I’ve had this book sitting on my shelf since it was released in 2017, I really wish it hadn’t taken me so long to read it, because it was a fabulous read, so much so, I’m now sporting a fabulous sunburn from where I completely lost track of time while I was lazing on the beach reading it. Then I continued reading it last night until it just about hit me in the face as I lay in bed. With only 40 pages to go, I tried so hard to keep my eyes open, but alas I had to wait until I woke up this morning to finish it.
I met Michael last November at WCFF (West Coast Fiction Festival) and felt terrible that I hadn’t yet gotten around to reading his book. What an absolutely lovely and genuine person he was. This book, though fiction is very much inspired by his life experiences working on a sheep station in the Murchison region of WA. This is his first attempt at writing a novel, and as far as I’m concerned, he nailed it.
Ridgeview Station is an unreservedly genuine tale of life on the land, full of family, friendships, hard work, trials, loss, hope and community. The characters in this story are real people, just like us, full of hopes, dreams and faults. They are hard working people who are passionate about the land and about their business. “He’d made the comment that since the house wasn’t at risk and it was just bushland burning, he would allow it. The family, however, were more worried about the bush and the stock than their home, a perspective most outsiders had trouble grasping. ‘House is insured,’ Pete had said simply, when Alexi had asked him at dinner if he was worried about the beautiful old homestead. He waved out to the glow on the horizon. ‘The more bush we lose, the less the sheep have to eat. Can’t insure that, or the sheep.'”
Life on the land, with it’s harsh conditions and uncontrollable weather means that people who choose to run a station or a farm, are continually battling and hoping for the best weather and the best conditions in order to make money and keep their properties. They are passionate people and have to be strong in order to survive the ups and downs that come with living off the land as well as demands from banks who don’t care one iota for weather conditions, only money.
The family, Pete, Kelsie, Jack annd Lisa were everything you would want in a family, especially one who live and work together on a property like Ridgeview. There was so much respect and love between them, and their love for their land and animals was so strong, that I was immediatley drawn into their lives, experiencing everything they were going through and hoping against hope that things would work out. I was holding my breath at times, completely absorbed in their fight to save their land against one of natures cruelest beasts, fire.
I enjoyed getting to know all of the characters, especially the quirky ones like old Kev who’d lived on Ridgeview Station for so many years that it was in his blood. Bull, one of the men who come to help the family out in their time of need, using his heavy machinery to try to save the land from burning, was also another genuine and down-to-earth character who I enjoyed. Alexi, a backpacker and farmhand bought a fresh perspective to the story and allowed explantions of the procedures of life on the land as she learnt to understand how everything worked and ran.
I’m so glad I got to spend time with this family on Ridgeview, and I highly recommend you go and grab yourself a copy of this wonderful Australian tale.
About the book: A vast outback property. An unforgettable season. A family’s fight to save their livelihood. A sweeping tale of love and loss, and the highs and lows of life on the land, from an utterly authentic new voice in rural fiction.
The debut novel by Michael Trant.
Many of Peter and Kelsie Dalton’s friends thought they were crazy when they bought Ridgeview Station. But five years on, their hard work, help from Kelsie’s parents, and record rainfall have them in high spirits as the summer muster approaches.
Realising they’re going to need more help this season, Peter rings around the neighbouring stations to try and find a good worker. After a glowing recommendation, Alexi arrives to give them a hand – and is not at all what they’d expected …
Everything is going smoothly with the muster before disaster strikes and the Dalton’s find themselves battling to save their livestock, their property and their lives.
An entertaining yarn set on a vast outback property peopled with colourful and authentic characters, Ridgeview Station is about love, loss and the spirit of the bush.
About Michael: Michael Trant is a WA country boy just beginning his new life as an author, following a wide range of careers from marine draftsman to farmer, and pastoralist to FIFO pot-washer. Michael is now based in Perth, having grown up on the family farm at Eneabba, before moving to Geraldton then out to Yalgoo. His debut novel Ridgeview Station was inspired by his time on Gabyon Station, and he highly recommends a visit for those curious about life on a sheep station.
When he’s not writing, Michael can be found plucking away at his guitar in attempts to replicate his idol Tommy Emmanuel, or swearing at his beloved Fremantle Dockers. He still travels to Three Springs to drive tractors ‘just to keep my hand in,’ but despite the advent of autosteer machines, refrains from taking the laptop to write, as that would not end well for power poles, fences or trees.’
Michael currently lives in Perth. Ridgeview Station is his first novel.