Max Brown was born 1916 at Invercargill, New Zealand, educated in Melbourne (St. Kilda Park Central and University High School) and worked as a journalist in Melbourne, Sydney, Perth and several country towns, notably Echuca, Bendigo, Lithgow and Kalgoorlie. His paternal grandparents were on the Dunstan Gorge goldfield and his maternal grandparents at Dunolly where the Welcome Stranger nugget was found. He was at various times a teacher, wharf labourer, knockabout and film publicist. After service with the RAAF in the Second World War he used his severance pay to write Australian Son, which was first published in Melbourne and London 1948, republished 1961, again in 1980 and (final revised version) 2005, republished 2013. He wrote two novels, Wild Turkey (1958) and The Jimberi Track (1966), as well as The Black Eureka, a history of the 1946 strike of West Australian station Aborigines, and Buttered Toast: stories and sketches, a book which further demonstrates his sympathy with those on the fringes of society. Max died in Ballarat in September 2003.
A century and one-third after his death, Ned Kelly’s not forgotten, and it’s hard to believe that Australians will ever forget him. In his own lifetime he passed into folklore, as Max Brown makes clear, so where is he now? This is not an easy question, but wherever he is, Max Brown’s book is part of the answer.