By: Rick Morton
Genre: DQ - Anthologies (non-poetry)
Published by: Black Inc
Published: 29 Mar 2022
ISBN: 9781760643065


Growing Up in Country Australia is a fresh, modern look at country Australia. There are stories of joy, adventure, nostalgia, connection to nature and freedom, but also grimmer tales - of drought, fires, mouse plagues and isolation. From the politics of the country school bus to the class divides between locals, from shooting foxes with Dad to giving up meat as an adult, from working on the family farm to selling up and moving to the city, the picture painted is diverse and unexpected. This is country Australia as you've never seen it before.

With nearly forty stories by established and emerging authors from a wide range of backgrounds - including First Nations and new migrants - Growing Up in Country Australia is a unique and revealing snapshot of rural life.

Contributors include Holden Sheppard, Laura Jean McKay, Annabel Crabb, Sami Shah, Lech Blaine, Tony Armstrong, Bridie Jabour, Jes Layton, Lily Chan, Jay Carmichael and many others.

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These fantastic collections of short stories always have something for everyone.

I particularly enjoyed Mouseapocalypse - a story of how farmers have had to navigate living through a mouse plague - and how they probably don’t need us city dwellers to tell them how to handle things humanely. It was also nice to learn a new word - ‘petrichor’ - a word for ‘the smell of rain on dry earth’. I hope to remember it, as it is a smell of hope for so many people.

There are stories of the hierarchy of the country school bus, and of finding your place during a remote rural exchange program.

Some held a life long love of the country, while others couldn't move out soon enough. Seen through the eyes of many country people from different generations and different parts of Australia, from First Nations people and new migrants, the young and old, it truly covers the spectrum of Australian country life.

There are some short stories in this collection dealing with more serious themes that make this collection best suited to older readers aged 16 and above.

Reviewed by Rob