Author(s): David Ballantyne
"There was an old man who lived on the edge of the world and he had a horse called Sydney Bridge Upside Down. He was a scar-faced old man and his horse was a slow-moving bag of bones, and I start with this man and his horse because they were there for all the terrible happenings up the coast that summer, always somewhere around." The terrible happenings take place at the abandoned meatworks in Calliope Bay, a forbidden and dangerous place, where the cries of animals being slaughtered can be heard in the wind. It's a place where Harry Baird finds himself drawn, a place where accidents happen. A place where people die. Sydney Bridge Upside Down is the great unread New Zealand novel - a gothic thriller, a coming-of-age story and a sinister family tragedy.
'Funny, inventively written and more than slightly odd.' Sonya Hartnett
David Ballantyne, one of New Zealand's greatest writers, was born in Auckland in 1924. As a child he lived for a time in Hicks Bay, a remote seaport on the east coast of the North Island and the setting for Sydney Bridge Upside Down. Ballantyne left school at fifteen after his father died, and soon started to work as a journalist in Auckland. He was something of a prodigy. His first novel, The Cunninghams, was published to critical acclaim, in both the US and New Zealand, when he was twenty-three. He married his wife Vivienne in 1950, and they had one son. By 1954 Ballantyne and his family had decamped to London where he worked in journalism in London. He wrote stories, television plays and a novel, The Last Pioneer, published in 1963. Ballantyne and his family returned to New Zealand in 1966, where he continued to write fiction and journalism. His masterpiece Sydney Bridge Upside Down was published in 1968. He was beginning to struggle with alcoholism but continued to write, and was to produce seven books in all. David Ballantyne died in 1986.