In the middle of nowhere, she found … herself.
At twenty-two, Jenny fell in love with Rick Old and went to live and work with him on his property, McAllister, in the Gulf of Carpentaria. There, she faced incredible hardship, living in a hut with not even basic necessities. Her only contact with the outside world was a two-way radio.
In this vast empty landscape, she battled drought, flood, fire, and cyclones. For eighteen years she and Rick struggled to stay on in the Gulf, eventually triumphantly turning McAllister into a thriving oasis.
This extraordinary story of one indomitable Australian woman is told in her own words with skill and humour. A story of the bush people and their generosity, filled with wonderful characters. Most of all, the story of one woman’s love for her man and the adventure it took her on.
McAllister, the story of Jenny Old’s amazing life in the outback, will captivate and enthrall.
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CLICK HERE to read a review from Broadbeach City Librarian, Jenneth Duque
I just loved every page of your book & read it in almost record time as I struggled to put it down. Living in New Zealand where it's usually green everywhere it made me realise the struggle some folk have to feed their animals & to basically exist. What a devoted hard working couple you both are. Congratulations. So looking forward to your new book. - Clare Reeve
Just read McAllister on my iPad. I enjoyed the humorous and harrowing, at times, anecdotes of farming life in the Gulf. Congratulations on surviving, with grace and resilience, all that life has thrown your way. Makes life in the city seem pretty tame. - Jan Bull
Jenny, I just finished reading your delightful book. Loved it despite it being a woman's story, or perhaps because of that. I worked around Prairie as a young bloke just married. So much of what you've described rings bells of nosthalgia.. and some of it makes me cringe with shame and hope. The shame at my chauvinism... the hope that I too am now more of a SNAG. I'd love to meet you and Rick one day but not unannounced and not to stay. A great read. Well done!! - Peter Beinssen
I have just put your book down after reading the last page. I felt sad at the end to read of your leaving McAllister. It was a wonderful read so congratulations. What an amazing life you lead there and your strength and courage all along. I loved reading it and getting an insight into the hard life of developing a station in the wilderness. I couldn't believe that you had so many visitors and constantly. All that cooking as well! You are a marvel. - Marguerite Abbott
My husband Keith wanted to take your book to hospital to read...bad luck! He started it and couldn't put it down...so he only saved himself a few pages to read. He has asked me to contact you to say how much he enjoyed your book..he said it was a really good yarn! How about another one??!! - Sue Flewell-Smith
A great read from cover to cover.... I wish we had known you then, a fantastic story of battles & victories, some were momentous & others small but all a part of the story. - Phil Jarratt
Rick, your wife is a bloody nuisance! I collected the books (thanks) from the PO at 6:30pm. Apart from time for a quick meal, and 45 min of some writing for me, I have been totally rapt in McAllister, an unable to put it down! I have only forced myself to do so in order to get some flu-fighting rest. Just a bloody fabulous book! Me being off the land (sheep & cattle) helps to make it an enthralling read. Cheers and the most powerful possible congratulations to Jenny. - J L
My family and I worked for Jen and Rick at a cafe they owned, we became quite close and in the end knew each other very well. They are the best bosses I have ever had so I was really looking forward to Jen's book. I read it in three days, was an excellent read full of laughs and heartbreak. One highlight being picturing my male boss in the nude playing the clarinet "scary stuff". Jen was the backbone of both McAllister and her family - both would not have existed without her. The book shows that love knows no boundaries and what an outstanding selfless woman Jen was and is. It is not easy being a woman in a male dominated world but Jen paved the way and achieved brilliance. an absolute must read. - Brooke Sawtell
I have really enjoyed reading McAllister. It had me hooked from the very first page.An amazing story of the hardship of living in a remote area. I am always astounded at the resilience and kindness of country folk. Thank you Jenny for writing your book so everyone can know that life in the bush is hard but very rewarding. - Leanne Caruana
Honestly told, a history of McAllister, an important Australian story that will never be lost now. There is a love story that captures the reader in the first chapter, running through every page of the book, understated, yet the catalyst for almost everything that happened in the life of the author. Jenny turned danger, adventure and hard work into endeavour and pleasure throughout the story In the same way that you opened McAllister so generously to anyone from anywhere who chanced to turn up at your door, you have opened your heart to us with your writing Jenny. This book will be read by Australian and International readers, a fair reward for your hospitality and care for all over the 18 years you spent in the Australian Outback. Without meaning to, you have given us some elements of our own Australian Heathcliff, the dark, handsome stranger you fell in love with and portrayed so well. Rick is always there, strong and ambitious. Make no mistake tho', this is Jenny's story and the reader lives the story through the writing, an amazing achievement. Just as life becomes too serious you seem to bring in some of your own particular brand of humour to lighten the heart of the reader. When I first read this story, it was a large manuscript. Congratulations to Donald and Jenny for the editing, as nothing is lost, yet the story remains the same in this concise version. What a movie you could make. I recommend McAllister to any reader. - Helene Castles
Thank you for such a well written, most enjoyable account of your life at McAllister. My Fiancé and I moved to Normanton in 1980. He was the butcher for Rex Henry for a few years and I was working at the central hotel when we first went to Normanton. We spent 11.5 years in Normanton and came way with wonderful memories as you and Rick did. Leanne Caruana put me on to your book and I must say I could not put it down. Thank you for sharing your memories...you were truly pioneers. God Bless - Joy Orr
Occasionally in one's life a book comes along that totally captivates you. McAllister by Jenny Old did just that. As spirited, warm & funny as Jenny herself, McAllister is the inspirational story of one woman's extraordinary courage, determination & most importantly 'true love'. It tells the amazing story of Jenny's incredible life in the outback in her own words with skill & humour. It totally transported me to the Gulf, an area never visited, but now want to experience. I could actually smell the vast open spaces & taste the wonderful campfire dinners, not to mention those fabulous parties! The obstacles & challengers presented in this demanding life most of us could not endure, but Jenny & Rick had a dream & gave it everything. The result is absolutely incredible. McAllister is one of those books you just can't put down. I gave a copy to my husband Jim recently to read on a trip. Jim is not a big reader but returned with glowing reports, he loved it! Well done Jenny, can't wait for the next book. - Kerry Fountain
Thank you for an inspiring story of guts, humor & love. You are an inspiration. - Margaret Capp
Loving the colourful writing, the humour,and truthfulness of the harsh Australian bush life and yet all through the constant theme of Jenny's absolute love, loyalty and adoration of her man Rick, no matter what he asked or expected of her, is crystal clear. - Daphne Long
This is one of those “must read” books. Not only is it an eye-opening story of life in outback Australia, it is also a great love story, told with humour, honesty and compassion. Jenny’s story of her eighteen years at McAllister portrays the hardships and heartbreak of bush life, but also the beauty of this remote country and the wonderful camaraderie of the bush people. Jenny’s sense of adventure, her courage and resilience are an inspiration for women everywhere. One word of warning though - once you start reading, you’ll find it hard to stop – a thoroughly enjoyable book! - Karen North
McAllister is a riveting story of love, hardship, determination, courage and pioneering spirit. No matter what the Australian outback threw at Jenny, she picked herself up, dusted herself off (or washed the mud off!) and just got on with her amazing life in the middle of nowhere. I laughed and I cried my way through this book, not wanting to put it down. A wonderful, ‘must read’ story told with Jenny’s inimitable style and sense of humour! – Celia Clarkson
I loved this book. Such an amazing story told with such openness and wonderful humor, every chapter is captivating. It got me so involved in the story that it seems I have been there and I was sorry when it finished. - Katja Kearney
I adored this heartwarming and at times heartbreaking story of Jennys life on the land. Her story encapsulates the blind faith of young love,the cherished bonds and challanges of marriage and the trials and joys of family. The book echoes the Australian spirit throughout as you meet the characters and the families of the bush and see how a place of loneliness can be transformed by friendship. As you read you will consider the choices we make in life,the chances of fate,the triumphs of hardwork and perseverance and how love can hold you up through them all. - Annabel Lyons
Words can't say how amazing this book is as it is better than that! I loved how this book was written,as I felt I was part of the struggle and good times that Rick and Jenny went through. I recommend this book for people to appreciate life . I did not want to finish as enjoyed every chapter . Thanks Jenny for sharing. - Tina Fulton-Kennedy
Congratulations on your book. I am not a regular reader, takes a good book to keep me interested enough to keep reading. Thanks for delivering the book McALLISTER to me personally on Saturday 29th July, it is now Tuesday 2nd August and i have finished reading it. I thoroughly enjoyed reading the book from cover to cover, the best book i have read. Would hate to have entertained and fed so many people under the conditions you and Rick lived in and enjoyed immensely, very special people. My wifes maiden name was McAlister so that was special also.
Will watch for another book by you if it happens. Thanks - Barry Turvey