Mining animal death for all its worth
Additional Publication Information
This chapter considers the death of animals in the novels and film adaptations of Wake in fright (1961/1971) and Red Dog (2001/2011). Both texts have several things in common: they are set in Australian mining towns – in Wake in fright it is Bundanyabba, a fictional town with echoes of Broken Hill, New South Wales, and in Red Dog it is Dampier in the Pilbara region of Western Australia – and in both the death of animals is central to the narrative: in Wake in fright it is the massacre of kangaroos and in Red Dog it is the death of a dog from strychnine poisoning. Red Dog, written by Louis de Bernières, is a collection of stories based on an Australian kelpie known as Red Dog who famously wandered throughout mining towns in the Kimberley district of Western Australia. Kenneth Cook’s novel Wake in fright tells the story of what happens to John Grant, a young schoolteacher, en route from his outback post to a summer holiday in Sydney which he never reaches. Instead, he experiences what has been described as ‘an orgiastic weekend of blind drunkenness, gambling, male rape and savage kangaroo hunting’ (O’Loughlin 2009).