Saturday, 13 June 2009

Kings in Grass Castles - Mary Durack

When I was travelling in Australia and New Zealand, I had lots of time to read - some of the journeys between towns on the Greyhound Bus in Australia took 20 hours or more! When I was staying in Kununnura, I visited the Durack Homestead which had been the home of one of Australia's remarkable pioneering families. The original homestead was flooded by the creation of Lake Argyle when they dammed the Orde River, so it has been recreated on higher ground using some of the original materials.
Kings in Grass Castles tells the story of Patrick Durack leaving Ireland with his family in 1853 for Australia and their struggles to establish themselves and to build a great cattle empire across outback Australia.
Follow them from their landing point in Sydney and early days in New South Wales, through to opening up remote parts of Queensland to cattle ranching and then driving cattle overland to establish huge cattle stations in the Kimberley. The hardships that they faced are almost umimaginable now, but the sights they must have seen and the experiences that they had are now out of our reach.
Kings in Grass Castles has lots of family and historical detail, so I found it slow, but fascinating reading. Leaving on a jet plane for Oz? This is the perfect book for that 24 hours - order a gin and tonic and recline your seat!

The Durack Homestead

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