For a town with seventy residents (on a good day), Birdsville is remarkably well known – the Birdsville Track, the rodeo, the pub, the infamous races.
With its ruggedness, inaccessibility and larrikin charm, this small town on the edge of the Simpson Desert has become a symbol of the great Australian outback. What is it about Birdsville that has made it stand so large in our legends? And what's it like to live there amongst the floods and the heat and the dust storms? To find out, Evan McHugh packed up his Sydney home, bought a four-wheel drive and headed off with his wife for a year in the back of beyond. Here, he tells us of the large adventures – midnight desert rescues, aerial mustering on vast cattle stations, relentless heat and massive floods – but also the small details of life in one of Australia's most isolated towns – like driving 700 kilometres to go shopping.
As the months fly by, Evan learns about an ancient culture, sees dunes carpeted in millions of tiny wildflowers, and meets the members of an outback community facing extraordinary challenges with quiet determination and buckets of good humour. Birdsville is about breathtaking beauty and harshness of this country the generosity of its salt-of-the-earth people, and one man's discovery of his own reserves of courage and resilience. 270pp.
First published in 2009, this edition 2010