Judy Nunn’s exciting new novel is inspired by a true wartime story that has remained a well-kept secret for over seventy years.

‘It seems to have happened overnight,’ Val thought as she pulled the beers. ‘We’ve become a khaki town.’

It’s March 1942. Singapore has fallen. Darwin has been bombed. Australia is on the brink of being invaded by the Imperial Japanese Forces. And Val Callahan, publican of The Brown’s Hotel in Townsville, could not be happier as she contemplates the fortune she’s making from lonely, thirsty soldiers.

Overnight the small Queensland city is transformed into the transport hub for 70,000 American and Australian soldiers destined for combat in the South Pacific. Barbed wire and gun emplacements cover the beaches. Historic buildings are commandeered. And the dance halls are in full swing with jazz, jitterbug and jive.

The Australian troops begrudge the confident, well-fed ‘Yanks’ who have taken over their town and their women. And there’s growing conflict, too, within the American ranks. Because black GIs are enjoying the absence of segregation and the white GIs don't like it.

Then one night a massive street fight leaves a black soldier lying dead on the pavement, and the situation explodes into violent confrontation.


How to Host a Khaki Town Book Group

Impress your book club with a 1940s themed party to discuss Khaki Town by Judy Nunn.

Judy Nunn’s Khaki Town is set in Townsville during 1942, and bears all the hallmarks of a reading group classic. For a gathering with a difference, how about immersing yourselves in the 1940s? Here are some ideas:

Food to Eat
Anzac biscuits and scones feature throughout Khaki Town. The CWA have terrific recipes for both and they’re easy and quick to make as well.

Anzac Biscuits 

CWA of Victoria

  • 1 cup self-raising flour

  • 1 cup sugar

  • 1 cup rolled oats

  • 1 cup desiccated coconut

  • 125 g butter, melted

  • 1 tablespoon golden syrup

  • 2 tablespoons boiling water

  • 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

Preheat oven to 180°C and grease a baking tray. Sift flour. Place all dry ingredients into a basin, mix thoroughly. Add melted butter, golden syrup and boiling water to which the bicarbonate of soda has been added. Mix to a firm consistency. Place spoonfuls of mixture onto the tray. Bake until brown.

Drinks to Serve
As Khaki Town is set in Townsville, the drink of choice is Queensland’s own Bundaberg Rum. Why not make some delicious cocktails using Bundaberg Rum? You can find some recipes here

Music to Listen to
We have created a special Spotify list with songs that are mentioned in the book and others to get you in the mood for your discussion. You’ll find such classics as ‘Minnie the Moocher’, ‘Up a Lazy River’ and many more.

Discussion Points
We’ve put together some great discussion points and questions here.

What to Wear
Here are some ideas if you’d like to dress up:

  • Knee-length A-line dresses with puffed shoulders in patriotic colours

  • Plaid A-line skirts with white button-down blouses

  • Victory suits: man-tailored skirt and jackets

  • Wide leg, high-waisted pants

  • Workwear overalls and jeans to create the Rosie the Riveter look

  • Shoes – peep-toe heels, loafers, oxfords, wedge sandals

  • The two-piece bikini

  • Hats, turbans, head scarves, snood and flower clips

  • Lingerie – seamed stockings, socks, simple bra, girdle, slip and panties.

You’ll find even more information here.

Hairstyles, such as Victory Rolls can be tricky, but here’s a great video that makes it easy.

What Else to Do
Apart from discussing the book, why don’t you try the dance that took the 1940s by storm, the jitterbug?  There’s a step-by-step class here.

Judy Nunn Is Now on Facebook
Finally, if you’d like to win some terrific prizes, please send images to the Judy Nunn Facebook page. You’ll also find updates on Judy’s events and the best photos will win wonderful prizes.



On a barren island off the coast of Western Australia, a rickety wooden dinghy runs aground. Aboard are nine people who have no idea where they are. Strangers before the violent storm that tore their vessel apart, the instinct to survive has seen them bond during their days adrift on a vast and merciless ocean.

Read a sample chapter ››


Set in Tasmania’s golden era, when the island was known as ‘the fruit bowl of Europe’ and was home of the finest wool and shipbuilding timber in the world, Tiger Men is a story of avarice, greed and power. Three families struggle to achieve their dreams in the turbulent times leading up to Federation and the First World War.

More from Judy ››

“Although the book is not about Tassie tigers, I have vignettes running through it which relate to the sorry plight of the thylacine. The decimation of this poor misunderstood creature typifies the way humans set about systematically destroying the riches Tasmania had in such abundance during the early days of settlement.”

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In a time when desperate people were seizing a chance at freedom, refugees from more than 70 nations converged beneath the Southern Cross to forge a new national identity. From the ruins of Berlin to the Italian Alps and the Australian high country, Heritage is a passionate and fast-paced tale of rebirth, struggle, sacrifice and redemption – a tribute to those who gave meaning to the Australian spirit.

More from Judy ››

“I see it rather like a wheel with spokes. The hub of the wheel is the township of Cooma, central to the Snowy [Mountains Hydro-Electric] Scheme, and the spokes of the wheel are the stories of my principal characters… finally interwoven in Cooma.”

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In 1788, Thomas Kendall, a naïve nineteen-year-old sentenced to transportation for burglary, finds himself bound for Sydney Town and a new life in the wild and lawless land beneath the Southern Cross. Told through the stories of Kendall’s descendants, Beneath the Southern Cross is a vivid depiction of the events, characters and issues that shaped the city of Sydney’s character, its skyline and its heart.

More from Judy ››

“The novel is set in Sydney and spans over 200 years, from first European settlement to the imminent Olympics in the year 2000. It follows seven generations of two extended families and I’m not sure I’d have the guts to undertake such an enterprise again. But I’m very glad I did, daunting as the research was I learned such a lot about Sydney which I’d never known before.”

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Stars shine on centre stage. But what secrets lie hidden in the wings? Alex Rainford is sexy, charismatic and adored by fans the world over. But what spectre from the past is driving him ever closer to evil? And who will fall under his spell along the way? A tantalising glimpse into the world of theatre and what goes on when the spotlight dims and the curtain falls.

More from Judy ››

“An agent friend of mine after reading it remarked, ‘Dear me, I’m viewing you in a whole new light, Judy’. And I had to admit to her that I had no idea from what dim recesses of my mind Alex Rainford had sprung. But I certainly loved creating him.”

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It is 2001, and as the world charges into the new millennium, a century-old dream is about to be realised in the Red Centre of Australia: the completion of the mighty Ghan railway, a line that will finally link Adelaide with the Top End. But construction of the leg between Alice Springs and Darwin is not without its complications.

Read a sample chapter ››
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During the darkest days of the Cold War, in a remote South Australian desert, the future of a nation is being decided. This is the story of a brave and adventurous young Englishwoman searching for the truth in a world obsessed with nuclear supremacy.

More from Judy ››

“Maralinga (an Aboriginal word, which loosely translates as ‘fields of thunder’) is based around one of this country’s most shameful and best-kept secrets. At the time, no-one knew exactly what went on at Maralinga, the British atomic weapons testing ground hidden away in the desert of South Australia… It gave me great pleasure to reveal some of the real and quite appalling facts while writing a work of fiction.”

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Actress Samantha Lindsay is thrilled when she scores her first lead movie role in the Hollywood epic Torpedo Junction, playing a character based on World War II heroine Mamma Tack. But as filming begins in Vanuatu, uncanny parallels between history and fiction emerge. Just who was the real Mamma Tack? And what mysterious forces are at play? The answers reveal not only bygone secrets but Sam’s own destiny. 

More from Judy ››

“What if someone bought a house and, instead of the contents of a wardrobe revealing an identity, the house itself dictated its own history and the history of those who had lived there? Pacific is the first novel in which I have incorporated a touch of the supernatural.”

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Kalgoorlie. It grew out of the red dust of the desert over the world’s richest vein of gold. People were drawn there from all over the world, to start afresh or to seek their fortunes. From the heady early days of the gold rush to the horrors of the First World War, and the shame and confrontation of the post-war riots, Kal tells the story of Australia itself – forged out of a harsh and unforgiving land.  

More from Judy ››

“I knew where I wanted the book to go. It would ultimately lead to the conflict between the Australians and the migrants, predominantly the Italians, following the Diggers’ return from World War One. I was in a bit of a quandary, however, about how to start it. Then I took my 84-year-old mother, Nancy, with me to Kal on a research trip…”

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Edwina Dawling has become the golden girl of Australian television. But behind the seductive glamour of the industry is a cutthroat world where careers are made with a word in the right ear... or a night in the right bed. Only the ruthless make it to the top. And they will stop at nothing to stay there. Not even murder.  

More from Judy ››

“A great deal of The Glitter Game is drawn from my experiences in The Box, a controversial TV series of the seventies in which I played a bisexual journalist called Vicki Stafford. The publishers were a little worried about libel suits from performers whom they thought appeared recognisable but, as it turned out, the only people offended were those who couldn’t see themselves in the book. Such is the ego of actors, God bless them.”

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The grand sugar estate of Elianne in the Southern cane fields of Queensland has been home to the Durham family for generations. But the days of Elianne’s founder, Big Jim, are long gone. This is the 1960s, change is in the air, and the Durham family teeters on the brink of destruction.

More from Judy ››

“It wasn’t until I was standing in the vast and eerily silent expanse of a sugar mill (during the slack season – the giant machines all motionless) that the inspiration [for Elianne] hit me. Well it was the smell that hit me actually. The rich, heady, toffee-treacle smell of burnt sugar… You either love it or you hate it. And that’s the way my book starts.”

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The story of four friends over four memorable decades in Western Australia. From the innocent 1950s to the corrupt ‘80s, each of the four has very different stories to tell. And as the 1990s arrive, they are caught up in the irreversible tides of change… Actions must be answered for. 

More from Judy ››

“I must admit to having called upon a great deal of my childhood for the earlier innocent part. I must also hasten to add that the corruption element required a great deal more research. The book has a strong environmental theme and I called upon my big brother Rob for help there. Rob worked as an environmentalist in the Pilbara region where much of the book is based.”

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A story of the Top End and the people who dare to dwell there. From the blazing inferno that was Darwin on 19 February 1942 to the devastation of Cyclone Tracy, from the red desert to the tropical shore, Territory is breathtaking story of disaster, courage and passion.

More from Judy ››

“The book is principally set in Darwin and covers the period from the Japanese bombings in 1942 to Cyclone Tracy in 1974… There is, however, a secondary story which… incorporates the wreck of the Dutch trading vessel the Batavia off the coast of Western Australia in 1629. The Batavia is another inspiration gained from my mother, Nancy, who had always found the grisly story of mutineers, shipwreck and murder, a source of great fascination. I had longed to write of the Batavia for some time, and it fitted in perfectly.”

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On a blistering hot day in 1850, George and Richard Ross take their first steps on Australian soil. A decade on, the brothers are the owners of successful vineyard, Araluen, nestled in a beautiful green valley not far from Adelaide. George sprouts the roots of his own Ross dynasty. But building a family empire can have shattering effects on the generations to come… 

More from Judy ››

“I loved the research. Hard work as it often was, I found it inspirational and, strangely enough, liberating. The often-quoted adage ‘fact is stranger than fiction’ is certainly true. Discovering bizarre facts of the past gives one great licence with one’s fiction.”

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For eight years now Oskar the Pole has been a widower. As a homeless vagrant, pushing a supermarket trolley through the streets of life, he cuts a lonely figure. But Oskar has a talent. He can play chess, and he can play it well. Every afternoon, at the giant chessboard in the park, Oskar becomes a star, a master, the undefeated champion ... 


When Australian actress Jane Prescott is offered a job in England, she sees it as a chance to ignite her career. Little does she know that a stopover in Italy will change her life. A grand eighteenth-century villa, a colourfully flamboyant host, a party of American tourists, glamorous locals, and an Italian lover who looks uncannily like Ryan Gosling… What could go wrong?


To the members of the Otto Bin Empire – the homeless men and women who gather around the plastic bins near the docks – Clive is an enigmatic addition to their ranks. Intelligent, healthy and always well presented, even Clive struggles to understand why he finds himself at the bottom of the barrel. 
But as the weeks turn into months Clive slowly adjusts to his circumstances. He finds tolerance, acceptance and friendship and slowly begins to see humanity in its purest light …


A respectable address in a respectable suburb of West Hobart – the perfect place of residence for Professor Jameson and his wife and sons. But Eileen Jameson and the boys haven’t been seen for quite some time... A gruesome discovery leads Inspector Max Carruthers and Detective Sergeant Lucas Matthews to the door. It’s a day they will never forget. 



Adam is just fifteen years old when he stumbles upon the Otto Bin Empire, a community of homeless men and women who gather at the colourful wheelie bins down near the docks.

The teenage runaway is fleeing from his violent, alcoholic father, and now has one goal: to stay lost…


When struggling young journalist Nancy buys a tiny rundown terrace in Surry Hills, she knows nothing about the previous owner, other than the old lady died six months earlier. But a dusty box retrieved from underneath the old wardrobe in an upstairs bedroom soon reveals a heart-warming story of friendship and love.