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Billabong Books series - author   children's fiction   children's  
First known date: 1910-1942 Issue Details: First known date: 1910-1942... 1910-1942 Billabong Books
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AbstractHistoryArchive Description

Mary Grant Bruce's series of novels about the adventures of the Linton family on their station, Billabong, and in Europe during World War I.

Notes

  • In 1981, rumours began appearing of a planned adaptation of the series:

    THE WONDERFUL success of Gallipoli and A Town Like Alice gives writer-director David Stevens a wonderful climate in which to launch his latest venture, Billabong. Based on works by Mary Grant Bruce, the planned series is set during the 1914-18 war and includes the exploits of young people who live on a property in northern Victoria. Stevens is preparing the series with entrepreneur Michael Edgley and production is planned for early next year. ('Pete Smith', Australian Women's Weekly, 24 February 1982, p.122.

    No such series appears to have been made.

    See also:

    Carol Veitch, 'Billabong Tales for TV', Australian Women's Weekly, 6 May 1981, p.158.

Includes

1
A Little Bush Maid A Little Bushmaid Mary Grant Bruce , 1905 single work children's fiction children's (taught in 1 units)

'Enjoyed by generations of young Australians since its publication in 1910, A Little Bush Maid is the ultimate, idyllic tale of an adventurous girl growing up in the Australian bush.

'Billabong, a large cattle and sheep property in the Australian countryside, is home to twelve-year-old Norah Linton, her widowed father and her older brother, Jim. Norah's prim and proper aunts, who live in the city, consider she is in danger of "growing up wild" - riding all over Billabong on her beloved pony, Bobs, helping with mustering, and joining in all the holiday fun when Jim and his friends come home from boarding school. A fishing trip results in unexpected drama when they discover a mysterious stranger camped in the bush. Who is this stranger and why is he there? Norah's resourcefulness is tested to the full!' (Publication summary : 2015 edition)

2
y separately published work icon Mates at Billabong Mary Grant Bruce , Melbourne Toronto : Ward, Lock , 1911 Z536100 1911 single work children's fiction children's

'Norah is now 14.  She, Jim and Wally do their best to put up with Cecil, the supercilious 19 year-old cousin from town who has come to stay at Billabong for the Christmas holidays.  He tries to show off to his Bush relatives with his disdainful city airs but the results are invariably disastrous and highly amusing until he does the unforgiveable and takes Norah’s much-loved pony for a wild ride.' (Publication summary)

3
y separately published work icon Norah of Billabong Mary Grant Bruce , Melbourne : Ward, Lock , 1913 Z401188 1913 single work children's fiction children's

'With a night in the city behind them, a pantomime and distributing gifts at the Children’s Hospital, Norah returns to Billabong for the holidays with a school friend after a whole year away at bothersome boarding school.  The family settles back in to their station life, cattle mustering, dealing with a snake bite, a maliciously lit bushfire that destroys their house, rescuing a stolen child and the shenanigans of Jim and Wally.'  (Publication summary)

4
y separately published work icon From Billabong to London Mary Grant Bruce , 1915 single work children's fiction children's

 'On Billabong station Jim, now assistant to his father, breaks in a promising young colt, and with Norah and Wally, helps with the intricacies of hauling a large bullock from the depths of a mud hole.  World War I is underway.  Jim and Wally want to enlist.  Mr. Linton needs to travel to London on family business so they all set sail on the Perseus, a huge ocean liner carrying produce to Europe, to involve themselves in the war effort.  On board they observe black-out restrictions to avoid being detected at night by enemy destroyers and deal physically with a German spy.  They have an all too interesting time during their stopover in Durban, South Africa.  Then their ship is captured by an enemy warship and almost sunk before a dramatic rescue takes place, allowing them to eventually reach London safely where the boys enlist in the British Army. '  (Publication summary)

5
y separately published work icon Jim and Wally Mary Grant Bruce , 1916 single work children's fiction children's

'Overcome by toxic enemy gas in the muddy trenches of Flanders, Jim and Wally are sent to hospital in London.  Mr Linton and Norah whisk them off to recuperate in the clean air and safety of Ireland – via a hazardous crossing of the Irish Sea.

'Ireland entrances them, and catching trout thrills them as they fish the lochs.  They encounter a crippled man who turns out to be a delightful wealthy landowner only too glad of their company.  They go touring the countryside with him, experiencing life in the villages and being enthralled by his knowledge and stories of old Ireland.

'Car troubles strand them at a seaside village for a few days, where the boys discover a sea cave with a hidden cache of fuel tins indicating the proximity of a German submarine. Risky plans are set afoot for enemy capture.  They succeed, but at great cost.'  (Publication summary)

6
Captain Jim Mary Grant Bruce , 1919 single work children's fiction children's war literature

From the first instalment of the serialisation of the novel in THE SYDNEY MAIL, 30 July 1919:

"Our new serial, "Captain Jim," is by Mary Grant Bruce, whose reputation as a writer has been a steadily growing influence in Anglo-Australian literary circles for some years past. She achieved great success with children's stories, and we can name no Australian writer who has shown more sympathy with, and understanding of, the child mind. In her more mature work, of which "Captain Jim" is the latest example, Mrs. Bruce re-impresses the reader with her innate sense of literary style. Her appeal to the adult reader is a summons to the best that is in human nature, and yet there is no tawdry sentiment. Our serial is as breezy as the hills of Gippsland, where the talented authoress spent her early days. Quite recently she returned from England. "Captain Jim" is not a war story, although it is of the war period and gives glimpses of khaki. The major characters are Norah Linton, a big-hearted, fearless, Australian girl; David Linton, her father, an Australian sheep-farmer, from whom his family gels its vein of optimism and good humour; Captain Jim Linton, Norah's soldier brother, who has some exciting adventures; and Wally Meadows, Jim's soldier chum—a machine-gunner of typical Australian build and spirits. Of hardly less importance are Miss de Lisle, an English cook, and Allenby, an English disabled ex-sergeant, who proves a trump at the right time. The story rings with truth and scintillates with humour."

7
Back to Billabong Mary Grant Bruce , 1921 single work children's fiction children's

'Trapped in London for two years as governess and servant under her nasty stepmother, petite and gentle 19-year-old Cecilia (Tommy) Rainham longs for the day the War will finish and her brother Bob will be home from the Royal Air Force to rescue her.  Fortune smiles on them and a much-loved aunt’s inheritance allows them to set sail for Australia, narrowly escaping the clutches of the stepmother.   Coincidentally, on the same troopship, the Linton family are making their return after five years away.

'Strong bonds of friendship form, and Billabong becomes their haven whilst they learn the ropes of station management and plan their future home.  All seems rosy until the skies blacken and a bushfire all but destroys their new life.  Undaunted, they pick up the pieces, and with Billabong behind them and help from willing hands, begin all over again.' (Publication summary)

8
y separately published work icon Billabong's Daughter Mary Grant Bruce , London : Ward, Lock , 1924 Z956433 1924 single work children's fiction children's

'Returning from visiting Tommy,  Norah rescues Mrs Reilly, an Irish immigrant mother and her daughter Mary-Kate from their runaway horse and sulky.  At Billabong, her father relives old memories of the wilder side of his youth.  Left alone at home, Tommy is frightened by an intruder.  The man escapes when Jim comes on the scene.  The girls visit the Reillys, finding Mrs Reilly desperately ill so both families help out where they can.  Mary-Kate becomes a willing pupil at Billabong learning everything from cooking and cleaning to dispatching snakes.  There is a dance at night and a mustering of cattle by day where Norah is terrorised by a rogue bull until Wally charges in to save her — and surprises himself.

'The escaped criminal is found, but they don’t have the heart to turn him in.  Wally is recalled to Queensland to deal with his brother’s property.  Routing devious cattle-stealing station hands, he finds himself in trouble and very nearly killed.  Rescue comes out of the blue.  Jim is summoned to his side and Norah will not be left behind.  They hope Wally will live.'  (Publication summary)

9
y separately published work icon Billabong Adventurers Mary Grant Bruce , London : Ward, Lock , 1927 Z956484 1927 single work children's fiction children's

'Billabong hosts a wedding in fine style.  Wally drives Norah away for their honeymoon exploring, camping, fishing and hunting and going into little-known bush areas.  Norah discovers Li Ning, a Chinese gentleman dying in a cave.  He had been chased by three thieves trying to steal his bag of diamonds and a black opal that he wants to send to his son in China with his 12 year-old grandson, Li Chang.

'A map of the treasure’s location in the hills is with a trusted friend in Melbourne.  Li Chang is hopefully there as well.  Li Ning’s last wish is that Norah and Wally will find the gems and help Li Chang to return to his homeland before the thieves get in first.  Jim is called to Melbourne to assist.  They visit the Chinese friend, but the boy is not there.  With the map in hand, they travel back by train.  But the map is stolen from Wally’s locked bag when it is left unattended for a short break.  Undaunted, they press on having already memorised a great deal of the map.  Li Chang has been captured and tortured by two of the thieves.  He escapes narrowly and runs into the Linton party, who protect him.  Norah stays behind to nurse the child back to strength whilst the boys go off in search for the treasure.  The map in their minds leads them to the exact spot, but too late.  They chase the thief, who manages to hide the bag from them during the chase – observed by Li Chang, who retrieves it.  At last Li Ning’s wishes are fulfilled.'  (Publication summary)

10
y separately published work icon Bill of Billabong Mary Grant Bruce , London : Ward, Lock , 1931 Z956502 1931 single work children's fiction children's

'Red-haired Percival, a belligerent nine-year-old, is sent in desperation to Billabong by his aunt and uncle, who’ve been having a hard time minding him whist his parents travel overseas.

'Percival, who hates his name and his hair, sure that the world is unkind and always laughing at him, remains an unhappy nuisance.  Stealing a bottle of brown wool dye he likes his new hair colour … that is, until it dries!  Embarrassed, he dreads facing the Lintons, but amazingly Jim is kind and takes him to Norah, who lives with Wally nearby in Little Billabong, and they set about repairing the damage to the boy’s hair and pride.  They rename him “Bill”, taking him under their wings, teaching him about the country and animals they love, how to care for everything, even how to ride a horse.  Bill is completely won over, proving himself a willing learner and capable little mate.

'Everyone likes young Bill, and they are pleased to have him along on an extended camping trip to explore new country beyond the Billabong boundaries.  It is an exciting time for all, but a very worrying one when Bill goes missing for several days on an unexpected and difficult adventure of his own involving the Walker family.'  (Publication summary)

11
y separately published work icon Billabong's Luck Mary Grant Bruce , London : Ward, Lock , 1933 Z833731 1933 single work children's fiction children's

'The Rainham’s property next to Billabong is not doing well.  Bob and Tommy are very worried.  Tommy, doing her best to keep positive and cheerful, sells her car to help pay the mortgage.

'The Lintons are worried for their friends too and, as a diversion from his woes, take Bob out to muster their combined young cattle in from the back blocks to fatten them up on the grasslands.  Bob, investigating a rough patch of scrub, slips down a cleft in the rocks.  Happily, Bill is nearby and comes to his rescue.  That night, Bob shows the men his find from the fall – gold-bearing stones!  Suddenly there is hope for a brighter future, though plans to peg and claim rights to the area are initially thwarted by a rogue fossicker hell bent on getting there first.  Further inspection of the site reveals a fascinating and elaborate underground cave system and the gold find proves positive … the mining of which will need planning, hard work and secrecy.'  (Publication summary)

12
y separately published work icon Wings Above Billabong Mary Grant Bruce , London : Ward, Lock , 1935 Z831673 1935 single work children's fiction children's

'Freddy Paxton and Jack Young fly their aeroplanes from Queensland to Billabong, wowing everyone who sees them.  They are there to help mine the gold, as only trusted friends are in the know.  But word gets out, and a couple of casual shearers steal the gold that is ready to go to the bank, using one of the planes for their getaway, and kidnapping young Bill along with them.  Bill uses all his resources to outwit them and escape, rescues the ‘Christmas pudding’ and makes friends with a lively little old lady on whose farm he has landed.'  (Publication summary)

13
y separately published work icon Billabong Gold Mary Grant Bruce , London : Ward, Lock , 1937 Z956523 1937 single work children's fiction children's

'Dick Yorke is invited to Billabong to be a companion to Bill, and his sister Betty goes too.  Bill is far from pleased to have a new boy to show around but eventually, after a tussle, they become great mates.

'Aware that prospectors will come after the gold, the Billabong people clear land and peg claims in a substantial area surrounding their find.  Newcomers, some hard-bitten and obnoxious, have to settle for claims on the outskirts. Two of them visit the homestead uninvited, confronting Norah and her son Davie demanding food.  Dick sounds the alarm, Jim’s dog Kim comes to the rescue and savages the tough McGill.  Improved defence of Billabong is arranged.

'Back at the diggings, Jim hears that McGill has taken over the Walker camp opposite their sluice boxes.  Fearing skulduggery they hope to catch McGill red-handed. Lee Wing devises an ingenious plan, which works brilliantly, leaving the would-be thieves extremely sorry for themselves to the amusement of the entire diggings.  Shamed, McGill, relegated to camp cook duties goes hunting, returning with meat of a Billabong calf, calling it a wallaby – again and again.  Mrs Walker returns to ‘keep an eye’ day in, day out on her mine whilst McGill’s crowd work it, annoying them greatly.'  (Publication summary)

14
y separately published work icon Son of Billabong Mary Grant Bruce , London : Ward, Lock , 1939 Z830507 1939 single work children's fiction children's

'Following straight on from Billabong Gold, McGill is tried and found guilty on all counts.  A woman with a weak heart faints in court and is taken to hospital in a state of exhaustion…  McGill’s oft–deserted wife who refuses to believe he is totally bad.  She visits him in prison only to be rebuffed, and sadly returns to her quiet little farm and her old, somewhat demented helper.

'Jim and Tommy are married at Billabong.  Wally shows signs of exhaustion and Norah talks him into taking a holiday to recuperate, with her and Davie, their three-year old boy.  Davie speaks his own brand of English spattered with Irish brogue, Aboriginal pidgin and Chinese inflections.  They drive north-east toward the sea, stopping at will, fetching up at the Wallace family farm for a couple of days where Davie plays happily with other children. Reaching the sea at last — to Davie a “Welly big lagoon” — they delight in days on the sand and in the waves, watched enviously from the cliffs by a pair of sad eyes.'  (Publication summary)

15
y separately published work icon Billabong Riders Mary Grant Bruce , London : Ward, Lock , 1942 Z956551 1942 single work children's fiction children's

'Word reaches Billabong that the head drover of their mob of cattle coming from Queensland has been injured. Not trusting the second in command, Jim & Wally decide to take over. Norah and Tommy, well used to the saddle and mustering, insist on going to help and Murty O'Toole and Lee Wing are also enlisted. As women are not usual amongst droving outfits, they keep a separate camp but are soon welcomed as friends by the majority and befriend a lovely youngster named Rob.

'Underground echoes from the hollow hills spook a half-crazed bull called Cranky, which charges the cattle into a stampede. An intense electrical storm wreaks further havoc on the mob and a number go missing. Search parties fail to find them until Jacky, an aboriginal [sic] friend, tells Rob that two of their own drovers have hidden the cattle intent on stealing them. He leads them to the spot and Jim and Wally go in, guns ready, to reclaim their stock. The outlaws flee on foot, but the party rounds up the cattle, using all their horses and bridles, and head back to camp, glad to be rid of the thieves.'

Source: Mary Grant Bruce official website (http://www.marygrantbruce.com.au/books/billabong-riders/). (Sighted: 2/7/2014)

Works about this Work

Books That Changed Me : Stephanie Alexander Stephanie Alexander , 2012 single work column
— Appears in: The Sun-Herald , 8 July 2012; (p. 14)
'A Little Bit of Love for Me and a Murder for My Old Man' : The Queensland Bush Book Club Robin Wagner , 2010 single work criticism
— Appears in: Collections, Characters & Communities : The Shaping of Libraries in Australia and New Zealand 2010; (p. 121-142)
A Natural(ised) Home for the Lintons : Lost Children and Indigenising Discourse in Mary Grant Bruce’s and John Marsden’s Young Adult Fiction Elspeth Tilley , 2009 single work criticism
— Appears in: Australian Studies , vol. 1 no. 1 2009;

'This article compares two 'lost child' incidents from non-indigenous Australian fiction. One is from John Marsden's Tomorrow Series, the other from Mary Grant Bruce's Billabong Series. Both series feature as their central character a young girl with the surname Linton who proves herself brave, daring, and a good friend and citizen, particularly when rescuing children lost in the bush. When the two series' lost child incidents are compared, it becomes apparent that these outward resemblances are also mirrored by some deeper discursive parallels.

An analysis of the constructions of subjectivity and spatiality around the 'lost child' events reveals closely-matching discourses of mateship and settler belonging. The comparison also foregrounds the core ideologies of gender, class, nationalism and race that in turn underpin these discourses, showing how each of these texts remains inflected with textual strategies of othering and indigenisation that are fundamental to imperialism.' (Author's abstract)

Australian Children's Literature Clare Bradford , 2009 single work criticism
— Appears in: The Cambridge History of Australian Literature 2009; (p. 282-302)
Discusses themes, trends and developments in Australian children's literature between 1841 and 2006.
Never Never Dreaming Virginia Patricia Duigan , 2008 single work autobiography
— Appears in: Griffith Review , Autumn no. 19 2008; (p. 63-179)
Duigan describes the creation of an Australian imagination. (from Contents)
Untitled Marion Bannister , 1992 single work review
— Appears in: Reading Time : The Journal of the Children's Book Council of Australia , November vol. 36 no. 4 1992; (p. 28)

— Review of Billabong Books Mary Grant Bruce , 1910-1942 series - author children's fiction
Never Never Dreaming Virginia Patricia Duigan , 2008 single work autobiography
— Appears in: Griffith Review , Autumn no. 19 2008; (p. 63-179)
Duigan describes the creation of an Australian imagination. (from Contents)
Australian Children's Literature Clare Bradford , 2009 single work criticism
— Appears in: The Cambridge History of Australian Literature 2009; (p. 282-302)
Discusses themes, trends and developments in Australian children's literature between 1841 and 2006.
A Natural(ised) Home for the Lintons : Lost Children and Indigenising Discourse in Mary Grant Bruce’s and John Marsden’s Young Adult Fiction Elspeth Tilley , 2009 single work criticism
— Appears in: Australian Studies , vol. 1 no. 1 2009;

'This article compares two 'lost child' incidents from non-indigenous Australian fiction. One is from John Marsden's Tomorrow Series, the other from Mary Grant Bruce's Billabong Series. Both series feature as their central character a young girl with the surname Linton who proves herself brave, daring, and a good friend and citizen, particularly when rescuing children lost in the bush. When the two series' lost child incidents are compared, it becomes apparent that these outward resemblances are also mirrored by some deeper discursive parallels.

An analysis of the constructions of subjectivity and spatiality around the 'lost child' events reveals closely-matching discourses of mateship and settler belonging. The comparison also foregrounds the core ideologies of gender, class, nationalism and race that in turn underpin these discourses, showing how each of these texts remains inflected with textual strategies of othering and indigenisation that are fundamental to imperialism.' (Author's abstract)

'A Little Bit of Love for Me and a Murder for My Old Man' : The Queensland Bush Book Club Robin Wagner , 2010 single work criticism
— Appears in: Collections, Characters & Communities : The Shaping of Libraries in Australia and New Zealand 2010; (p. 121-142)
Books That Changed Me : Stephanie Alexander Stephanie Alexander , 2012 single work column
— Appears in: The Sun-Herald , 8 July 2012; (p. 14)
Last amended 6 Feb 2015 10:32:48
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