Guest Blog: Fiona McArthur

Red Sand Sunrise

Red Sand Sunrise

Hello there Fleur and thanks so much for asking me to drop in.

I’m chuffed as I love your books and your website – and those fabulous agricultural women’s stories. I’m not a farmer, though I can drive a tractor, and one of our sons has a few head of friendly cattle on our land. I work as a rural midwife, have done for many years and been lucky enough to support the birth of many farmer’s babies – smiling here at the memories. My husband has cared for the outflung community in his role as a paramedic and we loved bringing our five sons up in the country.

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I’m also fortunate to be able to meet doctors and midwives from all over Australia at emergency obstetric update weekends where I’m one of the volunteer facilitators and I always seem to gravitate towards the RFDS and flight nurses and the rural remote nurses from inland communities. These clinicians do an incredible job and have fabulous stories of how they manage on the resources available. I nearly drove one of the doctors working out of Charleville mad with my questions. I guess when I mixed that input with my love of the books A Town Like Alice by Neville Shute and Kings In Grass Castles by Mary Durack, and my love of midwifery – my book, Red Sand Sunrise, is where I ended. In fact imagining stories set in the outback is seriously addictive and I’m currently writing the first of my Flying Doctor books.

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When I decided to write Red Sand Sunrise my husband and I planned a research trip to Roma, Charleville, Quilpie, Windorah and Longreach. We went this time last year and both fell in love with the stark contrasts and endless vistas, the colours, the people, the stories, and even the reality of a long day’s outback mail run. Not so thrilled with the broken windscreen from the road train but those guys are incredible the way they keep those big trucks going. The trip really did help us pick up on at least some of the hardship, the determination and the sheer vision that is required to make your life on the land in the outback, the isolation of the families, the impact of drought, and the logistics of emergency health care. Hats off to families of the outback.

One of the highlights was spending a few days in Quilpie and Windorah (fell in love with the red sand hills out of Windorah), talked to locals and generous health staff and saw the place where the Duracks settled and found their vision. I came home so inspired and humbled by the laconic heroes and heroines of the outback that I just want to stand up and cheer. For the moment I’ve written a book and I hope readers enjoy it.

Warmest regards,

Fiona McArthur

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