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Kings in Grass Castles
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Kings in Grass Castles

3.71  ·  Rating Details ·  185 Ratings  ·  25 Reviews
When Patrick Durack left Ireland for Australia in 1853, he was to found a dynasty of pioneers, and build an empire of cattle-land across the great stretches of Australia. His grand-daughter, Mary Durack, with a profound sense of family history, has rebuilt the saga of the Duracks, a saga that is the story of Australia itself, huge, pioneering, and tremendous in concept.
Published October 1st 2011 by Bolinda Publishing (first published 1959)
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Aug 11, 2012 Brian rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
You have to be ready to read this book; its very detailed and can be a bit slow in places, but, the wealth of knowledge it contains about early white settlement in Australia is outstanding. So is the follow-up: Sons in the Saddle

Both books have to be read in the context of their time and the social, geographical and political environments of the time

I've just read it again and thoroughly enjoyed it. This time however, I was in no rush as I already knew how it ended. So, I got to read and savour
Feb 02, 2017 Joanne rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm torn on how to describe this book. It was obviously thoroughly researched and describes the lives of squatter families in unique detail. But this fact also means the story moves at a sluggish pace. As I listened to it on audio I just tunes out for some of the (unnecessary detail) and just took in the broad strokes which I enjoyed. I don't think I would have finished it if I was reading the hard copy.
I always find it difficult to review and rate biographies. Are you rating the quality of the story (i.e. the person's life) or the quality of the writing. Kings in Grass Castles was not originally written for publication and was a chronicle of the early history of the Durack family in Australia. It was interesting and entertaining enough to be published but at times it gets a bogged down. It has taken me a very long time to finish the book but I never felt that I was going to abandon it.
Dave Holmes
I came to Kings in Grass Castles looking for an Australian novel by an Australian woman author published in the 1950's for a book challenge. I cannot recommend it. The story is promising. An account of the author's Irish family emmigrating to Australia in the mid-ninteenth century and building a ranching empire in Western Queensland and Northern Western Australia, it has the scope and potential of a James Michener or Herman Wouk saga. The writing in this book poorly serves the grandeur of the st ...more
A rewarding, enjoyable read about the settlement by pastoral families of two of my favourite parts of Australia–Cooper’s Creek in SW Queensland and the Kimberley region of WA. The Irish Durack family first arrived in Australia in 1849 to escape the squalor and starvation of post-1845 potato famine Ireland. The story, recounted by the grand daughter of Patsy Durack, is one of optimism, determination and physicality as the men and women battle drought, flood, government legislation and economic de ...more
Mar 04, 2015 Alayne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A fascinating history of pioneering farmers - graziers - in 19th century Australia. I have been to many of the places mentioned, and I really enjoyed this book. I found Patsy Durack, Mary's grandfather, a wonderful character who she depicted really well even though he died almost 20 years before she was born. The picture of her grandmother was less well done, but the story was very moving in the way that so many people died, of things which would not cause death today. Recommended.
Leonie Starnawski
This is a personal tale, of the Irish migrant family’s toils and troubles in Australian cattle-farming in the mid-1800s.

It doesn’t attempt to present a balanced view of the times, nor honestly present the impact such settlers had on Indigenous Australians.

A glorification of the Durack’s rise from poverty to outback ‘royalty’, Kings in Grass Castles is a very real story of the acquisition of power and its effects.
Feb 29, 2016 Tracy rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio, true-story
Too boring and too much of the same thing year after year. I thought it was going to move along much faster than that. Can't fault the historical research and certainly opens your eyes up to how very tough times were and you have to admire the settlers that paved the way. Great story if you're into history and early Australia
Helen Windle
Apr 01, 2016 Helen Windle rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Since it is a true story of the Durack family from Ireland to Goulburn to Cooper Creek to the Kimberley in the 1800's it is an intense book but so well worth the read. Hearing about life in outback Australia when there was nothing there brought home the seriousness of their struggle and how determined the Durack's were.
Karen Faria
Sep 29, 2013 Karen Faria rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fantastic book! Amazing what our pioneers went through in order to travel to, clear and attempt to farm not only our coastlines, but the Centre and North of Australia. The hardships, the loss, the pain and of course the wonder of discovering and attempting to tame a wild land.The Durack family and other courageous pioneers of Australia are truly our heros!
Dec 16, 2013 Rita rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Although interesting and full of history I found this book a real slog. It is the story of the author's family who were among the first ranchers to settle in Australia. They were from Ireland and she has done a great job of research and filling in with letters and diaries. However, it is a very long, slow read.
Bronwyn Rykiert
I can't finish this one, it is a bit ordinary for me. I have enjoyed some of what I have read and I think it a great book if you are part of the Durack family. I wish we had a book similar on our family. It has been interesting to read about the early settlement in Australia but I have got about half way and I have had enough.
88% through audio book- it's a very long and very detailed account of one Irish family, especially the story of the author's grandfather and father settling in Australia and the cattle business in the late 19s.
Apr 06, 2013 Wilton314 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2004, biography
Move over Dallas or Gone With The Wind. If you want sweeping saga, this is the book for you. It is about early Australian settlers and cattle kings in the 1800s. It is a bit slow in places but very interesting. The sequel Sons In The Saddle is also worth a read.
Heather Noble
Jan 28, 2014 Heather Noble rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Enjoyed this book very much but then I love Australian History and the stories of the hardships of the early pioneers and how they lived and survived the floods and the droughts. The people on the land are survivors and always have been.
Aug 20, 2009 Karen rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not the easiest book to read but interesting to find out how someone went from having so little to having so much with ALOT of hard work and to find out the amazing distances they travelled and things they went through to settle outback Queensland and the Ord
Clare Cannon
May 16, 2012 Clare Cannon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An interesting historical account of the Durack family and their pioneering efforts across Australia in the late 1800s. I didn't expect to feel so much a part of their history - which is somehow also mine, and I couldn't help crying at the end.
Dwight Walker
Jan 21, 2016 Dwight Walker is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
good info re Kimberleys
Sep 05, 2010 Vicki marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Looking forward to reading this one, have wanted to read it for a while. It will be interesting to read it after spending some time in the Kimberley.
Aug 21, 2015 Davida rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Loved reading this, then visiting the areas involved. Close to my heart.
Another great audiobook.
Matthew Laing
Incredibly detailed and somewhat dense, this epic of one of Australia's pioneering families is an incredible account of our pastoral foundations.
Mar 09, 2013 Keith rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fascinating history and a real family saga, which showed the strength and endurance beyond all hardships. I relished the experiences of what my forebears would have also survived and prospered in.
May 18, 2012 Bronwyn marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Watched DVD May 2012
Marianne Broadgate
Fascinating book about the beginnings of colonial settlement in Australia and pioneering cattle ranching in Queensland.
BL Draper
BL Draper rated it liked it
Jul 22, 2013
Helen rated it really liked it
Jul 07, 2016
Carly rated it really liked it
Jun 23, 2013
Martha Burkholder
Martha Burkholder rated it really liked it
Apr 29, 2016
Alexandra Cornwell
Alexandra Cornwell rated it really liked it
Jun 08, 2013
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Dame Mary Durack was an Australian author and historian. The Durack family were pioneers in the settlement of Australia by Europeans. The story of her family's history, beginning with the mid-19th century migration from Ireland, is presented by Durack in Kings in Grass Castles, and its sequel, Sons in the Saddle.

Durack married the aviator, Captain Horrie C. Miller, and had two sons and four daught
More about Mary Durack...

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