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Today's quote:

Saturday, May 16, 2020

An Australian classic


We've just been across the river where we had after-noon tea with a born-and-bred local couple awaiting their OBE (Over Bloody Eighty), who worked hard all their lives and never had a day off but wouldn't have had it any other way. Real salt-of-the-earth stuff!

We talked of many things: "of shoes and ships and sealing-wax, of cabbages and kings, and why the sea is boiling hot and whether pigs have wings", as well as books. It turned out that they had read, without even knowing its author, one of my many favourites, "The Shiralee".

And why shouldn't they? After all, it's an Australian classic! In evocative prose, it vividly conjures up images of a now bygone rural Australia, while revealing an understanding of the paradoxical nature of the burdens we carry. It's a moving portrait of fatherhood, told with gruff humour and a gentle pathos.

In 1957 it was turned into a film starring Peter Finch. In 1987 it was made into the following two-part TV mini series starring Bryan Brown:

Of course, there's always the book, published in 1955, by D'Arcy Niland, an Australian farm labourer himself, as well as a novelist and short story writer. From the very first page you're hooked:

To read the remaining 222 pages, you'll have to buy the book yourself. It's out of print but there are plenty of much-loved second-hand copies on ebaycom.au and amazon.com. "Call me when the Cross turns over."

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You can find out all about D'Arcy Niland here.

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