Saturday 17 June 2023


Drover by Neridah McMullin, illustrated by Sarah Anthony (Walker Books) PB RRP $16.99 ISBN: 9781760653910

Reviewed by Dannielle Viera

Drover is responsible for getting a herd of cattle safely across the wild Australian interior. One night, a scurrying creature spooks a bullock, and all the animals take off towards the bush. With the help of the others in the company, Drover carefully rounds up the skittish cattle. When the dusty group finally reaches the town of Dajarra, the local people cheer.

In this evocative picture book aimed at kids aged four to eight, Neridah McMullin tells the stunning true story of Edna Jessop, Australia’s first female boss drover. However, youngsters are unaware that Drover is female until the end – Neridah allows Edna’s skill and bravery to shine brighter than her gender. Vivid imagery brings the Outback to life, immersing the reader in the danger and dynamism of droving.

Sarah Anthony’s rich paintings glow with the warm reds, oranges and yellows intrinsic to Australia’s harsh desert region. When trouble brews during the inky night, the bullocks’ distress charges towards the reader from midnight blue spreads. Children will adore seeking out every detail in the artworks, from the parrots gliding across the sky to the plump possum perched in a tree.

A feast for the eyes as well as the heart, Drover is a must for every Aussie bookshelf. It celebrates the resilience and determination that all drovers – men, women, European and Aboriginal – needed to survive the rugged Outback.

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