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Book Review: Weekly Times Now

I came across a fabulous review of In Stockman’s Footsteps by Christopher Bantick at the Weekly Times Now website. I’ve copied it in its entirety below.

THIS book is a testament to the bush. Jane Grieve is a rare writer.

She can bring her great love of the land and its hard bitten people to the page with passion and a celebration of the bush spirit.

  • In Stockmen’s Footsteps By Jane Grieve Allen & Unwin, $29.95

She’s about as Aussie as billy tea. While the book follows her life from bare foot on the black fertile soil of the Darling Downs to her decade with the legendary R.M. Williams establishing the Stockman’s Hall of Fame, there is much more besides.

Central to the book is Grieve’s commitment to the furtherance of the bush and specifically the outback way of life.

This began with a real sense that she came from people who loved the land and understood the importance of the pioneering spirit.

This heritage took her across the wide brown land, first as a station cook at just 18. She describes this journey as her entrance to the “school of hard knocks” and she notes the “freshness of youth and pure ignorance were more often than not, my greatest allies”.

Given that Grieve began with the bush in her blood, when she met R. M. Williams, while working for Bill Durack, brother of the enduringly significant Mary and Elizabeth Durack, her life changed.

This was because she shared the same vision as Williams did of recognising the massive contribution stockmen provided to Australia’s sense of itself. The book goes to some lengths to give an account of how this came to be.

The insight she gives to R.M. Williams, and how he worked to ensure the Stockmen’s Hall of Fame and Outback Heritage Centre at Longreach in Queensland came to be, is sure to attract anyone with an interest in bush traditions.

While this is a story of a remarkable woman, it is really a book about a kind of Australia that in many ways is fast disappearing. It is important to be reminded of it.

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