Norah of Billabong, by Mary Grant Bruce

Reviewed by Tash Hughe

Norah of Billabongis the third in a series of fifteen books about Norah Linton and her family on their station, Billabong. The series was very popular with girls as they were printed, and has touched generations of Australians and others. Billabong is an isolated cattle station in Northern Victoria in the early 1900s. Having never known her Mother, Norah lives with her Father, David, elder brother, Jim, and their friend, Wally Meadows.

This book opens with the closing of Norah’s first year at school. Although Bruce takes care not to portray school in very negative terms, it is clear that Norah longs for the bush, the cattle station and her Father.

For the first time, Norah develops a female friendship in the form of Jean Yorke. Jean’s family is in New Zealand so she spends the summer at Billabong with the Lintons and Wally.

Before leaving the city, David Linton treats them to a pantomime and dinner, which greatly excites the country-bred children. The morning is spent doing Christmas shopping and a charitable visit to a children’s hospital. As usual, Bruce introduces her characters to the “right thing” without moralizing about it to her readers.

Back at the station, the children settle into horse riding, mustering, working and playing. Their lives are interrupted by Wally’s misadventure with a snake and a lazy station hand.

The disgruntled station hand was dismissed, but, in a drunken state, took his revenge by starting a bushfire on the station. No lives were lost, but the house was uninhabitable for a while so David took the children on a horseback holiday. Their holiday adventures complete the book.

Norah of Billabong, by Mary Grant Bruce
Ward, Lock & Co, 1913

About the Reviewer: Tash has always been an avid reader, which has lead her to running her own writing business. Melbourne born and bred Tash is proud to be an Australian and be Mum to two beautiful little girls. To learn more about Tash and her writing, visit Wordconstructions