The Amazing Alice

Remember how I said that last week I had my life taken over by two books. One was the lovely Fleur McDonald novel Silver Clouds, which we had so much fun giving away a couple of days ago.

The other?

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This book. Educating Alice.

By a woman who (like me) also straddles that often-uncomfortable fence that lies between city and country, whom I met at a Melbourne Cup luncheon a few years ago, and whom I count as a friend.

Her name is Alice Greenup and she has shared her rollercoaster-ride from aimless Melbourne teenager to driven country success story in the pages of this wonderful book.

‘A footloose city slicker who couldn′t tell a bull from a cow was hardly the ideal candidate to answer an ad for a governess on a Mackay cattle station. But Alice Greenup was game for anything, until she was bowled over by a handsome young jackaroo with a devastating smile. It was the start of a whole new way of life as Alice gave up her city life to embrace the bush and all that came with it: horses, cattle, the obsession with rain – and the correct way to wear a hat.’


I really don’t know what I expected when I began reading this book.  Maybe something dry, factual, familiar?


I have no doubt the story Alice shares is factual, but the way she weaves and tells her story – honestly, brutally, eloquently – is mesmerising.


People who live in rural Queensland will already know (or know of) Alice.  She is a ‘goer’ – an achiever with an equally driven husband and three darling children*. She has won rural industry awards, has helped organise some of our largest industry events and is a ball of energy and fun.

(*Our Violet has had some lovely days romping with their Ruby at campdrafts and race days).

But it won’t matter if you have no idea ‘who’ she is.

The woman can WRITE.   I adore this intro to the chapter dealing with a pivotal moment in her story is a terrible accident which almost killed her.


‘ …the day I got a physical kick in the head, and a cosmic kick up the arse.’  If THAT’s not a bush phrase worth keeping, I don’t know what is!


And I felt Rick’s agony through the ordeal … I swear to God I was there.

I won’t ruin the many wonderful facets of Alice’s story-to-now – suffice to say it touched me.  And (I think) it touched many who have walked in her shoes (from city to country life) and many who yearn to.  I read the thing in under 24 hours.  It was un-put-downable.

I have to say though, when you read this review Alice, that it was your dedication that got me most.


Sally was Alice’s sister-in-law, Rick’s sister and my cousin Bee’s best friend.  A very special person whom the world lost a couple of years ago.  I think she would have been very proud of her city sister. *wipes tears*

Okay, back to Alice and her fabulous book.  A parcel arrived last week, with THREE copies of ‘Educating Alice’ for me to share with you all.

And I tried to think what we could do to celebrate this wonderful generosity.

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Now I normally do random draws for giveaways here… but this time I thought we might do something a little different.

For your chance to get your hands on Educating Alice, please head to comments and leave a question for Alice.  I will ask Alice and Rick to choose their favourite three questions next Tuesday  Thursday* morning, and get Alice to do a guest post answering your questions too. (It might be about her life story, or about writing or her incredible balancing act…)

Have fun!


PS If you cannot wait to read this book – you can download it in e-form via this link or check out your local bookstore! (In Australia – not realeased in print internationally yet. Which is all  the more reason you should enter this contest!).




* giveaway extended!

50 Responses to “The Amazing Alice”

  1. I’m always up for asking a question! From what I can gather, you’re a spunky gal. In your big transition from city to the country, what was the hardest thing that you had to overcome? Or was it a ‘click’ as you fit into a place you never knew you belonged?
    Debby´s last blog post ..Private party

    • Hi Debby. In truth there was a bit of both. I did have that lovely click with the country and the man, but defeintely after the honeymoon period wore off, I felt less enamoured with the way of life, hugely homesick and basically trapped. It came down to slapping myself across the face (after a good 12 months or so of moping) and telling myself to embrace the wonderful world, community and landscape that was at my doorstep and waiting for me to become a part of.

  2. Did you take the job to learn about the ranch life or meet a man?

    • I took the job because I was broke and didn’t want to go back to Melbourne – I was completely ignorant about ranch life and men that live it.

  3. While unconscious from being kicked in the head by a horse, how much of what was going on around you were you aware of ?~! I have never been unconscious and have often wondered what it is like. Thanks for writing such an interesting book.
    Lynda M O´s last blog post ..Sleeping Under Diamonds Tonight !~!

    • Being in that particular state of consciousness was very calming and peaceful.I felt completely at one with the earth and unperturbed about anything. I don’t recommend being kicked in the head by a horse to achieve this state – much easier and less messy to meditate.

  4. What gave you the courage or incentive to share your story?
    Anne´s last blog post ..Farmer for a Weekend

    • I have wanted writing to become a part of my life. The incentive to carve the time out came from an invitation to tell my story from Harper Collins. That said that was the impetus, but as you can imagine, there is a lot of soul searching during the process, a lot of ‘why I am doing this” not so much ‘what will I write.’ The why then determined what stayed in and what was left on the cutting room floor, so to speak. So at the end of the day, my ‘why’ is pretty simple; tell a story, that will make people reflect on what it means to be happy, inspire them to pursue their own purpose, by using their ‘bliss baramoter’and to be aware of how fear affects decisions and actions. The other why is more at a content and practical level, ie why memoir about living on the land vs fiction, – its important to share real life stories,to understand more of what it is to be human in training and build that connection between food producers and food eaters.
      Alice Greenup´s last blog post ..Hello world!

  5. Moving into a ‘country farming family business’ how did you learn to juggle the nuances of family farming and establishing your own identity without resentment?

    • A farm can be all consuming can’t it? So if we don’t quarantine time for other things; dinner parties, walks, campdrafting, painting, writing – whatever it is you need to do to nurture yourself, then I think resentement can build up – and you’re also not as effective in your business, if you don’t take away from it. So this is eomthing that has come with practice (and a teaspoon of bloody mindedness at times). For the record, I am yet to see a fairy that comes into my kitchen or office and waves a wand saying “us fairies have been talking and think it is time you did something for yourself, so have created an extra hour a day, just for you to spend anyway you wish.” Question: what would you do with that hour? Mop? Book-keeping? They’ll be there anyway. So you have to claim / quarantine that time for yourself,not wait for a fairy and….. no guilt!!!! Be proud that you have done something for your body / spirit.
      Alice Greenup´s last blog post ..Hello world!

  6. My introduction to far western New South Wales via my equally rural boyfriend was the following sentence, ‘Have you been to Bourke & can you shear?'; so I’m asking you the same. :)

  7. I’ve been kicked in the leg, bucked off ending with a concussion and compressed disc in back, broken leg with plate in it now but i still ride. Haven’t read your book but since your recovery are you back riding and how did you overcome any fears (if you had any) of getting back on a horse?

    • Yes I ride and yes I get nervous (I miss that fearlessness of youth). Just started on a new horse last year, and she’s a bit goey. So when the fear comes up, I remind myself that I don’t want to give up riding and my old geldings will not be around forever, so I have to go through the process of getting a new one going, or my kids will be out mustering without me and I don’t want to miss out. I try and get to a clinic eg Ken May or Pete Comisky after a long break from riding (eg after kids) and two days in the saddle, being pushed to new limits always helps gets your groove back.
      Alice Greenup´s last blog post ..Hello world!

  8. So many great questions! I was wondering where you would choose to go for a holiday, Alice? Back to the city, to a tropical island somewhere relaxing, or would nothing drag you away from your home now?

    • Last year for my 40th we went to London, Barcelona and car tripped around rural France – with bubbles being a large focus of the itinerary. It was glorious. Mostly we are pretty lazy on holidays and go to Moore Park, north of Bundaberg, and we take our cat and ten dogs, before we did this the kids used to spend most of the holidays crying about the pets at home (they still miss the ponies). Once there, it is all about beach, skate ramps, fishing, reading and sleeping. I love holidaying with friends, have done for years – it is a great way to keep the friendships solid and counter the tyranny of distance.
      Alice Greenup´s last blog post ..Hello world!

  9. I loved the book. You are right, a book that takes over all perception of time. I really love that it is available as a digital book, my favorite way to read. Thank you for sharing.

  10. It’s a two-parter. What would Alice say is Rick’s best quality, and what would Rick say is Alice’s? And what personality trait leaves some, ahem, wiggle room for improvement?

    Also, because I can’t stop at one (same thing goes for potato chips) – what piece of marital advice would you give newlyweds? My husband and I, happy and still together after 30 years, keep getting asked this question.

    Cheers, and thanks for this. Sounds like a great story! Pam, in Montreal, Quebec, Canada
    A Novel Woman´s last blog post ..Habitat and Surfers, Redux

    • Rick’s best quality is his sense of self. That is what I fell in love with and it like a centre of gravity in our lives. And besides that, he’s just a really nice bloke to live with. Rick says my ability to bring the best out in people.
      Marital advice (Rick was more natural at this than me, I could have made life more rocky if he’d let me get carried away with myself, so I’m lucky I had a good teacher)So off the top of my head: Be happy with yourself and in your own life, its not your partners job to make you happy – of course it is great to support each other’s dreams. Stick at it when it gets rough. Be nice to each other (and on days when you can;t be nice, be somewhere else). And afterwards bury the hatchet and don’t leave the handle sticking out. Have fun.
      Alice Greenup´s last blog post ..Hello world!

  11. So, when you went backpacking is it like in the States where you mostly sleep out doors under the stars or in a tent, and did you have friends along. Weren’t you afraid of snakes and critters? I am amazed woman. I love adventure stories and from city to country in Australia is absolutely an adventure I have learned from Amanda. Very exciting I’ll bet even without getting dumped off a horse on your head. Michigan, USA

  12. My question is probably a little left field…
    I want to know Rick’s grandmother’s name… Weird I know. It’s just that my great aunt, who was Patricia Goodwin, married a Greenup from down that way and was wondering what the chances would be for a while now. Thought this might have been the perfect opportunity to ask without sounding too stalkerish.
    Love your work Alice (and yours too of course BB), I have read little bits and pieces about you and I can only aspire to have such an impact as what you have. Keep up the great work.

  13. Loved hearing of your book on Gold 104.3 the other morning.
    I’ve yet to read your book.
    You’ve seem to have done so much, taken on some significant challenges and faced them head on. Whats next I wonder?

    • A nap. No seriously, just focussed on the kids, helping the memoir find its place in the world, our beef business and picking away at the next manuscript (fiction). On a new front, I have agreed to do a 10 km run in September, so am training for that, which is a whole new world for me, but am really enjoying it.
      Alice Greenup´s last blog post ..Hello world!

  14. Do you feel it was the romance of the outback and your husband’s job that drew you to him or him himself? I only ask as I have often asked myself that question of myself about my husband who I became engaged to after only knowing him for a week. We have been married 21 years this year and still as in love as when we first met.

    • Some things are just meant to be. However Rick is sitting here and reminded me that I would have been able to eat a lot more chocolate over the years without him (I’m not a good sharer). I was drawn to the man and his character first and the love of the land grew over time and is stil growing as I come to now more intimately every year. (I refer to the deep love of land that comes after the novelty wore off).
      Alice Greenup´s last blog post ..Hello world!

  15. Rick, Can she cook? I think Jane has a great question.

  16. What do you miss about the city? I am a country girl and always interested in what people love about cities enough for them to want to live there. Looking forward to reading your book.

  17. “A girlfriend should know her place Alice.First comes the mates,then the ute,then the hat,dogs,horses & last of all the girlfriend”…Alice,as you were staring into those cautionary eyes that belied the smile,what were you really thinking as you replied “well then,I’ll just have to be his mate”?

  18. How did your husband react to you writing your book? How does it feel to have your life ‘out there’?

    • He’s a kind of ‘Go with the flow’ guy. “You never know where a journey might take you” (he’s sitting next to me driving, so I asked him what he thought and that’s what he said. As for putting our life out there, I did some soul searching a few years ago, but as I had been asked to do it, twice in one week by both a publisher and author’s agent, I took that as a sign and once I made my mind up to do it, have rolled with it and thought not much point doing it, unless you’re going to be honest and flawed, like you would be with a girlfriend.
      Alice Greenup´s last blog post ..Hello world!

  19. Wow this book sounds inspirational& I’m looking forward to reading it (hoping to win it, of course). I often wonder how people who change their lifestyle so drastically, manage that change. I think that moving such a distance away from your home, family & friends is certainly a challenge. What was the driving force for you Alice & how did you find the adjustment to a new life? Thank you for sharing your story.

    • Thanks Suzie, I have probably answered some of your question in the other bits, however the courage to move away and start a new life, was more naivity and fearlessness of youth, than a well contrived plan. That said, isn’t it amazing how things do work out, when we don’t overly plan and leave things to fate and trust that all is well.
      Alice Greenup´s last blog post ..Hello world!

  20. What was it in your childhood that prepared you for the challenges and differences that agricultural living brings? Wyoming, USA

    • Hi Carol. Growing up with a single mum since I was 4 and watching her dig deeper and persevere through tough times was probably a good foundation for living on the land. She taught me that anything was possible,and it came down to attitude.
      Alice Greenup´s last blog post ..Hello world!

  21. How do you both find the time for the work and fun balance in life. For us here it is getting harder. Work is 6.5 days a week and Sunday is sleep in till 7am.

    • A farm can be all consuming can’t it? So if we don’t quarantine time for other things; dinner parties, walks, campdrafting, painting, writing – whatever it is you need to do to nurture yourself, then I think resentement can build up – and you’re also not as effective in your business, if you don’t take away from it. So this is eomthing that has come with practice (and a teaspoon of bloody mindedness at times). For the record, I am yet to see a fairy that comes into my kitchen or office and waves a wand saying “us fairies have been talking and think it is time you did something for yourself, so have created an extra hour a day, just for you to spend anyway you wish.” Question: what would you do with that hour? Mop? Book-keeping? They’ll be there anyway. So you have to claim / quarantine that time for yourself,not wait for a fairy and….. no guilt!!!! Be proud that you have done something for your body / spirit.

  22. I just read “Educating Alice” last week – superb book from a very inspirational woman! Great giveaway to have through your blog!

  23. Theresa in Alberta Reply March 25, 2013 at 11:21 pm

    Eh what!?!? A book that is inspiring and not just another “bodice ripper” and it is not available outside of OZ! Well, I am just going to sit here in Canada and pout eh ;P Have you ever been to Canada? You would need snowshoes if you were to visit right now.

  24. Do you believe that a young girl can still “Go out West/up North” and have similar adventures as yourself? When my girls read your book, they will want to do all that you have done. Is the outback fairytale still achievable?

    • I don’t make soap from rendered fat, never have and never will. So I think the previous generation of settling on the land will be read about more than experienced. However, I say go anywhere and have your adventure and fairytale. Life is full when we live by the motto “Better to regret something you have done than something you haven’t.” It has kept life interesting and no regrets……(PS – keep up the private health insurance)
      Alice Greenup´s last blog post ..Hello world!

  25. Thanks for the great questions and causing me to reflect. Hope you all enjoy the read. Take care. Alice.
    Alice Greenup´s last blog post ..Hello world!

  26. Thanks for answering all our questions. You sound like someone I could definitely visit with around a campfire… Tales to tell…
    Carol´s last blog post ..Bond. Just Bond!

  27. Graham McCallum Reply May 6, 2013 at 12:08 pm

    Hi Alice, I really enjoyed your book and in particular your openness,honesty and self deprecating style. Gaffer gave me my first job chipping burr in about 1970 when we lived at Dungaruba – over the road from Rosevale. $21 for 2 weeks work. I thought I was wealthy.



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