PUBLISHED – May 2021 by ALLEN & UNWIN
From the happiness and freedom of her bush childhood, Tanya Heaslip is sent to a boarding school sixteen hundred kilometres away from everything and everyone she loves. As these years pass surrounded by the friends she makes, Tanya’s memoir is a humorous and inspiring story of strength, resilience and the realities of Australian outback life.
In 1975, twelve-year-old Tanya Heaslip leaves her isolated home in outback Australia and is sent sixteen hundred kilometres south to a girls’ boarding school for an education the bush can’t provide.
The freedom of her young life gives way to an unfriendly world of stone and concrete, high walls, small skies, dress uniforms, and endless rules that make no sense.
In common with many children of the outback, Tanya has little experience of life beyond the bush, other bush families, stockmen and horses. She struggles to adjust to this cold place, run by harsh, authoritarian figures, where every moment is controlled by bells, timetables and stern words.
Yet, over time, her fellow boarders become her new family and Tanya survives both by writing, and by telling her stories of family, race meetings, gymkhanas, campdrafts and stock camps to enthralled friends.
Through her band of brave boarders and the power of inspiring teachers, Tanya’s pain of losing family and the trauma of dislocation are ultimately transformed into five life-changing years. She emerges stronger and more resilient, determined to carve out her own life.
Warm, humorous and uplifting, this is the story of a small girl who prevails!