Character Insights

The following sentences and paragraphs are written from one of Tim Winton’s Blueback (2008) characters’ points of view.

Winton’s novel is inspired by the preciously delicate Ningaloo Reef.
Character in Winton’s BluebackSpeaking to…
Abel JacksonFather, Mad Macka, Blueback, Costello
Dora JacksonHusband, Developers, Abel
Mad MackaSpeaking to himself, Abel
Costello Developers, Dora, Abel
StellaAbel, To herself before coming to the bay

The name of the student writer is shown in (brackets).

Stella talking to herself – before Stella meets Abel. (Miles)

Ocean, oh beautiful ocean. The love I have for you is the love I seek. The glimmer in your water is the glimmer I seek in my future partner’s eyes. The endless colourful life of your coral is the long relationship I seek. My beautiful ocean. The love I have for you is the love I seek.

Stella talking to herself – after Stella meets Abel. (Miles)

Ocean, oh beautiful ocean you blessed me with Abel. The things I looked for , I’ve found. The love I gave the ocean has been returned by Abel. The glimmer in the water is the sparkle in his eyes when I look at him. My beautiful ocean, you blessed me with Abel’s beauty.

Abel speaking to his father’s spirit (Molly)

Hello father. It’s been a while. Things are going great. The reef is good. Mum is gone but she left us very happy. We have a beautiful daughter… Dora… We named her after her grandmother. Blueback is still a great fish. I don’t know if you have met him, but you would have loved him. I really miss you. WE really miss you. Thank you for this place. (Taking his hand off the tree slowly and with a smile he turns and walks back to his family).

Abel speaking to Mad Macka (Ryan)

Hi, Mad Macka. I miss you. Ever since you passed, we’ve had a very greedy abalone fisherman who tried to kill Blueback…

Blueback before Abel (Kaleb)

I was going on my morning swim and the I heard a boat engine. I swam behind a large rock and saw one person. I realised that it was Dora. Soon, I noticed she was joined by another person. I thought it was Dora’s husband. I continued to watch from a distance. I moved closer and in a second I was looking at the last of the abalone.

Blueback (Robert)

I really like seeing the blue ocean, the coral reef, the tasty abalone, squid and other fish I can eat. I also like the bright colours on the coral reef. But most importantly, my favourite person Abel, the boy who visits me every day. The memories we have together are magical.

Dora speaking to her husband’s spirit (Una)

I have to tell you about Abel and his new friend. You won’t believe which it is… A FISH. He named the fish Blueback. He’s a huge fat fish we found one day when we went looking for abalone. It was quite funny at the start at the start. They were both afraid of each other. Abel thought Blueback was going to eat him and obviously Abel was the new person, so it was Blueback who was scared of him. After a few years they became good friends. Abel even saved him … but that’s a whole other story. Even in his 30s, they have stayed friend. Abel even introduced his wife Stella and their beautiful daughter Dora. You wouldn’t believe how far our gorgeous son has become his own person.

The ghost of Abel’s father (Jorjia)

Abel, my son… Throughout the years that I have watched grow, I have become more and more proud of you, proud of the man you’ve become. I’m sorry that I’m not there for you in person … as I should be but I will always be you, watching over you. Thank you for taking amazing care of the sea and you mother. Not a day does by that I don’t wish I was right there with you both. Watching you grow older and even starting a family hurts because I know I will not be able to see you face to face.


Costello appears in three chapters in the novel, Chapters 7, 8 and 10. In these, we get to see his environmental destruction of the reef, his arrest by the Fisheries Patrol and, finally, he leaves the story without a fishing licence.

I probably didn’t care. I might have been happy.

As I walk around the boat deck covered in puddles of blood, all I could smell was money. (Angus)

After I lost my fishing licence, I felt betrayed, knowing that I’ve been doing this for years. It’s my only source of income. I don’t care about the environment and never will. Fish aren’t our friends. They’re food that God gave us. Food for humans to eat. (Salah)

As I saw the boats approaching me, I grinned believing I could talk my way out of it. I always do. Just in case, I started to clean the blood on the floor and hide some abalone… so it didn’t look too bad. (Una)

Oh… They’re just coming for a check.

As I see the boats approaching, I start panicking as I hid all the abalone I killed. Before I know it, they are already up alongside my boat. (Sui)

As I watch the patrol boat coming closer, I’m scrambling for ideas to dispose the illegal items on my boat. (Ryan)

As I walk around on my boat, I think…wow… my boat is filled with more blood than water. (Mia)

I walk with blood on my conscience… what will come after this? (Will)

As I lift my head from what I’m doing, I see the Fisheries Patrol boat approaching fast. “Damn”, I mutter to myself. This isn’t going to end well. I just wanted money, not to get my licence taken from me. (Molly)

My name is Costello. I need money for my family. My son has cancer, so I risk my life every day to get money for him. (Lindsay)

Sputtering out slurs and curses wasn’t enough for me. I clenched my fists and aimed for the wall. My face turned stiff, as my thoughts rambled on inside my mind. How dare they do this to me? I couldn’t bear to see my family’s disappointed expressions. (Eveline)

Now what do I do? How do I move on. My business is gonna go bankrupt. Fishing has always been my way to make money… Oh.. I know… This is their fault. If I could just prove myself, surely I can get my licence back. (Ari)

I’ve never felt so ashamed after the incident with the Fisheries Department. I obviously didn’t expect anything good once the Fisheries patrols… (Maltha)