Beyond Mombasa

Praise for Beyond Mombasa

“Beyond Mombasa takes the reader on a heart-stopping adventure across the Africa you loved to hear about when you were a kid”

- Manly Daily

“Coates makes the most of his wealth of information to spin an entertaining and epic tale of man, nature and human nature”

- Gold Coast Bulletin

“Imaginative and creative”

- Pittwater Life

“This book will have you awe struck as to what you can do when you put your mind to it”

- Daily Advertiser

Beyond Mombassa

ISBN: 9780732279196
First published April 2005.

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In 1897, Ronald Preston, a young civil engineer, takes his new bride, Florence, to Mombasa on the Indian Ocean coast of Africa to begin construction of a railway line through an unchartered wilderness.

But Preston realises the Uganda Railway, later branded the ‘Lunatic Line’, is no place for a woman. Ahead lie hostile tribes, dense jungles and brutal thorn-bush deserts where his wife would be the only white woman among ten thousand men.

In the four years building the railway he must overcome political intrigues in far-away London, his taciturn caravan master who is haunted by memories of his hot-blooded woman, and a fellow engineer whose obsession with the man-eaters of Tsavo leads him into dangerous ground.

When his crew members are brutally killed, Preston stalks a predator more treacherous than the lions.

Based on a true story, Beyond Mombasa explores Florence Preston’s journey of discovery across Kenya as well as in her marriage, and her husband’s seduction by the power of Africa.

With the author behind the Scenes of Beyond Mombasa

railway carriage

The author inside an old ‘Lunatic Express’ carriage. A railway manager who was lying in wait for a man-eating lion was dragged from this very carriage by his intended quarry.

I had a ball writing Beyond Mombasa. It’s such a great yarn, packed with unimaginable adventures – all true.

I finished the first draft in record time – just three months. I knew the story of the construction of the railway from Mombasa on the Indian Ocean to Lake Victoria very well. It was one of my favorites, full of adventure. My ‘script’ was the construction project rolling the railway line out over East Africa at the end of the 19th century, only a few years after the first Europeans had risked marching into that unknown territory.

There had been a number of historical accounts of the building of the railway, but the thing that fascinated me was that Florence Preston – a woman who had stood by her man over four years and the laying of a thousand kilometers of railway track – was not given a mention in the official history.

Florence was not the first or the last woman to experience the savagery and hardships of life in those days, but so far as I was concerned hers was the story of the ‘Lunatic Express’, as it was called by a British Parliamentarian of the day.