‘There were 1200 students at Punchbowl Boys High School in 1985. That year a brick was hurled at Mr Stratton’s head and a gradual process of expulsions began so that by the time I arrived at the school in 1998, there were only 299 students left.’
'I began to imagine the landscape of Byron Bay, so as to rehearse in advance the pitfalls awaiting. For a setting: the vague image of a beach somewhere: a bright sun and a long curving beach populated by tourists in shorts and thongs, the air stinking of seaweed and sunscreen, a hot burning sensation spread across my cheeks and sand between my toes. High to the right, I saw a limestone lighthouse on a hill, and seagulls rising to a background of clouds. This seemed a suitable conception of a beachside paradiso, one likely to fit some part of the bay’s picture. A memory intervened in this idyll: I remembered what it should not be possible to forget: for a while, at least, I was a married man, and had honeymooned deep in the forests of the riverlands of northern New South Wales, stopping and staying in Byron on the way there.'