Looking for Rose Patterson by Jennifer Gall

Who was Rose Paterson?
Most readers will be introduced to Rose Paterson by reading the poems and stories written by her son, Barty, better known to the world as Andrew Barton ‘Banjo’ Paterson. But so subtle are the references that readers may not realise they have made her acquaintance. She is there in Banjo’s turn of phrase, his sense of humour, his resilient spirit and in some rare direct references to her as she was in his childhood. But Rose Paterson, in a series of little-known letters written to her younger sister, Nora, provided her own account of her life.

Meet Rose Paterson, mother of A B ‘Banjo’ Paterson. ‘Looking for Rose Paterson’ chronicles Rose’s life as daughter, sister, wife and mother. It also examines the life of a farmer’s wife in a time very different to now. Rose’s letters to her younger sister reveal a world of challenge, from the regular and protracted absences of her husband, to the isolation and inadequacies of her home. Yet she managed to retain a sense of humour, raise and educate her children. She also kept in touch with her family and friends, even when poverty dictated that she cross-write her letters. ‘Looking for Rose Paterson’ includes photos, letters, posters and extracts from Paterson’s poetry.

Looking for Rose Paterson’ is much more than a story of an individual life, though it is that too. It’s a rich portrait of a colonial world, with a focus on the often invisible women who helped shape it. In addition, it chronicles the world that nurtured Banjo Paterson and set the foundations for his writing. Rose’s letters offer an intimate peek into matters personal and domestic, while other elements reflect on childbirth, education, women’s rights and more. ‘Looking for Rose Paterson’ is a fascinating read, a chocolate box of delights for anyone interested in Rose herself and in learning about the lives of colonial women. Highly recommended.

Looking for Rose Paterson, Jennifer Gall
NLA Publishing 2017
ISBN: 9780642278920

review by Claire Saxby, Children’s author and bookseller

Crimson Dawn, by Fleur McDonald

Sean cleared his throat and stood up. ‘Laura, we know how much you love farming and Nambina. It’s that sort of love I have never understood or had, and it’s why today we are passing the reins of it over to you, darling girl….I believe you are destined for greatness within the ag industry…we can’t wait to watch and see what happens and where it ends up.’

When Laura Murphy is handed the reins of the family property, she hopes that she can justify the trust placed in her. She sets to work building her breeding program and establishing a school to teach young women farming and property management skills. She is independent, strong and determined to succeed.

Not everything is perfect though. Laura is haunted by a personal tragedy which cost her a friendship and broke up her relationship with Josh, from the neighbouring property. Her latest batch of students have started off strongly, but seem to splintering as a group as the year goes by. And a solicitor has notified her that someone else has a claim over Nambina. It’s going to take all her strength to keep it all together.

Crimson Dawn is a rural novel of courage, family and survival. With elements of mystery and romance, and a slit narrative which gradually reveals the details of the family split which lead to the property claim, there is a lot happening in the story, but McDonald weaves the varying threads together strongly.

An absorbing, satisfying story of outback life.


Crimson Dawn, by Fleur McDOnald
Allen & Unwin, 2014
ISBN 9781743315316

Available from good bookstores or online.

The Cattleman's Daughter, by Rachael Treasure

When Emily Flanaghan hit the tree and her heart slammed out of rhythm, she didn’t hear the rush of hooves as the other bush-race riders belted past her. Not did she hear her silver-grey mar, Snowgum, roar in agony, screaming out a hideous guttural sound…Instead, she felt herself drifting up through the filter of gumleaves, her panic subsiding.

Since growing up in the high country, a cattleman’s daughter, Emily has lost her way in life. She is trapped in a loveless, volatile marriage and misses her high-country life. But even if she could return, the cattleman’s way of life is under threat from government legislation to stop the cattle being grazed in the mountains. When Emily has a terrible accident on her horse, Snowgum, her life starts to change. She realises she must heal her life – and her beloved mountains. Clawing her way back to health, she leaves her husband and returns to her family.

Luke Bradshaw is also at a crossroads in his life. Newly graduated from university, and precluded from returning to his family farm because his father has sold it off for tree plantations, he jumps at the chance of a job as park ranger, because it will take him back to the country. But his job will see him in conflict with the cattlemen, people he has a lot in common with.

When Luke and Emily meet, both feel an instant connection. But as Luke begins his new job and Emily fights alongside her fellow cattlemen, it seems any chance of a relationship is doomed.

The Cattleman’s Daughter is a love story, but much more as well. A woman’s journey to healing and discovery, as well as a community’s fight both to stay viable merge with an examination of the impact of alpine grazing bans, and of the difficulties of actively managing and preventing fires in forest areas. An absorbing story which also gives the reader much to think about.

The Cattleman's Daughter

The Cattleman’s Daughter, by Rachael Treasure
Penguin, 2009

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