Towers murder mystery

Historical fiction probes Charters Towers gold fields mystery

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A new book set in North Queensland in the 1880s looks at the mysterious disappearance of Scotsman, William McDonald.

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Murder in the Bush is the seventh novel with connections to both Scotland and Australia written by Ms Audsley whose father was born in Scotland.

Murder in the Bush is the seventh novel with connections to both Scotland and Australia written by Ms Audsley whose father was born in Scotland.

THE gold fields of Charters Towers in the 1880s feature in a new novel by Queensland author Carmel McMurdo Audsley.

Murder In The Bush is based on the true story of young William McDonald who leaves the Scottish Highlands in 1885 and travels to Australia in search of a better life. 

He settles in the colony of Queensland and has a dream to own a sugar plantation.

“William had worked with Clydesdale horses in Scotland and when he was told that he could make a lot of money delivering horses overland to properties and mines in the north of the colony, he set out on his own, travelling through untamed country,” Ms Audsley said.

“The gold mines in Charters Towers used the big horses for haulage and the mine owners were prepared to pay handsomely for fresh healthy horses. 

“William had saved the equivalent of around $200,000 in today’s money, and was ready to buy his sugar plantation but he disappeared and died in bizarre circumstances on one of his trips north.” 

This is the seventh novel with connections to both Scotland and Australia written by Ms Audsley whose father was born in Scotland.

“William McDonald doesn’t have a grave marker, but this book is his legacy,” she said. 

“He will be remembered not just by his family, but by all who read his story.”

Ms Audsley is an Australian journalist and author who lives in Brisbane with her husband Iain. 

Her first three books were historical fiction novels based on her family’s history in Scotland. 

She received glowing reviews from readers who were moved by the stories of people in the south-west of Scotland. 

Carmel McMurdo Audsley.

Carmel McMurdo Audsley.

The books spanned from the mid-1600s to 2012 and painted a vivid picture of life on the land, the transition to working in the coal mines, young men heading off to war in two world conflicts, the Great Depression and life in Australia in the 1950s. 

Her fourth novel, The Undertaker, proved popular and readers asked for a sequel.

The Undertaker:Masquerade was published in 2017 and a third installment in the series is planned. 

Carmel has written thousands of news stories and features articles for magazines and newspapers, and now spends her time researching and writing historical fiction. 

Murder In The Bush is available directly from the author for $25 (including postage) by emailing scotsnews@iinet.net.au or visit www.amazon.com for paperbacks and e-books.

The story Towers murder mystery first appeared on North Queensland Register.

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