Book Bingo 2019 is a collaboration challenge I am completing with my favourite bloggers, Theresa Smith Writes and The Book Muse. Each Saturday, on a fortnightly basis, beginning on Saturday 5th January 2019, Ashleigh, Theresa and I will complete a book review post, outlining our respective bingo card entries. The Book Bingo 2019 card contains a total of 30 squares, which we will complete over the course of the year, with the aim to complete the whole card by the end of December. Two of the Book Bingo entries this year will be flexible, so that means it is completely down us as to when we post these entries, to ensure all 30 are ticked off by the end of the year. Do keep an eye out on our respective blog sites for our bonus round entries! To keep things interesting for ourselves and those following along with us, the choice of bingo square to be covered will be entirely down to us, there is no crossover – that is planned anyway! However, as Ashleigh, Theresa and I enjoy similar books, especially books by Australian women writers, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if we end up with more than one book double up, as was the case in 2018! We invite you to join us in this fun book related challenge, by linking your bingo card entries in the comments section of this post, tagging us on social media, or by visiting The Book Muse and Theresa Smith Writes.
An outback family saga that is funny, poignant and completely unexpected from Australia’s favourite storyteller with new novel Arcadia out now.
Di’s 12th novel opens in New Zealand in the 1960s. The Mitchell family has run a prosperous sheep farm for generations and the youngest daughter, Sally, has just turned 20. She shocks her parents by becoming involved with an older man. Scandalised, they try to pack her off to England, but Sally doesn’t make it. After a wild spree in Sydney, she’s cashed in her ticket and, hell bent on adventure, takes a job as a governess on a remote cattle station – Barra Creek.
Untamed and crocodile-infested, it’s a land of deserts, jungles and wide rivers. Decades later, Sally learns a secret that will change many lives… including her own.
Barra Creek, published in 2003, is the twelfth book written by ‘Australia’s grand dame of popular fiction’ Di Morrissey, as labelled by The Age. As I am long standing fan of Di Morrissey’s work and I have been slowly making my way through her extensive backlist, with only a small handful of titles left to discover. Barra Creek was one of these titles. I am using Barra Creek to cover the Book Bingo 2019 category, ‘a book written by an Australian woman over ten years ago’.
Barra Creek takes the reader from a sheep farming station in New Zealand, to a sprawling cattle station located in the gulf country of North West Queensland. Situated in the early 1960s, Barra Creek introduces an unforgettable heroine, named Sally. Sally is the offspring of a prosperous New Zealand family that deals in sheep farming. Sally has to flee New Zealand when she becomes caught up in an ill fated affair. Sally plans takes a trip to England with a friend, but she is sidetracked in Sydney by an opportunity to work as a governess in outback. Sally is one for adventure and she takes up the position with little forethought. Sally quickly learns that her sheltered life in New Zealand is completely removed from her new role as a governess in the Australian bush. Not only must Sally contend with the education of three highly strung boys, she must deal with the different staff on the property, the vast extremes in temperature, the domineering nature of the musters and much more. It is a full and colourful life for Sally, as she must reconcile her heart with her mind.
Barra Creek is a solid rural fiction title, which was published at a time before the real onset of Australian rural romance. Di Morrissey is definitely a true pioneer when it comes to Australian rural and popular fiction. She is a regular fixture on bookshelves, producing a novel on an annual basis, which is very often an Australiana themed title. Barra Creek is a novel that can very easily be labelled as a quintessential Australian fiction novel, as it bases itself in the north west region of Queensland. Barra Creek’s strength lies in its ability to open our eyes to the big business of cattle farming.
At all axis points of the novel, I have to say the land takes over. It is the most evident character, dictating the events that unfold within Barra Creek. Thanks to the vivid and often lush descriptions provided by Di Morrissey of this particular locale, the reader feels completely immersed in this way of life. I enjoyed the glimpse intothe world of cattle farming in the 1960s, it was a little different to more recent books I have read about this form of farming in more recent times. Morrissey also highlights the simple way of life in decades past and the impact this had on managing a rural property.
This particular Di Morrissey title is a full family saga. It is an all encompassing tale of life, love, death and new beginnings. It also covers the sense of regret over difficult decisions that are made, especially in matters of the heart. Barra Creek provides the audience a solid picture of the cultural attitudes, moral codes and societal perceptions, with a particular emphasis on the extent of prejudice that was evident at this point in time. I was a little taken aback at times by these issues. I had to remind myself more than once that Morrissey is depicting a time when this was an typical expression of community attitudes to our indigenous population.
Morrissey dabbles in a good spot of romance in Barra Creek. Through the heroine, Morrissey shows us a love defined by passionate intent, but it is later torn apart by circumstances, false impressions and expectations. It was a welcome experience to be carried away by a love story of this nature, it was undemanding, but also engaging. The setting also enhances the whole love affair experience, with the pressure and isolation of outback life. With the presence of the extremes of mother nature, crocodiles, snakes and the like, this is no ordinary romance – by any means!
In true Di Morrissey style, there is plenty of high drama, shattering life developments, difficult decisions and tests to the human spirit. Barra Creek is an easy and absorbing tale, touched with a good dose of outback realism that I am sure will appeal to a wide variety of readers.
*** 3.5 stars
Barra Creek by Di Morrissey was published in 2003 by Pan Macmillan. Details on how to purchase the book can be found here.
To learn more about the author of Barra Creek, Di Morrissey, visit here.
Barra Creek is book #96 of the 2019 Australian Women Writers Challenge