WORRALS DOWN UNDER
First Published in October 1948 - 216 pages
This story was first published when it was serialised in the ‘Girl’s Own Paper’ in ten monthly parts between October 1946 and July 1947
The original first edition dust jacket – showing the original book price of 7/6 – by Reginald Heade (born Reginald Cyril Webb) 1901 – 1957
The book was later re-issued by the publishers at the lower price of 6 shillings, they re-priced the original dust wrappers and cut off the 7/6 from the corner! See example below
This is confusing for collectors as everyone would naturally assume the lower price would be the earlier edition!
Below is a later 1950 reprint – also a “6 shilling” version – some of these later editions had illustrations but the bulk of them did not.
This example below has a band saying “First Cheap Edition” and was for sale at 3 shillings and 6d – I suspect these were the ones without the illustrations.
The publishers also corrected Johns’ name to “Capt. W. E. Johns” following Johns angry letter to Lutterworths which was one of the reasons he left them.
WORRALS DOWN UNDER
Click on any chapter for a summary of the events in that chapter or see the general story summary below
Whilst in Sydney, Australia, Worrals and Frecks accidentally meet Janet Marlow, an old friend from Hendon. Janet has inherited a house and land from her Aunt Mary Carter, who has recently died. Before she died, Aunt Mary sent Janet a large piece of opal, which she had found on her land. Janet had been to the house at Wallabulla, in the middle of nowhere, and had been scared away from the land. Janet agrees to return with Worrals and Frecks. After flying out to the house in a Desoutter aircraft, our heroines find three men living there. It is later discovered that their names are 'Manila' Joe Barola, Luke Raffety and a native called Yoka. Worrals throws them out. The following day, Worrals flies to Adelaide, some five hundred miles away and meets Aunt Mary's old lawyer and an opal dealer called Felix Moran who valued some of Aunt Mary's opal. Worrals soon finds out that Barola and Raffety work for Moran. Flying on to Oodnadatta, Worrals meets the local police officer, Dan Terry and also picks up a dog called Maginty who was due to be put down. That night, somebody attempts to dig up Aunt Mary's grave (she had been buried in the grounds of her house). A boomerang injures the person doing it. The next day, Frecks and Janet fly off to Oodnadatta. Worrals pretends to go with them, but instead hides. She sees an Aborigine native go into the house and then Yoka try to murder him. Worrals intervenes and a boomerang thrown by the native kills Yoka. The native is injured and Worrals realises that he is Charlie, Aunt Mary's faithfully servant who had previously disappeared. At Oodnadatta, Moran arrives and takes an opportunity of driving his car into the girls' plane. He then drives off for Wallabulla where Worrals is. Frecks spends hours repairing the plane and flies urgently back to Worrals only to find her missing. Meanwhile, back at Wallabulla, the dog, Maginty, drinks some water and dies an agonising death from poisoning. Moran, Raffety and Barola confront Worrals and she pretends that the injured Charlie is in fact dead. Raffety goes to dig up Aunt Mary's grave, with a view to disposing of the body because it is evidence that they poisoned her. There is no body there, the grave is a fake. Barola drinks some water without thinking and then realises that it is poisoned. The men leave to drive Barola to Oodnadatta for medical help but he dies on the way. Charlie runs off and Worrals is out looking for him when Frecks returns to an empty house. Moran and Raffety return and demand the deeds to the estate. They give the girls the night to think about it. In the morning, they appear to have gone, but Worrals discovers they have put sugar in her main fuel tank. They have missed the gravity tank, however, so she can still fly. Worrals takes off, with Frecks and Janet and then fakes a crash, burning scrubland to assist in the rouse. Janet is then sent on to Oodnadatta to get the police whilst Worrals and Frecks return to the house. Moran and Raffety capture Charlie and intend to murder him because he knows too much. Frecks intervenes to save Charlie and he escapes. Janet returns without the police but luckily Dan Terry has come out to visit in any event. Moran and Raffety escape in their car but Worrals overtakes them with her plane and an ambush is set on the road ahead. In the resulting shoot-out, both Moran and Raffety are killed. With the help of Charlie, the whereabouts of the opal is discovered and Janet goes on to marry Dan Terry after selling the house. Worrals and Frecks return to England by sea and muse about the reputation of opal for bringing bad luck.
With the exception of the frontispiece (which is merely the upper part of the cover illustration), there are no story illustrations in the FIRST EDITION of this book, however you can
French edition – Worrals et L’opale Noire (Worrals and the Black Opal) – There were no illustrations in this edition
Click on the picture above to see it in more detail
Worrals Down Under
Subtitle - none
Publication Details - published by Lutterworth Press