A different perspective

Rated 5.0 out of 5
8th January 2024

Love Loved Loved Letters from a Hard Country. The sadness and the joy that comes from the narrative is compelling. Goodonya Bobby for hanging in there and writing this book. Its amazing.

Georgie Taylor

A ripper yarn indeed!

Rated 5.0 out of 5
26th November 2023

Letters from a Hard Country is one hell of a yarn. There haven’t been many books I couldn’t put down – but this was certainly one of them!

This intrinsically WA ‘Western’ yarn is remarkable for many quite different reasons. The words have been chosen with such care, the language is beautiful and admirably supports the time in which this story is set. Each character has such depth that it makes them easy to befriend (and to like, love and REALLY dislike!).

The story is anchored in real historical events and characters which make it so compelling. The referendum in 1900 in favour of federation, John Forrest, the pipeline and engineering genius of C.Y. O’Conner, the early days of the WA Police Force, the prospectors, the goldfields and the work of the cameleers – are some examples.

The story is also unique in the way two truths are told – the dreamtime truth of the Aboriginal people juxtaposed with the experiential truth of the early colonialists and settlers underwrites the bittersweet reality of WA’s past. It is one of the book’s great strengths and a grim reminder to us all that the development of the modern State came (and in many ways continues to come) at a great cost to our First Nation peoples.

I especially liked the development of the female characters (black and white) – in historical literature women’s roles, guts, sheer grit and determination is often understated. I loved them all – Margaret, Maud, Mary, Minnie, Grace, Hope, and the ‘Aboriginal woman rescued from Rankin’s Dig’ were each. in their own way, just awesome.

Letters is indeed ‘a sprawling tale of life, love, loss and heroism’…and hardship. I enjoyed this long and intricate intergenerational family saga immensely, so much so I slowed myself down towards the end as I didn’t want this great grand tale to finish!

Monique Berkhout

Highly recommended to lovers of Australian history and jolly good writing.

Rated 5.0 out of 5
21st November 2023

From the word ‘GO’ I was hooked. First I was transported to the land where Hywel Lewis and his family lived; the beautiful hills of Wales, then just as I was imagining myself there, I was off on a large ship headed for Australia. The author paints his scenes so well that you are warm with the characters and cold when they shiver.

Western Australia had me strolling with Hywel when he bought his sun hat in Fremantle. The author winds the story around both verdant and arid pastures, through the lives of his characters whose faces, figures and personae are drawn with such skill that one is already in love with Hywel, open armed to his Irish companion Eamon Daly, and barricaded against Caldwell and many other antagonists in this tale.

C.Y. O’Connor’s engineering and building of the pipeline from Mundaring Weir, eventually as far as Kalgoorlie, is the setting for myriad relationships, and is a story oft told but Robert Maumill’s Letters from a Hard Country is, in my humble opinion, a masterpiece.

It introduces us to the trauma and terror of the local Aboriginal people, the vicious, mindless cruelty of those who were only out for their own good, and the daunting political situation found in Western Australia in the 1800 – 1900s.

Highly recommended to lovers of Australian history and jolly good writing.

Gabrielle Plumm - Cardwell Queensland

Stunning journey through WA in the late 1800s and early 1900s.

Rated 5.0 out of 5
20th November 2023

Robert (Bob) Maumill weaves heart-warming love stories into the male-dominated world of Western Australia’s gold rush years before Federation, harsh men in a hard country. A modern Western, the story follows the adventures of Cambridge educated Welshman, Hywel Lewis, and his Irish mate, Eamonn Daly, friends of maligned engineer, Charles Yelverton O’Connor.

You will recoil from the horror, the unfairness, the courage of their endeavours as they survive the gritty, brutal, hard-living trails of Aboriginal-hating men seeking their fortunes, by fair means or foul. You meet the murderous gold stealers, Samuel Crabbe and James Whitfield, the racist merchant and mine-owner, Horace Caldwell and Kirby, his hatred-ridden son, the brave, fair-minded Sergeant Patrick Dolan and Hillier Station hero Constable Dan Brock, cattle drover Bill (Bullfrog) Bean, the British to his bootlaces, gold mine owner, the ‘Cobra’ Sir Roger Modbury, rapist and murderer Wallace Tebbit, low-life Brucie Mack and his killer dogs, Omar the camel driver, and many others.

Then, there’s the women, Margaret Bright, wife of Anglican Minister Cornelius Bright, Sister Maud Cutsworth, the humanitarian nurse out of Africa, and Minnie, the Aboriginal girl who seduces station boss, Big Tom Douglas. Maumill’s portrayal of First Nations people is historically authentic. His research regime recreates their plight through truth telling at its finest – the horrific exploitation of women, the murders, incarceration, and prohibitive government laws, until the revenge; the night of the Jinakapi. He reserves a special place for Wingella, and the Aboriginal police trackers or station aides, Wally, Sandy, Curly Sam and Robbie McCallister.

It is a stunning journey through WA in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Maumill’s cleverness is his use of ‘private’ letters not only contrasting the beautiful Clwydian Range of Wales with the waterless, heat-ridden, isolation of the WA Goldfields, but also to background readers with outstanding historical facts.

Baden Pratt

Letters From a Hard Country

Rated 5.0 out of 5
16th November 2023

The testimonials will tell you what this book is about. I am going to tell you how it gripped me and how I could not put it down.

I have read many books and am a lover of Western Australian history. Letters from a hard country whilst being fact fiction has many truths in it about human nature good and bad as to how it was in our country in the 1900s.

The story weaves around a central character who like many were not born in this country and weaves through the many adventures he has. The Treatment of Aboriginal people in those times is also a theme throughout the story. Both worlds are very cleverly and clearly shown as is how good triumphs over evil.

There are not many books written which are set in our harsh early colonial past and this book although fiction sets out to show the way we were through the characters that would have been typical of the times.

Bob has captured this beautifully.

As Bob says it is a tale of conflict, murder, family bonds, politics, romance love and loss.

I loved the book and rate it very highly. It is as good as any that I have ever read. Not many books capture the imagination as much as this one did me. When I said I could not put it down I meant it.

The cruelty was real and harsh, the tender moments made me smile, the reality was stark.

A great book. Well done Robert Maumill.

Hon. Robyn Mcsweeney