I like reading books about places. It adds extra layers of enjoyment to my travels, in Queensland and beyond. They can be learned and literary books, or lighter romances and mysteries; but sharing in the experiences of others, especially when they’re good observers, helps me to get under the surface of a place.
These are just a few of my favourite books about Queensland.
Please add other titles in the comments section. I’m always looking for more.
- “The Commandant”, Jessica Anderson. Fine, literary, perceptive novel of convict Brisbane under Captain Logan. Brutality and death in the penal colony as observed by the Logan womenfolk.
- Affection”, Ian Townsend. 2010. Historical novel set in Townsville in 1900 when the city was under threat of the plague. Doctors enforce unpopular measures to prevent it. (Dilemma of scientists: if they succeed in preventing a threatened disaster, people will say it wasn’t a danger in the first place.)
- “Carpentaria”, Alexis Wright. A magnificent literary saga of the Gulf of Carpentaria, written by an Indigenous Australian with a unique and accomplished voice and an authentic image of the land, its people and its mythology. In the tradition of Xavier Herbert.
- “The Birdwatcher”, William McInnes. A sweet, wise, grown-up love story set in Far North Queensland. Some ‘60s nostalgia, poetry, and lots of birds.
- “My Island Homicide”, Catherine Titasey. Set on Thursday Island, this is a likeable romance/detective novel. Authentic language and background in a fascinating part of Queensland.
- “Ryders Ridge”, Charlotte Nash. An enjoyable rural romance set in north-west Queensland. Red dirt, big hats, doctors.
- “The Grazier’s Wife”, Barbara Hannay. 2017. A multi-generation rural romance set on the Atherton Tableland. Cattle, rainforest, Singapore, antiques, a secret will.
- “Boy Swallows Universe”, Trent Dalton. 2018. Enjoyable, scary, uplifting, suspenseful story of growing up in a crime-affected family in Brisbane. Darra and Bracken Ridge, Boggo Road Gaol and City Hall. Violence and love.
- “Border Watch”, Helene Young. 2011. A FNQ romantic thriller written by an ex- airline captain and Border Patrol pilot. One of several novels by this author set in Queensland including “Safe Harbour”, 2014, and “Northern Heat”, 2015, which is set in Cooktown.
- “Lonely Planet – Queensland and the Great Barrier Reef”, and “Lonely Planet – Australia”. The first covers the tourist areas and the coast; the second covers the inland areas of the state. Lots of interesting local information.
- “A History of Queensland”, Raymond Evans. 2007. Interesting scholarly in-depth account by a well-known historian of Qld life and development from earliest human habitation to the 2000s.
- “Love in the Age of Drought”, Fiona Higgins. 2009. The memoir of a Sydney woman who marries a farmer from Jandowae, on the Northern Darling Downs. Love, drought, life in a small town, the black soil plains west of the Bunya Mountains. I lived here as a teenager.
- “Brisbane”, Matthew Condon. 2010. Affectionate, memoir-style look at Brisbane, its history, arts, way of life and unique qualities as a lively sub-tropical city, by a journalist who knows the city well: its good and its bad. (Part of the “Secret Life of Your City” series about State Capitals.)
- “Birdsville”, Evan McHugh. 2009. Dust storms, bogs, sand dunes, race meetings, rescues, locusts, building a golf course in the desert: a Sydney freelance writer and his graphic designer wife spend twelve months in Birdsville.
- “Conspiracy of Silence: Queensland’s frontier killing times”, Timothy Bottoms. 2013. Harrowing account of the acts of violence that accompanied pastoralists’/investors’ seizure of Queensland pastoral land from Aboriginal inhabitants.
- “Tom Petrie’s Reminiscences of Early Queensland”, Constance Campbell Petrie. Re-published 2014. This important 1904 book details life in Brisbane and South-east Qld from 1837, when little Tom Petrie arrived at the convict settlement of Moreton Bay with his family. Local Aboriginal people, their foods, customs and language, as well as convict life and early white exploration.
- “Cairns: City of the South Pacific. A history 1770-1995”, Timothy Bottoms. Interesting, ambitious, detailed work.