For the first 15 years of her life, Patsy Kemp, only knew the long paddock as her home.
At just three months of age, Patsy’s mother, who already had four older children, decided to join her father, Mick Kemp, droving large mobs of sheep and cattle through western NSW and into southern Queensland.
As a baby, her cradle was the dog crate underneath the horse drawn wagonette, or the unused saddle, when the dogs needed their crate.
Patsy has just released her book The Drover’s Daughter, a book that took her two years to write.
She will be visiting Goondiwindi, Inglewood and Texas to promote the book from October 31 to November 1. She will be at the Goondiwindi Library at 10am, and Inglewood Library at 1.30pm on October 31 and Texas Library at 10a.m. on November 1.
Little is known about the life of the women and children of droversA drover's daughter, Patsy Kemp
“A lot of people know about drovers, and their lifestyle is folklore, but little is known about the life of the women and children of drovers,” Patsy said.
Throughout the pages, Patsy is brutally honest about the hardship they all endured and tells her story ‘warts and all’. “
At the time she had no idea that it was not normal in live in a wagonette and later truck with eight other family members, and go to the toilet behind a tree, and cook food in a shovel over a campfire. Her earliest memories are one of terror when she was aged four, and they were camped on the reserve beside the Namoi River, near Narrabri, NSW.
“It has been raining for days, and everyone was talking about the impending flood, when news broke that the river has broken its banks, and I thought we were going to die,” she said.
Patsy said she really doesn’t know how her mother coped with seven kids, putting sheep breaks up and down, cooking for the family over campfires, and driving the truck, through the scorching summers and cold winters.
Patsy tells in vivid detail of the family traversing the stock routes and its challenges.
After a run of bad luck, Patsy’s father gave away droving an bought a farm near Moree, NSW It was the first time Patsy, then aged 15 can remember living in a home, with bedrooms, a veranda, a bathroom an oil Aga stove, and the kids finally got to have a bit of space and privacy to themselves.