Words say it all for Frenchman

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Nicholas Coursault at the Victoria Falls waterfall on the Zambezi River in southern Africa during his travels he wrote about in his Novel Garorbone.
Camera IconNicholas Coursault at the Victoria Falls waterfall on the Zambezi River in southern Africa during his travels he wrote about in his Novel Garorbone. Credit: Supplied

You may expect the debut novel of a Frenchman to tell romantic tales of far-off exotic lands, but Mt Magnet may not be one of them.

But the small gold-mining town is the star of an important chapter in Nicolas Coursault’s Garorone: Across the Southern Lands of Australia and Africa, the captivating and humorous memoir of his travels as a young backpacker from Paris to Sydney and eventually through to the capital of Botswana.

Nicolas Coursault with a copy of his autobiographical novel Garorone.
Camera IconNicolas Coursault with a copy of his autobiographical novel Garorone. Credit: Supplied

“Africa would be the ultimate test,” Corsault said, “1996 was the official end of apartheid, and the populations were disoriented.”

In 1996, when he was 21 years old, Coursault embarked on his “journey of a lifetime” along Australian roads, where he discovered the farms of Tully, the Whitsunday Islands, the Great Central Road, Mt Magnet, Margaret River, Perth and much more of the outback, while meeting a cast of unique characters including Indigenous people and rough-around-the-edges bushmen.

Coursault at Doris Gingingara and Danny Rey’s kangaroo refuge.
Camera IconCoursault at Doris Gingingara and Danny Rey’s kangaroo refuge. Credit: Supplied/Supplied

Twenty years later, he took out his travel diary and decided to find everyone he had met, including two couples from the Mid West.

“My time at Mt Magnet had been particularly memorable and I hoped to see or hear from those who had welcomed me,” he said.

Danny Rey, Doris Gingingara and Nicolas Coursault.
Camera IconDanny Rey, Doris Gingingara and Nicolas Coursault.

“Doris Gingingara and her husband Danny Rey, as well as Lesley-Jane and David Campbell from Wogarno Station.

“Mt Magnet is a very isolated hamlet ... and visits are very rare. No doubt they hoped I would stay longer.

“Internet and social networks did not exist. Twenty years later, as I started writing my first novel, inspired by my odyssey, I tried to find them. Alas, they were no longer with us.”

Doris Gingingara and Danny Rey, in the West, October 12, 1993.
Camera IconDoris Gingingara and Danny Rey, in the West, October 12, 1993. Credit: Nicolas Coursault/Supplied

This led him to write the novel Gaborone in their memory.

Gingingara (1946-99) came to prominence during the 1990s when her detailed images of the natural world were part of the art portfolio promoted by Desert Designs, alongside prolific Great Sandy Desert artist Jimmy Pike.

In 1974 Gingingara moved to Perth, then later to Geraldton and on to Mt Magnet, staying with her French-born husband Danny until her death.

Midwest Times articles regarding Dorris Maningrida's death in 1999.
Camera IconMidwest Times articles regarding Dorris Maningrida's death in 1999. Credit: Nicholas Coursault/Supplied

“When I met her in 1996, at the foot of her little pavilion, I had no idea that I was entering the house of such a talented artist. I knew nothing,” Coursault said.

“She opened her arms and welcomed me with such simplicity, such kindness, that my memory will never erase that moment.

“She painted with an acute sense of colour harmony and (had) already begun to be recognised. Her husband Danny was French and had great admiration and affection for his wife.”

Djunuwiny by Doris Gingingara.
Camera IconDjunuwiny by Doris Gingingara. Credit: Japingka Aboriginal Art Gallery

Coursault’s adventure would not be complete without a touch of romance, with love interest Julie guiding the protagonist’s route.

Copies of the self-published novel are on Amazon, translated into English by Kate Dutens. The ebook is available at Booktopia.

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