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Taj and the Great Camel Trek

Taj and the Great camel Trek is the exciting story of Taj's and Mustara's gripping 1875 expedition between South Australia and Perth - a story of survival as well as a tribute to both the explorer and the Afghan camel drivers who helped discover our vast country.

Themes: history, explorers, Afghan culture, camels and camel drivers, relationships between cultures in 19th century Australia.


Winner of Adelaide Festival Awards for Children, 2012

Shortlisted for The Patricia Wrightson prize for Children's       Literature, NSW Premier's Literary Awards 2012.

Shortlisted for the Australian Speech Pathology Awards, 2012.

Highly Commended in the Prime Minister's Literary Awards, 2012

CBCA Notable Book, Younger Readers, 2012

Published 2011

Queensland University Press


What people are saying

Rosanne, just finished reading Taj and found it engrossing. Told me a lot I didn't know about Giles and his expedition, and the cameleers, and also told me a lot of interesting stuff about camels! Which, by the way, you succeeded in portraying as real characters. The births and deaths were nicely understated but no less affecting for that, and Taj himself is a lovely protagonist and narrator. Your greatest challenge was to maintain the narrative suspense in a story about travelling across a continent  when daily events didn't change much over a long period, and I thought you did a splendid job.

       Ruth Starke, author.


Taj and the Great Camel Trek combines adventure and action with an exploration of history and the human spirit.
I loved it. I learnt things I had never known about our history. I learnt to value the courage of the early explorers and the faith of the camel drivers who helped them. And I had the pure pleasure of reading a well written and exciting adventure. On all levels Taj and the Great Camel Trek is a wonderful book and a Great read.

     Catch Tilly, author


I have written to tell you how much I loved Taj and the Great Camel Trek. I totally loved it and finished it in about 24 hours. It reminded me of the time we were in Broken Hill, or when we went out of Broken Hill actually. One of the most fascinating years of my life. So is that 'it' or does Taj have a couple of other stories in his life? Thank you for the enjoyment.  

       Janet Williams, reader

With Taj And The Great Camel Trek, Kapunda author Rosanne Hawke has written a sure fire winner for the 9+ age group.  Acknowledging the vital role camels played in the exploration of Australia, especially through country where water was and still is very scarce, fact and fiction combine to create an exhilarating account of the journey from Beltana in the mid north of South Australia to Perth, a distance of 4000 kilimetres, led by Ernest Giles in 1875.  Twelve year old Taj, along with his father Padar, joins the exploration team to care for the camels, and this is his story.  Exciting and, dare I say it, educational, I will be recommending it to all our younger readers.

     Colleen, Raven's Parlour Bookshop, Tanunda SA

Taj and Mustara are invited to join explorer Ernest Giles on his second expedition  across Australia from Beltana to Port Augusta and then on to Perth in Western Australia. It is not a journey to be undertaken lightly because much of the territory they planned to cover is desert, for most part uninhabited even by local Aboriginal people. The team accompanying Giles struggle with coming to terms with the isolation, their own feelings of fear,  the harsh environmental conditions and the almost total lack of water. At times, they traversed many hundreds of miles without finding a drop of water. The whole journey has them on the very edge of disaster throughout, giving the reader a sense of the extreme hardships they endured.

        While this is a novel, written as fiction and from Taj’s point of view, many of the incidents and characters are based on real events and real people taken from Giles’ own journal and the records in newspapers of the day. Taj himself is a fictitious character which points to the real strength of this book. Rosanne revealed at the launch that this book was originally conceived as non-fiction, but early on in her research and early drafts discovered that fiction was a far more powerful vehicle to tell the story. In this way the author has brought history to life for the reader, a delicate balancing act at the best of times. She has handled the transition with great skill. We see and feel the anxiety of the party through the eyes and emotions of Taj.

      Trevor Hampel, writer

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