Jill Ker Conway’s views about herself and the place of women in twentieth century culture were shaped by her family background and the circumstances of her childhood growing up on a sheep station in the grasslands of New South Wales, Australia. The first three chapters of The Road from Coorain, “The West,” “Coorain,” and “Childhood,” focus on the landscape and family setting of her early life. Her mother, Evelyn Ker, was a strong, intelligent woman, a nurse whom Conway describes as a “modern feminist” with strong views on issues such as a woman’s right to abortion. Her father, William Ker, was an equally independent, strong-willed man of Scottish descent. After their marriage and the birth of their two sons, Robert and Barry, in 1930, they acquired a tract of land in the Australian bush for sheep raising. In this frontier setting, men and women, although performing different tasks, had to work together in a partnership to make the sheep-ranching operation viable.
When Jill Ker was born, her brothers were six and four years of age. She grew up accustomed to the realities of frontier life on an isolated sheep station. She worked alongside her parents, and she competed and played with her brothers. After her older brothers departed for boarding school in Sydney, she often rode horses to work the sheep with her father. These early years fostered a sense of self-reliance unmarked by distinctions between what men and women could...
(The entire section is 1209 words.)
Want to Read More?
Subscribe now to read the rest of The Road from Coorain Critical Essays. Plus get complete access to 30,000+ study guides!