The Cattle King by Ion L. Idriess

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The Cattle King by Ion L. Idriess. First published in 1936 (my edition re-published 2013).

Synopsis mk3

At the age of 13 Sidney Kidman ran away from home with only five shillings in his pocket. He went on to become a horse dealer, drover, cattle buyer and bush jockey and he also ran a coach business. Above all, Kidman created a mighty cattle empire of more than a hundred stations, fighting droughts, bushfires, floods and plagues of vermin to do so. His enterprise and courage won him a huge fortune and made him a legend.

My Thoughts mk3

I purchased this paperback on the 4th July at the Australian Stockman’s Hall of Fame at Longreach.

When we entered the museum we watched a documentary and Sir Sid Kidman was mentioned. I thought “wow he sounds like an interesting fella”. So when we got to the gift/sourvenieer shop and there was a book about him, I just had to buy it.

Once we got back to our camp that afternoon I immediately started reading it. The first few pages gives us a brief history of Angus and Robertson, then a brief history on the author, followed by the author’s note. I was buzzing by this point as I’d already found these first pages fascinating and I hadn’t even started to really read about Sir. Sid Kidman yet.

Kidman’s life was truly amazing. I read this while we were travelling through some of the places mentioned in the book, so that added an extra special kick to my experience. The Silver City aka Broken Hill was mentioned quite a lot and it gave me the extreme urge to go there, but alas it didn’t work out with the rest of our camping trip.

Some times when I read a YA dystopian or fantasy novel I get a bit “Oh yeah right, as if a 16 year old could do that”. But the thought struck me while reading this book, that if thirteen year old Kidman could do the things he did, than they probably aren’t that far-fetched. Go back 100 years or more and you were a child, than an adult – None of this teenager crap. You had a job at thirteen and where out working with the men. At Thirteen Sid had saved up a years’ worth of earrings and ran away from home.

Sid, a thirteen year old, in unfamiliar bush saved himself and a fellow drover from dehydration and starvation. He had a kind heart and a brilliant mind. The man was a genius. His brain was a sponge. He traveled all over the place listening to and learning from anyone who would talk to him, from anyone who would show him. At a time when Whiteman feared and hared the Blackman, Sid was leaning all they were willing to teach him about the land. Thirteen year old Sid was able to do things that a thirteen year old today couldn’t even contemplate.

So yes, Kidman’s life was fascinating. The book was a bit dry at times, a bit like a high school history textbook and I felt like I was going to choke on all the statistics. But still Kidman shined.

Kidman grew to own more Australian land then the British Empire at one point. He was growing his empire while the Kelly boys were raising hell. He put an enormous amount of his own resources into Australia’s WW2 efforts. The man was a true blue Australian legend and sadly one I don’t remember ever hearing about in school. I think his story is inspiring – Someone today’s little spoilt teenagers should aspire to be like.

4s

Purchase Links:

Amazon | B&N | Amazon AU | A&R (paperback)

Author’s Links

Tribute Website | Wikipedia | Goodreads

During his life time Idriess wrote a large number of Aussie themed books and I intend to somehow get my hands on a few of them.

I’M BACK (Holiday book haul)

So after 38 days away I’m back home. I’ve still got some more time off of work and am planing to do some work on the house, do up some sort of post/s about our Aussie Outback and Cape York 4WD family trip, as well as write reviews for the books I read while I was away.

I took a fair few books with me; 5 paper backs and my entire eBook collection – I managed to read 9. I hadn’t intended to buy any books while I was away, but I should have known better!! I’ve said it over and over in the last twelve months “I’m not buying any more books until I read the ones I have” HA! Yeah right I haven’t figured out how to manage that yet, they are always calling out for me to buy them. Damn needy things they are always crying out to be in my arms and once I’ve picked them up off of the shelf I’m a goner, I have to take them home.

ANYWAY so this is what I picked when I was trying not to:20150808_164131

Oops!! Two second hands and the rest brand new. But hey, I refrained from buying any eBooks 😛 and my eBook collection WAY out weights my paper backs. Yeah, that totally makes it ok.

The Cattle King and Meet Banjo Paterson were purchased from The Stockman’s Hall of Fame in Longreach – There is a story behind the Cattle King purchase but I’ll leave it for the review which I’ll post up soon.

The second hand Agatha Christie was picked up out of a book bin with a donation to the Royal Flying Doctor service at Adels Grove in Lawn Hill National Park. Reilly’s Ice Station was picked up at a book swap at the Lion’s Den Hotel, Rossville.

The Song of Achilles was purchased in Coffs Harbour, while I was looking for a present for my mum – Oops!

Crystal Kingdom, Percy Jackson and Pieces of Sky were picked up yesterday in Hamilton for National Bookshop Day – and yes I’m counting them in my holiday book haul as I’m still technically on holidays.

I’ll leave you now with funny cartoon while I try and write reviews on books I read at the start of July – oh dear.

Vacation Cartoon