Lost Boy

Lost Boy

Lost Boy

Lost Boy


This journalistic book relates one of the most gripping news events in Australia in 1993—the disappearance of 8-year-old Clinton Liebelt in the outback. A reporter who originally covered the incident revisits this compelling mystery and shares the uplifting story of how one child's tragic disappearance united an entire community. Based on personal interviews, newspaper articles, and oral history, a compelling picture emerges of the more than 1,000 volunteers who united in an effort to save a young life.


It was raining fish outside the Dunmarra Wayside Inn. Thousands of them; tiny flapping hatchlings which appeared to have been born in the clouds above the desert and dumped into the giant parking lot built for the road trains that thundered past along the Stuart Highway.

They flopped and flailed in the puddles that formed in the rutted surface, gasping as if surprised by their abrupt entrance to life. Picked off by scavenging birds or dying as the puddles evaporated in the hot air, their existence would end almost as quickly as it began, although the stench would last for days.

Adele Liebelt watched the weird sight from inside the roadhouse. She tried to concentrate on preparing the breakfast menu chalked on the giant blackboard above her head but, like the other early morning staff, couldn't stay in the kitchen for more than a few minutes without taking another look outside.

Adele's day always began the same way—rising before dawn to open the roadhouse and prepare dozens of hot meals in time for the steady stream of travellers who needed feeding. On this overcast March morning in 1994 she had woken to the thumping sound of the torrential downpour and had been in no hurry to make the short dash between the house and the sprawling roadhouse; at least, not until she saw the fish. They had appeared from nowhere. Most were barely a centimetre long. Others were three times the size. There were even tiny crabs scuttling past the petrol bowsers. It seemed impossible.

Adele had seen many strange things during the six years she and husband Steve had lived at Dunmarra—a pinprick on the road maps of the Northern Territory; a rest place and fuelling stop for truckies . . .

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