Heather Garside grew up on a cattle property in Central Queensland. As a child she loved books and the bush, and not a lot has changed. She now lives with her husband on a beef and grain farm in the same area and has two adult children.
She has published four novels and has helped to write and produce several compilations of short stories and local histories. The Cornstalk was a finalist in the 2008 Booksellers’ Best Award, Long Historical category, for romance books published in the USA. Breakaway Creek was a finalist in the QWC/Hachette Manuscript Development Program and was published by Clan Destine Press. It is a rural romance with a dual timeline. Heather has recently re-released two historical novels with new titles, Colonial Daughter and Colonial Legacy.
Heather works at home on the farm and helps produce a local monthly newsletter, amongst other voluntary activities. She enjoys patchwork and sewing and regularly attends a local craft group.
Colonial Daughter and its sequel, Colonial Legacy, are mostly set around the tiny Central Queensland town of Banana, in the 1870s to 1890s. My family heritage and life on the land were the main inspiration behind these stories.
I grew up on a cattle property in Central Queensland and was always fascinated by the history of the area. Perhaps that was due in part to my parents’ stories of their ancestors. All four sets of my great-grandparents, and some of my great-great grandparents, were pioneers in the area. My paternal great-grandfathers both had horse teams in the 1880s-1890s and one of them later purchased a cattle property.
My mother’s paternal great-grandfather worked as a jackaroo and station-hand on properties in the Roma district, in south-west Queensland. He married in 1866 and later went into partnership on a cattle property on the Mackenzie River in Central Queensland. This must have been very much the frontier in those days as the Aborigines were very hostile there. My great-great-grandmother was forced to hold off attacks with the help of an Aboriginal girl (obviously from a different tribe) to load her rifle. This led to her husband moving them to another property in a presumably safer area.
My mother’s grand-parents purchased a property near Banana in 1880. My grandfather was Scottish, so he named the property ‘Drumberle’ after his home in Scotland. He phased out sheep in favour of cattle and established a Clydesdale horse stud, crossing the Clydesdales with Thoroughbreds to breed cavalry mounts for the Indian market. ‘Drumberle’ still exists today and continues to be held by some of his descendants.
My interest in the Banana area was cemented when I read a book about the history of the town and its pioneers. Banana was a busy teamsters’ hub in the late 19th century and the wealth of detail in this little book fascinated me. In particular I was inspired by the stories of the women and family life, which is often overlooked in formal historical accounts. When I began writing Colonial Daughter, I was able to incorporate some of these stories and the many hardships the women suffered.
Lloyd Kavanagh, my hero in Colonial Daughter, is an ex-teamster who selects a cattle property on the Dawson River. My heroine, Louise Ashford, is a wilful girl from a privileged background, who embraces the pioneering life with gusto. Colonial Legacy continues with the story of their son Matt, who at one stage goes to the goldfields at Clermont. There is also a family link with gold-mining, as my mother’s maternal great-grandfather was a mining engineer at the goldfields in the Rockhampton area. I’m not sure if I was conscious of this when I first wrote the story, but it is interesting to note in retrospect.
Rather than join her wealthy parents in England, rebellious Louise Ashford finds work as a governess in the frontier settlements of Central Queensland. She falls in love with Lloyd Kavanagh, a young cattleman of convict descent. But she knows Lloyd will never be accepted by her family.
Their romance ends abruptly when her brother Charles intervenes, carrying her off to England. Charles’s lies ensure Lloyd will not try to follow her. More grief awaits her in England and a disgraced Louise seizes the chance to accompany Charles back to Australia. She must defy all that is safe and secure if she is to reclaim her love and rebuild the life she longs for.
Previously published as The Cornstalk.
Growing up as the coachman’s son at Ashford Manor, Matt Jones is never at ease with his place in the world. Everything he believes about himself is turned upside down when he discovers a well-kept secret. He travels to Australia in search of his birth parents and revels in the rugged lifestyle on their Central Queensland cattle run. But a jealous younger brother and a clandestine relationship with Isabella, an innocent neighbour, make for stormy undercurrents.
Isabella is heartbroken when he leaves to try his luck at the goldfields. Matt’s family intervenes on Isabella’s behalf, but there is trouble and a near-tragedy in store for Matt. When he finally realises how much he loves Isabella, he fears it may be already too late.
Previously published as A Hidden Legacy.