Review Blog

Apr 02 2019

Beyond the outback edited by Bronwyn Blake

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Hachette, 2019. ISBN: 9780733642203.
(Age: Adult) Recommended. Blake has collected together amazing stories from women of remote north-west Queensland, the outback stations up near the Gulf of Carpentaria, women who have endured hardship, isolation and adventure, and who have absolutely loved it! These are women who have battled crocodiles, broken in wild horses, fought off wild pigs, given birth alone, and saved lives in medical emergencies.
The stories also include oral histories from Aboriginal women who worked in the missions and the stations, living in harsh conditions, but who would never want to leave their Country.
Despite the hardship there are many humorous swash-buckling adventures that will make you laugh and read on. They seem like tales from another era, but are probably still a true reflection of life in the far outback, despite changes wrought by modern communications.
The stand-out story for me was 'Gulf waters warrior', Riki Gunn's account of the campaign to put an end to ghost nets - derelict nets washing up on beaches, called ghost nets because they don't belong to anyone but which still trap fish as though operated by a ghost. The project included the Indigenous communities in the Gulf of Carpentaria all working together to end the scourge of nets, finding alternative ways to recycle the waste nets, as well as working with the Indonesian government to put an end to foreign trawling in Indonesian waters.
Bronwyn Blake, the editor, writes that she wanted to preserve the histories of the region as well as give recognition to the abilities of these outback women, including their ability to tell a story. I am sure that all readers will find value in this unique and fascinating collection.
Helen Eddy

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