My introduction to Australia

by - February 05, 2013

Uluru Pink Sunset
Photo by Mark Wassell

I was about twelve when I first picked up one of my mum’s Mills&Boon novels. They were the first romances I ever read (and their heat levels were pretty low by today’s standards!) I grew up in South Africa, and up until that point virtually all the books I read were by British authors set in British locations. But through Mills&Boon suddenly I discovered a whole new continent—Australia. For some reason those Australian romances became my favourites. I’ve long forgotten the titles and authors, but I still have fond memories of those stories.

A typical storyline would have an English rose suddenly travelling to Australia, transported from rainy London to the vast Outback. She would arrive in a cattle station the size of Belgium and clash with the owner, the quintessential tall, dark, laconic Aussie hero. The heroine would learn to ride a horse, eat damper and billy tea, swim in a billabong, and run into a dangerous situation from which the hero saved her—either she’d get lost in the bush or a stampeding horse would threaten to run her over or she'd fall into a crocodile-infested river.

I read about men eating steak and eggs for breakfast and huge house parties where guests flew in on their private planes. The Outback seemed so romantically idyllic. I never read about the heat or the flies or the isolation, but then these stories were romances.

I’ve now been in Australia for many years, and it’s kind of ironic that after reading all those Outback romances I’m living in an over-priced sliver of a terrace in crowded inner Sydney. Reality is a little more sobering. But I’ll always remember those slim Mills&Boon novels with the iconic rose on the covers. They were my first introduction to Australia, and to romance, and I guess I wouldn’t be here writing this without them.

You May Also Like