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Book Review - Someone For Everyone

The Drovers

Stories behind the heroes of our stock routes
by Evan McHugh

Publisher: Penguin Group Australia
Publication Date: August 2010
Format: Paperback, 272 pages
RRP: $32.95
ISBN-13: 9780670072507

Droving is a part of our folklore and our heritage that is rapidly disappearing. Evan McHugh has applied his meticulous brand of research and vivid eye for detail to document some extraordinary stories about the men and women who have travelled across this sunburnt country behind mobs of cattle, sheep and horses. These quiet achievers, of every race and creed, forged an Australian legend.

This book outlines the history of the Australian drover following them in time across the stock routes around our nation. Evan McHugh has captured the spirit of these country and bush horsemen and women in a much needed history of this part of outback Australia.

The Banjo Patterson quote on the back cover alludes to the romantic outback theme of the carefully sourced subject 'For the drover's life has pleasures that the townsfolk never know'. Although the quote from the Courier Mail points out that 'McHugh tells the stories of these great achievers simply and without romantic or other embellishment, which is how these characters would have wanted it.'

This unique bush history brings to life long ago times of hapless convicts attempting to round up the First Fleet's escaped cattle on foot; overlanders blazing through trackless wilderness to supply vast Outback stations; stockmen who risked blizzards to bring cattle to alpine pastures; and drovers who crossed the continent behind the largest mobs of cattle the world has ever seen.

These stories overflow with colourful characters: cattle-duffers like Harry Redford, renowned boss drovers like Nat Buchanan and strong women like Edna Zigenbine and Red Jack, who could measure up to any man on the stock routes. They lived a life many of us only dream about and came to love the beauty of Australia's most famous and infamous stock routes, including the Birdsville, Murranji and Strzelecki tracks, and the Canning Stock Route.

McHugh's meticulous research and vivid eye for detail is the closest you'll get to saddling up and poking a mob of cattle off camp.

Evan McHugh has a passion – and talent – for bringing Australian history to life. His previous outback books include: Outback Heroes, Red Centre, Dark Heart, Outback Pioneers and Birdsville. He has written for most of Australia's major newspapers, television and radio. McHugh spent 12 months living in Birdsville and has now settled in the Hunter Valley.


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