The beauty of An Alice Girl is the passion with which it is told. The story radiates love; love for the family, love for the outback and love for the childhood spent on an outback cattle station. The descriptive writing that Tanya Heaslip uses, brings us into the Australian bush, marveling at the night sky, the wide land, and the commitment by all to succeed.
Tanya’s story begins with her mother and father. When they married and decided to take up land north of Alice Springs, they had little experience of farming. It is amazing that their commitment was so strong, and their love for each other so understanding. While having babies, Tanya’s mother had to cook for drovers and stockmen. A trip to town took a whole day, so popping to the shop was not an option. She needed to care for the children, prepare the food, tend the chickens and family garden among many other chores. The children felt their childhood to be idyllic, having the freedom to roam far and wide and explore wherever they could. They were each taught to ride at an early age which gave them added freedom.
Her father, “Boss,” was hard working. He was tough on the children, but with love and good intentions he always persuaded them to do their best. Any cut or injury was treated with kerosene or salt, with a reminder to be more careful next time. Issues with snakes, drought, and broken fences were always current. Because the area of their land was so vast, Dad bought a plane to help him patrol the boundaries and often flew the family, squashed in the tiny plane, to visit neighbours.
Because Tanya was the oldest child, she needed to care for the younger ones, and did so happily. There are photos in the middle of the book which show a happy and smiling family, with children on horseback, or sitting with their parents. Tanya loved the land so much she felt that she could not live without it, and yet her calling was in the city. Gradually she realised that the land was in her heart and she would carry the feel of it forever.
|Publisher||Allen and Unwin|
|Distributor||Allen and Unwin|