THE popularity of Arthur Murdoch’s classic book ‘Sheer Grit’ was such that original copies sell for around $200.
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Even the second edition, hardcover copies, go for well over $100.
But, dear reader, we are getting ahead of ourselves so it’s perhaps best to wind back the clock to the Great Depression years of the 1930s to begin our tale.
Arthur Murdock was a working class man who decided to carve out a living by mining shell grit from the shoreline and holes around the Island at Fingal Bay.
In those times, people kept poultry in the backyard.
They [the chooks] needed shell grit in their diet to help grind up the food and to provide calcium for the eggshells. Hardware and produce merchants sold it by the bag and Arthur supplied them.
Arthur’s story is a marvel of descriptive prose for a person of scant education.
His narrative could very well rival that of A B Facey’s blockbuster ‘A Fortunate Life’ which ended up as a school textbook and a film.
Murdoch paints a broad picture of life in those times.
He describes the village of Nelson Bay, the fisherman, how he constructed his hut and jetty and rowed and towed his grit up Tilligerry Creek.
The lonely lighthouse keepers get a mention as do the swarms of mosquitoes and the dangerous shifting sands of the spit which joined the Island to the mainland.
The second edition of ‘Sheer Grit’ (2000 copies) was published by Blue Cow Press in Nelson Bay and sold out.
It is now back in print in soft cover and is available for a mere $20 at Tanilba Newsagency (that NOTA know of) and no doubt other outlets in Port Stephens.
By Geoff WALKER