Sunday, December 18, 2011

A monumental experience

Here's a picture of a cheetah, next to what appears to be a termite mound with a slit in it but which is, in fact, a man-made underground viewing hide.

There are two people inside the hide. The cheetah seems to be saying, hmmm, I love these things, crunchy on the outside, soft on the inside.

Who, you might ask, would be so silly as to sit in such a thing, with an esky (cooler box) full of beer while wild animals come and stick their faces, trunks and other bits and bobs through the aforementioned hole?

For the answer, I urge you all to waste a little more time and click through to my Getaway Magazine blog here. There's a report on my recent travels in Zimbabwe and my stay at 'The Hide', one of the most beautiful game lodges I've ever been to.

As for the here and now, I'm in the gold mining town of Barberton, where I believe The Power of One was set. I don't know for sure, as I saw the movie and didn't read the book. I'm doing a bit of research for Book 10.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Bom dia

Which means, i think, good morning in portuguese.
My iphone seems to have given up on facebook so i'm trying to blog from it now. Excuse the typos and lack of capitals (and words) as i'm using the infuriatingly tiny keyboard.

Mrs blog and i are now back in south africa after 10 lovely days on the beach in mozambique. I shall now attempt to post a pic or two.

Should they materialise they are, in whatever order and wherever they appear, of my 'office' overlooking the beach at ponta da barra near inhambane (the office being our campsite) and a fetching shot of a goat hitching a lift on a truck bound for the capital, maputo.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

A nice review from The Times

Greetings, all, from the very hot Biyamiti Bushveld Camp in the Kruger National Park. As I type this I'm watching 20 elephants and four buffalo jostling for position in the remaining pools in the Biyamiti River, just on the other side of the camp fence.

It doesn't get much better than that, my LOF (Legion of Fans... all three of you) unless, of course, you get a generally favourable review of your latest book in a UK daily broadsheet, such as The Times. And looky here what just appeared, last weekend.....

The Times,
Saturday, November 5
Book Reviews, Fiction
Peter Millar

Tony Park has set himself the mammoth task of re-creating a quite different world, also going from bad times to worse, in African Dawn, a sprawling family history of Rhodesia-Zimbabwe from the 1950s to the present day. We start with the 1959 protests about bus fares that highlighted the plight of unempowered native Africans in their own country, and continue through to the brutal expulsions of white farmers from what they, in turn, considered their ancestral lands in recent years.

There are a few stereotypes in the wronged black child who goes on to become a corrupt evil warlord and big-game poacher, the womanising gun-slinging colonial who goes off the rails, his hard-done-by introverted brother and two generations of up-for-it plucky gals. But there is probably some truth in all of them.

The anthropomorphising of a loner black rhino calf jars at first but he goes on to become an important leitmotif running through a half century of blood-soaked history. Park’s obvious role model is that great master of the colonial epic, Wilbur Smith, whose fans will not be disappointed to have found their spiritual heir.

Some big words in there, but not bad, eh? (I'd probably prefer to be Wilbur's actual monetary heir, rather than spiritual heir, but I'll take whatever I can get).

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Back from the Wilderness

I've just had a fantastic couple of weeks in the wilds of Zambia and Zimbabwe and have now returned to the land of tar roads, airconditioning and Wimpy - The Republic of South Africa (that, incidentally was how a South African expat living in Uganda disparagingly referred to his homeland to me a few years ago. Myself, I see nothing wrong with tar roads, air conditioning and Wimpy bars).

Anyway, down to business first. I will be shamelessly spruiking the South African release of my latest book AFRICAN DAWN at a few bookstore events in Johannesburg and Nelspruit in the next couple of weeks. Sorry for the short notice, but hope you can make it to one of the following (oh, and please check timings with the stores concerned as I've been known to get these wrong in the past!!)

Wednesday, 2 November 6pm for 6.30pm

Exclusive Books The Glen
Shop M13 Fountain Court
The Glen Shopping Centre
Cnr Orpen & Letaba Road Oakdene

Thursday, 3 November 6.30pm for 7pm

Novel Books
Shop F8a, Hobart Grove Shopping Centre,
Cnr. Hobart and Grosvenor Roads
RSVP: 011 463 9320 or

Thursday, 10 November 6pm for 6.30pm

Exclusive Books Nelspruit
Riverside Mall, White River Road

I'm madly catching up with emails and have just sent out a new newsletter and I'm trying to get back into blogging (hence this quick post).

I have, in fact, just posted a fairly lengthy blog on our recent travels in Zambia which you can read on my Getaway Blog here

I'll catch up with all the news soon, but in the meantime I thought I'd share just a very few pics from our recent travels, in no particular order...

Snapped this fleet footed impala and rhino at the marvellous Marakele National Park in South Africa. Amazingly (for a South African park) the camping ground is unfenced and the rhinos here wander into the camping ground - as do ostrich, wildebeest and various other critters.

We saw this magnificent male lion in Madikwe Game Reserve while staying with our friends Paul and Julia who work in the very agreeable Jaci's Lodge

As in previous years I'll be blogging soon about this year's annual game census in Zimbabwe's Hwange National Park. This lioness (above) and her sister killed a Zebra during the night while we were counting animals. We came across her the next morning and she charged our Land Rover twice before dragging her kill deeper into the bush. Great to see lions in the Robins area and our friends who accompanied us later had three separate lion sightings in Hwange's Main Camp area. Who said there were no animals left in Hwange? (Not me).

Moon rising over Hwange National Park during the game census (above).

Here's a little taste of some of the great game viewing we had at The Hide private
game lodge in Hwange after the game census. I'll save it for a future blog, but suffice it to say I had one of the most amazing game viewing experiences of my life at The Hide. A fantastic place.

Well, that's it for now, but I promise I will be back.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Some pictures

Greetings from Skukuza Camp in the Kruger National Park. I posted some pics from my Flickr account here over on facebook, but if you're not on facebook then click on that 'here' back then for a look.

I'm finding facebook easy to use, particularly the mobile uploads of pictures, but it's also quite limiting, which is why I promise I'll keep coming back to the blog. I thought I might use the space here to give a bit of background to some of the pictures.

The wild dogs were a trio we came across on an early drive from Pretoriuskop to Skukuza about a week ago. It's always a thrill to see the dogs as they're usually active - sniffing each other and anything manky they can find in the bush; running and jumping and playing as they limber up for a kill; and they're completely at ease around cars and often quite curious. Mrs Blog and I thought these guys were looking for the rest of their pack as they were making this weird high pitched noise, almost like mooing. We'd heard dogs whining and yelping before, but never this sound.

The waterbuck (big shaggy grey antelope with curved horns) pics were taken at Transport Dam, scene of the famous 'Battle At Kruger' video on Youtube. If by chance you haven't seen it, it's well worth a look. Transport Dam was also where I took the pic of the Blacksmith Plover (at least I think that's what it is) dive bombing the African Fish Eagle.

The Grey Heron (that's the grey bird) taking off; the tiny brightly coloured Malachite Kingfisher with the red beak; and the Crake (little brown bird with yellow beak) watching the baby croc slide into the water, were all taken at the fantastic Lake Panic Bird Hide near Skukuza. This is one of my favourite bird spotting spots in Africa. There's always something going on there.

The hippos and the pics of Broomas, our trusty white 1997 300Tdi Land Rover Defender were all taken on the Madlabantu 4x4 adventure trail, near Pretoriuskop Camp in the south of Kruger. The 4x4 adventure trails are actually not really 4x4 trails or all that adventurous, but they are great fun. There are a few of these trails in Kruger - basically secondary bush roads and fire trails formerly only accessible to national parks vehicles. The good thing about them, though, is that they give tourists (like us) access to remote areas, away from the rest of the traffic in Kruger (principally because you have to pay R460 - about AUD$65 for the day to use the trail). It's worth the money as you can explore on your own, get out of your vehicle when you want to, and generally feel like Lord Jim of Africa, master of your own domain. The hippos were in a pool we had to ford through (I say 'ford' like it was a big deal, but the water at the crossing point was maybe 25 cm deep). The hippos were very close, though.

Mrs Blog took the rhino shots and I particularly like the one with the giraffe in the background.

Finally, the leopard shots were a couple of old ones still on the camera from my last Readers' Safari to South Africa back in July. I took these on a game drive out of the absolutely sublime Kirkman's Kamp in the Sabi Sand private game reserve on the edge of Kruger. We had a ball on that trip and plans are afoot for more trips, possibly in 2012, and almost certainly in 2013. Feel free to drop me a line via my website or on facebook if you're interested in joining me in Africa on a tour some time.

Oh, yes, and last of last the helicopter is a South African National Parks aircraft. Mrs B and I watched it circling a rhino just near the Diospane Road on the way to Skukuza one morning last week. In the back, with his dart gun (you won't really be able to make him out in this pic) is Kruger Park veterinarian Dr Peter Buss. Peter's a great guy who helped me a good deal with some of my research for my latest book, 'AFRICAN DAWN'.

Must get back to work now. Oh, and if you're not my friend on facebook yet please feel free to befriend me here.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

AFRICAN DAWN, coming soon the UK and South Africa

Yes, I know it's been a long time since I blogged, but I've been busy writing a 1oth novel, OK? (The ninth is being edited and is due out next year).

First up, I just like to see a very big and very humble thank you to every in Australia and New Zealand who bought a copy of my latest book AFRICAN DAWN. It's because of you that I am where I am in the Nielsen Bookscan Top 10 list (above). As my publisher in the UK at Quercus Books said to me in a very nice email today, "if you can't trumpet number one, then what's left to shout about?"

I'm not sure where I sit in the overall fiction Top 10 (the list above is Australian fiction), but I do know that a couple of weeks ago I was number 2 overall behind some fellow named Patterson, or something like that.

I'm also very pleased to announce that AFRICAN DAWN will be released in the UK and South Africa very soon - in October, in fact. Here's the cover for the UK/RSA edition...

I'm currently tapping away on my laptop in the Kruger National Park in South Africa. I've been dabbling a bit on facebook so if you haven't befriended me there, please feel free to do so.

I also have good intentions of blogging more. Mrs Blog and I are off to Botswana, Zambia and Zimbabwe soon and I should have much to write about from this trip, although it's usually quite hard for me to connect to the internet in all three of those countries. Stay tuned...

Sunday, August 14, 2011

First review of African Dawn, and it's a keeper.

This was in the Daily Telegraph (Sydney), on Saturday, August 13. (Click on the review to make it bigger).

Saturday, August 13, 2011

The perfect gift for the man who has everything

I don't want for much in life. I have a beautiful wife, the best job in the world, a 1997 300Tdi Land Rover Defender, and I get to live half the year in the two best places in the world - Australia and Africa.

I'm not really into 'stuff', but I've got just about all the gadgets I can think of that make travelling in Africa possible and comfortable. So it's not easy when it comes to buying me presents. Mrs Blog struggles, although she did come up with a corker recently, a Garmin GPS running watch for my birthday.

This is a fantastic gadget, although it's doing its best to kill me. I like running, but it wasn't until I got my watch that I knew just how far I was running, and how fast. Now whenever I go for a run I know what my last speed was, and I've been trying to increase my pace. I've posted a few of these runs on facebook, as after I've finished I'm able to upload a map of the run and all the details about pace and calories burned etc to the internet, for a fascinated worldwide audience to devour. Whether or not anyone else cares about my running prowess or not, I do... and I am, to put it simply, knackered this week after pushing myself to a number of personal bests.

But enough about running and more about gift giving.

I'm into the second week of my round (parts of) Australia and New Zealand book tour, to promote my latest novel AFRICAN DAWN. I've been having a good time and meeting lots of readers and booksellers and librarians (all of whom are my favourite people).

It's not required, by any means, but often when I've given a talk the bookseller or library who organised it will present me with a gift. Often it's a bottle of wine or a book, and these are just the perfect gifts for me as I love reading and drinking to excess.

There's not much else I could have imagined a book talk organiser giving me, so imagine how surprised I was when the lovely people from Beaumaris Books in Victoria gave me an AIRSICKNESS BAG!

I don't know if you can imagine how thrilled I was because... and this is the first time I have revealed this publicly (other than at Beaumaris), I collect spew bags.

Yes. True.

Cheryl from Beaumaris Books had, unknown to me, contacted my ace former publicist (she's just left Macmillan, sadly) Louise, and asked her if there was anything quirky I might like as a gift. I suppose it doesn't get any quirkier than Barf Bags, but that's what Louise suggested. I didn't even remember I'd told her about my collection. I must have been drunk at the time.

Cheryl presented me with a King Island Air airsickness bag which she was safe in thinking I did not have in my collection. When I got home to Sydney I decided I must get out my (what is the collective noun for vommit bags?) 'retch' of bags. I was surprised to see I had more than 40 of them and, decided I must lay them out on the carpet and gaze upon them in all their glory.

I don't really remember why I started collecting barf bags. It's not like I've had great need for them, although I have been guilty of losing my lunch a couple of times on military aircraft - specifically while pushing things and myself out of the back of the old CCO8 Caribou twin engine transports the Royal Australian Air Force used to fly.

These aircraft had a reputation for being very bumpy in turbulence, but my mishaps were usually alcohol related, as in the olden days of irresponsible drinking in the Army Reserve we did give the booze a bit of a nudge on training weekends. I remember going on one flight that was so rough the pilots were tossing their cookies while trying to hold the aircraft steady!

Still, nauseous nostalgia aside, each of the bags in the collection reminded me of a past travel adventure. Or sometimes not... Pictured below is what I imagine is now a highly sought-after air sickness bag in the world of airsickness bag collecting as it's from the now defunct Lauda Air, an Australian airline set up by former Formula 1 driver Niki Lauda. I just wish I could remember when and where I flew on Lauda Air. Perhaps this memory is alcohol-related as well.

I found several bags from Red Rat Airlines (aka our national carrier, Qantas) including this rather retro gem featuring the old winged kangaroo airline. I like the pattern too, which would seem to scream some time in 70s. However, in the 70s my family was too poor to fly Qantas (or any other airline for that matter), so I wonder where this one came from.

In fact, it was seeming to me that rather than bringing back memories of past flights this collection could have belonged to someone else, but then the haze started to clear.

I remember grabbing this little number because I thought I might need it on a flight to the MULL OF KINTYRE! Yes. I actually flew to the Mull of Kintyre in Scotland on a British Royal Air Force C-130 Hercules aircraft in 1993. Mrs Blog and I lived in the UK for a year where I worked as a journalist on a country paper in Buckinghamshire and spent weekends serving with the British Territorial Army (their version of the army reserve) on attachment as an Army air dispatcher. As in Australia my job back then was pushing stuff out of aeroplanes.

I remember thinking it would be quite embarrassing if I threw up on that flight as the plane was full of British SAS men. What I didn't realise until I had a closer look at their top secret special forces Land Rovers while I was unloading them on the Mull of Kintyre airstrip was that these were actually the SAS's elite cooks. Their vehicles included pots and pans and cookers and leaked dirty chip oil on to the Hercules' floor and my face as I scrambled underneath to release the tie down chains holding them in place. So, in hindsight, I guessed that as Army chefs they were used to seeing soldiers throw up and wouldn't have been overly offended if I had been airsick.

I love this NATO-issue air force air sickness bag, because it's called, in true military ass-backwards fashion, a 'Bag, Air Sickness', and has instructions for use by simple soldiers. Classic.

Here's one (above) that definitely reminds me of a memorable trip - my first holiday overseas as a 21-year-old, to Vietnam. Back in 1985 Vietnam was not nearly as open to travellers as it is these days and I had to be shepherded everywhere by secret policemen disguised as tour guides.

I flew Vietnam Airlines from Saigon to Da Nang in a Russian Dropawingoff twin-engined rust bucket. The seatback of the seat I was in refused to return from the recline position and rested, broken, in the lap of the polite passenger behind me for the entire flight. I sat, or rather perched, next to a veteran of the liberation war dressed in a sharp Russian suit and we conversed in school boy french about how bad the Devon sandwich in the inflight meal was, and why the petit coffee cups looked liked they'd come from a child's tea set.

I have some other classic air sickness bags that did bring back some fond memories. There was the one from Tarom Airlines, Romania's national carrier that Mrs Blog and I had the great misfortune to travel on. Tarom had (and if it's still flying no doubt still has) the worse safety record in the air.

We were upgraded to First Class on a trip from Bucharest to Istanbul becuas the plane was triple booked, but as we weren't paying as first class passengers the bee-hived flight attendant in our cabin refused to serve us. Instead, she sat in a seat across the aisle in the otherwise empty compartment (if you can afford to fly first class on Tarom you fly economy on some other airline), and glared at us throughout the flight.

I also found a bag from Merpati, an Indonesian airline so unreliable that it's unofficial slogan is 'It's Merpati and they'll fly if they want to, fly if they want to'.

Like I said, I don't really remember why I started this collection, or why I've held on to it, but if you're ever stuck for a gift for me, give the gift that will keep coming up, as long as people drink and fly.

(NB: Attention libraries and booksellers, I'm short of a Virgin Blue bag).

Monday, August 01, 2011

See me, hear me... please!


I'm about to embark on a tour of (parts of) Australia and New Zealand. Forgive me if I'm not coming to your state (sorry Queensland... don't take it personally as I love your weather, if not your beer).

Here's where I'll be...


MELBOURNE - Beaumaris

7PM Author Talk

Host: Beaumaris Books

Venue: Malt Café,

23 - 35 South Concourse, Beaumaris

Phone: 03 9589 4638



7.00PM Author Talk

Host: Collins Shepparton

Venue: The Attik (upstairs at Letizia's restaurant)

67 Fryers Street, Shepparton

Contact: Geoff


Phone: 03 5831 1161

*Refreshments to be served*


SYDNEY - Mosman

7.00PM Author Talk

Host: Mosman Library

Venue: Mosman Library, Library Walk, 605 Military Road, Mosman

Phone: 02 9969 9736 / 0422 127 401


SYDNEY - Castle Hill

7.30PM Author Talk

Castle Hill Library

14 Pennant Street, Castle Hill



6.00PM Author Talk

Host: Dymocks Joondalup

Venue: Joondalup Library

102 Boas Avenue, Joondalup

Phone: 08 9300 0895


1PM Author Talk

Host: Mandurah Library

331 Pinjarra Road, Mandurah

7.00PM Cocktail function

Painted Dog Conservation Charity Event

Hyatt Regency Perth

99 Adelaide Terrace, Perth

Contact: John Lemon



3.30PM Book Signing

Castle Plaza Bookshop

Castle Plaza Shopping Centre

992 South Road, Edwardstow

ADELAIDE - Marion Cultural Centre

7.30PM Author Talk

Host:Marion Cultural Centre

Venue: Marion Cultural Centre

287 Diagonal Road, Oaklands Park

Contact: Jenny Newman (Adult Program & Events Coordinator)


Phone: 08 8375 6754



Mudgee Readers' Festival

See for program.



5:30PM Author talk and signing Taupo Paper Plus

Very limited numbers.

Tickets only $10 from Paper Plus,

41 - 43 Heu Heu St,

Taupo. Ph 07 378 5838



5:30PM Author talk Benny's Bookstore

please collect your ticket at Benny's

Books, seats are limited.

Wine and nibbles provided.

21-23 Devon St East

New Plymouth

06 7594350 or

 FRIDAY AUGUST 26th, 2011


12.00pm Bar Africa Restaurant,

1B William Pickering Drive, Albany

Cost: $25 (buffet lunch plus glass of wine or beer)

Tickets available from Paper Plus Glenfield, ph: 441 7084

or Bar Africa Restaurant.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Readers' safari Part 2 - Kirkman's Kamp to Kaapstad.

Before we left Imbali Private Game Lodge the members of my readers' tour were able to tick off a couple more of the Big Five, namely, a nice relaxed herd of elehants we came across at dusk (above), and a couple of herds of Buffalo.

From Imbali we travelled through the Kruger National Park and exited the park via a gate behind the old Skukuza Airport, which lead to the Sabi Sand Game Reserve.

The Sabi Sand is one of a number of private game reserves strung alond Kruger's western border, forming what's known as the Great Kruger National Park. The Sabi Sand is the stuff of legend when it comes to game viewing and the area has a reputation as a prime leopard spotting destination. I'd never been there until this tour.

For those who can't be bothered reading the last post, or tuning into my drunken ravings on Facebook (I'm worried now that I've learned to upload photos and post from my iphone), I've been hosting a tour of readers of my books from Australia and New Zealand around South Africa with my friend and partner in crime Wayne from the Africa Safari Co.

The Sabi Sand lies between the Sabie and the Sand Rivers and our destination was Kirman's Kamp (yes, with a 'K'). Kirkmans is run by a company called &Beyond (yes, with an ampersand) which manages a number of premier safari properties around Africa. I'd stayed at another of their camps a few years ago, so I was ready to be suitably impressed.

In fact, KK (Kirkman's Kamp, not former NSW Premier Kristina Keneally) blew me away.

The layout and buildings of the camp were quite unlike other posh (and not so posh) private safari camps where I've stayed. The camp is arrayed around an old farm house, once the home of a man named Harry Kirkman, who was famous for failing at cattle farming, succeeding at killing lots of lions, and infamous for his taste in headgear (all of the pictures of him around the house show him wearing a pointy had with a leopard skin pugaree).

Thankfully there's not more killing of lions or making hatbands out of leopards, on Kirkman's property (actually called Toulon) these days. Instead, guests lounge in the big house - a mix of colonial bric a brac and sleek, sympathetic modern additions - and dine on truly pukkah cuisine in its courtyard (and get sloshed in the bar before and after). Accomodation is in a line of rooms overlooking the Sand River.

In between all of that eating and drinking (and there is a lot of both), the real business of the visit takes place - game viewing.

As with our time at Imbali it was bitterly cold, but there was less of a wind chill factor in the open vehicle as we were driving slowly most of the time. Instead of racing through the relatively open country around Imbali, in the Sabi Sand we were making like our (photographic) pray, the leopard, by sneaking about, in the hope of ambushing our quarry.

The Sabi Sand camps are, generally speaking, expensive, and their well-heeled guests expect maximum bang for their buck. The rangers and their guides make no bones of the fact that they're not averse to hunting for big cats. (In fairness, though, out excellent guide Mark said he would go searching for whatever we wanted to see, especially birds, and he proved to be very knowledgeble on all matters twitching).

In the reverse snobbery of game viewing, self-drive visitors to Africa's parks (and this is me 99 per cent of the time) like to say that they're not actually out looking for lions and leopards, but rather just keen on pottering about the bush looking at trees and birds and impalas and crap like that (below).

There's an element of truth to this - Mrs Blog and I, for example, have the luxury of time when it comes to animal spotting so we're rarely in a rush to tick off the big five. However, the most laid back of regular visitors to Kruger and its surrounding would be stretching the bounds of credibility if they said their heart rate didn't increase a few beats when they found a leopard.

So, when some of our group stated they wanted to see more leopards (we'd already seen one in Kruger), Mark and tracker Eckson were more than happy to oblige. Another nice thing about Kirkman's was that our group of nine was spread over two safari vehicles. Ranger Ralph and his tracker took the rest of our readers' tour a-hunting.

Literally within minutes of starting our first drive Ralph had spotted a leopard, and Mark took us to share the sighting. He was a beauty - big male. Although he looks like he's growling in this pic he's actually displaying a flemen response - a type of grimmace which allows him to pick up the scent of a female in heat. So he's not angry, just horny.

In true Sabi Sand fashion we followed the cat through the bush. Driving off road is a no-no for self drive visitors in Kruger and is strictly controlled in the park's private concessions. In the Sabi Sand and other reserves, however, bush bashing is often the order of the day.

Interestingly, as Mark pointed out, one type of creature was directly benefitting from our off-road pursuit of the leopard.

A fork tailed drongo (a bird, left, and yes, it is a drongo) flittered around after our open topped Land Rover (a champion old Tdi called 'Old Smokey' for reasons any Land Rover owner will understand), catching insects dislodged from the bush by our progress through the grass and trees.

The next morning we actually missed out on seeing a leopard (Ralph's crew did get to see another beauty, but all I ended up catching was the tip of its tail as it disappeared into some thick reeds on the edge of the Sand River.

However, our group wasn't disappointed as March and Eckson tracked down a nice pair of white rhinos browsing just near the KK staff encampment.

We watched these gentle, mostly blind creatures meander around, hurting no one except the grass (their non aggressivenmess towards man and other species makes their slaughter by poachers all the more disgusting).

Mark was able to deliver a long commentary as the rhinos blundered closer and closer to us, before we finally left them to be enjoyed by some other visitors.

On the afternoon drive, however, we struck black and gold when we followed reports (the vehicles in the Sabi Sand all communication by radio) of a young leopardess up a tree with an impala she had killed. Some of the camps in the Sabi Sand have reciprocal traversing deals which means they can cross on to neighbouring properties. We left the Kirkman's farm and crossed on to Lion Sands' land and found this lovely young lady, resting safe and sound above a pair of prowling hyenas who were waiting for some morsels to fall from her arboreal dining table.

Kirkman's proved to be lots of fun and very peaceful and relaxing in between game viewing and drinking. Even the walk home to the rooms in the evening was an adventure, thanks to a resident pack of Hyena loping about on the lawns. Manageress Colleen told us this was nothing - they'd recently had a resident leopard who used to sneak up to the lodge on cold nights and sleep on one of the outdoor couches.

All good things must, as they say, result in a hangover... I mean come to an end, and we reluctantly said goodbye to Kirkmans and headed to South Africa's most famous K-Town, Kaapstad (Cape Town).

I've written far too much in this blog and as I'm currently in the Shongololo airport lounge at O.R. Tambo International Airport in Johanessburg it behooves me to go get another beer. If you'd like to see what my readers and I got up to on the luxurious Blue Train, and in Cape Town, then I would encourage you to befriend me on Facebook and check out the many pics I've posted there.

Monday, July 11, 2011

2011 Readers' Tour... Part 1

To tell you the truth I’d forgotten just how bitterly, unrelentingly, bone-cuttingly cold an open-vehicle game drive in July in the Kruger National Park could be.

I’d also forgotten how fantastic it is to be in the bush at this time of year.

Because of my publishing schedule and Mrs Blog’s work commitments, she and I usually visit Africa between the months of September and March. This means we cop the southern African wet season, but it also means we’re rarely dressed in anything warmer than shorts and T-shirts.

It sounded like a good idea at the time, organizing this year’s 12-day tour of South Africa for readers of my books for July. I knew the bush in the Kruger Park would be thinning out as the long dry winter turned the grass from emerald to khaki, and the mopane leaves to red-gold. It’s also a good time of year to come on safari because rivers and waterholes are drying out and the park’s animals are congregating around the remaining natural and man made water points.

But it’s cold. Damn cold. Africa cold.

Getting back to the positives it’s also a brilliant time of year to take photographs. The sky is clear and blue nearly every day and there’s narrow band of dust sitting just above the horizon that makes for dramatic blood-red sunsets and sunrises. So, if you don’t mind losing the odd digit to frostbite, it’s a great time of year to go on safari.

We started this year’s tour by flying into Johannesburg, which resembled London on a bad winters’ day. Not that it was daytime when we arrived (as it should have been). The Chilean volcano ash cloud caused our direct Sydney-Johannesburg flight to not be direct – we had to stop at Perth to re-fuel and this added about five hours to our journey.

We arrived late, but met up with two members of our party who’d arrived early… at least they would have arrived early if their flight from Perth hadn’t been delayed 15 hours by mechanical problems. However, better late than never, we assembled in Tribes Restaurant in the Emperors’ Palace Casino complex near Johannesburg’s O.R. Tambo International Airport and got stuck into it.

I’d also (nearly) forgotten just how good South African beef is, and how cheap their plonk is (compared to alcoholic beverages in Australia). Once chilled (as in out, not frozen), I retired to my small but perfectly formed room in the Peermont Metcourt Hotel for a good four-and-a-half hours sleep.

Just like the last tour, this year’s crew are an excellent bunch of people. In fact, we have two returnees from the first trip. We assembled the next morning and caught an SA Airlink flight from O.R. Tambo to Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport (KMIA) near Nelspruit.

From KMIA we drove to the town of Hazyview, near the south-western corner of the Kruger Park. Hazyview’s a bustling safari town and home to Inspector Sannie van Rensburg (the heroine of one of my novels, ‘SILENT PREDATOR’). The point of the tour is to point out places where the action has taken place in some of my books so I showed the group where Alex Tremain car-jacked a four wheel drive (in ‘IVORY’) and where Sannie and Tom had a gunfight with a baddie on Sannie’s banana farm. I also pointed out what a safe country South Africa is to live in.

That afternoon we went to the Elephant Whispers elephant rehabilitation centre, for elephants with substance abuse problems (one was nearly shot for trying to overdose on oranges on a citrus farm). I’m going to blog more about Elephant Whispers on my Getaway Magazine blog in due course because I liked it a good deal, unlike some other wildlife rehab places, which, to paraphrase Ms Amy Whine-house, I would not like to go to again.

We stayed the night in Hazyview at Rissington Inn, owned by fellow writer and all-round decent chap Chris Harvie, who unfortunately wasn’t there as he was up-country – up several countries, in fact, in Tanzania. I love Rissington Inn. It’s quaint and old worldy. It’s the sort of place where you’d be executed under rule .303 talking on your mobile phone in the bar, yet still manages to come across as extremely laid back and welcoming.

Rissinton Inn

Next morning we had a long but enjoyable drive through the Kruger National Park to Imabli Private Game Lodge with my good friend and ace guide Greg from African Safari Adventures in Hazyview.

Imbali is a privately operated concession within the boundaries of the Kruger Park. It sits in the open plains near Orpen Gate, west of Satara. This is usually good lion country and it proved to be on this trip. I think we saw lions on all four of the game drives we did from Imbali. Of special interest were some cute-as-a-killer-button cubs who’d been parked in some long grass while their mothers went hunting, and their big daddy.

As a special treat, while watching a male and female lion interact with (ie eat) a buffalo, our intrepid tour guide, Mr W, happened to spot a leopard lurking in the background. Three of the big five in one location... not bad.

Monday, June 13, 2011

African Dawn - sneak preview

Here's me on Youtube, spruiking away about my forthcoming novel, African Dawn, which is due for release on August 1 in Australia, and in the UK and South Africa later in the year.

I'll soon be announcing dates and places where I'll be speaking during the promotional tour of Australia and New Zealand.

(Oh, and I've nearly finished writing novel number nine).

Monday, May 30, 2011

Lots of gorillas, no plastic bags

I finally got around to posting a report about my recent trip to Rwanda to see the mountain gorillas (and conduct research for my next book) on the Getaway Magazine blog here.

Trek on over and leave comment... please. There are a few more pictures of the gorillas there as well. It's a nice long post, so perfect for wasting some time at work.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Come to the launch of my new non-fiction book!

Talk about big news... this should make up for me not posting much here for the last few weeks (or is that months?).

My third non-fiction book, another co-written biography, THE GREY MAN, will be launched in Brisbane on June 30 and you, dear readers, are cordially invited to attend and support a worthy cause.

THE GREY MAN, My Undercover War Against the Chid Sex Trade in Asia, by John Curtis and Me, is the story of a pretty amazing guy (he'll tell you he's just an ordinary bloke) who set up a charity to rescue child prostitutes and bust child trafficking rings in South East Asia.

I first heard about the organisation, The Grey Man, via the ABC TV documentary series, Australian Story, which featured ex-commando John and his intrepid volunteers last year (or was that the year before - I lose track of these things). I was so moved by the documentary (softy that I am), that I stalked John mercilessly via the internet until he agreed to let me write a book with him.

The Grey Man is named after an Australian Army term for someone who flies under the radar and gets his job done with a minimum of fuss and without seeking glory. It's an apt title for the organisation, which began as John's one man crusade to do some good during a low period of his life.

John travelled to Thailand with the idea that he would do something to stop child exploitation. His modus operandi was unconventional to say the least - he posed as a sex tourist and delved deeper and deeper into the murky world of the illegal sex trade until he was offered a child for sex. He rescued that girl, spiriting her away to freedom, and he and the organisation he subsequently founded have gone on to rescue more than a 100 people from a life of sexual slavery.

I won't tell you more, as I want you to buy the book. In fact, why not come along to the official launch of the book in Brisbane and buy a signed copy?

THE GREY MAN will be officially launched by The Hon. Justice Margaret McMurdo AC, President of the Queensland Court of Appeal, at a cocktail party at the Brisbane Supreme Court on Thursday June 30, at 6.15pm for 6.30pm. Cost is $48 per head wich covers drinks and nibbles. Advance bookings are essential and you can book and pay via this link.

For more information on The Grey Man check out their website and to read more about the book, check out our publisher's (Pan Macmillan) website.

See you in Brisvegas!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

In Perth this week!


Yes, it's been far too long since I've blogged, and I am sorry. I've been too busy trying to finish novel number 9, editing number 8, and getting ready for the release of non-fiction number three. Happy now?

Anyway, I'm hitting the road again for some more shameless self-promotion and if you are in the slightest bit inclined you can catch me around Perth for Library and Information Week at:

Cambridge Library, Boulevard Centre, Wednesday May 25 at 10am. Bookings essential at the library, or call 93838999.

The Grove Library, Leake Street, Peppermint Grove, Wednesday May 25 at 6pm. Book by calling 92868686.

Fremantle City Library, Friday May 27, 10am.

I'll be talking about my latest book, The Delta, how to write, and the trials and tribulations of getting published.

Come along and say hi (or, go and see Michael Connelly who is much more famous that me and will also be appearing in Perth later this week. I'm hoping to get to a lunch with him on Friday - me and several hundred other people).

Much news to report in coming weeks. Non-fiction book number three is due out June 30. More info to come...

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Big news next week

I know you're probably tired of my excuses for not blogging, but they are valid. Editing... writing... editing... writing.... drinking... editing... writing... drinking.

After finishing the copy edits on my third top secret non fiction book, and my not-so-secret eighth novel, 'AFRICAN DAWN' (due out in August in Australia and in October in the UK and South Africa) I'm now about to get back into finishing off my ninth novel. It's called 'BOOK NINE'.

What I find when I'm actually writing (as opposed to going through my editor's edits) is that a bit of blogging in the morning helps to fire me up for the day's work, so expect something more than a bit of shameless self promotion in the weeks to come.

But for now, here's some more shamless self promotion in the form of quite a deep review of THE DELTA in South Africa's Business Day here , and another review in The Citizen (Johannesburg) here

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

TP on Radio Today, Jozi.

Standby for more shameless self promotionin the days to come as I post reviews, interviews and news from my recent promotional tour of South Africa, and a brief visit to the UK.

If y'all have half an hour to kill you might enjoy this episode from Radio Today, Johannesburg's book program with the lovely Sue Grant-Marshall.

Saturday, March 05, 2011

Hi, remember me?

... well, I wouldn't blame you if you've forgotten me.

Forgive me, Legion of Fans (LOF) for neglecting you for so long. It seems I'm always apologising on here for being too busy to blog. But there it is. I've been flat out going through the edits on my third non fiction book, touring South Africa to promote THE DELTA, and trying to write a ninth novel.

So there.

Actually, I've also been doing a fair bit of socialising and drinking on the South African tour, instead of staying up late and blogging.

I've been very fortunate to meet quite quite a few of y'all from here and facebook on this tour. Had me a ball in Cape Town and soaked up some sun, sea and lobster curry in Durban. In Gauteng I had an exceptionally excessive dinner with the Exclusive Books people in Sandton, and an absolute hoot at a lunch at Pachas in Pretoria today.

Some authors I've heard of find promo tours tiring. One very famous author I know of apparently ended up curled up in the fetal position in the shower of his hotel room, crying his eyes out, such was his angst and stress at having to out and have a glass of wine with his public. I won't name names, or course, or reveal how I heard this tidbit, but my message to said famous person, in the unlikely event that I ever meet him, is "cowboy the f* up, dude".

Personally, I find touring a good deal of fun. The hardest part for me is recovering the next morning from the night before. But if I'm feeling a bit seedy I just tell myself to cowboy up. I mean, mixing with people and talking about books and Africa, and squeezing in the odd bevvy is hardly working, is it?

I'm off to the Old Dart tonight, to London, England (as people say in America so you don't get confused and think you're actually in Paris, France) to meet with my wonderful, wise, sensational and forward thinking publishers at Quercus, and my agent, who I have yet to meet, even though she has already landed me some very nice publishing deals.

I've written a very long (perhaps too long) post about my recent visit to the Mountain Gorillas in Rwanda and will post it soon on the new-look Getaway Magazine blog, once I work out how to log into it.

Soon the travelling will be over, LOF, and I'll find a little corner where I can hunker down and finish off Book 9 and get back to some serious blogging.

Miss you all. Truly I do.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Come meet me in South Africa

I'm just about to embark on a round parts-of South Africa tour to promote the release of my latest novel, THE DELTA.

Please come along and see me at one (or all) of the following venues (as it's not so lekker when no one shows up).


Date: Monday, 28 February
Time: 17:30 for 18:00
Venue: Exclusive Books, Westville, Cinema Level, The Pavilion, Spine Road,
RSVP:- 031 265 0454

Date: Tuesday, 1 March
Time: 17:30 for 18:00
Venue: Books and Books, Shop 42, Kensington Square, Kensington Drive,
Durban North
RSVP:031 563 6288


Date: Wednesday, 2 March
Time: 18:00 for 18:30
Venue: Exclusive Books, Sandton City
RSVP:011 883 1010

Date: Friday, 4 March, Pretoria News lunch
Time: 12:00 for 12:30
Venue: Pachas, 22 Dely Road, Hazelwood, Brooklyn, Pretoria. R220 for members, R260 for non members. Three course meal with wine included.
RSVP:Megan - 012 667 1071 / 083 556 1899

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Important announcement... missing pages in The Delta

Greetings all, from Hoedspruit, near the Kruger National Park.

I just noticed a comment from a reader, Dion, on a previous post saying he was missing pages 123-154 from his South African edition of my latest book, THE DELTA.

I've contacted the publishers and they have been checking their stock. It appears Dion's copy may be a one-off printing error, but if anyone else has a problem with missing pages, please contact me via email at tonyparknews(at)gmail(dot)com

Dion, please email me as I have a pdf for you of the missing pages, or, if you wish, the publishers can arrange a replacement copy for you.

Snowed under with edits at the moment, but I'll soon have a blog on Rwanda for you. Stay tuned.

Friday, February 04, 2011

Mombasa, Nairobi, Kigali...

Well, I've just had the most amazing day today, spending some time with a few distant relatives... Mountain Gorillas.

But before that you have to read about me tongue-pashing a giraffe, here. Please try and leave a comment - I'm sure Getaway will sort it out soon.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Kruger in the rain and Mombasa in the sun

Coming to you live, Legion of Fans (LOF), from the beach bar, 50 metres from the white-fringed blue waters of the Indian Ocean, at the Nyali International Beach Hotel, Mombasa (crappy web cam picture, above, shows my view).

This is the third year in a row that Mrs Blog and I have taken the waters and the Tusker Lagers and lobsters at Mombasa. We have an annual date to catch up with our mate, Bwana James, who has his own mini family reunion here each year.

Mombasa itself is hectic - crowded, grubby, polluted, noisy, but here on the beach it's like nothing's changed since the hotel was built back in the late 40s. Looking out I can sea a couple of dhows, some dudes coming back from a fishing trip in their canoe, some beach kids practising acrobatics and a few fat lazy white people (myself included) lazing on sunbeds.

Beyond the still waters in front of me is a line of breakers on the reef. It's cloudy in the early morning but by now - just afer 10am, the sky is clearing. It's murderously hot away from the coast, but here there's a constant breeze - stiff enough to keep you cool all day, and to send the kite surfers' rigs aloft, but warm enough so you can stay in your cozzies until the sun goes down.

This is where I based the denouement (the end bit) of 'THE DELTA'.

In the evenings we go in search of another restaurant and another lobster. It was Spaghetti Al Aragotsa (with lobster) last night, at the Italian joint, Il Covo, at Bumburi Beach. Tonight's it's flash lobster at the Tamarind (flashest place in town).

I'll post some pics when I can, but for now, there's another post up on my Getaway Blog so please pop on over, have a look, and leave a comment. You might also like to check out the link to the very nice Hoyo Hoyo Tsonga private game lodge, in Kruger, which you'll find in the story.

Happy Australia day, y'all.

Monday, January 24, 2011

THE DELTA - Out now in South Africa!

Well, what a nice surprise. Mrs Blog and I are on our way to Mombasa for a week of eating seafood and drinking Tusker Lager, and while loitering in Johannesburg Airport I discovered that not only is my latest book, THE DELTA, now on the shelves, it's already in the Top 10 in the CNA at the Airports bookshops!

I knew it was coming but wasn't actually expecting to see any copies just yet. And lo and behold, there it was, sandwiched between Tom Clancy and John Grisham in the Number 2 spot in the new releases section. Not bad company, eh?

I'm pictured above with the charming Cindy, Manageress of the OR Tambo International Airport CNA. I love everyone at CNA at the Airports. As my books are prominently displayed there I don't have to skulk about and move them from the back of the shop to the front of the shop. And no, I didn't put THE DELTA in the Number 2 spot.

But wait, that's not all the shameless self promotion and big-headed gloating for today. As well as having a Top 10 for new releases, CNA also has a Top 10 for its bestselling paperbacks. And looky here who happens to be in Number 2 there as well.

Thank you, CNA, and all you travellers looking for airport novels. I love youse all.

I'll have more news from Mombasa in the coming days, as long as the somewhat patchy wireless interent at the Nyali Beach Hotel is working. After that, it's off to the wilds of Rwanda to see some misty gorillas.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Family photo

Baboons to the left of me, impala to the right of me... I'm in Pretoriuskop Camp in the deep south of the Kruger National Park, desperately trying to get on top of my blogging and my writing while the camp animals wander about, chomping contentedly on the lush summer vegetation. But I couldn't resist the temptation to share with you a rare picture of my two Land Rovers and my one wife.

The diminutive Mrs Blog shies the limelight of the blog, but I think she won't mind this rare public appearance with her two children (some would say three).

Here, on our friends' farm (or what's left of it after half was recently taken by a farm invader) somewhere in Zimbabwe are our two children... errr... Land Rovers Tonka (left), who turns 27 some time this year, and Broomas, the baby of the family who was born in 1997.

Tonka is as fit as a 27-year-old fiddle can be. We took him for a run to try and get his rego renewed (we were unsuccessful - this is Africa after all), but we were able to wind him up to a cracking 75kph.

Broomas and Tonka seemed to get on well (neither blew a head gasket or a radiator hose in an attempt at attention seeking) and they will next meet again in February when our intrepid (some would say crazy) friends A and J take part in Operation Tonka's Great Escape. They've agreed to drive Tonka down to South Africa where our friends in Joburg who look after Broomas have agreed to take on the equally adventurous (crazy) task of trying to change Tonka from a Zimbabwean to a South African registered vehicle.

For all its veneer of first-i world civilisation, South Africa has a bureaucracy that, well, makes Zimbabwe looks efficient.

Mrs Blog and I are heading up country to East Africa this weekend - to Mombasa, in Kenya, and Rwanda, in Rwanda. We're off for a healthy serve of seafood and gorillas, respectively. I will do my best to blog live from these corners of darkest Africa.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Blogging again with Getaway - now with added video!

I'm getting back into the swing of it, LOF. No more literary ranting, just a bit of good old fashioned whingeing and Africa story telling here on my Getaway Magazine Blog.

And the BIG news is that I've worked out how to upload video to Youtube. If you go to the abovementioned blog you'll find a video with a bit of subtle promotion of 'THE DELTA' in it.

Make sure you leave a comment - I want them to think lots of people really do read my blog.

Monday, January 17, 2011


Cheated, that's how I feel.

I'm not talking about Africa - at least not today. No, I thought I'd kick of 2011 with a bit of a whinge about books.

I try not to read literary fiction. I just don't get it. And when I do, by some odd twist of fate find myself reading something other than the airport novel thrillers that I really like (to read and write), I always end up disappointed.

Anyway, thanks to the wonders of the Amazon Kindle, I found myself exposed recently (or is that recently exposed?) to a work of literary fiction by a British author (I won't name names). You can have 11 Kindles linked to one account, so Mrs Blog and I share our selection of trashy potboilers with our relatives - some of whom creep occasionally into the high brow end of town.

So, I thought I'd give this worthy tome a try. And you know what - as I started to read it, thinking I would hate it, I actually started to like it.

It was, I think the term is, character-driven. Its many (many, many) characters all had fascinating back-stories and interesting problems and aspirations, or lack thereof. I found myself wanting to know more about these people and, more importantly, what would happen to them.

And beaneath all of this profiling was the beginnings of a story. Yes, a real-life honest-to-goodness story. When an element of impending danger reared its head, I thought, game-on! I could see how the author was setting up all these very different people's paths to cross. However, I couldn't guess which one would get it in the neck, which would survvie, and which would get it on (if you know what I mean).

And then, at the end of the book....

My brainy, personable, attractive and single publisher, C, has had occasion to ask me, when she's finished reading the manuscripts of one or two of my books; "Tony, did you get to a point where you thought, 'I've done enough words, I'm a bit sick of this book, so I think it's time to end it?"

To which I have replied, on each occasion, "Umm, yes."

That does happen. I get to the stage where I think, enough twists and turns, enough red herrings, it's time to wrap this sucker up. It's time to kill off the baddies (and perhaps one or two noble supporting goodies), give the guy the girl, or the girl the guy, and let those who deserve it ride off into the sunset.

I actually like books with short, sharp endings but, importantly, they must have an ending. My publisher, wise person that she is, gets me to tie off a few more loose ends that I might have missed, and insert an Epilogue which tells the reader what happened to everyone later. I can live with that. I can live with just about any sort of ending, but I must have an ENDING.

And so, at the end of this beautfiully crafted piece of fiction that I'd been reading, ABSOLUTELY BLOODY NOTHING HAPPENED.

There was a culmination of sorts, when one of the characters, an evil genius, almost saw through his plan of bringing down the western banking system, but.... we didn't see it happen. OK, so maybe we don't need the 'big bang', maybe it's enough to imply that it would happen, but surely this should have had some impact on the lives of some of the other characters?


They had nothing to do with that part of the book. There was a girl and guy - misfits of sorts - who looked like they might get it on, and they did (well, they didn't actually get it on - perish the thought, nothing so cheap as a sex scene in this book). No, they well... seemed like they were getting on famously, and....

And, nothing. There was nothing to link their story with anyone else's. God, this was like sitting through five days of Tarantino movies! All these irrelevant sub plots with nothing in common.

And then there was the guy who was going to set off a bomb. Yes, an actual bomb.

But, instead of the Big Bang, well.... nothing. Didn't Chekov or some Russian dude say that if you introduce a gun in the first act then someone's going to get a sucking chest wound in the third (or something like that?).

All these sub plots could have, should have, to my feeble mind at least, gone somewhere and drawn in all the other characters and sub plots. But... no.

Oh, and let's not forget the top line athlete and his pin-up girlfriend. They were... well, totally bloody irrelevant to anything at all related to any of the other characters or sub plots as far as I could see. And the schizophrenic brother of one of the characters who... well, don't worry, because nothing happend to him, either.

Reading the author's notes at the end of this book (which were almost as long as the book, but, hey, mine are a bit like that) I learned that the author had consulted many, many people and had done an awful lot of research into his characters' life stories. And it showed - they were, as I've said, perfectly formed. It's just that nothing happened to any of them. What's more it took him FOUR YEARS TO WRITE THE THING.

I wonder what would happen if I wrote a book with no ending. Perhaps I'd win a literary prize and the book would be made into a movie and I'd make a heap of dough.

And you know what, the other thing that would happen is....

What do you reckon, LOF? Read any worthy books that just fizzled out? What do you look for in a story? Do you look for a 'story' at all?

Thursday, January 13, 2011

I'm back...

HNY, LOF (Legion of Fans), if there are any of you still out there.

I'm back, with a repaired laptop and bursting with things to blog about. I've just got back to South Africa, land of internet access and cheap beer, after a sojourn in Zimbabwe and Zambia. I have much to report.

I'll be hitting all my many blogs and desperately trying to convince people that I am still alive and kicking.

Had me a fine old time on Lake Kariba, on a houseboat (more like a house ship, actually) where I coincidentally met the people from Getaway Magazine who post my blogs there. Amazing. We had a great chat and one of them sprayed a bottle of champagne all over Mrs Blog and me just after midnight on Jan 1. I also recall doing the limbo at some point, and singing 'The Gambler' in a bout of improptu Karaoke. Zimbabwe, I apologise.

Anyway, I also still have a ninth novel to write so I can't dally here all day. More to come, in the very near future...