President Leisl Leighton & Admin Assistant Shannon Curtis


Annie West



Helene Young and me


Claire Boston & Belinda Williams


Thank you Romance Writers of Australia for the best conference yet.  We were in Adelaide  with seas like chopped onion and huge gusts of wind rattling the windows as I sat entranced listening to the keynote speaker, Keri Arthur.

I met Keri six years ago at my first conference and had no idea she was then a New York Times best selling author. And that was because I didn’t know anything about the industry at that time….On Saturday Keri told us, warts and all, of her trials and tribulations and amazing successes. I felt so honored to be there as she calmly  and succinctly relayed her first contract story and then the ups and downs of living as a published author. It was very inspiring. Keri writes paranormal and urban fantasy, with her most famous heroine being Riley Jensen,  part vampire, part werewolf. This was published in 2006 before vampires had taken their hold on the modern romance genre.

Once again being savvy and professional was reinforced,  as it was the whole weekend, time and time again. It’s hard to describe the excitement of being part of this amazing industry and being friends with this group of women who band together under the banner of romance writers. Very few people are aware of just how big the genre of Romance is in the book industry. Over half of all books printed every year shelter under that umbrella. Romance Writers of Australia is a ‘not for profit’ organisation, that runs this conference solely for the education and furthering the careers of their members. We also meet other writers, publishers and agents. I get such a thrill from looking round the table and recognizing  the names on the name tags. Names you see in bookshops and libraries and K mart and your bookshelves at home.

Oh and we have a very good time.

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‘I can drive five hundred miles….

It should read walk but drive fits well. That is such a great song. And maybe it wasn’t exactly five hundred miles but it felt like it. Until I tuned into RN and found myself listening to a show called Radio Tonic.

It kept me going for hours on my trip back from Sydney with the most bizarre story I have ever heard.

Five years ago, Adele Morse, a  student artist at the time, decided to take up taxidermy. So she bought the body of a fox on ebay. A shattered and injured fox body and it was one of her first attempts.  She patched and pasted as best she could and then added human eyes. She then posted a picture of the fox hoping to sell it.  A musical promoter bought it to give to a friend, a musician if he would do a gig for him.  Yes said the musician, yes said the promoter and the gig happened.  But at the same time the picture of the “Stoned Fox’” was going viral in Russia. Totally unbeknownst to Adele, until she started seeing pictures of her fox photo shopped with some famous people around the world. Adele was invited to go to Russia with her fox for a few days.  She had to go back to the promoter and borrow the fox back. He offered to come too. In Russia there was a media frenzy, She was mobbed. The Communist Party, a little alarmed by the movement, organised protests, claiming the owner was a drug dealer, had done the work while ‘he’ was high. It was  huge, Adele was invited to stay for another six weeks but she refused.  Stunned was more like it. Such is the power of the internet. Tshirts, and tons of other items were being sold, and as Adele said, she was making nothing out of all this.

I didn’t see the ‘Fox’until today.  I will now show you  the fox, as he appeared. Adele has gone on to improve her taxidermy skills .    image

So the time vanished, I’d had a wonderful day at Tara, I hadn’t seen it for many years, and although it had changed, it felt very familiar still. Everyone was very friendly and I would like to thank everyone for all their help  and hope they are enjoying being wrapped in Corriedale.

While in Sydney I saw Vivid. It is totally brilliant.

bridge.Vivid 16


                                                                                                                                                                          And this is what I saw when I got home.

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I am in trouble.

“ Thank you”, said Billigaboo Gallagher, the Supreme Champion Corriedale to Billigaboo Gringo, the Grand Champion Woolly Corriedale ram at Dubbo this year, “How come our mothers weren’t wished Happy Mothers Day?”

Sorry guys.


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Happy Mother’s Day


To the four of you, Abbey, Amelia, Bunyip and Bella,  some of our best ewes, we wish you a very happy mother’s day.

Just to fill you in, between them they have produced five  stud sires, eight Grand Champions, three Reserve Champions, and have contributed five  sheep into our show teams, over the years.

Over the last five years they have lambed 175%.

And every year they grow eight kilos of wool.

These Aussie Corriedale girls supply the nation with fibre and food and I have to say seem to enjoy life to the full.  And they’re ready to do it all again in June.

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Show Results



The Royal Easter Show goes for two weeks. One million people they expect to stream through the gates. Because we’re on the animal walk – follow the hoofprints – a lot of them come through the Sheep Pavilion, past Frisco’s pen.

My mind is bursting with being at the Show. There’s so much to take in, new products, interesting food, clothes, make up, you can tell I’m from the country.  For the city dwellers there are the animals and how they love the animals. They smell weird, they look weird and they move – they’re alive and they can touch them. 

Frisco has to be the most photographed animal at the show this year.  He stood and enjoyed the people for hours and then he’d lie down and have a little rest and then up he’d get and stand for them again.

Frisco is a Corriedale ram. Quiet, three years old and weighs in at 130 kilos. Actually he has a beautiful temperament.

I just loved looking at the faces of the young kids who maybe hadn’t seen such a large animal before. The joy and amazement and delight  at this huge woolly beast who stood quietly and let them touch him.



Then there were the ones who took photos and wrapped themselves in Corriedale and let me take pictures of them,

3                         4             5          

  6  And they loved wearing Corriedale too.   By the way,  Hannibal came second and Hamish got a first.

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Showtime Again

IMG_0031     IMG_0035  IMG_0036  IMG_0032

Hannibal                                           Hamish                                              Horatio                                                       Hector

Here are the four lambs we are taking to the Royal Sydney Show this year.  This is a special year for Corriedales. It is one hundred years since Corriedales were first shown at a Royal Sydney Show. One fascinating thing is that the bloodlines of all the one hundred entries at the Show this year trace back to the forty entries of one hundred years ago.

The great story is that the RAS didn’t exactly know where to put this new breed in their first showing so they ended up down in the cattle pavillion next to the goats. This year they reside in the sheep pavillion in the dual purpose section alongside the British Breeds and they are the Feature Breed for this year. Corriedales are a breed of sheep developed in New Zealand and Australia round about the same time, late 1800’s , when brand new steamships suddenly enabled chilled meat to set sail for Europe. Now not only was our wool desirable but the meat as well.  So what could be more perfect than a dual purpose sheep that could do both?

Over one hundred years the fortunes of the Corriedale waxed and waned – at one stage they were the second biggest breed in the world. Ric has written a book exploring the history, for the occasion.

This year we want to thank the RAS for the opportunity to exhibit our sheep, providing the  competition in the judging ring and educating the thousands of visitors that can see and touch the animals that give them so much, meat and wool, lanoline and gelatine – I could go on for ever. You have no idea how many by products the sheep provides for you.

Billigaboo Frisco  will be there all the two weeks. He is a friendly chap and will love partaking in all the selfies we envisage happening.

On our stand you will see and touch our sheep’s wool, on Frisco’s back, the wool doona made by Valieris, an old rug made by Vicars Woollen Mils in the 1940’s, our etc throws, a beautiful garment made from Corriedale type wool, provided by the AWI, scarves, and our hats!

Walking down the main street of Narrandera we saw a beautiful millinery shop.  Yes, filled with hats, all sorts of hats, from the modern fascinators right through to the old bonnets of the 1800’s. All made by Jo-Anne of Vintage Designs.

“Can you make some hats, Carnaby style, out of one of our throws?”

“Of course,” said JoAnne.  And now we have truly beautiful hats.


So come and say Hi later this week at the Sydney Royal Easter Show. We’ll show you Corriedales and what they can do.

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It is hot.  Not a breath of wind and the grass crackles and breaks up beneath your feet. Hot air feels heavy, leaves hang listlessly off the gum trees. We hear it is the hottest day or the hottest week on record. It sounds as though it’s never been hotter. Sheep go for the shade and don’t move. All day. They provide shade for each other, too, pushing their heads into another flank or under the chin. I wonder if they take turns. They lean into the trunk of the tree, as though it is an icepack. It would be too, with all that green sap running up and down.

Imagine it’s 1858 and you’ve just arrived here in Narrandera. March is  cold with flooding and storms – where you’ve come from.  Where’s the winter? Now it’s so hot. And you are chopping wood and digging holes and making fences. building your house. Maybe you don’t feel all that hungry. Thank God for the Murrumbidgee River where you can drink and wash and swim. Can you swim?  You are certainly going to drink the water. No fridges, no fly screens, no air conditioning.  No roads.  No trains here. Ah, but the first paddle steamers are coming round the corner, you can go to Adelaide or Melbourne.  The Murrumbidgee was always filled by the melting snows of the Snowy Mountains and that was the time you could use it.  You had that window of opportunity to get your wool, securely tied to the long barges,  to Melbourne. That was in the spring, September and October and November.

But now its March, today you go straight for the shade of the huge gums and wonder how much longer… I take my hat off to them.


I left out a bowl of potato chips yesterday. Last night I went to throw them out. They were crisper than they’d been in the morning. That’s how hot it is.


Today is International Woman’s Day. I went to work this morning and had a chair and table set out for me under a pepper tree with it’s lovely pink peppery seeds. All the records and sheep information ready in front of me, as we weighed and classed our young rams.  I really enjoy being a woman.

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What’s Good About Our Sheep?

Someone asked me that yesterday.  How to answer that. Ric looked at me, wondering what I was going to say.  I love our sheep but what’s good about them? We talk a lot about constitution. I call it character. I love their personalities, all so different. There are the leaders, the mischief makers, and the bully boys. When you think about it, men and sheep have been in a partnership for a very long time.  They’ve given us wool  to clothe us and meat to keep us fed since the beginning. And we’ve cared for them, protected them and made sure they had enough to eat as well.  A real partnership.

Sheep behave very like humans.  Have you ever compared loading a Boing 427 to loading four decks of sheep?  Both the same number. It’s a very similar experience.

It’s this trust thing.     I love taking our students that come to the shows, to help  parade the animals, aside and telling them just to go and sit for a while with the sheep they are to take out. Just sit in the pen and talk to him. It relaxes them and gives them so much confidence.  – The students.   The rams love it too. Oh, I can hear you say, how do you know that?   Come and look at them.

  We have a sheep named Bella.  Bella first came to our notice when she had triplets first up.  We had to leave to go to the Dubbo show and left three ewes and seven lambs to fend for themselves. When we returned there were three ewes and three lambs.  Each ewe could only defend one lamb from the fox.  But defend one they did. Two more sets of twins later, Bella last year got an infection in her leg.  We were in the process of moving and the ewes were going out on agistment,  until we could bring them down to Narrandera. We gave her a few injections of antibiotics but couldn’t care for her better than that. When we came to load them all on the truck to come down to our new farm. There was Bella limping along at the back of the mob, saying “Wait for me, I’m coming too.” So do you call it constitution, stubbornness or loyalty? 

Bella never gives up.

One month later she delivered a ram lamb.  A miracle, surely.  And she raised this lamb and he is now in our show team and coming to Sydney.  He needs a name, and this year it has to start with H. Any ideas?

P1010170Let me introduce you to Bella’s Lamb.

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The dog meets our rams

Ric and JonOur sheep are pretty friendly.  They’ll come up for a scratch or a pat, generally but when Schultz came into the yards they were fascinated.  Schultz was sitting on my feet when they came up to inquire just what this thing was?

Schultz1First there was one

Schultz4Then there were two

Schultz3 Then there were three.  No one moved.  And they are all still good friends.

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No, you’re not dreaming. This is a white kangaroo taken by a friend of mine on a voyage across Australia. This is real. This could be what the  thousands of Australians might see when they hook on their caravan and take off to see Australia.   What  weird experiences are out there waiting for them.  We are living on the Sturt Highway which starts from Wagga and ends up in Adelaide. Every day I see with my own eyes huge numbers of caravans embarking, crossing or returning on a journey to explore Australia.  What better thing can anyone think of to do, I say. Most of them are grey nomads, that is, retired – but they reckon there is still so much to see and these guys want to keep on doing it.

The phenomenon that is the Grey Nomad. Just to put the numbers in perspective,  the Campervan and Motor home Club has over 66,000 members. I realise that not all of these are grey nomads but….. I have discovered there are two categories of the ‘older travellers’.  You can’t put them all in the same box.  There are grey nomads and there are the geriatric gypsies, the latter claiming that the difference is that they get off the roads and out of the caravan parks into the real bush. And now there’s a third group. The volunteers for BlazeAid.  These are retirees, mostly who go to an area that has been wiped out by flood or bushfire and set up camp and help farmers restore their fences. It is a wonderful thing.  More than that, they can go a long way to rebuild a community’s confidence.

These oldies are  very techno savvy- very up to date with IT.  They connect on facebook. (And they recognise the value and convenience of ebooks –  I think a lot of them read romance too – just thought I’d wack that in) ….And they are not all travelling around on superannuation money.  Some will work for just accommodation and meals, house sit, or farm sit, which is a great way for them to meet locals – and  provides a variation on seeing the same group night after night at the next camp site.  And you don’t have to be a couple – I’ve met quite a few single women who enjoy getting on the road and travelling west, or north or south.


There are also many classes on the grade of accommodation you can take with you but I have never seen one better than this. Look at this. It has two bedrooms upstairs – doubles – and a jumbo shower and toilet half way up the stairwell   everything you could possibly want, its own generator.

Me, I’m out looking for a koala.  they are supposed to be around here somewhere. I won’t be happy until I’ve seen a real koala, blinking at me, sitting in a gum tree. You can dream, can’t you?

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