As a child, Roy McFadyen was placed in Melbourne orphanages for his parents’ convenience. At 15, and in the middle of the Great Depression, he was thrown out of home by his mother into a freezing winter’s night and made an epic bicycle ride into the Mallee to become a wheat farmer’s labourer.
Seeking further consolation in hard work well done, Roy rode the Ghan and a beloved Indian motorcycle into the cattle lands east of Alice Springs. There in the stock camps he survived uncaring employers while getting to know and respect his workmates, the Arundta people.
Roy ‘jumping’ holes in rock at Atnarpa, Central Australia, in 1938.
Swept up by the Second World War into aircraft maintenance, Roy witnessed the tragedy of the self-destructing Beaufort bombers. Post-war he found hard-won success running garages and, eventually, Aeroswan, his own highly-respected aircraft maintenance company servicing a large slice of country New South Wales and Victoria. Along the way he was driven to act as a whistleblower and detective.
When health dictated another path, Roy found solace in family life and his abiding interest in photography and things mechanical. The writing of At a Cost, in his later years, won him a degree of reconciliation with a bitter past. The author’s own excellent photographs, spanning 70 years of Australian social history, flesh out a compelling story.
By Roy McFadyen
Softcover, 323 pages
Weight: 930 g