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The Pioneers

The Pioneers by Katharine S. Prichard
By: (1883-1969)

The Pioneers is set against the background of pioneering life in the Gippsland region of Victoria in pre-Federation Australia. Mary and Donald Cameron are free-settlers who make a home in the wilderness and grow a prosperous cattle operation that establishes their position as prominent members of the new settlement.

At first, the novel privileges Mary’s perspective as she encounters escaped convicts, bush fires, and raising a son in a remote community. Later, it follows her son, Davey, as he struggles for independence against his father’s harsh authority. Davey encounters further obstacles in the figure of local hotel owner, Thad McNab, who is determined that Davey’s childhood sweetheart, Deirdre, should be his own bride.

First Page:

E text prepared by Christine Bell and Marc D'Hooghe (





The wagon had come to rest among the trees an hour or two before sunset.

It was a covered in dray, and had been brought to in a little clearing of the scrubby undergrowth. Two horses had drawn it all the way from the coast. Freed of their harness, they stood in the lee of a great gum, their flanks matted with the dust which had caked with the run of sweat on them. The mongrel that had followed at their heels lay stretched on the sward beside them. A red dappled cow and her calf were tethered to a wheel of the wagon, and at a little distance from them were two battered crates of drooping and drowsy fowls.

On a patch of earth scraped clear of grass and leaves, the fire threw off wisps of smoke and the dry, musky incense of burning eucalyptus and dogwood. It had smouldered; and a woman, stooping beside it, was feeding it with branches of brushwood and sticks that she broke in her hands or across her knees.

A man was busy in the interior of the wagon, moving heavy casks and pieces of furniture... Continue reading book >>

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