The name Liz Harfull is well known in media and country ciricles alike. She is an award-winning journalist and Churchill Fellow who grew up on a small farm near Mt Gambier which has been in the family since the early 1860s. She worked for several newspapers before spending twelve years with a leading national public relations business specialising in agriculture and environmental management. In 2006 she walked away from being a co-owner/director of the business to focus on her writing. She is passionate about telling the stories of regional Australia and in 2008 Liz published her first book, the best-selling Blue Ribbon Cookbook. Today Liz lives in the Adelaide Hills, juggling a busy writing career with her voluntary work as president of a national council representing rural journalists and communicators.
I only just missed meeting Liz by a week – we were both touring South Australia at the same time, promoting our new books. I was really sad as I would have loved to have met this incredible lady.
This book was launched at the SA Rural Press club by the amazing Pip Courtney and also made it to a wonderful story on ABC’s Landline, which you can view here: http://www.abc.net.au/landline/content/2012/s3496476.htm
Hi Fleur and your Readers
And thank you so much for sharing your blog. Like you, I am on the road at the moment talking to country audiences about my new book, Women of the Land. I have just come back from Eyre Peninsula in South Australia and am looking forward to visiting the Limestone Coast, which is my home territory. My family have a farm that is pretty small by Australian standards, on the outskirts of Mt Gambier at a place called Mil Lel. It was a dairy farm when I was young so I spent a lot of time at weekends milking cows, but these days my brother and his son run a few beef cattle and a chaff mill, producing horse feed. Some of my best memories relate to mucking about on horses working cattle, and driving around the paddocks in a 1910 steam traction engine – my father’s pride and joy.
Growing up in the country came in very handy when I was researching my book which tells the real life stories of eight women from across Australia who run their own farms. To write the book, I visited each woman and followed them about their daily routine for a few days so I could get to know them and their properties, and something of their daily lives. Sometimes they put me to work, taking advantage of having a spare pair of hands about the place (these are smart women!). But my real challenge was capturing what I saw on paper, and helping them tell their personal stories.
My reward for months hard work came at the national launch in Adelaide a few weeks ago when all eight women came together to help celebrate. They were so excited at the prospect of meeting each other for the first time, and I had the lovely experience of sitting back and watching as they got to know each other and discover all the things they have in common despite coming from very different backgrounds.
While they are all very humble, they have each led remarkable lives and achieved extraordinary things despite tragedy, personal fears, physical exhaustion, floods, droughts and bushfires, and more than a little scepticism. It has been a great honour to meet them all – a truly life-changing experience for me as a woman and a writer. I hope their stories will inspire others too.