Tag Archives: Opals

Will the Wonderkid: Treasure Hunter of the Australian Outback – Stephanie Owen Reeder

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9780642279521

National Library of  Australia

February 2020

ISBN:   9780642279521

RRP: $24.99

I adore this series! In Heritage Heroes, Reeder not only takes her readers on adventures but provides rich fodder for hunters of history. Each volume has explored the (often unknown) achievements of young Australian people of the past in a fictionalised narrative which is lavishly interspersed with reproduced primary documents and photographs, ephemera, information on related topics such as animals, significant events and people and more.

Each volume is so sublimely presented that it becomes a tactile delight and the joy is not just in the reading but in the holding in one’s hands.

In this latest, the fifth, we are treated to the discovery of opals at what is now Coober Pedy by 14 year old Will Hutchison who accompanied his father, two other men and six camels on an expedition into outback South Australia in a time of pretty basic equipment and the dangers of extreme drought.

When Will decides to go with his father on the trip for the New Colorado Prospecting Syndicate he has no idea what dangers and hardships lay ahead. Their determination to find gold is undaunted by these although Will struggles to stay positive. Just when the situation appears to be at its most dire and unsuccessful with the company resolved to return to Adelaide, it is Will who literally stumbles onto the Stuart Range opal field which remains one of the most valuable in Australia and certainly  a location which is totally unique with so many of the dwellings being underground.

With the addition of ‘what happened next’ information, biographical notes, glossary and references for exploring further some of the many related topics this is treasure worth the delving.

What a marvellous new addition to this award-winning series this is. Highly recommended for readers from Upper Primary to Secondary not to mention any adults interested in Australian history.