Five Aussie Classics

I have read all five of these classic Australian books,  though more than twenty years ago now. I think all of these books evoke different facets of Australian history and culture and a sense of our country. You should be able to find any of these at your local library (if you are Australian), and several have been reprinted recently so can be found here and there. All of them have been made into movies also

A Fortunate Life by AB Facey

Born in 1894, Facey lived the rough frontier life of a sheep farmer, survived the gore of  Gallipoli, raised a family through the Depression and spent sixty years with his beloved wife, Evelyn. Despite enduring hardships we can barely imagine today, Facey always saw his life as a ‘fortunate’ one. A true classic of Australian literature, his simply written autobiography is an inspiration. It is the story of a life lived to the full – the extraordinary journey of an ordinary man. This memoir is fascinating and still a favourite, Albert taught himself to read and write so this story has a raw immediacy that is surprising. My best friend at the time of the movie being made, actually played the role of his sister.

We of the Never Never Mrs Aeneas

In 1902, newly-married Jeannie Gunn (Mrs Aeneas Gunn) left the security and comfort of her Melbourne home to travel to the depths of the Northern Territory, where her husband had been appointed manager of ‘The Elsey’, a large cattle station. One of the very few white women in the area, she was at first resented by people on and around the station, till her warmth and spirit won their affection and respect. She had an unerring ear and eye for the sounds and sights of the country; and this is her moving and simple account of her life amidst the beauty and cruelty of the land, and the isolation and loneliness – together with the comradeship and kindness of those around her.
You can download this at Gutenberg.Org and read it for free

The Shiralee by D’Arcy Niland

A shiralee is a swag, a burden, a bloody millstone – and that’s what four-year-old Buster is to her father, Macauley.  He takes the child on the road with him to spite his wife, but months pass and still no word comes to ask for the little girl back.  Strangers to each other at first, father and daughter drift aimlessly through the dusty towns of Australia, sleeping rough and relying on odd jobs for food and money.  Buster’s resilience and trust slowly erode Macauley’s resentment, and when he’s finally able to get rid of her, he realises he can’t let his shiralee go. In evocative prose that vividly conjures images of rural Australia, The Shiralee reveal and understanding of the paradoxical nature of the burdens we carry, creates a moving portrait of fatherhood, told with gruff humour and a gentle pathos.

Storm Boy by Colin Thiele (YA)

This is a YA book but still a touching and beautifully written story.  Storm boy and his father live alone in a humpy among the sandhills between the Southern Ocean and the Coorong – a lonely, narrow waterway that runs parallel to a long stretch of the South Australian coast. Among the teeming birdlife of the Coorong, Storm Boy finds an injured young pelican whose life he saves. From then on, Storm boy and Mr Percival the pelican become inseparable friends and spend their days exploring the wave-beaten shore and the drifting sandhills. Mr Percival learns to help Storm Boy’s father with his fishing and warn the other birdlife whenever poachers are coming, but his part in rescuing a shipwrecked crew leads to great changes in Storm Boy’s life.

The Harp in The South Trilogy by Ruth Park

The Harp in the South is the best known of the three books that includes, Missus and Poor Man’s Orange.
The story has its beginnings in the awkward courtship of dreamily innocent Margaret Kilker and unwilling hero Hugh Darcy in the dusty country towns of rural Australia. After their marriage, the couple moves to Sydney and raises a family amid the brothels, grog shops and run-down boarding houses of inner-city Surry Hills, where money is scarce and life is not easy. Here their daughter Roie grows up all too quickly, while younger daughter Dolour tries to make sense of a world in which loss and love go hand in hand. Filled with beautifully drawn characters that will make you laugh as much as cry, Ruth Park’s Australian classics take you from the barren landscapes of the outback to the colourful slums of Sydney with convincing depth, careful detail and great heart.


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Aussie Author Month is also raising funds for the Indigenous Literacy Project. You can learn more about this cause HERE and  donate HERE

5 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. tahliaN
    Apr 07, 2011 @ 13:33:39

    Just read an awesome book by an Aussie writer – Diamond Eyes by AA Bell



  2. Marg
    Apr 07, 2011 @ 14:19:48

    I have owned A Fortunate Life for the longest time but never read it. It does make me think about my grandfather though.

    I read that Ruth Park trilogy in school around the time the mini series came out, and remember loving it



  3. Aleetha
    Apr 08, 2011 @ 02:05:49

    They are classic. But all those books are new for me.Thanks for telling me this.

    I liked The Shiralee by D’Arcy Niland cover.



  4. Trackback: Round-up of Aussie Author Month – Week 1 – Book Thingo
  5. Belle
    Apr 10, 2011 @ 13:16:38

    Sadly the only one I’ve read of these is A Fortunate Life – we had to read it for school. I must get on to the rest!



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