustrations to capture the grittiness, the heat and the grandeur of the desert and the characters who inhabit it.
              Reeder Review

Mustara is one of the most beautiful and seamlessly written picture books I've read in a long time. The illustrations are perfect. It is a perfect book.
               Janeen Brian, author

Ingpen's illustrations create a sense of the vast desert beyond Hawke's words: the book is both alien and very Australian.
               The Age, 5th March 2006

Mustara is a beautiful story bringing to life part of Australia's history which children may not be familiar with. It is brought to life by the stunning watercolour illustrations by Robert Ingpen, who captures both the starkness and the beauty of the Australian desert.
               Aussie Reviews 

I was astounded by my need to brush the grit from the page!
              Alison Paterson, Magpies Vol 21, p32


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