Goldie Alexander’s book, The youngest Cameleer brings to life the exploration to the interior led by William Gosse in 1873. She has based her story on Gosse’s own journal.
Goldie has chosen to tell this story from the point of view of 13 year old Ahmed Ackbar, the youngest cameleer who has to cope with homesickness and the perils of the expedition.
He is also grieving for his father who died in mysterious circumstances that Ahmed is determined to get to the bottom of. Ahmed suspects that his father’s brother, Uncle Kamran was involved, an added uncertainty he must deal with on the trip.
Goldie Alexander blends fact and story seamlessly in The youngest Cameleer to create a fascinating work of historical fiction that both informs and entertains.
She also captures the unpredictability of the Australian wilderness.
“It being close to dusk, we were trekking along a dry riverbed when I heard the sound of rushing water. I ran to where the bed takes a sharp turn. To my astonishment a stream of frothing brown water was heading straight at me. Meanwhile up ahead came cries of ‘Watch out! Flood’!”
Ahmed is an engaging character and the reader is introduced to his Muslim lifestyle and the cultural differences of the participants of the expedition.
There was also plenty to learn about camels and the way they live and how their bodies have adapted to the harsh environment in which they live.
The youngest Cameleer is told in diary form with Ahmed giving all kinds of details of the trip and his experiences.
“The nights are so cold, I wear my pakal and my coat, and even then I’m half-frozen.”
As the expedition continues so does Ahmed’s story and when he confronts uncle Kamran about his father’s death, the truth is not what he expected.