Kerry Packer was instrumental in shaping Australia's media landscape and culture. For 30 years he controlled television's perennial ratings leader Channel Nine, and a large percentage of the nation's most influential magazines. So much of what Australians watched, read and believed came through the prism of this larger-than-life man.
Beneath all the billionaire clutter, Kerry Packer had plenty in common with the average Jo: a cheeky humour, a competitive drive, deep love for his kids, a passion for sports and movies. In business, Kerry Packer would fight to the last dollar in a deal. Yet the same man would take his private jet to Las Vegas and lose more than $20 million in a week - then leave a $1 million tip. In his Park Street, Sydney, office where the visitors' chairs were clustered in front of his giant desk, Packer would verbally dissect a hapless executive, but no less often, the very same man would step in silently and invisibly when hardship or tragedy struck a loyal staffer or their family. Packer bulldozed through his dyslexic condition with a steel-trap mind and by asking an awful lot of questions. The son of a father who shunned him, he inherited a business in 1974 valued at perhaps $100m. When he died 31 years later, on Boxing Day 2005, he would hand his own much-loved son, James, control of a media, property, agriculture and gambling empire worth $6.9 billion.
Kerry Packer: Tall Tales and True Stories is a collection of stories, gathered from people who knew him, from those who have documented him, and from the folklore that inevitably grew up around him.
A very special collection of over one hundred stories, memories, and reflections on trees that have had a special meaning in the lives of Australians, from ABC RN.
We all have a favourite tree. We scaled their trunks in childhood, planted their saplings in memory of someone we loved, and carried their silhouettes in our hearts across lifetimes and continents. We have watched them grow and watched them burn, skylarked around in their foliage and cried into their trunks. Up in their branches we have let our imaginations soar, found a sanctuary away from our troubles, and felt connected to nature and life and the ages. When ABC Radio National asked its audience for stories for their Trees Project, the response was astounding - listeners sent in their memories and reflections on trees they've loved and trees they've lost.
Gretchen Miller has lovingly gathered over one hundred of these deeply personal stories and poems into this exquisite collection. In Their Branches is the perfect book for the arborist, the dreamer and the tree hugger in all of us.
Two classic travel works by Charmian Clift describing the life she and her Australian family led in Greece in the 1950s in one volume. For Charmian Clift, Greece was the Promised Land.
In 1954 she and her husband, George Johnston, abandoned their sophisticated London existence and set off with two new typewriters and two small children to start a new life.
In Mermaid Singing - written during the first miraculous year of discovery - she records the family's adaptation to the primitive sponge-diving island of Kalymnos. Peel Me a Lotus continues the exploration as Clift and Johnston buy a house on the island of Hydra, in the middle of the summer tourist trail.
Clift's writing about Greece was undervalued at the time of first publication, because she wrote from a women's point of view and recorded the intimate details of daily life. It is exactly this quality which enables this classic to appeal to a new generation of readers.
Ralf the Giant Schnauzer was once a small puppy with a big barking problem. He was facing an uncertain future until Caroline Lovick and her loving family came along. They rescued Ralf from Tasmania and welcomed him into their family home in Melbourne. Ralf was the recipient of daily cuddles from Caroline's four children who would spend hours playing with him. He became an important part of their daily walk to school and a celebrity at the school gates where children would stop and pat the friendly visitor. One day Caroline and her family took Ralf to compete at the Royal Melbourne Show. It was here that his potential as a therapy dog was first spotted. Shortly afterwards Ralf began working at Trinity Manor nursing home followed by The Royal Children's Hospital in Melbourne where he became an instant hit with children and their families. Soon Ralf was a permanent fixture, earning fans far and wide.
Ralf's story is by turns heart-warming and inspiring, and is full of the amusing antics of this endearing animal. It is a true tale of how the love of a human owner can change a dog's life and how the love of a dog can bring hope to those who need it most.
In the tradition of Wild and Tracks, one woman's story of how she left the city and found her soul. Disillusioned and burnt out by her job, Claire Dunn quits a comfortable life to spend a year off the grid in a wilderness survival program. Her new forest home swings between ally and enemy as reality - and the rain - sets in. Claire's adventure unfolds over four seasons. She arrives in summer, buoyant with idealism, and is initially confronted with physical challenges: building a shelter, escaping the vicious insects and making fire without matches. By winter, however, her emotional landscape has become the toughest terrain of all. Can she connect with her inner spirit to guide her journey onwards? Brimming with earthy charm and hard-won wisdom, My Year Without Matches is one woman's quest for belonging, to the land and to herself. 'A brave and adventurous book ...Claire's writing is full of life and profound surprises.' Anne Deveson 'Escaping the city in search of the wild.' Claire Dunn
Being a carer is not unlike being an interpreter. The task is to listen intently, to catch not only the words but the spirit of the message, and then to immediately pass that on. So too the carer, who is required to listen, to catch the spirit of what is needed, and then to set about to have those needs met.
Fraying chronicles a mother's and a daughter's journey through memory loss and the medical maze. Michele Gierck finds herself suddenly thrust into the role of primary carer, with no map to navigate the world of aged care and medical bureaucracy. The relationship between the spirited, determined 88-year-old protagonist - who refuses to passively accept medical pronouncements - and her daughter is at times difficult, yet always respectful and loving, warm and upbeat. Together they must develop practical coping strategies, draw on a lifetime with each other and hold onto their sense of humour.
Authentic and evocative, Fraying will resonate with the tens of thousands of readers living through this experience themselves. Michele Gierck offers wisdom and very practical advice about two of the certainties of life - change and loss.
A young city girl turned bush wife finds love and the courage to fight her own battles in an alien landscape in this powerful and moving Australian memoir.
After thirteen pregnancies, the death of two children and the struggle to support her family during the Great Depression, Anne Gorman's devout Catholic mother has a breakdown. After smashing a statue of the Virgin Mary, her treatment is to be locked up and given shock treatment.
Six-year-old Anne and her sisters are placed in a convent where they wait in vain to be rescued by their parents. Anne doesn't see her beloved father again until years later when he is dying. Anne's determination to escape her mother's fate fires her ambition for a better life. Education is her passport to freedom and after graduating from university, she's ready to take on the world. But her plans come unstuck when she falls in love.
Marrying a farmer and becoming a mother of five children is a life she never imagined. Yet in this alien landscape she finds love and a sense of belonging. But when Anne's beloved husband becomes suddenly gravely ill, she has to find the strength to fight to keep the property afloat and bring up her children alone.
From the fallout of the Second World War to Vietnam and the sexual and political revolutions of the 1960s and 1970s, an uncertain young girl grows into an woman of substance.
The fall of Singapore is considered one of Britain's worst defeats of the Second World War. For Penny Graham's father, however, it became a life-changing opportunity to shed once and for all, all of the shackles of a family he no longer wanted.
From 1942 onwards her parents would carry passports that gave them backgrounds that had nothing to do with reality. In 2010, a recognised Australian author claimed that her father and mother were involved in espionage for the British Government before, during and after World War 2. Although he worked in Australian naval intelligence during the war, there is no evidence whatsoever that he was an MI6 spy. He clearly had his own motives for the change of identity but they had nothing to do with espionage.
Penny Graham spent most of her adult life unravelling the truth about her family history. Her journey took her around the world twice, on many twists and turns, false leads and dead ends as she discovers hew her father managed to hoodwink so many people in his long and complex life.
Whatever Remains is a beautifully written story about solving mysteries, conquering adversity and ultimately finding where you belong in the world. It's a slice of history worth telling.
Jane Grieve was born and raised on a farm on the Darling Downs in Queensland. She grew up with the wind in her hair and the rich black Darling Downs soil between her barefoot toes, her vivid imagination captivated by the tales of her Colonial forebears and the romantic notion of Australia's outback.
From the outset she was determined that her life was not going to run along conventional lines; and nor did it. While working for architect Bill Durack, brother of legendary Australian identities Mary and Elizabeth Durack, she met R.M. Williams. R.M. exhorted her to work with him, Hugh Sawrey, Mary Durack, Bob Katter Snr, Ranald Chandler, Sir James Walker and other prominent Australians to build a very special monument. This is the previously untold story of the establishment of one of Australia's foremost Bicentennial projects - the Australian Stockman's Hall of Fame and Outback Heritage Centre - at Longreach in Queensland.
Told through the eyes of a person whose role in the inner sanctum was pivotal to its success, it is an extraordinary true story of the legendary identities, selfless determination and sheer hard work involved in the creation of what was intended as a Mecca for all Australians.
Graeme Leith - electrician, Italophile and jack of all trades - joined Melbourne's theatre collective at Carlton's famously innovative Pram Factory theatre and said, 'Let there be light.' And there was: Graeme Blundell, Jack Hibberd, Max Gillies and many others produced over 140 new Australian plays in ten years.
Like many of his generation, Graeme left suburban Australia in the 1950s, bound for London and Europe. After a stint in Britain's atomic weapons industry he rode his Lambretta scooter to Perugia in Italy, where he had his first taste of 'ethereal' wine and fell in love. But Graeme had also fallen for the idea of making wine, and in the mid-1970s he and his partner Sue Mackinnon established Passing Clouds, a vineyard in Victoria's Spa Country that produced award-winning wines from the beginning.
Then tragedy struck. In 1984 Graeme's beautiful and talented daughter Ondine and her boyfriend David vanished en route to the South Coast of New South Wales. Ten days later their ute was found in Kings Cross, where it had been abandoned by their killers.
Heartfelt and heartbreaking, humorous and hilarious, Passing Clouds tells of a life fully lived - a life embracing the experience of fatherhood, of triumph and disaster, of joy and tragedy, of ingenuity and sheer hard work and, above all, an unquenchable optimism.
Mike and Mal Leyland's first step towards becoming beloved Aussie icons came with the screening of their hazardous trip down the length of the Darling River in a five-metre aluminium dinghy. They went on to have numerous adventures, culminating in their ground-breaking TV series, Ask the Leyland Brothers, in which they travelled to unusual or far-flung places around Australia at viewers' requests.
In this revealing memoir, Mal Leyland takes us through his eventful life, from his 'ten-pound-Pom' immigrant childhood, adventuring with Mike through outback Australia, the brothers' sometimes stormy relationship, their dramatic rise to success as filmmakers, their devastating financial losses, Mal's triumph over cancer to his ongoing travels with his beloved wife of 45 years, Laraine.
Ever the adventurer, Mal Leyland has continued to explore our beautiful and dangerous country. Still Travelling is his compelling account of a life lived to the full.
Told through the bright and unflinching eyes of Cat Thao, a girl born in a refugee camp, We Are Here is a memoir that begins in 1975 with her family's gripping exodus by foot out of post-war Vietnam - a dangerous journey, unimaginable to most, on which most perished.
The escape of Cat Thao's family from persecution traverses the horrific jungles of Khmer Rouge Cambodia and into the crowded refugee camps of Thailand. From which, finally, the Nguyens were allowed to board a Qantas plane to a freedom they wanted desperately. But the stark, contrasting suburban landscapes of Western Sydney, Australia were not the unalloyed blessing they'd imagined. Against the backdrop of an immigrant experience, Cat Thao tells of her coming of age in Australia, haunted by lingering trauma but buoyed by instincts of hope, reinvention and survival. In a voice both candid and striking, Cat Thao details her struggles with growing up: from her bad skin and hairy legs, to Vietnamese mysticism and kinship, and bound throughout by familial loyalty and honour.
With wit and poignancy, We Are Here explores an Australia of the 80s and 90s, and a family's tireless journey for peace through a young woman's absolute determination to find her place.
'I realise that, despite all the references to my longing to be a writer, two things are apparent. The first is that I don't actually do much writing; the second is that my teenage reflections display absolutely no talent for it. My Diary is prima facie evidence of self-delusion on a grand scale. '
A memoir in parts, from one of Australia's best-loved playwrights. Hannie Rayson - writer, mother, daughter, sister, wife, romantic, adventuress, parking-spot optimist - has spent a lifetime giving voice to others in the many roles she has written for stage and television. In her new book, she shines the spotlight on herself. This collection of stories from a dramatic life radiate with the great warmth and humour that has made Hannie one of the best-known playwrights in the country.
From a childhood in Brighton to a urinary tract infection in Spain, from a body buried under the house to a play on a tram, Hello, Beautiful! captures a life behind the scenes - a life of tender moments, hilarious encounters and, inevitably, drama.
Ben Reynolds was the youngest of three children, born on 1 March 1920, in Essex, England. He had a simple education before becoming an apprentice to a carpenter. By 16 years of age, Ben was also a volunteer with the Territorial Army. On 2 September 1939, the day before World War II was officially declared, he was conscripted into the army.
In his autobiography, Ben recalls his day-to-day experiences as a soldier in the North African desert and describes with candid honesty the experience of being captured by the German Afrika Korps before being shipped overseas to become a Prisoner of War at a camp in Italy. His experience was brutal and, like all prisoners, he suffered unbearable hardship under an unrelenting regime. Ben was a survivor, with an uncompromising attitude to escape and resolute in his determination to get home.
Call Me Corp details his war experience, and is written with heart-warming honesty and wit.
It was supposed to be a place where teenagers would learn resilience, confidence and independence, where long hikes and runs in the bush would make their bodies strong and foster a connection with the natural world. Living in bare wooden huts, cut off from the outside world, the students would experience a very different kind of schooling, one intended to have a strong influence over the kind of adults they would eventually become.
Fourteen-year-old Rebecca Starford spent a year at this school in the bush. In her boarding house fifteen girls were left largely unsupervised, a combination of the worst behaved students and some of the most socially vulnerable. As everyone tried to fit in and cope with their feelings of isolation and homesickness, Rebecca found herself joining ranks with the powerful girls, and participating in various forms of bullying and aggression. Increasingly horrified at her own behaviour, Rebecca soon found herself excluded from this group and subjected to bullying herself.
Bad Behaviour tells the story of that year, a time of friendship and joy, but also of shame and fear. It explores how those crucial experiences affected Rebecca as an adult and shaped her future relationships, and asks courageous questions about the nature of female friendship.
Moving, wise and painfully honest, this extraordinary memoir shows how bad behaviour from childhood, in all its forms, can be so often and so easily repeated throughout our adult lives.