Women of the Outback

Drought, flood, harrowing isolation and horrific accidents – the Australian Outback is no place for a lady. But the women of the Outback are a different breed: tough, resilient and endlessly resourceful. They’re both the backbone and the heart of Australia, keeping their farms going, their families together and their communities alive … and often against overwhelming odds.

Maree was left with three small daughters when her husband and son were killed in a light plane smash. Molly lived alone in a 1920s homestead in the middle of the Simpson Desert for 20 years without even a phone. Lynnie turned a remote town on the edge of oblivion into a thriving 4WD centre. Alice admits she couldn’t even tell a cow from a bull when she first went to live in the Outback.

This book tells the inspiring stories of fourteen remarkable women, from high-achievers to everyday heroes. Their tales are often heartrending and regularly touched by tragedy, but are always life-affirming. They portray Outback Australian women as they really are – and as we all wish we might be.

As Sue herself said: “I’ve learnt so much about the achingly distant Outback after travelling around 18,000 kilometres – the equivalent of Sydney to New York – but the most important lesson has been what an amazingly fertile place it is for producing women of courage, daring, resilience, enterprise and stubborn good humour in the face of all the terrible lows and dizzying highs that life hurls at them.”

Women of the Outback: Inspiring true stories of tragedy and triumph by Sue Williams was published on September 1, 2008 by Penguin Australia, and has been reprinted several times. (rrp $32.95)

Of the 14 contemporary women profiled in Women of the Outback I confess I planned to read about half, then write a general review. Imagine my humility when, about 10 pages in, I was wiping the tears from my eyes and realising that every word cried out to be read, so powerful is the material journalist Sue Williams has assembled, honed and incorporated into this remarkable book.
– The Bookseller + Publisher September 08

There is something fascinating about women who opt for a life of loneliness and hardship in the Australian bush. For some reason, we feel that men are at home in the harsh environment and so, ever since Henry Lawson wrote The Drover’s Wife and Frederick McCubbin painted The Pioneer, we have celebrated the courage and stoicism. In this genuinely engrossing collection of short biographies, Sydney writer Sue Williams profiles 14 modern Australian women who have chosen to live far from the security and comfort of the coastal cities.
– Sydney Morning Herald 18/10/08

The death of loved ones, terrible accidents and nightmare isolation – but still these 14 outback women survive and thrive. Williams tells their moving and inspiring tales.
– Sunday Life magazine 26/10/08

Australia is still a country of pioneers to a certain degree. In the vast outback people are, even now, living on a virtual frontier where they are isolated and battling against the elements. This has been the stuff of novels, movies and mini-series, and it’s also the central tenet of this fascinating book by award-wining journalist and author Sue Williams.
– Brisbane News 22/10/08

Inspiring tales about overcoming challenges and celebrating the lives of 14 outback women, the new book by Sue Williams is a must read.
– The Land 28/8/08

The beautiful writing style of Sue Williams ensures this handsome book is a definite page-turner.
– Walgett Spectator 24/09/08

… utterly inspiring.
– Illawarra Mercury 2/10/08

With a foreword by Janet Holmes a Court and tales as diverse and inspiring as the women themselves, this collection of stories paints a vivid, lively and accessible picture of thrills, spills and heartfelt joys of life in the bush.
– Maitland Mercury 1/10/08

Read for yourself how 14 extraordinary women had the resilience to face droughts, deaths and disasters, to conquer any ignorance, and learn to live in incredible isolation. Their zest for life, for survival against the odds, is humbling and awe-inspiring.
– Woman’s Day 29/9/08

By gosh, us city chicks have it easy. The author travelled more than 18,000km across the country to catalogue the tragedies and triumphs of 14 of the nation’s most resilient women of the land. Have tissues handy – you’ll be filled with admiration.
– Grazia October 08

Women of the Outback demonstrates that living in some of the harshest and most isolated areas on earth can develop in ordinary women and men an incredible appreciation for what life has to offer, and an ability to find beauty, friendship, success, love and achievement in the wonders and challenges of everyday life.
– Suite101 12/10/08

Author Williams gathers the stories of 14 remarkable women, from achievers to everyday heroes, whose accounts at times may be heart-rending, but are always life-affirming.
– Gold Coast Bulletin 13/9/08

Women of the Outback