Sunday, April 21, 2024

Reviews & Releases


Book review – Crawling Through the Darkness

Kimberly Grabham. Linda Goldspink Lord is a name many would know and remember. Linda and her family used to live in Hay, and left the town when Linda was a teenager ... She wrote a book, Crawling Through the Darkness. 

New release

You called an ambulance for what?

Kimberly Grabham. Tim Booth is the son of Lyn and Ken Booth, formerly of Hay. Tim has written a book, titled, You Called an Ambulance for What? ... details the crazy and curious reasons for people calling emergency services, and are situations he experienced while working as a paramedic in Sydney. 


Author interview – Pip Fioretti

Having read Pip Fioretti's Bone Lands in a sitting and finding it an "extraordinary work", Australian Rural & Regional News contributor, Dr Aedeen Cremin was keen to find out more about this "cracker of a book", its origins and its author.


Review – Bone Lands

This is a cracker of a book. I literally could not put it down and read it at a sitting. From the very first page we are plunged into the mind of the main character—we can hardly call him a ‘hero’, though he has performed heroic deeds. A former army officer, badly wounded and literally scarred by his time in the second ‘Boer War’ (1899-1902), Gus Hawkins is by 1911 a policeman, a mounted trooper, stationed in the far west of NSW on the Darling River between Bourke and Wilcannia.


Review – Salt River Road

It’s easy to see why Molly Schmidt’s debut novel, Salt River Road, won the City of Fremantle’s Hungerford Award and I feel there will be many awards to follow. Salt River Road is set in the late 1970s in southern WA and while it’s a work of fiction it resonates with truth about loss, grief and navigating teenage-hood after the death of a parent.


Author interview – Molly Schmidt

Salt River Road, by WA award winning author Molly Schmidt, is definitely a book with a difference.  Written with a mixture of prose and poetry, it tells the story of the rurally-based Tetley family in the aftermath of the loss of their mother ... Australian Regional and Rural News interviewer, Serena Kirby, chatted with Molly to find out more about the unique and beautiful techniques she used in the book and the personal experiences that shaped her writing. 

Book launch

Allora local launches novel

Georgia Harper invites you to delve into her fascinating journey from psychologist to debut author. From her paddock in Allora and under the watchful supervision of her horse, Georgia penned her first novel What I Would Do to You.


Review – What’s For Dinner?

I’ve read a number of books that delve into issues surrounding Australian food production and it’s fair to say that I found Jill Griffiths’ book What’s For Dinner? the easiest one to digest (pun intended). Jill is a biologist and journalist who’s been writing about the environment and agriculture for more than three decades and her book is a blend of science, history and lived experience.

New release

New release – Outback Court Reporter

From the case of the stolen cat flap, to missing lollipops and exploding chocolate milk in a country supermarket, to a custody dispute over a camel - Jamelle Wells has seen the lighter and quirky side of outback courts but has also witnessed the harsh, dark, and petty side of outback life - including the high rates of Indigenous incarceration, alcohol-related and domestic violence.

New release

Shining light on “The Shadow That Follows”

Member for Mildura, Jade Benham recently had the privilege to visit local schools to deliver Conor Pall’s debut book, “The Shadow that Follows” ... “It was one of the most meaningful days I’ve had in this role yet, it took a bit of planning, but I had the opportunity to spend the day with the brilliant Conor Pall."


WalkOn, RideOn, Maldon

After the MaldON WalkON booklet was launched mid last year, all printed copies ran out the door. Friends of Maldon Historic Reserve Group Spokesperson Lee Mead said, “Due to the booklet’s popularity and value to Maldon, we have been successful in gaining a community grant from Mount Alexander Shire Council to reprint lots more copies.”


Author interview – Diana Thurgood

Diana Thurgood’s first novel Second Chance started its life as a short story back in 2011. After years of the story sitting silently to one side Diana later expanded on the original manuscript and submitted it to a publishing house for consideration.  To her delight she was offered a publishing deal ... From her property in the Blue Mountains, Diana spoke with Australian Rural and Regional News contributor, Serena Kirby about the process of turning her 14-year-old story into a published book.


Review – Second Chance

I don’t really consider myself a horsey-person so I wasn't sure what to expect from the cover of Second Chance by Diana Thurgood. It turns out this heart-warming true story is actually a ripper read.  Second Chance is Diana Thurgood's first book and it’s a story the author justifiably felt compelled to write about one of her long-time friends, Tiffany Williams.

New release

Goldfields Re-Imagined book launch

If you’re interested in the history of the goldfields, here’s an event not to be missed: the launch of historian Marjorie Theobald’s latest book The Goldfields Re-Imagined: Militant Miners, Miscreants and Poor Mary Anne ... Speaking to the [Tarrangower] Times about her book, Marjorie said that the most interesting period of Castlemaine’s history was the early goldfields days.

Children's book

Easter Bilby saves the day

What happens when a bush concert is facing cancellation, and how can Easter Bilby help? That’s the storyline in ‘Banjo Frog’s Concert Spectacular’, a new children’s book released by Foundation for Rabbit-Free Australia in conjunction with Wakefield Press.

New release

New release – Dryandra Forest – a silvicultural history

Roger Underwood. There was an unusual event in Dryandra Forest in Western Australia in November 2023: a commemoration of 100 years of forestry management. At a large gathering in the forest, beneath the shade of a 100-year-old brown mallet plantation, speeches were made, a plaque unveiled, and this book on the history of the forest was launched.


Review – Ships, Shops and Sheep – The Remarkable Life of Paul Simons

This is the very personal life-story of a charismatic Welsh seaman who moved to Australia for love and once there became a captain of industry. The work is ‘as told to’ by Paul Simons to the writer Terry Larder and contains many anecdotes that illuminate aspects of life in wartime Britain and in postwar Australia ... Most of the book is concerned with Paul's life and career, enlivened with some quite racy anecdotes and more serious reflections on the way of the world. Paul has a sense of humour but also a strong moral sense.

New release

Book launch – Poet on the Verandah

Southern Downs Poet, Marco Gliori admits that standing behind a microphone, encouraging people to smile, steering proceedings, and sharing his community's stories has become a huge part of his life. Some of the yarns he tells are inspired by local experiences, others by distant landscapes and characters he has met, whilst taking the road less travelled.

Basin book aims to educate

A new book about the rivers and wetlands of the Murray-Darling Basin includes information about the Upper Murray and is now on its way to thousands of primary schools across Australia. Commissioned by the Jane Goodall Institute in London and Sydney, the book was written by the Petaurus Education Group in Albury-Wodonga.

New release

Book chronicles history of bush footy

A book written by Greg Riach takes readers on a journey through the history of football in the western and southern districts of NSW from 1920-1976, encompassing groups 9, 10, 11, 14 and 15. Much of the content has been sourced from newspaper reports and photographs of players and teams ...

Book traces growth from grass roots to iconic event

A new book launched by the Henty Machinery Field Days traces six decades of history from its early days to a grass roots event driven by farmers to its position as a global agricultural phenomenon. The 84-page coffee table style book was written by Henty Machinery Days Media Manager Kim Woods and launched at the official opening of the 60th anniversary event...

New release

New release – Bush Tragedies

These are the crimes, murders and tragedies from across western NSW that made headlines around Australia decades and decades ago but are long forgotten – until now. A new book to hit the shelves today, Bush Tragedies, is a compilation of short stories from dark pockets of Australia’s history, recorded in stark, descriptive detail by award-winning journalist Bill Poulos.

Short story

Old Veech is next! Bill Poulos

Escorting convicted criminal George Lorie from Walgett lock-up to Narrabri railway station was no easy task for Carinda police constable William Noble. Lorie was found guilty of stealing more than fifty sheep from Quilbone station, a 10,000-acre spread near Quambone in western NSW ... As Lorie was escorted down the courthouse steps, he noticed Veech and threatened to kill the old pioneer.

New release

Novel strikes a chord with all ages

After two decades of research Kim Winter has launched her debut novel, a testament to her dedication and commitment to the craft of writing ... ‘Cedar’ is a beautifully written story that meanders from pre-WWI outback station life to the terrors and heroics of the battlefields of WWI ...

New release

Art through the ages: A captivating journey behind the City of Whyalla Art Collection

Whyalla City Council has released a new book showcasing its historic art collection to the public in its entirety for the first time. ‘City of Whyalla Art Collection ... the history of Whyalla’s Art Collection starting from the 19th Century to the more recent pieces created in the 2020s.


Fact, fiction blend in novel based on the life of jockey Bill Smith

Mr Smith to you by Kerry Taylor is described as a novel based on the true story of Australian jockey Bill Smith – a life lived in secret and that’s pretty right, but there’s so much more to it. Bill Smith was a well-known jockey in the bush area of Queensland for many years in the 1940s and ‘50s. Although nicknamed “Girlie”, he was always thought to be a man until an admission to hospital when aged in his late seventies revealed the truth: Bill Smith was a woman.


Author interview – Michael Thomas

First-time author, Michael Thomas, never set out to write historical fiction; he was planning to write his memoirs. Michael was born and raised in WA’s northern town of Carnarvon. It’s a tough, remote part of the world and Michael grew up moving through regional WA as the son of an outback shearer ... Michael and Serena Kirby spoke about character voice, language, the adding of female story elements to balance the book and the importance of telling some of lesser known parts of Western Australia’s history.

New release

Review – The Map of William

The Map of William is the first book by West Australian writer Michael Thomas and it’s certainly a darn good read. It is also not the book that Michael set out to write but I’m sure glad he did ... Set in 1909, The Map of William is a gripping and fast-paced tale of 15-year-old William Watson, his father and a band of colourful companions as they undertake an expedition through WA’s north-west to map water sources.

New release

New bike book – 16 Maldon-to-Maldon bike rides

Maldon Cycling Group has just published a book with information about 16 local bike rides ... Peter Strang, one of the team who produced the book said, “There are some great rides around Maldon. Hopefully, this book will help some locals and visitors explore the area by bike”.  


Author interview – Holly Throsby

Holly Throsby was a musician, singer, songwriter way before she was an author. She’d released five solo albums, toured extensively and been nominated for several ARIA awards before she shifted from writing song lyrics to writing story sentences ... Australian Rural and Regional News contributor, Serena Kirby spoke to Holly recently about her latest novel, Clarke, the writing process and asked about advice for would-be novelists.

New release

Story of loss takes readers on an emotional journey

After "putting it on the back burner" a number of times local author, Kim Winter, is about to release her first novel. The life of the main character in ‘Cedar’ has been shaped by various experiences that have influenced his character and outlook.


Children’s book resonates with all ages

The author of a book about a young girl growing up beside the Murray River during The Great Depression is coming to Corryong to talk about her work. Cathy Hope’s book ‘Murray River Girl’ is a true story about Roma, the daughter of a swagman and shearer’s cook, who lived in a makeshift tent beside the river until she was eleven years old.

New release

Findlater’s men

Shane Smith. This is my 5th and latest book on the military history of Naracoorte. The book is titled Findlaters Men. Consisting of 319 pages, over 20 photos and full nominal roll, it covers the formation of the Naracoorte Half Squadron South Australian Mounted Rifles 1900/12.


Author interview – Renee Pettitt-Schipp

Renee Pettitt-Schipp is the author of the award winning collection of poetry The Sky Runs Right Through Us and her latest offering, The Archipelago Of Us, is her first work of prose ... Renee recently chatted with Australian Rural and Regional News contributor Serena Kirby about her early interest in writing, her love of poetry and what she has in the pipeline as future works.


Review – The Archipelago Of Us

This new book is a travel narrative that recounts Renee’s 2016 return trip to the Indian Ocean Territories ... and it’s hard not to fall in love with the paradise she describes in such exquisite detail ... It’s fair to say that when this book starts it’s easy to be lulled into a sense of calm, wonder and delight but as the chapters progress there’s a shift from the beauty that surrounds Renee to the real reason for her trip and the story she needed to tell.


Nothing better than a book to ride out the winter break

The last of the foal shows are done for the year, the royal show horses have a few more weeks rest before the earnest work begins and it’s the quietest time of the year for most horse people. It’s an opportunity to catch up on some reading by the fire while the wind blows cold, or while seated on a 12-hour plane flight – do we revisit some old favorites or go and find something new to read?


Review – When One of Us Hurts

Vuu deftly handles multiple time shifts throughout the novel until it all comes crashing together at the end. The final chapters contain twists enough to keep any reader happy, and the emotional punch of the climax is powerful. This is one the most intriguing crime novels I have read and the story stayed with me long after I closed the book for the final time. I look forward to reading her second novel.


The Footy Jumper Book

HM Woodhouse-Herrick. Former Nhill resident Tim Rath was heard recently on Matt Tribe’s Saturday morning show on ABC Radio. Tim was on to talk about his book: The Footy Jumper Book, which traces the history of the humble guernsey from the hessian sack days of Moonta FC in regional SA back in 1876 through to Neil Craig’s remarkable one-piece lycra invention for Norwood in 1994.


Author interview – Karly Lane

Everybody loves a bit of romance and Australian author Karly Lane has made a living out of writing about it. With nearly 30 books to her name (and several more in the pipeline) Karly has become one of Australia’s best selling authors of rural and women’s fiction ... Serena Kirby recently caught up with Karly  to chat about her journey to becoming an author and why she chose romance as her genre of choice. 

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.

A Wild Surmise book launch

Maldon locals are most likely to know Anita Sinclair as a puppeteer, a cartoonist or an artist ... she’s releasing her second memoir, A Wild Surmise - A dream of migratory birds, which follows Anita as a new migrant arriving in Australia at the age of 12 through to finishing her painting and sculpture degree at the age of 20.


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.