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Graham Akhurst

Jono, a city-born Indigenous teenager is trying to figure out who he really is. Life in Brisbane hasn’t exactly made him feel connected to his Country or community. Luckily, he’s got his best friend, Jenny, who has been by his side through their hectic days at St Lucia Private.

After graduating, Jono and Jenny score gigs at the Aboriginal Performing Arts Centre and an incredible opportunity comes knocking—interning with a documentary crew. Their mission? To promote a big government mining project in the wild western Queensland desert. The catch? The details are sketchy, and the land is rumoured to be sacred. But who cares? Jono is stoked just to be part of something meaningful. Plus, he gets to be the lead presenter!

Life takes a turn when they land in Gambari, a tiny rural town far from the hustle and bustle of the city. Suddenly, Jono’s intuition becomes his best guide. He’s haunted by an eerie omen of death, battling suffocating panic attacks, and even experiencing visions of Wudun—a malevolent spirit from the Dreaming. What’s the real story behind the gas mining venture? Are the documentary crew hiding something from Jono? And could Wudun be a messenger from the land, fighting back against the invasion?

Borderland is a heart-pounding horror gothic that follows Jono on an epic quest to find himself in the face of unbelievable challenges. Graham Akhurst, the brilliant mind behind this coming-of-age gem, is a Fulbright scholar from the Kokomini of Northern Queensland. Brace yourself for a fresh, mind-bending tale exploring Indigenous identity, the impact of colonization, and what happens when you take a stand.


 "A hell of a debut novel from a writer at once daring, insightful and heartfelt" – Markus Zusak, author of The Book Thief


Teaching notes available. Click here to download.


Praise for Borderland

A hell of a debut novel from a writer at once daring, insightful and heartfelt.

—MARKUS ZUSAK, author of The Book Thief


“Graham Akhurst doesn't shy away from the complexity of Indigenous identity or the generational effects of colonisation... Indigenous voices are a necessity in literature for all ages, and Borderland is a great addition for young adult readers and fans of Gary Lonesborough and Jared Thomas.”

—ANNELIESE GATES, Books + Publishing


“A fresh perspective on First Nations YA... hugely enjoyable and gripping... There is a lot to unpack in this gothic horror/eco-cautionary tale that makes it a real standout from other YA First Nations literature... The writing is tight and crisp, with a terrific sense of timing, and rising action that will grip young readers from the start.”

—LOSANG ZOPA, Kids Book Review


“Akhurst weaves together elements of coming of age, the supernatural, Indigenous identity and industrial land use incredibly deftly, and although you never feel “safe” reading Borderland, you certainly know you’re in the hands of a talented writer.”



“A powerful debut that signals a talented writer with great potential.”



“A fast-paced, complex, sometimes thrilling account of ancient cultures encountering modern business ruthlessness, young identities in transition, and a contemporary Australia itself uncertain of its fundamental identity and priorities. This novel offers a new, strong voice in Indigenous fiction. I look forward to more compelling and thoughtful fiction from Graham Akhurst.”

—KEVING BROPHY, Reading Time


“A genre-bending tour-de-force... engaging and thrilling... brilliantly and viscerally described... Jono’s growth towards a clearer and stronger sense of self and his accessing a strength within him so far unknown is beautifully realised.  The reader is compelled to urge him on every step of the way. A wonderful book.”

Queensland Reviewers Collective


Book details
PRICE: $22.99 incl GST (paperback), $9.99 incl GSt (ebook)
FORMAT: B+ format paperback
DIMENSIONS: 210 (H) x 140 (W) mm
WEIGHT: 0.5 kg

CATEGORY: YA, Young Adult and Children's, Fiction, First Nations

ISBN: 978-1-76080-264-6 (paperback), 978-1-76080-266-0 (ebook)

PUBLISHED: 1 October 2023
TEACHING NOTES: available for download