'People who truly live in the outback listen to it. What they hear, I do not know ...What the country says is beyond words.' In the early 1950s, Australia was riding on the sheep's back and no-one doubted the wisdom of making a life in the wool industry, certainly not sixteen-year-old Ian Parkes
. Having grown up with his grandfather's stories about the bush, he was eager to earn his way on sheep stations in the Australian outback. But he had no idea that the country would creep inside him and take root. Tough yet tender, funny one moment, poignant the next, this is the story of a life lived on the land and for the land. It was a time when a young lad starting out might work side-by-side with Aboriginal stockmen, when a big social event was a day at the races, followed by a game of two-up. And a time when a young man might discover a love of books, camped out under the stars.
Born in Perth in 1934, Ian Parkes
left home at sixteen to work as a jackeroo on a merino stud in South Australia. He spent a year on a remote property near Broken Hill, before returning to Western Australia, where he worked on various sheep stations inland from Carnarvon and Meekatharra. At the age of twenty-one, after illness threatened his life, Ian reflected on where his real interests lay and, much as he loved the outback, he decided he wanted to write. He worked as a copywriter at 6IX in Perth and wrote radio talks for the ABC in his spare time. Soon he started his own advertising agency, which in time became Parkes Clemenger, the biggest in Western Australia. The bush still claims him and he returns to it regularly.