At the end of 2013 and beginning of 2014, 18,000 cattle were walked 2000 kilometres from Queensland to their new home in New South Wales. At $8 million, it was the biggest cattle drive in Australia in more than 100 years. The drive took nine months and New Zealander Alice Mabin was on horseback with her camera for five of them. Her book Drover, which traces the drive in powerful images, has sold 16,000 copies and is a four time Australian best seller.
But it hasn’t been plain sailing. At the time of publishing she had a bank balance of zero dollars and zero cents and later had to refinance her car to pay for another print run.
Bookshops wouldn’t stock her book because it was self-published. She ended up re-tracing the route of the cattle drive and leaving a few copies at saddleries, gift shops, country clothing stores, news agents and cafes in towns along the way.
She now spends her time roaming the Australian outback in a modern trailer that doubles as an art gallery, taking photographs, running workshops and public speaking.
Alice is now working on her second book about the role trucks have played in the economic development of New Zealand and Australia. It’s called The Driver.