Rothwell identifies a small group of books that he believes hold the key to a distinctively Australian literature. The list includes Randolph Stow's Tourmaline, Scot Cane's Pila Nguru: The Spinifex People and T. G. H. Strehlow's Journey to Horseshoe Bend. Rothwell contends that this writing 'tends towards the reduplicative and the understated, the mazy and open-ended. It is the tradition that was first sensed and explored by Leichhardt, whose disappearance seems somehow very like its defiant foundation act. Its works are hybrid, unreliable and conform to no obvious canon, and yet they are instantly recognisable: they have a common stamp.'
He concludes that such writings need to be re-examined. 'I regard them not as eccentric outliers, rebel weeds that failed to take, but as emblems of the beckoning future, traces of an ore as yet unformed, the first glimmering stars in the dark sky of an authentic Australian literature.'