Archive for January, 2012

Co-author Gerard Benjamin with Reflections at No. 2

Gerard signs copies at Mary Ryans, New Farm, where the book is No. 2.

MORE than three years after its publication, Reflections on New Farm is still a best-seller at the local Mary Ryan’s bookshop.

Maybe the book’s popularity has something to do with New Farm’s old world charm and the fact that it is Brisbane’s most densely-populated suburb (5,900 people per sq km, June 2010).

According to co-author Gerard Benjamin, the book inevitably sparks a string of memories with readers who once lived in the locality.

“Here’s a typical reaction,” Gerard explained. “A daughter shows her mother the book. The mother recalls living on Merthyr Road first at No. 116 then No. 34 (referred to in Reflections as the Penton house), then came the 1974 flood. This dramatic event made such an impression on the mother, that her daughter made it the subject of a school assignment…”

It’s no wonder that there are whispers on the grapevine that a new New Farm book may be on the drawing board for 2012… (Photo courtesy of Holly Keys)


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Fern Vale Front CoverJOHN CLAVERING WOOD’S novel Tom Hurstbourne or A Squatter’s Life came into sharp focus on 19 November 2011, when an abridged version of its fellow literary work Fern Vale or The Queensland Squatter was published by Boolarong Press.

Fern Vale (1862) and Tom Hurstbourne (1865) are Queensland’s first and second novels respectively.

Historian Rod Fisher’s assessment of Tom Hurstbourne in the leadup to its publication in 2010 inspired him to look more closely at the novel’s predecessor, namely Colin Munro’s three-volume opus which was published in London in 1862. The result is Rod’s very fine abridged and notated one-volume version of Fern Vale.


While droving in Tambo in the 1870s (pictured ca 1888), novelist J. C. Wood was supplying a regular column to The Queenslander, using the pen-name Major Veritas.

Addressing the launch was Professor Pat Buckridge from Griffith University who wrote the literary forewords for both books. In comparing the novels, he wrote:

IT WOULD BE hard to imagine two more dissimilar treatments of similar subject matter, namely pastoral pioneering in southern Queensland prior to Separation in 1859. 

Where Hurstbourne surrounds its pioneering theme with large chunks of melodrama, romance and comedy, generating a fast-paced, suspenseful narrative, with many surprising twists and turns, Fern Vale proceeds at a stately and deliberate pace, keeping the focus firmly on the central action, that of the Ferguson’s family migration from New England to the Darling Downs.

Copies of both books may be ordered online from Boolarong Press

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