Sally's Reviews > Sand Castles

Sand Castles by Michael  Elliott
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Mar 17, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: non-fiction, biogs-and-other-true-stories, farm, australian, bush, i-own-this, 1950s, own-gardiner
Recommended to Sally by: my uncle who wrote it :P
Read from March 13 to 16, 2012 — I own a copy

My uncle wrote this! And he gave me a copy when I was eight, when it was published, but I found it too boring to read more than about a page of. And then last week I arrived home from Wales wanting to read everything Australian EVER and I saw this on my shelf and thought, well why not?

And it still is a little boring, sorry Uncle Michael. But for what it actually IS, I reckon it's pretty good. There's a lot of technical detail about sheep and cattle farming in the 1950s, as well as a lot of the intricacies of actually starting up a farm from scratch - clearing the land and all that. So it is interesting, it's just written mostly in a very dry, text-booky kind of way. There are LOTS of mentions of the cost of everything, which gets a bit dull after a while, and makes it read like a straight out report. Though there are fun parts where he talks of trips to town for the cinema, and the 9 hour drive from Melbourne, and the struggles surrounding setting up camp in the bush over summer before there were any buildings there... kind of funny to imagine my posh grandma cooking outdoors and shooing away flies and everything! I was also fascinated to read about the cattle they purchased in 1954, which were sent by train from Alice Springs to Coonalpyn... and then walked from Coonalpyn to the property, escorted by all the men on horseback - a journey which generally took about four days! And involved many instances of the cows deciding they'd had enough and that they were just going to stop!

I was amazed to learn though how important my grandfather and uncle were in the farming world of Australia. Like, this wasn't just another sheep station... they were pretty big shit. And my uncle actually established the first fully automatic irrigation system in Australia. Dude! All this stuff I never knew! And in the thirty years that they managed the farm (which was a 17,222 acre property, and boy does that sound big!), they handled 541,887 sheep. That is a big-ass lot of sheep, man. There's also a plaque in the Meningie Post Office that was presented by my uncle to the telegraph operators, which I actually kind of want to see. Neat stuff!

If you're interested in sheep or cattle farming, or I guess farming in general, this is pretty interesting for all its historical detail. When you get away from the stodgy lists of expenditure etc, there's a lot of really fascinating stuff in there!

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Reading Progress

03/13/2012 page 59
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