‘I’m sitting down to write the opening lines of this book a year to the day since my mum died. She is constantly in my thoughts, not just because I miss her terribly, but because she was the inspiration for this collection of stories about women who have come from very different places to make a new life in rural Australia.’
City Girl, Country Girl brings together the stories of women who have left lives in the city or another country to build a new future in places where knowing how to milk a cow or drive a tractor stand them in far better stead than an ability to negotiate rush-hour traffic or find a good cappuccino.
It ranges in scope from the present day to the classic outback story of Sarah Durack in the late 1800s, and the author’s own mother’s experiences of swapping wartime Melbourne for a dairy farm on the Limestone Coast. City Girl, Country Girl is a compelling and fascinating account of these women’s journeys as they struggle through personal tragedy, hardship and self-doubt with grace, humour, perseverance and more than a little hard work.
Among the women featured:
Annabel Tully – a Brisbane girl with a creative spirit who headed west as a governess and fell in love with a man from one of the Outback’s most resilient families, surviving her own personal battles with breast cancer, depression and drought. Annabel’s story also features her mother-in-law, Wendy, who found love when she headed to the Channel Country as a teenager to work for the Tully family, eventually raising nine children and suffering the heartbreak of losing one; and their predecessor Sarah, sister of Outback legend Patsy Durack, who followed him to western Queensland in the 1870s with her husband and experienced a life of extraordinary isolation and hardship in an extreme climate but never gave up.
Marnie Baker – a young mother who was wooed to leave her inner city life by the tenacious efforts of a small, quirky but remarkable country town in south-western Victoria that offered her family a better future.
Sherryn Simpson – a primary school teacher who, against her better judgement, went to a country-style matchmaking weekend organised by the same quirky town, and much to her surprise found love with her very own Beaut Bloke, a farmer from Connewirricoo.
Daljit Sanghera – a woman raised in the Indian Punjab who came to Australia after an arranged marriage, and defied grief, inexperience and her cultural background to build an independent life, running a fruit block in the South Australian Riverland and raising three children on her own after the death of her husband.
Wendy Bonini – a Ten Pound Pom from a market gardening family, who migrated with her parents and 9 siblings to a rundown dairy farm infested with rabbits near Manjimup in south-west WA, and then at 17 became a tobacco grower in her own right. Wendy’s story also features her remarkable mother, Doris, who cried when she first saw her new home in the Australian bush but somehow managed to keep her sense of humour, and Wendy’s daughter Giuliana, a fruit grower in the Perth Hills.
Elaine Harfull – the author’s mother and inspiration for this book, who fell in love with a handsome young farmer in uniform during the upheaval of war-time, and left behind a city career and all the mod cons to move to an old farmhouse near Mount Gambier with no power or plumbing.
Grace Gilmore – Elaine’s oldest friend, another city girl who married a dairy farmer and moved to the new soldier settlement of Eight Mile Creek on the windswept Limestone Coast in SA, where many of the settlers were forced to give up because of the conditions.
Release date: March 23, 2016.
RRP $29.99. Purchase direct from the author for $25.