In Murder in Murloo, Dusty Kent investigates her first cold case in the small town of Murloo. When Sean O’Kelly, her research assistant, meets Dusty for the first time she overpowers a drunken youth who is tormenting a gentle old sheep and threatening her with a length of timber. He looks on as Dusty uses her karate skills to tackle the youth. 'In an instant, she had grabbed his wrist with one hand and flicked his hand with the other, ejecting the piece of wood from his grasp and sending it plummeting to the ground.
Later when Dusty learns Sean is one of those 'unbelievably clever people who know the inside, backside and all sides of a computer', she invites him to assist her with her investigation into the murder of the young local woman, Gabby Peters.
Murloo is an Aboriginal (Kurnai) word meaning ‘clay or muddy banks’. The Murloo in the book is based on Marlo, except that I have taken poetic licence with some of the geography. The route to Giuseppe’s house mentioned in Chapter 10 which ‘offered spectacular views of the sand and ocean below’ is actually the Marlo-Conran Road which ends at Cape Conran; a surfing haven with outstanding surfing beaches attracting serious surfers from around the country.
Murloo Mansion is fictional. It’s actually Marlo pub that 'is situated on a bluff overlooking the Southern Ocean'. (Chapter 1). Marlo is a quiet seaside village at the mouth of the Snowy River in a region of Victoria called East Gippsland with a population of less than 500. It is largely unspoilt with excellent walking trails, and abundant wildlife such as kookaburras and lyrebirds. Anglers know they can catch the best perch and bream in Australia at Marlo – and so do the pelicans that frequent the area. The creation myth of the local Aboriginal people (Kurnai), who have occupied the area for at least 20,000 years, tells us the first man was Borun, the pelican. Even older than Aboriginal settlement are the magnificent old-growth forests forty kilometres north-east of Orbost.
The township of Claigan is based on Orbost a small town fifteen minutes drive from Marlo. Most of the road runs parallel with The Snowy River. The legendary river starts on the slopes of Mount Kosciuszko in New South Wales. It crosses the border into Victoria, flows through mountains and all the way down to Orbost where it runs adjacent to the town and concludes its almost 400 km journey at Marlo where it flows into the ocean.
I have taken the name Claigan from the Isle of Skye in Scotland in the same way that Orbost is named after a farm on the Isle of Skye. In the 1800s, many Scottish migrants settled in the East Gippsland area and established sheep runs.
Once a year at Christmas I return to my hometown where my sister Irene still lives. Here’s a photo she took of me at the town sign last year.
I hope to have Dusty Kent Mystery #6 on the shelves before I next visit Orbost. Murder on a Melbourne Tram is set in my current hometown of Melbourne.
Until next time... JB & BG :)