Outback MagazineOutback Magazine


The Bard of Bowthorn

Sydney and Melbourne book reviewers are raving about her recently released first book Pieces of Blue.

Story: Sue Neales
Photographs: Murray Spence

Kerry McGinnisIn the Gulf Country, Kerry McGinnis is already well known. She is the eldest sister of the McGinnis clan who run vast and rocky Bowthorn Station, far out past Doomadgee and Lawn Hill National Park on the border between Queensland and the Territory.

Until recently Kerry was best known in the district as a wood turner and water diviner. Many friends and acquaintances also knew the tale of her remarkable childhood spent on driving tracks, stock routes and fenceless paddocks of the Simpson Desert and Gulf cattle stations with her father and his motherless brood of five young children.

Now the story of this reclusive woman living on one of Queensland's most remote cattle stations may become famous in literary circles, far removed from the red rocky gorges, great brown rivers, crocodiles and mangroves of the Gulf.

Sydney and Melbourne book reviewers are raving about her recently released first book Pieces of Blue and her publisher believes this austere bush woman may be the "next Sara Henderson" or even comparable to Albert Facey, author of A Fortunate Life.

Kerry McGinnis herself isn't so sure. "I can't imagine why anyone would want to read it," the 54-year-old says bluntly of her childhood memoirs.

Kerry McGinnis - Pieces of BlueHer book tells of life with her tough father - he was almost divine in his children's eyes - and four brothers and sisters, endless mobs of plant horses, goats, sheep and cattle, and a horse-drawn trailer fondly named the Territory Queen.

She shrugs, still bemused that Australia's five major publishing houses entered a bidding war to publish her autobiography.

"I'm just surprised that they think people will be interested," she says with a wry smile.

But Kerry's publisher has no such qualms. Already Penguin Books has paid her $25,000 advance and printed 17,000 copies of Pieces of Blue, a relatively large print-run for a first-time writer. Story end

Full story Issue 7, October-November 1999

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