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Shearer’s Motel

by Roger McDonald

Into the hard-living world of travelling shearers in the Australian outback comes internationally acclaimed writer Roger McDonald, driving an old truck rattling with cooking gear. He has abandoned writing for a time and found work as a cook for a team of New Zealand shearers working through New South Wales, South Australia and Victoria. He is determined to find a sense of belonging: somehow to join his life with the landscape, the places and the people he meets along the way; somehow to fill the inexpressible yearning he feels.

Shearers’ Motel is the story of that quest, of its triumphs and its failures – a story told with a heartfelt sense of of the profundity of ordinary lives. Written with an insider’s affection and familiarity sharpened by an outsider’s perception, this moving account of working life in a classic Australian industry gives a new twist to a long tradition of outback travel writing.

It confirms Roger McDonald as one of our finest and most lyrical chroniclers of the land – and of the human heart.

Winner of the National Book Council Banjo Award for Non-Fiction.


‘Roger McDonald uses language with the precision of a diamond cutter.’   Publishers Weekly 

‘Shearers’ Motel is not like any other Australian book, either in form or in content. McDonald has taken great risks in achieving it, both as a man and as a writer. He has been valiantly successful.’   Geoffrey Dutton, Australian Book Review


01 January, 1992

About Roger McDonald

Roger McDonald was born at Young, NSW, and educated at country schools and in Sydney. He began his working life as a teacher, ABC producer, and book editor, wrote poetry for several years, but in his thirties turned to fiction, expressing the feeling that for him, at least, poetry was 'unable to express a full range of characters and moods, the larger panorama of Australian life that I felt was there to portray'. His first novel was 1915, a novel of Gallipoli, winner of the Age Book of the Year, and made into a highly successful eight-part ABC-TV mini-series (now on DVD). Since 1980 McDonald has lived on farms (no farm animals except poultry and a corrugated iron sheep, these days) outside Braidwood, with intervals spent in Sydney and New Zealand. His account of travelling the outback with a team of New Zealand shearers, Shearers' Motel, won the National Book Council Banjo Award for non-fiction. His bestselling novel Mr Darwin's Shooter, was awarded the New South Wales, Victorian, and South Australian Premiers' Literary Awards. The Ballad of Desmond Kale won the 2006 Miles Franklin Award and South Australian Festival Prize for Fiction. A long story that became part of When Colts Ran was awarded the O. Henry Prize (USA) in 2008. His latest novel is The Following.

Other books by Roger McDonald


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