My favourite part of the book was the illustrations, numerous historical works of art, I am a sucker for images of riders on horseback working cattle! The text is detailed and in some parts it was more that I really wanted to know. I think it would be a good reference for a student of Australian history, but I was happy to skim read and pick up the interesting parts.
Being in a drought at the moment, I found the accounts of drought times particularly shocking, I could really empathise with the stockmen moving huge mobs of cattle long distances only to find that the next waterhole was also dry, it must have been devastating, and yet they persevered in harrowing conditions. The changes from droving along stock routes to moving cattle by truck were also interesting.
Not having grown up with Australian history, I really enjoyed the earlier chapters and I learnt a lot about the conditions immediately after settlement. It was pretty funny reading about how the first cattle that were brought to Australia initially escaped, I could just imagine that happening, those poor inexperienced convicts! Its really quite amazing to consider the conditions that the first farmers endured, the isolation and manual labour would have been incredibly tough.
I was surprised that the stockmen living at stations seemed to mainly survive on beef, tea and damper, and really relied on supplied from the coast. There didn't seem to be an effort to develop self-sufficient homesteads with gardens and chickens and house cows, and I'm not sure why that was.
Overall, it is a book that will appeal to both the history student and to those who like to look at the pictures! It would make a lovely gift for someone who has an interest in cattle, sheep or outback life in general.
The book was sent to me by Penguin, the opinions in this post are my own.
Read any good books lately?
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