Publisher's synopsis

An Australian classic, first published in 1903. Described by its author as of ‘temper democratic; bias, offensively Australian,’ Such is Life gives an illuminating portrait of humanity and of Australia.

‘Such is life,’ said Ned Kelly on the scaffold, kindly providing a title for this ‘offensively Australian’ classic: the splendidly farcical, tragical reminiscences of Tom Collins, philosopher and rogue.

As he drives his bullock team across the plains of the Riverina and Northern Victoria, Tom becomes wildly entangled in the fate of others – like Rory O’Halloran, the two Alfs (Nosey and Warrigal), Mrs Beaudesart and Hungry Buckley of Baroona – recreating the humour, the pathos and the irony he knew as part of life in the bush. This is the tough-talking, law-dodging world of the 1880s, where swagmen and bullockies sleep out under the stars with ‘grandeur, peace and purity above; squalor, worry and profanity below.’

These inspired yarns are woven into one of the greatest books of Australian literature, combining a genius for storytelling with a wry wit and a deep feeling for the harsh sun-baked land and the people who worked it.

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