Aussie Author Month

April marks the start of Aussie Author Month. It’s the brain child of my web guru, Nyssa and two of her fellow book lovers, Kat from Book Thingo and Ali and Rosie at Fangtastic It’s a pretty exciting thing to be involved in.

After reading Helene Young’s blog about Snugglepot and Cuddle Pie and Bronwyn Parry’s, about Seven Little Australian’s, I got thinking about my favourite childhood stories.

Both of my parents are avid readers, as children and I was lucky enough to be given most of their books – I’ve held first edition copies of Enid Blyton’s Famous Five and The Hardy Brothers! Exciting for a book fanatic, but I digress!

Mum had a book called Bush Christmas – a 1940’s Australian classic! I can’t remember who wrote it and it lives in my childhood bedroom, so I can’t check. On googling it, however, I’ve found that it was made in a film:


In the beautiful Mara Mara valley, the three Thompson children – Helen (Helen Grieve), John (Morris Unicomb) and Snow (Nicky Yardley) and their English friend Michael (Michael Yardley) – are looking forward to the Christmas holidays. Riding their horses home after school breaks up, they find two strangers camped in the bush. Long Bill (Chips Rafferty) and his chubby mate Jim (John Fernside) are horse thieves, but the children innocently divulge details of their father’s valuable mare and foal. When these are stolen from their farm the next day, the four children and their friend Neza (Neza Saunders), son of an Aboriginal stockman, ride into the mountains to get the horses back.

After a few days they are lost and hungry. Neza teaches them to live off bush tucker, such as snakes and grubs, and Snow picks up the trail of the horse thieves, who are now joined by a third villain called Blue (Stan Tolhurst). The children recover the horses, then steal the men’s boots and blankets. Neza spears their water bag. The children walk into a trap in an old ghost town just as Mr Thompson (Pat Penny) and the local police catch up. The thieves are caught and the children return home for a much anticipated Christmas dinner.

I loved this book with a passion as I did Under Australian Skies by Phyllis M Power. Of course both these books were written well before the  political correctness revolution, so there were aboriginals as servants and other archaic ideals. But mostly the children, that books were about, were firm friends with their aboriginal counterparts.

Even though most people would probably cringe at these books now, they were a true account of life in the 1940 and 50’s and they gave me a wonderful insight into an era that I otherwise may not have understood.

So these are just two of my favourites, although there are many more – Possum Magic, the Magic Pudding and The Billabong Series, just to name a few.

I wonder what yours were?

Comments 8

  1. I also loved the Billabong series! I read them repeatedly when I was probably 11-14 or so and recently I started tracking them down so I could read them again, just to see how they hold up for me now that I’m an adult.

    I was also a big fan of the Elyne Mitchell Silver Brumby series when I was young too.

  2. My earliest memories are of Enid Blyton. If I was really, really good Mum would buy me one of her books. I recall one Christmas when I was about 8 or 9 there was this BIG box under the tree for me and it was about 10 of her books. Heaven!! I have her whole collection in little hard covers & guess I was lucky to have a mum who encouraged my reading (however when naughty, punishment was no reading for a day which amounted to semi-torture as far as I was concerned)
    As I’ve older I’ve continued to enjoy escaping life in a good novel and favourite Aussie authors who have kept me enthralled are the one and only Fleur McDonald, Bryce Courtenay, Rachael Treasure & Tony Parsons. Albert Facey’s A Fortunate Life is also one to remember.

  3. I’d forgotten about Bush Christmas, but now I do remember watching the film, and I’m pretty sure I read the book, too. Chips Rafferty and the lad who played Snow – thanks for reminding me! They’re obviously still lurking about, deep in my memory banks!

    I loved the Billabong books, too; I suspect there’s something of Norah in my heroines! And yes, there’s a few aspects of expression and attitude that have changed, but the fundamentals of good stories still ring true, even all these decades later.

  4. Pingback: Round-up of Aussie Author Month – Week 0.5 – Book Thingo

  5. I loved the “Billabong books”, I read them over and over as a child and must admit I usually pick them up each year when at home at the parents house for Christmas!

  6. The Enid Blyton books really seduced me as a kid and fostered my love of reading and writing. Later, Seven Little Australians was one of those books that stuck with me – that, and Picnic At Hanging Rock.
    And, I could go on for ages. Because books really are powerful and life-changing.

  7. Lovely to read your thoughts about Bush Christmas, I was enchanted by that story too. It was so
    much a part of my life, in part due to my mother, Helen Grieve, playing the role of Helen the oldest child in the movie. Growing up I adored all the stories around the film.

    Warmly, Janie Joseland Bennett

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