Saturday, June 3, 2023

Reviews & Releases

New release

It takes many villages to tell our Fire Stories in book and podcast

Words, pictures and voices bring to life the stories of the 2019-2020 bushfires ... The stories and photos have been turned into a book that was launched at the Roxy Gallery on Friday, May 19.


New edition – A Place in the Country

A Place in the Country is essential reading for anyone who has, or plans to have, a rural property in Australia or New Zealand. Whether your goal is food, profit or enjoyment, this book offers the ‘eyes wide open’ approach to creating your own beautiful, productive and sustainable rural landscape.


Review – Time of My Life

Myf Warhurst is a familiar face to many Australians after her long running stint as one of the permanent team captains on music quiz show Spick n Specks ... As she says in the introduction to her memoir Time of My Life, “My love of music would help define my career.” This career has taken her from Melbourne to London, to Sydney, Mildura, New York, Israel, Portugal … but it all began in country Victoria.


Allora’s own pictorial bird guidebook

On Sunday 23rd April, the Allora Landcare Group (ALG) officially launched the second edition of their book ‘A Pictorial Guide to the Birds of Allora Mountain Flora and Fauna Reserve’ ... Frank Coman, a CSIRO scientist based in Brisbane was the photographer for the book ... He spoke about the new bird species on the Reserve he keeps finding, and including these resulted in the new edition enlarging to accommodate them. The number is now well over 100.


Review – Our Dangerous Friend

At the heart of "Our Dangerous Friend" is author David Jefford Ward’s belief that traditional Noongar knowledge should be a respected source of bushfire philosophy, ecology and management in south west Australia. In fact Ward, who started as a workman in the then Forests Department, places more value on Noongar bushfire knowledge than some refereed scientific papers.


Review – Into the Night

When I sat down to read this book I thought I’d just cast my eye over a couple of pages while waiting for the kettle to boil. Trouble was I never got to make that cup of tea because I simply couldn’t pull myself away from the mystery that was unfolding on the pages.

Author interview

Interview – author Fleur McDonald

Fleur McDonald is one of Australia's leading rural fiction writers and with 22 novels already to her name, and publishing two books a year, she’s certainly a highly prolific author ... Fleur recently took time out from her busy day to talk to Australian Rural and Regional News contributor, Serena Kirby, about what she writes, about plots and characters, and where she finds her inspiration.

Book and eBook

Book – Sailing on the Edge

It was a lifelong dream of a lifelong sailor and though it was to be a solo journey, his waking and sleeping hours were spent in the ‘company’ of his memories and erstwhile companions and friends ... When at his lowest ebb, along came the ghost of Sam, a friendly old sailor who kept Peter entertained through the long, lonely hours of the dog watch.

New release

Headstones lead to A Bend in the River

When journalist Samantha Elley saw the Woodburn cemetery for the first time, it was from a distance ... Sam said she is a taphophile – a lover of cemeteries. She has been writing family history stories for more than 30 years ... The book – A Bend in the River – took five years. 

New release

New release – Wild Ride: The Story of the Australian Stock Saddle

The hardy stock saddle is a much-loved outback symbol but its story has never been written - until now. Wild Ride captures this colourful tale, involving colonial pioneers and Aboriginal stockmen and women; bushrangers and young horsemen sent to the Boer War. It catalogues the earliest models produced by amateurs sewing kneepads onto traditional English saddles, through to the development of the modern stock fender.


Review – Story of the stock saddle a ride worth strapping in for

I haven't enjoyed a book more for ages. I am deep into Wild Ride, The story of the Australian Stock Saddle by Fiona Carruthers and have no hesitation in recommending that horse lovers or anyone interested in Australian history should go out and buy a copy today. Calling it magnificent doesn’t even come close.


Review – Great Australian Rascals, Rogues and Ratbags

... what I also loved about this book was how it painted a picture of life at the time when these various criminals were active. Jim adds information about the laws of the day, government, and social norms to give context to the dastardly deeds of his cast of criminals. There’s no doubt this book will delight fans of true crime. True stories of true criminals from Australia’s past have definitely resulted in a book that’s one heck of a darn good read.

Review – Paperbark Hill

I was ready to lose myself in a fictional world, and this was the perfect escapist genre read. Linnell writes authentically of small town rural Australia, with the characters, landscape and community events immediately recognisable to anyone who has lived in the country ... I learned plenty about flower farming and the sweat and beauty and hope involved. I learned a bit about the path junior cricketers take as they strive to move into senior professional careers. I salivated over Diana’s baking and wished for recipes at the back of the book ...

Review – Clarke

Obviously every good mystery novel has a few twists and turns but even as a regular reader of this genre I didn’t see this story’s twist coming. The fact that this book has lingered in my mind long after I finished reading it is testament to this author’s talent at her craft. I’ll certainly be getting my hands on another of Holly Throsby’s books.


Review – Wandering with Intent

Wandering with Intent is a collection of non-fiction essays that explores Kim’s thoughts, experiences and observations about what happens at the point of intersection between non-Indigenous Australia and strong traditional Aboriginal culture ... With Kim’s finely-tuned observations and rich descriptions of people, places and topics you really do feel as if you’re accompanying her on a journey. 

Review – Rachel

“Rachel” is the culmination of a forty year journey for author Jeff McGill ... Jeff first “met” Rachel Kennedy in 1982 as a teenager, when his grandfather Arnold handed him her newspaper obituary from 1930 ... She was born into and lived most of her life in a world that no longer exists – a world that Jeff’s meticulous research brings to life here.

New release

Dino fills a gap in stories of Italian migrants

When Dino Polese was three years old, he went looking for his father Angelo in the banana crops at Naughtons Gap. He got tired and fell asleep under a tree. “They came and found me,” Dino said. “They” refers to the Italian community who settled in Naughtons Gap near Casino between 1945 and the late 1970s.


Review – Why Do Birds Do That?

Whether you are an avid bird watcher or simply a casual admirer I highly recommend adding this to your bookshelf for ready reference. Trust me, you’ll need it - as some people may not believe you when you tell them about some of the avian oddities described.

Review – The Unbelieved

If you’re stocking up your summer reading pile, Vikki Petraitis’ debut novel The Unbelieved should definitely be up for your consideration ... My flight was only an hour but I got halfway through the book in that time, as the story grabbed me and wouldn’t let go ... The twist near the end that I was waiting for came, but it was multilayered and not predictable or easily puzzled out.

New releases

Four lambs! Tale of Queenie the supermum launches new author

Sheep farmer Suzanne Lewis has just published her first children’s book and had no further to look for something to write about than her own front paddock. “Queenie the Quad Lady” is the story of a remarkable ewe that captured Suzanne’s heart after giving birth to four lambs and successfully raising them all despite all the trials and tribulations a sheep can face.

Beyond the Fence: Darling Downs-Moreton Rabbit Board 1892-2022

This intriguing book was launched in Warwick last week by Chair of Darling Downs-Moreton Rabbit Board (DDMRB) Lockyer Valley Regional Councillor Janice Holstein. It tells the Board’s story and that of rabbits in Australia. The DDMRB maintains the oldest and longest purpose-built, rabbit-proof barrier fence still in use in Australia, if not the world.

New release

Railway history

A History of the Castlemaine to Maryborough Railway is a recently published book written by Ken James and David Langley. At 428 pages, it’s a doorstopper of a book that is painstakingly researched, well-illustrated and comprehensive in its scope. For railway tragics and history buffs, it’s a must-buy; and for others, it’s a cracking good read.

Book launch

Book launch marks Osbornes’ Carmarthen centenary

Patricia Gill. Historian Malcolm Traill officially launched Ian Osborne’s book, The Osbornes of Group 41 Carmarthen, at the Osborne farm on December 4. The event marked the century since Ian’s grandparents, Group Settlers George and Edith Osborne, took up the property and a century since the 15 Group Settlers arrived in the district.

New releases

New release – Remote as Ever

In Remote as Ever, David Scrimgeour tells the story of his working life as a doctor in isolated communities in Australia's Western Desert in the late 1970s. Being involved in the Homelands movement and the Aboriginal community-controlled health campaign gave him significant insight into the strength of the Aboriginal struggle for autonomy - a struggle too often undermined by government policy.

New release – Banjo Paterson: A Life in Pictures and Words from the Banjo Paterson Family Archive

Notebooks, illustrations, photographs, letters and transcripts of some of our best-loved songs, poems and stories have been brought together for the first time. Banjo's great-grandson and sole executor of the poet's literary estate, Alistair Campbell, has curated this rare collection and provides intimate commentary on his famous relative.

New release – Tiwi Textiles: Design, Making, Process

Tiwi Textiles: Design, Making, Process tells the story of the innovative Tiwi Design centre on Bathurst Island in northern Australia, dedicated to the production of hand-printed fabrics featuring Indigenous designs, from the 1970s to today.


Review – Once Were Wild

Author Leslie Scott never expected that a rumour about wild horses roaming on a mountain near her home would consume months of her life and result in such a deep connection between animal and human. Set in rural Victoria, Once Were Wild is an easy-to-read book that recounts the moment Leslie finds two brumbies amongst the rugged terrain of Mount Beckworth near the town of Clunes.


Where Lies The Heart

Where Lies The Heart is a rollicking tale set in the 1800's about whaling in the South Pacific, the cedar getters of the 'Big Scrub' in the far North Coast of New South Wales and the convicts of Norfolk Island.


Review – Wish You Were Here

Everyone enjoys a bit of romance - especially if it involves scenes and settings that are highly relatable to rural readers. One of Karly Lane’s recent releases, Wish You Were Here, delivers all that and more.

New releases

New release – Great Australian Places

Australia's master storyteller takes us all around the country, uncovering tales of unsolved crimes, early exploration and military exploits, fascinating natural phenomena and iconic destinations.

New release – The Complete Trip in a Van Guide to Australia

Plan the trip of a lifetime with expert advice and a full itinerary from Australia's most popular travelling family. In the seven years since the 'Trip In A Van' family set off on their first adventure, they've covered tens of thousands of kilometres and become Australia's most popular travelling family.

New release – Wish You Were Here

As a kid brought up on a cattle property in the New England Tablelands, Reggie Macleod vows she is going to swap the country for city life as soon as she can. And she's followed her dream. Everything is going to plan. Until one phone call rocks her world entirely.


Review – Big Things Grow

Sarah Donnelley's book Big Things Grow has been called a love song to a small country town but it is also a love song to the profession of teaching ... Sarah's beautifully written memoir recounts key events of her four fulfilling years working in what was a complex and challenging environment.

Review – My Father and Other Animals

Sam’s memoir tells the story of his journey from farmhand to farmer. Along the way, it also explores the changing nature of farming, the complications of farm succession, and less traditional approaches to agriculture ... I had tears well up at some points, and laughed out loud at others.

New releases

New release – Maestro of Madness

During this year as I have been promoting my novel, Maestro of Madness, I have been asked so many times why I turned to writing fictional novels at my advanced age ... Eddie Philipson is the main protagonist who was diagnosed with PTSD when he was 44 and the storyline picks up with his battle with the insidious disorder ... I was fortunate enough to have good knowledge with PTSD as I have the dreaded disorder as a Vietnam Vet and so was able to adapt some of the experiences I have had in learning to manage PTSD.

New release – The 1982-83 Victorian Bushfire Season, Including Ash Wednesday – 16 February 1983 – A Forester’s Perspective

Forty years ago, south eastern Australia was in the middle of a prolonged drought and facing a perilous bushfire season. A new e-book by retired Victorian forester, Peter McHugh, provides a detailed account of the 1982-83 bushfire season from a new perspective ... It was a long and hectic fire season for the Forests Commission Victoria (FCV) which attended 878 fires on State forests and National Parks totalling 486,030 ha, which was well above the 11-year average of 141,000 ha.


Author interview – Nicola Harvey

Nicola Harvey is an experienced media executive, producer and writer working across digital, audio, print and live events. She’s also the author of 'Farm: the making of a climate activist' ... Speaking from her farm in New Zealand, Nicola talked to Australian Rural and Regional News contributor Serena Kirby about the writing process and the incredible amount of work that went into writing her book. She also offered some wise words to other first-time authors.


Review – Farm – the making of a climate activist

A good place to start reading Farm is at the back. That may sound counterintuitive but by taking a look at the extensive bibliography you’ll quickly see how intensely researched the book is which adds weight to the arguments and questions it presents. While Farm is a memoir that chronicles the journey of Nicola Harvey and her husband after they leave their city lives to farm cattle in rural New Zealand, it is far more than that.


Review – A Remarkable Woman

Fashion, culture, romance and a storyline peppered with twists and turns - what's not to love about A Remarkable Woman ... if you’re a lover of fashion, romance, outback life and a darn good story, this book makes a great summer holiday read. It’ll keep you turning the pages from start to finish and remind you that, in life and in love, “timing is everything”.

Review – Outback Teacher

I was unexpectedly, and in the end pleasantly, surprised to find a story that is as much about 1950s and 1960s Australia as it is about one young woman’s experiences. It is the north-west Western Australia of Aboriginal missions, of cultural clashes, of extremes in temperature and of distance, of hardships tempered by moments of joy, of connections made and still treasured more than half a century later.

New release

New release – Why Do Birds Do That?

An entrancing, informative book filled with answers to many of the common questions we ask about birds and their lives. For thousands of years birds have fascinated us. We've observed what they do - their behaviours, their characteristics, their survival skills, the food they eat and their habitats - and wondered why they do it.

New release

Local author booking success

Emma Pritchard. When Clarence Valley resident Paul MacNamara decided to transition from an everyday teacher to an education officer in the prison system, he found himself in an unfamiliar classroom with strict settings and new students. Some were sex offenders and murderers, others were serving time for armed robbery, drug offences, or breaking and entering ... "I noticed that people of all ages would ask me about my job and what is was like to teach in a gaol," he recalled.

New release

New book – The Men of the 2/26 Battalion

A book by two authors, one of them an Allora local, delves into the war years of the brave men of the 2/26 Battalion. Read through the personal interviews, family stories and archive research of the military history and personal history of the men compiled by two dedicated women, daughters of two of the soldiers - Norm Newport and Bill Anderson - who were mates in the 2/26 Battalion.