Ash Road

Ivan Southall

Ash Road
Text Publishing Co
25 September 2013

Ash Road

Ivan Southall

Introduction by Maurice Saxby

It’s hot, dry and sweaty on Ash Road, where Graham, Harry and Wallace are getting their first taste of independence, camping, just the three of them. When they accidentally light a bushfire no one would have guessed how far it would go. All along Ash Road fathers go off to fight the fires and mothers help in the first aid centres. The children of Prescott are left alone, presumed safe, until it’s the fire itself that reaches them. These children are forced to face a major crisis with only each other and the two old men left in their care.

The best selling Ash Road is an action-packed adventure story, so evocative of rural Australia you can taste the Eucalyptus.


I read Ash Road when I was in Primary School, probably when I was around 10 or 11. I distantly recall that after a reading diet of Louisa May Alcott, Susan Coolidge, Mary Grant Bruce, Arthur Lang, Trixie Belden and ancient Girl’s Own Annuals, it was quite something – a very different reading experience for that young me.

Rereading Ash Road brought back to me some feeling of that first reading. It is a powerful story about small communities trapped in the path of a catastrophic bush fire. A small group of children, an elderly man and a sick man are left behind in a hilly cul-de-sac as the able-bodied adults are called away to help fight a fire that no-one thinks will reach them.

The descriptions of the ominously hot and windy day and the development of the unseen threat are profoundly resonant and based on Ivan Southall’s own experience of living in a fire-threatened community. For ages 10–14.

Margaret Snowdon is the art & design book buyer at Readings Carlton.

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