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Australian Biography
Life on Australian Locomotives

Life on Australian Locomotives

David M. Barnett

$34.95

What was it like to drive a steam locomotive? This book tells the ups and downs, mishaps and triumphs of life on the footplate. The author worked as first a trainee then as an engineman fireman on the footplates of locomotives in Western Victoria in the 60s at a time when bumper wheat harvests saw trains carrying tons of grain through Ararat for shipping overseas. A variety of locomotives were in use. We hear how some performed magnificently, a few sluggish and recalcitrant, requiring every ounce of skill and perseverance of the engineman to keep the wheels turning. A limited number of passenger trains also saw steam haulage. The drama and adventure of running these engines is described in graphic and gritty detail by one whose task was keeping the water boiling and the steam gauge needle on the mark. All this is set against a background of thudding air compressors, chime whistles and staccato exhausts, as well as the occasional whine of a diesel electric's dynamic brake, making this a truly exhilarating picture of Life on Australian Locomotives.
Nellies Vow

Nellies Vow

Leonie Binge

$29.99

Nellie’s Vow is an uplifting true tale of triumph over tragedy.

Confronted by one devastating blow after another – including the sudden death of their beloved father, the crippling mental illness suffered by their mother, the vicious abuse dished out by their stepfather and years of loneliness and deprivation at a Narellan orphanage – the four Peisley girls seem destined for a life of despair and hardship. But with courage and conviction, Nellie is able to lead her three younger sisters – Kathleen, Clare and Millie – to lives filled with love, optimism and the strength and enduring comforts of family.

Brimming with historical detail – from fascinating chronicles of country life to heart-rending descriptions of Depression-era Sydney – Nellie’s Vow is a rich tapestry that interweaves a tragic family saga with national and global events of the early twentieth century. Sepia photographs of the people and places in the story bring the narrative to life. History enthusiasts and those who enjoy moving family dramas will be enraptured by the twists and turns within Nellie’s Vow.

From 11-year-old Nellie’s powerful promise that she would take care of her sisters to the moment she is finally able to welcome her youngest siblings into her marital home, this touching memoir is a poignant tribute to one young woman’s extraordinary fortitude in the face of unimaginable misfortune.
Through the Wall: Reflections on Leadership, Love and Survival

Through the Wall: Reflections on Leadership, Love and Survival

Anna Bligh

$39.99

An uplifting memoir of resilience and strength from ex-Premier of Queensland, Anna Bligh. Anna Bligh knows something about hard knocks and high walls. 

She was raised by a single mother in the working class Gold Coast, a young girl with a soon-to-be-estranged dad who struggled with alcoholism. She spent over 17 years in the rough and tumble of the Queensland Parliament (seven of them as either Deputy Premier or Premier) and she was the first woman to be elected Premier of an Australian State in her own right.  In 2011, she led Queensland through the devastation of Australia's largest natural disasters.  Her Party then lost the 2012 State election and Anna stepped down to start a new life, only to find herself diagnosed with cancer.

Writing with her trademark honesty, warmth and humour about the challenges that public and private life have thrown her, Anna reflects candidly - as a wife, mother, daughter, friend and political leader - on the lessons of leadership, resilience, community and family. 

'It is not my bruises and scratches that I want others to see,' she writes in this inspiring, unflinching and engaging memoir about breaking through walls and overcoming obstacles, 'I want them to see the hole in the wall.'
Nicky Buckley: An Empowering Story About Life, Love and What's Important

Nicky Buckley: An Empowering Story About Life, Love and What's Important

Nicky Buckley

$29.99

Nicky Buckley has graced the screens of Australian television for over 30 years. She is one of the rare group of Australian women who has had both longevity and success in the media and along the way, we have enjoyed her entertainment, her grace and her personal growth. We have experienced her move from teenage model, to TV star, to mum, whilst always maintaining her dignity, her values and her respect for those around her. Nicky Buckley : A Memoir, is Nicky's story in her own words of her personal journey not only of a successful media career, but also a behind the scenes look into a life under the spotlight. She talks about family values, being a mother, parenthood, the challenges of business, and of the time when it was questioned whether pregnant women should appear on television.
Poster Girl

Poster Girl

Beccy Cole

$32.99

Beccy Cole has country music in her blood. Daughter of a country music star, Carole Sturtzel, she is one of the most popular country singer-songwriters in Australia today. This is the story of her life - in her own words.

At fourteen, Beccy was performing in her mother's group, Wild Oats. By her late teens, Beccy had teamed up with the Dead Ringer Band - Kasey Chambers' family band - and had attracted the attention of the country music world by winning the Star Maker quest: the same award that started the careers of Keith Urban, Lee Kernaghan, James Blundell and Gina Jeffreys. It was just the first of many awards and accolades for this multitalented woman with a big heart. With refreshing candour, Beccy shares her story: leaving everything she knew to pursue her dream, making a name for herself with her own band; her marriage and motherhood; her subsequent divorce, becoming a single mother and maintaining the nurturing love of family. Performing for the Australian troops in Iraq. Coming out, and what it has meant for her and her fans. Taking control of her own life - and finding love. 

Heartfelt and honest, Poster Girl is the inspirational memoir of a strong woman who epitomises the authentic spirit of country music, and of Australia.
Cracking the Code

Cracking the Code

Stephen Damiani ,  Sally Damiani ,  Leah Kaminsky

$34.99

This story of a father's search to find a diagnosis, and ultimately a cure, for his son's mystery disease is an inspiration that has set the world of genetic medicine and research abuzz with the possibilities for the future.

After Cracking the Code screened on Australian Story Stephen Damiani and his extraordinary ordinary family, have been inundated with messages of support for Mission Massimo. Stephen has a background in construction economics and risk management. He teamed with geneticist Ryan Taft to map his family's genome in an attempt to discover the cause of his son's illness and in the process developed a diagnostic tool that will revolutionise diagnoses and treatments of diseases as complex and rare as Massimo's leukodystrophy to widespread diseases such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Previously, trying to find a specific gene mutation that might be responsible for a disease was a million times harder than finding a needle in a haystack.  Stephen's suggestion that Ryan align the genomes, or DNA blueprints, of himself, his wife Sally as well as Massimo, to find any unique variations and thereby create a smaller haystack was previously untried. Stephen convinced Massimo's neurologist, Dr Rick Leventer at Melbourne's RCH, that it was just a case of technology, statistics, data, and money, but that it could be done. Once Taft was able to locate and isolate the specific genetic mutation of Massimo's DARS gene, the hunt was on to find other children with the same genetic mutation so that the diagnoses could be confirmed.

With the help of Dr Adeline Vanderver at the Children's National Hospital in Washington DC, along with Prof. Marjo van der Knaap and Dr Nicole Wolf in Amsterdam, they were able to locate several other children with DARS mutations and have now moved on to the next phase of Mission Massimo: finding a cure.

Cracking the Code is simultaneously a wonderful family memoir and the story of some mind-blowing discoveries in medicine.
Reg Saunders: An Indigenous War Hero

Reg Saunders: An Indigenous War Hero

Hugh Dolan ,  Adrian Threlfall

$19.99

The little-known story of Reg Saunders, the first Indigenous Australian to become an officer in the Army, retold in action-packed graphic format.

Reg Saunders MBE (1920-90) not only survived the World War II battlefields in the Middle East, North Africa, Greece, Crete and New Guinea, but excelled as a military leader. He was recommended for officer training and, in 1944, returned to New Guinea as a platoon commander - the first Aboriginal Australian to serve as a commissioned officer.

What happened during the war to transform a determined young man from country Victoria into a war hero - one who would go on to serve with distinction in the Korean War, and become a pioneering figure for Indigenous rights?
One Life: My Mother's Story

One Life: My Mother's Story

Kate Grenville

$29.99

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Nance was a week short of her sixth birthday when she and Frank were roused out of bed in the dark and lifted into the buggy, squashed in with bedding, the cooking pots rattling around in the back, and her mother shouting back towards the house: Goodbye, Rothsay, I hope I never see you again!

When Kate Grenville's mother died she left behind many fragments of memoir. These were the starting point for One Life, the story of a woman whose life spanned a century of tumult and change. In many ways Nance's story echoes that of many mothers and grandmothers, for whom the spectacular shifts of the twentieth century offered a path to new freedoms and choices. In other ways Nance was exceptional. In an era when women were expected to have no ambitions beyond the domestic, she ran successful businesses as a registered pharmacist, laid the bricks for the family home, and discovered her husband's secret life as a revolutionary.

One Life is an act of great imaginative sympathy, a daughter's intimate account of the patterns in her mother's life. It is a deeply moving homage by one of Australia's finest writers.
Daughter of the Territory

Daughter of the Territory

Jacqueline Hammar

$32.99

Daughter of the Territory is the amazing life story of Jacqueline Hammar. Born in Darwin in 1929, Jacqueline's childhood was spent in a succession of bush towns before she was sent to school in Darwin. With the outbreak of World War Two, she moved to Brisbane to finish her education.

Returning to her beloved Territory, Jacqueline met and married stockman Ken Hammar, and they moved to a vast property in one of the most inaccessible areas of Australia, transporting corrugated iron and cutting down trees to build a crude hut to live in. With only a kerosene stove, scant possessions and a bed, Jacqueline lived a harsh and isolated existence. Her determination and courage helped her survive many hardships, including having to eat pigweed and sweet potato vines when food was scarce. Meanwhile, she supported Ken as he turned huge tracts of wilderness into a prosperous million-acre cattle station.

Daughter of the Territory is a testament to a life well lived. Reminiscent of AB Facey's A Fortunate Life and Sara Henderson's From Strength to Strength, Jacqueline's life story is remarkable.
Settling Day: A Memoir

Settling Day: A Memoir

Kate Howarth

$32.95

Following on from her award-winning memoir Ten Hail Marys, Kate Howarth's extraordinary life continues in Settling Day. Thrust out of her son's life while he is still a toddler, teenaged Kate has to rely on her wits and courage to start life anew. Filled with remorse and an unwavering determination to be reunited with her son, so begins Kate's journey as she fights injustice and prejudice to create a better life. She amasses a fortune helping to build one of Australia's most successful recruitment companies, only to lose it all in a legal battle. Kate once again manages to rebuild her life after a major injury, but is always haunted by her lost son. Settling Day is a remarkable story of resilience that highlights the still prevalent injustices that many women face at work and at home.
The Good Greek Girl

The Good Greek Girl

Maria Katsonis

$32.95

In the space of five years, I went from graduating at Harvard to becoming a psych patient. I overcame the stranglehold of depression and chose not to die. Instead, I embraced life only to discover I am a good Greek girl at heart, albeit an unconventional one. This is my story.

The Good Greek Girl will make you laugh, cry, gasp and smile, written with the honesty Maria's story deserved, and the elegance and craft expected from such an inspiring public intellectual.

Maria Katsonis is the good Greek girl who grew up above her parents' milk bar and shared a bedroom with her yiayia. That is until university where she discovered her rebellious side, realized her true sexuality and abandoned nine-tenths of an economics degree for a career in the theatre.

Furthering her studies later in life, Maria attended Harvard University and left with a Masters of Public Administration. Little did she know, in five years time, Maria would be alone on a bed in a white psych ward fighting for her life.
An Eye for Eternity: The Life of Manning Clark

An Eye for Eternity: The Life of Manning Clark

Mark McKenna

$39.99

Manning Clark was a complex, demanding and brilliant man. Mark McKenna's compelling biography of this giant of Australia's cultural landscape is informed by his reading of Clark's extensive private letters, journals and diaries - many that have never been read before.

An Eye for Eternity paints a sweeping portrait of the man who gave Australians the signature account of their own history. It tells of his friendships with Patrick White and Sidney Nolan. It details an urgent and dynamic marriage, ripped apart at times by Clark's constant need for extramarital romantic love. A son who wrote letters to his dead parents. A historian who placed narrative ahead of facts. A doubter who flirted with Catholicism. A controversial public figure who marked slights and criticisms with deeply held grudges.

To understand Clark's life is to understand twentieth century Australia. And it raises fundamental questions about the craft of biography. When are letters too personal, comments too hurtful and insights too private to publish? Clark incessantly documented his life - leaving notes to the biographers he knew would pursue his story. 

He had a deep need to be remembered and this book means he will now be understood in an unforgettable way.
Mannix

Mannix

Brenda Niall

$50.00

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Daniel Mannix, Archbishop of Melbourne from 1917 until his death, aged ninety-nine, in 1963, was a towering figure in Melbourne's Catholic community. But his political interventions had a profound effect on the wider Australian nation too.

Award-winning biographer Brenda Niall has made some unexpected discoveries in Irish and Australian archives which overturn some widely held views. She also draws on her own memories of meeting and interviewing Mannix to get to the essence of this man of contradictions, controversies and mystery.

Mannix is not only an astonishing new look at a remarkable life, but a fascinating depiction of Melbourne in the first half of the last century.
Make Way for the Mine Princess: A True Story of Dropkicks, Divas, Dingoes and Dust

Make Way for the Mine Princess: A True Story of Dropkicks, Divas, Dingoes and Dust

Ilse Oxenburgh

$29.99

A funny memoir set among the drillers, dust, dingoes and divas at an ore mine site in Western Australia.

Ilse Oxenburgh came to Australia on a temporary visa to work as a geologist at an ore mine and ended up staying at the Incredula site for years. Ilse thought the worst she’d be up against would be the flies and the dust. What she didn’t expect was the bizarre cast of personalities – the fly-in fly-outers, mostly male; the alternate universe of rules, rules and more rules, and last but not least, the ever replacing Mine Princess (AKA Head of Admin), forever best, always right and never sorry.

Ilse’s story is hilarious, self-deprecatory – and even romantic. From summer though winter, year after year Ilse’s exploratory team battle thunder, rain and sand storms, and she gets to know the best of her quirky Australian colleagues: Josh and Dylan spend their summer pumping iron in the gym, Dylan to lose weight for the internet-girlfriend he is longing to meet, and Josh to keep fit for his active sex life. He sleeps with girls on the mine site while holding out for his true love: Jennifer Aniston. Steven is the Perth-based exploration manager who visits occasionally, according to Josh and Dylan to gawk at Ilse, and according to Ilse to talk geology with her. Steven asserts to her: ‘You’re not a woman, you’re a geologist.’ There’s also a geologist who looks for UFOs instead of orebodies, a core yard technician who believes he releases Aboriginal spirits by cutting rocks, and a field assistant who tortures Steven by trying to chat up Ilse.

But Ilse’s main challenge is the Mine Princess. From Precious, Shiekierra and Lucy, each administrator makes Ilse’s life hell with no-can-dos, obsolete procedure and even evictions from her room and her pay-packet – but she lives to tell the tale, and you’ll die laughing.
Mistakes Were Made

Mistakes Were Made

Liam Pieper

$9.99

Liam Pieper's made some poor life choices, but he's (usually) meant well. He's tried to write important stories, fight racial prejudice and rescue traumatised puppies. And he's ended up with life-threatening infestations, a punch in the face at a Leonard Cohen concert and brief detention by counter-terrorism experts. Taking us from Nimbin to US border security to the star-studded Chateau Marmont in LA, these four essays are compelling, insightful and very funny. Mistakes Were Made is about the gap between our ideals in life - of love, compassion, ambition - and how things actually play out.
Bearing Witness: The Remarkable Life of Charles Bean, Australia's Greatest War Correspondent

Bearing Witness: The Remarkable Life of Charles Bean, Australia's Greatest War Correspondent

Peter Rees

$32.99

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Charles Bean was Australia's greatest and most famous war correspondent. He is the journalist who told Australia about the horrors of Gallipoli and the Western Front. He is the historian who did so much to create the Anzac legend and shape the emerging Australian identity in the years after Federation. He is the patriot who was central to the establishment of one of this country's most important cultural institutions, the Australian War Memorial. Yet we know so little about him as a man.

Bearing Witness changes that omission in our national biography. This is the first complete portrait of Charles Bean. It is the story of a boy from Bathurst and his search for truth: in the bush, on the battlefield and in the writing of the official history of Australia's involvement in World War I. But beyond this, it is a powerful and detailed exploration of his life, his accomplishments and a marriage that sustained and enriched him.

Insightful, unexpected and compelling, Bearing Witness gives rich personality to a remarkable life.

Bearing Witness: The Remarkable Life of Charles Bean, Australia's Greatest War Correspondent by Peter Rees at Abbey's Bookshop 131 York Street, Sydney
Windsor's Way

Windsor's Way

Tony Windsor

$32.99

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Born and bred in north-west New South Wales, Tony has held the balance of power in state and federal parliaments for nearly a third of his public life. He has always stood as an independent, believing it was the only way he could achieve the attention country voters deserved from the major parties. 

Windsor's Way reveals Tony Windsor's courageous political path. He was the only National member to move a no-confidence motion against its leader. He undertook a 17-day assessment period of what Tony Abbott and Julia Gillard offered following the indecisive election in 2010 and seized the opportunity of the subsequent hung parliament. 

By staying true to his values and beliefs in difficult and challenging times, Tony Windsor has come to stand for integrity and decency in Australian politics.
Somebody That I Used to Know - Love, Loss and Jack Thompson

Somebody That I Used to Know - Love, Loss and Jack Thompson

Bunkie King

$32.95

We formed a unique family; our unconventional relationship helped us ride the waves of fame . . . I tried many times to leave Jack but found it impossible to break free, drawn, as I was, to the strange sort of security our unique relationship offered me.’

In 1969, when Bunkie King was a wide-eyed Sydney schoolgirl, she met aspiring actor Jack Thompson. Jack was smart, sexy and worldly and soon became Australia’s biggest screen star. He was also romantically involved with Bunkie's older sister, Leona. So began one of the most whispered about relationships in Australian entertainment history, a lopsided arrangement whose intimate details have never been revealed before.

Theirs was no kinky ménage à trois; over time it became a difficult, complicated struggle as a young woman strived to find her own way in the world. It took Bunkie 15 years, but it really took another lifetime – a failed marriage, motherhood, her own breakdowns and breakthroughs – for her to find her voice.

Bittersweet, laced with all-too-real experiences and insights into life behind the silver screen – and beyond – Bunkie's story is an inspiration for anyone who has had to overcome not just their own demons, but society's misconceptions.
           
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