Hillsend by Ivan Southall

Hills End by Ivan Southall was the Australian Children’s Book Council book of the year in 1963. I can certainly see why. I just read this as a read aloud with my children and we were grabbed by the story after the first chapter.

The story is based around seven children who go on a bush walk with their school mistress instead of a town picnic. While they are in the cave a cyclonic storm hits the town and the town is devastated. The children have to work out how they are going to survive until rescue comes their way.

The children mature as the story evolves. Although they desperately want to see their parents again, they learn how to shoulder greater responsibility, and they discover how much their parents have protected and provided a safe environment for them. Through team work and facing their fears they manage to grasp each new harrowing challenge that comes their way.

I highly recommend this book.

I believe that there is an ABC Television mini series but I haven’t seen it.

Themes in the book are:

  • Survival skills
  • Courage
  • Natural disasters—cyclones
  • Relationships
  • Honesty
  • Team work

Possible essay questions from book;

  • Discuss this quote, “Adrian didn’t feel brave, but wasn’t old enough to understand that a person did not have to be without fear to be brave.” (Chapter11)
  • Discuss this quote, ” It wasn’t fun for Francis trying to be grown up when she was only thirteen and three months old…She wanted her mother. She wanted someone else to do the cooking and the worrying.” (Chapter 12)
  • Discuss why Miss Goddard suggested calling the cave the Cave of the Valiant Children. (Chapter 15).

This book is currently out of print but you should be able to find it in a library or second hand as it was reprinted many times.

15 Chapters. 175 pages.

Suitable for Ages 9 to Adult.

This is a good book to use with Any Novel Novel Guide.

For other Australian Novels see our Booklist.