Tuesday, February 21, 2012
7. Great Pioneer Women of the Outback
Rated 5 Star
While browsing through a book list the other day I noticed this book "Great Pioneer Women of the Outback," and because I now know a few people from this part of the world I thought I would give it a try. I have read my fair share of books featuring our American pioneer women riding west in covered wagons, fighting off indians, living in sod houses and fighting off spiders, enduring dust storms, etc. etc.
But while I have the greatest respect for them and their ability to endure hardships I think that at the end of the day their lives were much easier than the lives of the women who braved the Australian Outback. What really stunned me about Australia was the sheer size of the place. If you whacked off Alaska Australia is bigger than the US and our Southwest could be tucked away neatly into a corner of your outback.
It's now obvious to me that this is a very interesting country that I would like to know more about. And because I am a person who likes to learn things the easy way I am off to the library to find Bill Bryson's book "In a Sunburned Country" In my next life I am going to be a travel writer and be able to write just like him. That will be OK because he will be off doing something else leaving the field clear for me. :) I would like to add that I ended the book very angry about the way Georgiana Molloy (1805-1843) was treated during her life time by . . . . well . . . . by the men in her life. It's reading about women like her that has given me definite feminist tendencies.
From the 1800's to the onset of World War I, pioneers making their homes in outback Australia were joined by their wives, many of whom had no idea of the difficulties and dangers ahead. These women encountered conditions which would test their resilience and resourcefulness to the utmost: relentless heat, dust and isolation; hostile wildlife; no medical facilities; and never-ending, backbreaking work. Great Pioneer Women of the Outback profiles 10 female pioneers, from Jeannie Gunn, author of We of the Never Never, to equally remarkable but lesser known women, such as Emma Withnell in Western Australia and Evelyn Maunsell in Queensland. Building on the women's records and her own knowledge of Australian history, Susanna de Vries documents the grit and determination it took to build what many today would consider an extraordinary life.