True North: The Story of Mary and Elizabeth Durack
Shortlisted, NSW Premier's Awards, Australian History Prize, 2012
Shortlisted, Victorian Premier's Literary Awards, 2012
Shortlisted, Australian Book Industry Awards, Biography of the Year, 2013
Shortlisted, WA Premier's Book Awards, 2012
Growing up in suburban Perth in the 1920s, the two Durack girls were fascinated by tales of the pioneering past of their father and grandfather overlanding from Queensland in the 1880s and setting up four vast cattle stations in the remote north.
A year spent together on the stations in their early twenties ignited in the sisters a lifelong love of the Kimberley, along with a growing unease about the situation of the Aboriginal people employed there.
Through war, love affairs, children and eventual old age, the Duracks continued to write and paint - their closely intertwined creative lives always shaped by the enduring power of the Kimberley region.
With unprecedented access to hundreds of private family letters, unpublished memoirs, diaries and family papers, Brenda Niall gets to the heart of a uniquely Australian story that spans the twentieth century.
Brenda Niall is one of Australia's foremost biographers. She is the author of four award winning biographies, including her acclaimed accounts of the Boyd family. In 2004 she was awarded the Order of Australia for 'services to Australian literature, as an academic, biographer and literary critic'. She frequently reviews for the Age, Sydney Morning Herald and Australian Book Review.
'Brenda Niall has produced a graceful and perceptive biography of two extraordinary creative women. She treads carefully through the minefield of controversies about their family's exploitation of Aboriginal labour, as well as their own interventions in Indigenous art and politics.' Australian Book Review
'Through private letters, diaries and family papers provided by surviving Durack family members, Niall unravels a compelling Australian story that is just as relevant to today's social fabric as it was when it first began more than 130 years ago.' Courier-Mail
'A rich portrait of two complex and inter-connected lives...And throughout is the marvellous incisive Niall ability to distil, to capture the essence of a situation or problem, to ask the penetrating questions, to display sympathy and empathy but never to shirk criticism or to be afraid of exposing frailty. The individual portraits are beautifully drawn and very nicely contrasted with both the sisters emerging as their own person but yet with much that is shared...The book breaks important new ground. It is celebratory but far from uncritical and it confronts complexity on every page.' John Thompson
'Yet there is so much to admire and enjoy in this profoundly interesting biography. As a picture of Perth society in the first half of the 20th Century it is as good as anything I know. As a sympathetic portrait of the difficulty women as mothers had to be creative and absorbed in their word, it is profoundly moving. As a picture of a rare closeness between two sisters it is, if anything, enviable. Brenda Niall could not write a poor book. But this is, quite simply, one of her very best.' Canberra Times
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LibraryThing ReviewUser Review - jennifermary - LibraryThing
Durack forbears travelled overland from Qld to the Kimberley. Their mother mostly based in Perth, the girls loved the Kimberley. Bad luck, they didn't have much money. Lots of detail. Good. Read full review
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Aboriginal Adelaide Argyle artists Auvergne Bess Durack Bet’s Broome brother career Catholic cattle Clancy daughter diary Doherty & Durack Durack family Eddie Burrup Elizabeth Durack Ern Malley exhibition father feel felt Florence James Frank Gallery gave Geoffrey Bolton girls Grass Castles homestead Horrie Horrie’s Ibid idea indigenous Ivanhoe Ivanhoe Station Jubul Kathleen McArthur Kildurk Kim’s Kimberley Kings in Grass knew Kununurra land later letters living look marriage married Mary and Elizabeth Mary Durack Mary’s Melbourne Michael Michael Durack Michael Patrick Durack Miller Millett mother MPD’s Mudrooroo never novel nuns ofher Ord River paintings pastoralists Patsy Durack Patsy’s Perpetua Perth pioneering published Queensland Reg and Kim Reg’s seemed sisters stay story Sydney thought took wanted West Australian Western Australia wife Wild Cat Falling Wongar writing wrote Wyndham