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The Overlanders by Dora Birtles
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The Overlanders (1946)

by Dora Birtles

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I quite enjoyed this tale of a cattle drive across Australia. It was fascinating to read a different take on the kind of event I have only encountered before in American westerns, at once both foreign and familiar. The story was similar, but the tropes were different, and the wonderfully descriptive writing showed a landscape full of ant mounds and spinifex instead of rattlesnakes and cactus. Birtles writes in short, sometimes choppy sentences, with a lot of idioms, but she manages to paint a vivid and engaging picture of the characters and the harsh Australian country they drive the cattle through.

The book was based on a 1946 film of the same name, which was in its turn based loosely on real events in Australia during WWII. ( )
  aviddiva | Dec 29, 2011 |
The Birtles book was a new author for me and it took me 3 pages to get into it. From that point throughout the book to the "love story" near the end I kept thinking this could have been a Steinbeck. I don't think he would have had the little love story in there, but it was very good. It was about Australia in WWII when the Japanese are attempting to take over parts of the island, their plants, food, etc. And a man decides that while some of the ranchers are shooting their cattle so the Japanese cannot get them and burning down their ranches and heading out, that he will "overland" 15,000 or so head of cattle to a safe place so that the Australians can have food and so there will be stock left after the war to rebuild the herds. This is the story of that trek. It was wonderfully written and I enjoyed this book greatly. I really liked the way Dora Birtles wrote. Highly recommended. ( )
3 vote rainpebble | Dec 31, 2009 |
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Helen Parsons came panting uphill through the tall grass, tugging the unwilling skewbald pony behind.
I do not think that Harry Watt could have written the script and produced the film The Overlanders without the help, inspiration and loyalty of the little band of Australians who helped him from the moment of his arrival in Australia. (Afterword)
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When Japanese planes fly over their grazing land, Pa Parsons fires the homestead and he, Ma and their two daughters decamp to town. They join a team of drovers led by Dan McAlpine to drive 1,000 bullocks over 1,600 miles southeast to Queensland. Published in 1946, this is a classic story of the Australian outback and of the men and women who survive its perils- with strength and humour intact.
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