Cassowary Hill

After three months of wandering on the other side of the globe, I arrived home one October morning to find that my front door had been kicked in by a large bird. This was my neighbour, who was standing in shattered glass on my doorstep, looking at me in a troubled way with his head on one side…

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After three months of wandering on the other side of the globe, I arrived home one October morning to find that my front door had been kicked in by a large bird. This was my neighbour, who was standing in shattered glass on my doorstep, looking at me in a troubled way with his head on one side…

When Tom Pryce-Bowyer returns to his cabin in Queensland’s wet tropics to write a biography, he expects only forest animals to disturb his concentration. Then Tom is faced with another disraction: deflecting the quixotic plans of Jack, a former intelligence officer who wants to thwart the promotion of an unsavoury American general.

As he researches for his biography, he’s also forced to confront secrets about the recent atrocities in East Timor. A more pleasant distraction for Tom is Emjay, a New York publisher with whom he strikes up a whirlwind affair after their respective marriages break off.

To Tom’s dismay, his idyllic rainforest, and the life of his inquisitive neighbour – a colourful southern cassowary of mystical dimensions – both become endangered, and his late-blooming romance begins to fray…

David de Vaux

David de Vaux deems himself an intentional rolling stone. That he has been an almost lifelong expatriate and inveterate traveller may in part be attributed to his birth after World War II in a non-existent country described on his birth certificate as the British Army on the Rhine. The son of a British officer stationed variously on three continents, when he was nine years old and in need of a passport, he was discovered to be a bureaucratic anomaly, and citizen of nowhere. He acknowledges blood connections with John Gay, author of The Beggar’s Opera, and the novelist Graham Greene. A decade later, having disappointed his family by failing to embrace the expected patriotic, military, class and Church traditions, he attended the University of London and later the Newcastle College of Advanced Education in Australia. Along the way, he found gratification in the disciplines of Economics, Political Science, English literature and the theatre, especially Shakespeare. He’s travelled and lived in New Zealand, the Tongan Islands, India, England, the United States, as well as Far North Queensland where he put down roots and raised three remarkable children. He has worked in five countries, on the fringes of teaching, publishing, editing, arts funding, house building, activism, theatre and writing, has produced two collections of poetry and a handful of play scripts, and short fiction. He and his second wife now live in Portland, Oregon, keeping at least one toe in his beloved Queensland. Cassowary Hill is his first novel.


Alfred was no fool, but I had noted that he generally took life slowly, avoiding sudden movements, though he was capable of astonishing speed on occasion. A fruitarian, he was rarely faced with the need for a quick response. However, another cassowary on his turf would have been annoying, and he’d momentarily forgotten his own often-observed reflection in my kitchen window. Most of us occasionally leap before we look, and conversely we can waver too long. A cassowary will tend towards the latter behaviour. …

As I parked outside my old workshop, I looked around at hundreds of reminders of a life shared for so long on this piece of an old farm. Where once were corn and potato fields were now outbuildings and gardens, exotic fruit trees, mature stands of eucalypts, melaleucas, grevilleas and banksias. …

But the track, if left unattended for too long, would disappear altogether as the foliage on either side put out its lateral growth; fallen trees formed barriers, sometimes with bulky living epiphytes still attached; neighbouring trees spawned suckers in the gaps between them, and inexorably the life on either side of the track conspired to fill the space in the middle and close out the light from above.


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ISBN : 9781925231168
ISBN: 9781925231168, 9781925231175
Weight 475 g
Dimensions 229 × 152 × 15 mm

Ebook, PB


ePub, mobi(kindle), PB, pdf

Customer Reviews

1-5 of 4 reviews

  • IP (Interactive Publications Pty Ltd)

    Cassowary Hill takes the reader on a fascinating journey: from betrayal and corruption to heroism and altruism, from frivolous flirtation to tragic high romance, from metropolitan sophistication to Thoreau-like natural simplicity… With this novel, tropical nature is not a place in which to withdraw from civilization, but [one] in which human beings… rebalance the conflicting demands made on their lives by the contemporary globalized world. This is a newly emerging sub-genre of internationalist fiction, and David de Vaux is a fine practitioner of the mode.
    – Stephen Torre, PhD, Journal of Studies in the Australian Tropics

    July 11, 2023
  • IP (Interactive Publications Pty Ltd)

    David de Vaux’s writing underscores the importance of human-animal relationships. A deep sense of place brings Cassowary Hill into the reader’s experience, embodied by an allegorical shadow character in the form of a bird. Bird enthusiasts will likely enjoy the appearances of this odd avian companion, an unforgettable presence that invites us to question the sharp line between human and animal.
    – Jessica Hardesty Norris, PhD, Former program director, American Bird Conservancy

    July 11, 2023
  • IP (Interactive Publications Pty Ltd)

    “… echoes of Greene in de Vaux’s descriptive tour of exotic locales and themoral quagmires faced by his expatriate characters.”

    – Kirkus Reviews

    July 11, 2023
  • IP (Interactive Publications Pty Ltd)

    A captivating tale of intrigue that combines comedy and romance with a trenchant commentary on imperialist atrocities in Southeast Asia. … Its philosophical musings aside, Cassowary Hill is also epic in its scope and opens an important window onto the imperialist-led atrocities and human rights violations in East Timor. At the same time, it never ceases to make the reader aware of the connections between human-engineered depredations, both political and environmental, around the globe and the precariousness of human relationships.

    – Meenakshi Venkat, New York Review of Books

    July 11, 2023

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