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Part One

The mysteries of Bowen

Introducing a new multi-part series from Crikey‘s writer-at-large Guy Rundle, reporting on the ground from north Queensland — One Nation country — venturing deep into the heart of a forgotten Australia, ahead of the Queensland election.

Down Santa Barbra Parade, beside the sea, past the old flying boat harbour, came the army. Ranks and ranks of them, full band in tow, pumping out some martial dirge. The sun gleamed on the harbour, the lighthouse shone in the distance, as the third brigade passed solemnly beneath the Big Mango, a red-yellow-green concrete shell

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Part Two

Mullets, mining and murals

“The story of Queensland is that of the triumph of the white race over the tropical North …”

— Raphael Cilento, in an official centenary history of Queensland, the only single volume state history in the Bowen Public Library

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Part Three

Whatever happened to the Red north?

“Ha! You’re still here! What are you doing here!”

In the main bar of the Grandview, Mike Brunker, heavyset, bald, tiny moustache, is being mobbed by “friends”. The Labor candidate for Burdekin, wandered in for our meet about five minutes ago, but I haven’t been able to make contact with him yet, because the loving locals want to gently rip the shit our of him. The moment he came in, a couple made a beeline for him, from absolutely nowhere. Man in suit, woman in winged shades, and a coral-patterned headscarf. Had they emerged in a time rip from the 1950s? They were giving poor old Mike hell.

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Part Four

Iron snake dreaming: racing to myth

Halfway into the Adani end-of-year party, they got me. In the beer garden of the Grandview, a rigged-up chandelier twinkling off the disco lights, an acoustic duo rocking out Take It Easy, girls in pearls and red shoes. I was talking to Trevor, a load driver — “I’m from head office, HR; tell me about back-to-back shifts” — when three strapping lads were suddenly around me, the leader in a festive, puffy-ish mandarin-coloured chemise.

“You don’t work for Adani do you, mate?”

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