FIFTY-FIVE individual women living in the Gulf of Carpentaria have combined to write and produce a book unique to the region that tells the story of their lives living in the remote far north-east of Australia.
Half the women live and work on the vast cattle stations of remote north-west Queensland as owners, managers or stock and station workers. The other authors live on country, work in businesses, tourism, education, health and aviation, or live and work on fishing boats out in the Gulf.
Long-time correspondent for Blue’s Country Magazine and now the eyes and ears for agalert.com.au in the area, Lyn Battle, tells the story of leaving her home in the most northerly point of Ireland to move to paradise on Sweers Island (near Mornington Island) were she and husband Tex run a fishing resort.
The Gulf Writers will launch of their book, Gulf Women in Burketown, Queensland, on Saturday, September 30, 2017, from 11am to 1pm, during the Morning Glory Festival.
The Morning Glory is the rare meteorological phenomenon cloud — a low-level atmospheric solitary cloud formation — that rolls-in from the Gulf.
The stories of 55 women, unique to the Gulf of Carpentaria region, are recorded in the Gulf Women anthology, accompanied by their photos.
The origins of Gulf Women are in Gregory where the book began: a tiny township of about 40 people, 400km north from Mount Isa, and 120km south from Burketown on the Gulf.
The heart of Gregory is its women.
Gulf women are self-sufficient, generous, and cope with almost anything that life and the environment throws at them; floods, drought, sickness, emergencies — all the difficulties that come with running a cattle station and its staff, a fishing business, a family being raised and educated, or an enterprise far from anywhere.
They are forthright, outspoken and don’t take kindly to being told by outsiders what they can and cannot do, should or shouldn’t think. But what they can do is love their soul country, manage the challenges of isolation, the Wet and the totally unexpected.
Author Bron Blake facilitated the Gulf Women anthology. She and the contributors agreed that all work would be voluntary so all profits could return to the Gregory region for community projects.
Bron Blake noted: “As their editor, I feel closely connected to these women who gifted me windows into their worlds so different from most, and was fortunate enough to be told the story of their lives, warts, joys, terrors and all.’
This powerful book gives women a voice to tell their own stories of managing distant stations and stock camps, handling terrible accidents, floods, bushfires, and killing droughts. Of nurses, teachers, mothers (food and essential supplies ordered from far away centres — for delivery weeks or months away), rearing families and educating their children through Mount Isa School of the Air.
There are stories of new mothers on properties isolated and inaccessible for months in the Wet, women giving birth at home with only neighbours to assist, reminiscences from last century and World War II, and accounts of fishing in the Gulf in sometimes unimaginable conditions.
She continued: “They told me there was ‘nothing to write about, really’. It was brushed off with ‘So ordinary it’s boring’, ‘it’s just what you do’, it’s just life;’ — yet, what a rich vein of gold we tapped into, and in writing their stories, I hope these women see in print, for all time, just how extraordinary they are. How proud we are of them.”
Book orders: firstname.lastname@example.org — 450 pages, colour photos throughout, rrp $30 plus postage — to: