> Skip to content
  • Published: 5 March 2019
  • ISBN: 9780143795490
  • Imprint: Penguin
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 288
  • RRP: $22.99

The Shepherd's Hut

Extract

I

When I hit the bitumen and get that smooth grey rumble going under me everything’s hell different. Like I’m in a fresh new world all slick and flat and easy. Even with the engine working up a howl and the wind flogging in the window the sounds are real soft and pillowy. Civilized I mean. Like you’re still on the earth but you don’t hardly notice it anymore. And that’s hectic. You’d think I never got in a car before. But when you’ve hoofed it like a dirty goat all these weeks and months, when you’ve had the stony slow prickle-up hard country right in your face that long it’s bloody sudden. Some crazy shit, I tell you. Brings on this angel feeling. Like you’re just one arrow of light.

And bugger me, here I am hitting a hundred already and still not even in top gear. On squishy upholstery, with one of them piney tree things jiggling off the mirror. I’m flying. And just sitting on me arse to do it. Off the ground. Out of the dirt. And I’m no kind of beast anymore.

So what does that make me? Someone you won’t see coming, that’s what. Something you can’t hardly imagine.

Say I hit your number, called you up, you’d wonder what the fuck, every one of youse, and your mouth’d go dry. Maybe you’re just some stranger I pocket-dialled. Or one of them shitheads from school I could look for. Any of youse heard my voice now you’d think it was weather. Or a bird screaming. You’d be sweating sand. Like I’m the end of the world.

Well, no need to worry. I don’t forgive you, none of youse, but I’m over all that now. You’re all in the past.

Me phone’s flat anyway. Plugged into the dash, charging or dying, I dunno which. So relax, I’m not calling. Everything’s changed. I’m not what I was. All I am now is a fresh idea fanging north up the highway to where it’s hot and safe and secret. I got someone to collect. In Magnet. She’ll be waiting and ready. Least I hope so.

Fifth gear. It took a few goes to find but I’m there now. With red dirt flashing by. Mulga scrub. Glinty stones. Roadkill crows. The Jeep reeks from all them sloshing jerry cans in the back. But the windows are open and the wind is warm and the stink of petrol beats the smell of blood any day.

All of a sudden I’m hungry. I get the .410 by the neck and heave it over on the back seat. I shove the box of shells away to get at the food and it’s still warm on the tin plate. It’s good and greasy and tastes of smoke. From the first swallow I get a hot charge.

And I drive like that, just under the limit, with a chop in one hand and the wheel in the other. Laughing hard enough to choke. For the first time in me life I know what I want and I have what it takes to get me there. If you never experienced that I feel sorry for you.

But it wasn’t always like this. I been through fire to get here. I seen things and done things and had shit done to me you couldn’t barely credit. So be happy for me. And for fucksake don’t get in my way.


The Shepherd's Hut Tim Winton

A rifle-shot of a novel – crisp, fast, shocking – The Shepherd’s Hut is an urgent masterpiece about solitude, unlikely friendship, and the raw business of survival.

Buy now
Buy now

More extracts

See all
The Boy Behind the Curtain

On the beach one day, as I was sliding my board back onto the tray of the ute and trying to clear my sinuses of salty water, an old neighbour who was passing by with his dog told me he didn’t know...

Sixty-Seven Days

My fifteenth birthday is stinging with a blistering heatwave. Balloons and streamers are dangling off the clothesline, motionless.

Book of Night

Charlie’s ugly Crocs stuck to the mats on the floor behind the bar, making a sticky, squelching sound.

The Making of Her

The day started early. Joan had been up for hours.

Gathering Storms

Lisa arrived in Southbend in mid-November on a day of gathering storms, when the air dripped with humidity and the huge grey-white cumulus clouds were piled like soapsuds above the line of timber fronting the banks of the Rainsford River.

Here Goes Nothing

The beginning of the end

Abomination

To avoid being seen by their teachers or anyone in the frum community who might dob Yonatan in, they ignored the tram stop outside the 7-Eleven on the corner of Hotham and Balaclava and opted for one further down the road.

Elizabeth Finch

She stood before us, without notes, books or nerves. The lectern was occupied by her handbag.

Mothertongues

Christmas Eve. I’m sitting in Cafe Flore in San Francisco.

The Mallee Girl

Pippa Black stared out the kitchen window at the dusty sun-beaten paddocks beyond.

Lessons in Chemistry

The thirty-year-old mother of Madeline Zott rose before dawn every morning and felt certain of just one thing: her life was over.

Till Death, or a Little Light Maiming, Do Us Part

Why is it that just when you think you have all the answers, life starts asking all the wrong questions?