Spectacular. Extraordinary. Peaceful and so quiet it is almost eerie. It also almost seems to be endless. This is that enormous area in the middle of Australia - and stretching to the coast in some places - It is the 'outback'. 'Red Dust Dreams' focuses on the domestic side of life on those massive stations. It is not an easy life. These people cope with the loneliness, isolation and lack of convenience that is readily available in the urban areas of the nation. The research covered three to four years travelling around Australia, criss-crossing the outback of South Australia, New South Wales, Queensland, the Northern Territory and Western Australia, going from station to station, interviewing, chatting with, observing and photographing these people going about their daily lives from the domestic angle. Aspects included in 'Red Dust Dreams' include entertainment, employment, education, shopping, mail, groceries, travel, holidays (what holidays?). Readers will learn where milk really does come from, meat, vegetables and fruit - and so much more. The people living out there are doing it tough, on stations so large that they can be compared to some of the large countries in Europe. Many are struggling on an almost daily basis, simply to survive. Lannah Sawers-Diggins grew up on one such station. It was isolated enough for her education to be through the School of the Air and correspondence. While she no longer lives on the family station, she remains passionate about that outback way of life.
I relocated from UK to live and work in Alice Springs, Australia some years ago and as such I found myself immediately drawn to the concept of sharing outback stories as it is an intriguing and unique subject. The individual descriptions of the outback stations and their location, rainfall, etc., brought home the sense of isolation that exists for the outback workers, visitors and residents. I particularly enjoyed reading about places I had driven through completely unaware of the stations nearby, in particular Winton and Longreach in Queensland. The interview style, question and answer with for example, overseas workers, gave a sense of proportion to the diversity of content providers and allowed for subject matter such as a backpackers experience working as a 'wwoofer' - which again triggered memories for me of my daughter's Australian visit and her work 'wwoofing' in Queensland. Sarah Jane Butfield, Alice Springs, Australia