All-About — the story of a Black Community on Argyle
Station, Kimberley (The Bulletin, Sydney, 1935) was the first of the sisters’
From the start, it was acclaimed: ‘a story which should become
an Australian classic ...’ The Bulletin’s 'Red Page' of November 1935 went on to
say: ‘… it ranges up beside Frank Dalby Davidson’s Man-Shy and Hugh McCrae’s My
Father and My Father’s Friends … it is written with that close, intimate
understanding that comes only with the most sensitive awareness of something
the writer has looked on and by which he has been stirred to write …’
All-About, sometimes incorrectly referred to as ‘a children’s
story’, was recognised for describing life on a northern cattle station with honesty and accuracy. Instantly popular, it ran into three or four editions. It was followed
by Chunuma (1936) and Son of Djaro (1940) — all three
depicting with acumen and empathy the effect of pastoral settlement upon nomadic people and of settlement's wider repercussions.
In the 1990s All-About was used as a primary source reference for Kimberley land rights claims: a fate that its creators, Mary and Elizabeth — together with the 1930s community of Argyle Station, East Kimberley — observed with bemusement.