FARMING is still largely considered a man's domain, but Adelaide Hills' author Liz Harfull has uncovered eight remarkable women who are all successful and innovative farmers in their own right.
Women of the Land includes stories of the first Aboriginal woman in Australia to manage a cattle station; an American-born oceanographer who has become a Tasmanian superfine woolgrower; and a Sydneysider who sought solace in farming after losing her husband and now runs one of the nation's best commercial Angus herds.
Two women in Liz's book have strong SA connections � Catherine Bird shares her journey from station brat at Indiana Station near Alice Springs to producing organic beef from a property at Willalooka.
Octagerian Cecily Cornish, who is still a sheep and cattle farmer at Wando Bridge, near Casterton in Victoria, has an inspiring story.
As a 19-year-old in post-World War II days, the accomplished horsewoman sailed to England with her aunt, who lived at Callendale Station, Lucindale, to select an Arabian stallion, Riffayal. The stallion imported by Cecily's family the Croziers continues to influence the breed today.
Women of the Land delves into the day-to-day lives of these women who are often juggling raising a family with farming, and overcome tragedies and personal fears.
It also explores many of the issues facing living in rural Australia such as farming in harmony with the environment, a frustration at the disconnect between consumers and their food, and in Catherine's case, the fight to save the Keith Hospital, which she very likely owes her life to after a horrific farming accident 15 years ago.
For Liz, it has been an extraordinary journey, spending time with each of the women around Australia.
"They had to share their homes with me, their lives with me and talk about very personal and sometimes difficult stuff," she said.
She asked each of them to take her to their favourite place on their farms and collaborated with their family and peers to record the achievements of these modest women.
It has been a real whirlwind for Liz - she took just eight months to write the 112,000-word book after being approached by Australia's largest independent publisher Allen & Unwin.
The publisher saw a segment on ABC TV's Landline where reporter Pip Courtney had profiled Liz's quest to find Australia's best show cooks for the national version of the Blue Ribbon Cookbook.
They thought Liz could be a good fit to write about rural Australia from a woman's perspective and, in what is an author's dream, Liz was approached to write the book in late 2010.
*Full report in Stock Journal, April 5 issue, 2012.
The story Liz profiles eight farming women and their remarkable lives first appeared on Farm Online.