From the bestselling author of The Roadhouse comes Croc Country, a suspenseful outback mystery about the wild and dangerous things
that can happen in the most remote and untamed corners of our country.
Young widow Tilly is a housekeeper and cook for the rangers at a wildlife sanctuary. But when the police come asking after her husband,
she begins to question what really happened to her family.
Set against the lush backdrop of Gulf Country with its vibrant yet deadly wildlife, Kerry taps into her years of experience to discuss:
• Strong women in the rural workforce – from rangers to graziers to cooks, Kerry champions women in all roles of rural living.
• The importance of wildlife conservation - the lasting effects of the bushfires and our current climate have scarred the land and its fauna.
• Simple and sustainable living - Kerry has lived off the land her whole life. With her knowledge as a gardener, cook and shepherd, Croc Country illustrates the ways we can look to a simpler and more sustainable lifestyle.
• Isolation – A condition new to us, but familar to Kerry as she would be isolated for 3 months every monsoon season in Gulf Country.
She can share the ways she learned to adapt to this. From Australia's beloved voice of the bush, Croc Country is a gripping mystery about family secrets, finding love, and when the people you know are deadlier than the wildlife.
'Kerry McGinnis is one of the leading authors of Australian rural fiction.' - Canberra Weekly
Kerry McGinnis was born in Adelaide and at the age of twelve took up a life of droving with her father and four siblings. The family travelled extensively across the Northern Territory and Queensland before settling on a station in the Gulf Country. Kerry has worked as a shepherd, droving hand, gardener and stock-camp and station cook on the family property Bowthorn, north-west of Mount Isa. She is the author of two volumes of memoir, Pieces of Blue and Heart Country, and the bestselling novels The Waddi Tree, Wildhorse Creek, Mallee Sky, Tracking North, Out of Alice, Secrets of the Springs, The Heartwood Hotel and The Roadhouse. Kerry now lives in Bundaberg.
What inspired the idea of Croc Country?
Kerry McGinnis: It was a tragedy very like the one that happened to Tilly, that occurred in waters around Burketown, many years ago. The horror of it has always remained with me and I believe that everything a writer experiences or learns, sooner or later appears in his/her craft.
What misconceptions do people have of country life?
A. Many and varied! That nature is kind is one. Nature is indifferent.
B. That life is simple and easier and less stressful than city living. Life is hard unremitting work and the many rewards (because there are rewards) are not monetary.
C. Another is that one becomes inured to isolation, roads, dust storms, flies " not true, one endures them without complaint because whining achieves nothing.
Isolation is part of country life, what tips can you share?
Kerry McGinnis: Have a routine and build you own world that does not depend on others. In short become self-reliant. Socializing is pleasant but if you regard it as a treat rather than a necessity, then isolation can hold no fears for you.
How important is the role of women in the rural workforce?
Kerry McGinnis: It is, and always has been, very important. Pioneering men, which the history books are full of, didn't succeed alone. They may have ridden out and seized the land but it was their womenfolk who helped them hold it and brought civilization to the rough camps of the early squatters. Today they are more important than ever. Station owners' wives frequently serve as the property's book-keepers, cooks and governesses alongside their roles of wives and mothers. And today many young women work in the stock-camps and shearing sheds of the north and west, just as they do in the mining camps across the country.
Why is wildlife conservation important to you?
Kerry McGinnis: These days only a fool would deny that the extinction of species is not a step towards our own ending. Science has long demonstrated how interlocked the chain of life is on our planet. It is as John Donne wrote (if in a different context) 'Send not to ask not for whom the bell tolls/ It tolls for thee.' We can apply that equally to every dead koala or uprooted rainforest. Their lives and the planet's are interdependent and the knowledge ought to make wildlife conservation the concern of all.
What tips can you share about living a simpler and more sustainable life?
Kerry McGinnis: Well I think the Buddha had the right idea: cease to want material things. Most Westerners own more than is necessary. Of course consumerism drives our economy, which in turn gives us our high standard of living, but individuals can always moderate their needs " it is possible to enjoy without possessing. A de-cluttered life is easier, if for no other reason than it decreases dusting!
How much of Croc Country comes from real life and real people?
Kerry McGinnis: Quite a lot, I think. Writers draw, consciously or otherwise, on their lived experiences and their characters are often pastiches of people they've known, though the originals would never recognise themselves, for nobody, perhaps fortunately, sees themselves quite as others do.
Advice for aspiring writers or artists?
Kerry McGinnis: I think the most important thing is to believe in your work and keep trying. Writing is like crafting furniture, experience counts and the only way to get that is to keep slogging away at it. You ruin a lot of wood, or paper, in the process but it's like doing scales on the piano. Tedious but essential for with constant practice you are gaining the wherewithal of your trade. Getting the right words into the right order so that they can convey the image in your head is just as hard as mastering a musical instrument.
What next for you?
Kerry McGinnis: Another book. There is always another story to be told and these days that's all I do.