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Rusted Off: Why Country Australia Is Fed Up

3.95  ·  Rating details ·  188 ratings  ·  38 reviews
Telling the story of Australia as it is today, Gabrielle Chan has gone hyper-local. Unpacking the small towns around where she lives and the communities that keep them going through threat and times of plenty. With half her year spent in Canberra, reporting from Parliament House, and half her year in the sticks, she really does have a unique perspective. The Great Divide b ...more
Paperback, 336 pages
Published January 1st 2019 by Penguin Random House Australia
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Average rating 3.95  · 
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Nov 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
The sad thing about this great book is that too few city people will read it.

Chan makes many excellent points. Her praise, and her criticism, of country towns and communities is deserved. She points out that when you live in a small community the social divides are not necessarily socio-economic divides and you befriend and live amongst people of differing means which makes for more diverse perspectives.

Rusted Off gave me many things to think about, and interestingly, I read most of it while o
Feb 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Ross by: Flossy Brown
This book is a strong look at the divide between rural and city Australia which will leave you wondering exactly how we as a nation will solve the litany of issues raised within. That said, the author Gabrielle Chan will give you some hope that there is a positive path forward and this is a good read for anyone interested in policy, politics or simply finding out what is happening outside of our major cities in 21st Century Australia.

Upon the backdrop of a rise in minor party voting both in Aust
I didn't love this book, which was a surprise because I seriously appreciate Chan's journalism, and it is a topic which feels very on point. The book is structured as a series of essays, which weave together memoir, local anecdotes/factoids and political journalism. Chan's deep engagement with this topic is palpable - like her frustration - and the book feels partly like an attempt to reconcile all of her own worlds and journeys together, with a 'sprinkling of analysis'.
I found myself frustrated
Oct 15, 2018 rated it did not like it
Reading this book is like being stuck at the relatives table at a wedding, next to a drunk Aunt or Uncle who just can't seem to make a coherent point. I'm assuming the author is used to meeting a particular word count, since there is so much waffle.

Pity, since the topic is interesting but this book misses the opportunity with pointless anecdotes and filler text.
Oct 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
Another book from the series of talks at the Adelaide Writer's Festival on the rise of populist and right-wing parties. In this book by long-time political journalist for The Australian and The Guardian (Australia), Ms Chan dives in with an insiders view, having married a farmer from New South Wales and lives in a community about 2 hour drive from Canberra. In 1996, the year Pauline Hanson first came to national politics, Ms Chan, who was raised in inner-city Sydney Chinese migrant daughter. Her ...more
Jan 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
Excellent analysis of Australian context
Sandra Prosser
Jan 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book made a lot of sense about the divide between the city and the country, between the haves and the have nots, and between those towns in a safe seat vs those that aren't. Gabrielle is a really good writer, this has been researched well, and even the case studies cover all bases. I often stopped to think about a sentence here or a paragraph there; that resonated with me, a rural-based reader. ...more
Oct 15, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In recent months I have taken an increasing interest in politics, especially as it pertains to country Australia. In part, I picked up this book to help answer questions like "Why do people vote for Barnaby Joyce?" and "Why do I feel so disconnected from these people?".

Chan's unique perspective as a political journalist, born in Sydney and moved to rural Australia, allows her to write what is almost a collection of essays. These essays helped answer my questions, as well as guiding my thoughts t
Jan 16, 2019 rated it liked it
I recommend evet politician and aspiring politician read this book.
Peter Geyer
Gabrielle Chan is an Australian journalist seen by me on both television and in print, and here she writes about her experience moving from the inner city (Sydney) to a small country town (Harden), having married a local, who she calls "the farmer" throughout.

This forms the background for an intriguing, interesting and relevant series of observations (the chapters are called "Lessons") about rural society, its politics and desires and its differences and even alienation from urban Australia in
Ric Raftis
Oct 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A great book about the country/city divide. Political parties have the votes in the cities now to maintain power and rural people only have power with independents who can do deals. The National Party has miserably failed its constituent base and have become the lapdogs of the Liberals. It's no wonder rural Australians feel left behind with some services thrown at them like scraps to dogs.

A great book written by someone who has lived on both sides of the fence and understands the issues. Well do
Nov 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
Having heard Gabrielle Chan speak, I was interested in reading her book. This is an approachable read and to me as a rural dweller it really resonated with what I know and believe. I found a lot to relate to in her critiques of education, political parties, government regulation and response to rural and pressing issues, immigration debates, and the rural-city divide. This is well worth reading if you want to understand the back story to current Australian politics and to the issues that count g ...more
Brona's Books
Jan 24, 2019 rated it liked it
Chan obviously loves her small country town, and I understand why. I also completely understand how it can frustrate her at times. Perhaps the secret to wherever you live, is being present and accepting with gratitude the joys and pleasures (as well as the niggles and annoyances) that abound in any place, with as much good grace and mindfulness as you can manage.
Full review here -
Feb 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
The title pretty much says it all, but there's a lot more nuance here than you'll find in even the most analytic of our news outlets. An excellent overview of the reality behind the stereotypes, with not a few warnings to major parties that will most likely fall upon deaf ears. Definitely worth your time if you're looking for something more than the pat explanations we usually get for the rise of the minor parties and independents in this country, and why that phenomenon is likely to continue. ...more
Nathan Triffitt
Jul 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Every Australian should read this. It does a great job at breaking down barriers between city and country and offers valuable insight into the similarities and differences between the two. This flat white-sipping, city dwelling leftie, who grew up on a farm, feels he can be a better ally and advocate for those less fortunate in both cities and the country. There better be decent coffee when I come to visit though...
Aug 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I think I get more out of this book than most because I am very familiar with Harden and a lot of the topics Gabrielle talks about. I have no idea how to deal with regional decline in the light of the fact that high speed rail may never happen, but I am often struck by the similarities between my own town and euthanasia. If we are to die, can we not be afforded some dignity? Why must we beg for clean water, education or heaven forbid a doctor?
Alex Rogers
Mar 08, 2019 rated it liked it
Enjoyable and interesting - Guardian writer and Canberra press-gallery regular moves to small town Australia, and writes about the gulf between our country towns and big cities in an informative and well-written book. I'm keen to understand more about the country Australian mindset and this book certainly helps. ...more
Mar 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A brilliant book that really, really spoke to me. Very well written, the author is in a unique position to write a book such as this, as she straddles so many disparate worlds. I like how she combined the broader issues facing our country with inspiring individual vignettes. Maggie-Kate's story from small town schoolgirl to medical doctor has to be the most inspirational I have ever read. ...more
Charles Broughton
Jan 03, 2021 rated it liked it
An interesting book on an important topic, that shares plenty of unvarnished local views. The writing isn't particularly strong or structured, and the arguments are not always coherently presented, but I still learned a lot and gained some useful insight. Worth reading if politics, policy, regional or national development, or social cohesion interest you or relate to your work. ...more
Mar 10, 2019 rated it liked it
Great analysis. Very interesting for a big city/suburban person to get a country view. I skimmed the last two chapters and they were a little repetitive. Besides that, I think this is important reading for anyone interested in Australian politics.
Chris Walker
Jul 21, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
City folk bewildered by the results of the last federal election would do well to read this book. They will hopefully come to the conclusion at the end of it that as Australians we are all in this together, not that we inhabit two countries.
Jun 20, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: character, setting
An interesting exploration of politics and rural Australia.
Jun 27, 2019 marked it as gave-up-on
Abandoned 15%

Jul 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
A close inspection of the politics of country Australia, with a foot on each side of the deepening city-rural divide. Necessary reading.
Laura Aston
Jun 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing
An important voice that clearly conveys the complex issues faced by regional Australia, while also making a case for its important role in the future economic development of Australia.
Aug 20, 2020 rated it really liked it
A good read for Australians that lived only in large cities.
Sep 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Filing next to 'Hillbilly Elegy' and 'The Trouble with Kansas'. ...more
Greg Robinson
Dec 05, 2020 rated it really liked it
very helpful contribution to Australian polity; shrewd assessment of current state of play
Jul 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
Really good read from a talented empathetic author who tells it like it is when it comes to small town living and the challenges people face. I was initially interested in this book as my parents came from Harden and thankfully moved to the big smoke before they had their own family. It's a scenic town in the hills with good access to Canberra nowadays. The most interesting aspects were recent insights into some of the opportunities that can arise when local communities work with indigenous elde ...more
Jan 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Over the last year or so I've read a bunch of books about the Current Political Climate that are written by people like me, for people like me, and that cover the same ground from the comfortable perspective of the educated and secure. People who don't understand why people vote against what we perceive as their own interests, when they vote for Trump, Brexit and minor parties. Rusted Off isn't another book like that. It offers a new perspective and I am so, so glad I found it.

Gabrielle Chan is
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