16 February 2015 - 'A DROVER'S BLANKET' - New Release!!!


Sequel to

'Gunnedah Hero' 

G'day folks,

Finally, I've published a book that people have been clamouring for - 'A Drover's Blanket'. This book is the long-awaited sequel to 'Gunnedah Hero'; a modern-historical fiction story about life in Australia in 1910. 

A Drover’s Blanket is 365 pages in length; 70 pages longer than the first book in the series. The original book in the ‘Gunnedah’ series mentions three main characters: Smokey Danson, Molly Swenson and Magic Billie. This new book is mainly about Molly Swenson, and the next book in the series will feature Magic Billie. Naturally, it will be called 'Magic Billie'.


Title: A Drover's Blanket - sequel to 'Gunnedah Hero'

Extent: 365 pages, including sketches of main characters.

ISBN: 978 0 646 92271 3

Formats: paperback and e-Book

Publish date: 2015

Category: Modern Australian historical fiction

Audience: 8-80 years.

What’s it about? 

Fifteen-year-old Gunnedah ‘Gunnie’ Danson begins work at Wiralee Station, a cattle station owned by his family since 1848 and one made famous by his great-great-grandfather, Smokey ‘Gun’ Danson. Gunnie attends a clearing sale at Swenson Station where his great-great-grandmother, Molly, was born. He finds a journal she wrote in 1910 called ‘A Drover’s Blanket’, discovers a mare that’s directly related to Molly’s original horse, Dusty, and meets Molly’s brother, Artie Swenson. 

A foal, the old mare, the journal and a famous painting, ‘The Wiralee Queen’, is stolen and Gunnie is shattered. Jenni Danson, a relative of Smokey’s best mate, Magic Billie, is missing in a small plane in Queensland and Gunnie’s uncle, Wirra, is diagnosed with a tumor. Nothing but bad luck has happened since Gunnie arrived at Wiralee and he spirals into depression. Will he stay at Wiralee Station? Will Wirra be okay? Will they find Jenni alive during the monsoon season?


All lovers of 'Gunnedah Hero' will devour the 365 pages in this book. Why, because it will expand on, and answer questions you might have asked from reading 'Gunnedah Hero'. As mentioned above, three main characters mentioned in 'Gunnedah Hero' are Smokey Danson, Molly Swenson and an Aboriginal drover called Magic Billie. However, 'Gunnedah Hero' is mainly about Smokey Danson and his trip up the long paddock in 1910, during Australia's biggest drought, and very little is mentioned about the other two characters - just occasional glimpses. I did that for a reason. Sometimes writers can have too many characters that dominate proceedings. Also, I wanted to tease my readers to want to know more. My plan was to write a series about the same family and introduce each of the main characters in a separate book. Hence, 'Gunnedah Hero' is all about Smokey. But, this book outlines in great detail what Smokey's then girlfriend, Molly, was doing whilst he was away droving cattle to keep them alive.

However, like 'Gunnedah Hero',this is two stories in one; modern and historical. Smokey's great-great-grandson, Gunnie, also features largely. 

Molly Jane Swenson

Clancy's comments about this book:

A Drover's Blanket highlights how tough it was for Australian farmers, especially for the women, during the harshness of an Aussie drought. It describes not only the physical hardship, but also the mental and emotional hardship. Although I do write books other than historical fiction, I must say I've loved writing this series. It's stimulating to pull the characters and their lives and personalities together, and include historical facts along the way. By the way, this was the most difficult manuscript I've ever written. Not because of the content. No, that I find exceptionally easy. I wrote it with the original manuscript of Gunnedah Hero beside me. Why? Well, I needed to maintain accuracy, especially the language used by the characters. Not only but also, two weeks after I finished it I went to Thailand and wondered why I was totally exhausted for about ten days. Conclusion: writing this manuscript was such an adrenalin rush, I'd exhausted my energies. Yes, it normally takes me three months to write a manuscript like this. That's seven days a week. Fairly gruelling stuff.

By the way, all of the photographs depicted here were taken by me at a local station, 'Carramar', owned by some good friends of mine. The cover photo was also taken there. There is a part of the station that appears to have stood still for a hundred years. It is an amazing place to visit and take photographs. However, these photographs are very relevant to this story. Old Swenson Station, where Gunnie attends a clearing sale is rundown. Swenson Station was the home of his great-great-grandmother, Molly.

Photographs relevant to this story:

Winner of two awards in the
Australian National Literary Awards
2007 & 2011


Molly Jane & Wiralee

Magic Billie & Smokey

Magic Billie

Magic Billie, Molly & Smokey

Some quotes from the story: 

      The man gaped at the cover for a few seconds before he opened it and gawked at Gunnie’s signature. 
     ‘Jeez. You’re a bloody Danson,’ he rasped.

     ‘Yes, sir.’

     ‘The deals off! Get out!’ he shouted, and pointed to the door.

     Gunnie felt uncomfortable and stepped back, startled by the man’s outburst. ‘But … ’

     ‘Get out!’ he repeated.

     Dad reached the yard where our surviving cattle have been for the past twelve months. He leant on the fence and stared at a cow lying on the ground. I’d named her Daisy. She was so thin I could count every rib in her body. My head throbbed with fear. Dad must have stared at the cow for ages before he climbed through the post and rail fence and ambled over to poor Daisy. He looked into the sky with a pleading expression, then pointed his rifle at the cow and pulled the trigger. It echoed loudly. Dad dropped to his knees and hunched over the dead beast. He hugged it lovingly and wept. I didn’t move. I couldn’t. Tears poured down my cheeks as I squatted behind an old wooden barrel and watched my father. I’d never seen him cry before – never.

     Uncle Jack stood up and said something I’d never forget, “Molly. I’ve never met that drover, but I’d be honoured to have him as a guest in our home. I also hope to dance at your wedding.” I cried happy tears when Uncle Jack walked out. Then I stood up and looked out of the window. Leaning on the windowsill, I heard a strange noise. It sounded like someone tapping on the roof, and I grinned when the noise became harder and louder. It was beautiful rain. What a wonderful sound. With strange feelings ripping through my body, I leant forward and hollered to a wonderful drover I missed.

     ‘I Love you, Smokey Danson!’

     Brett Swenson looked at Gunnie with determined eyes. ‘Too late, son. I destroyed them. I was going to shoot the mare too, but the cops grabbed me.’ 

     Gunnie was angry, and tried to push past Wirra. ‘That’s sick! Why’d you do that? You suck!’ Gunnie bellowed, and Brett Swenson cowered away from him. Gunnie had never felt so angry. Fortunately, Wirra grabbed Gunnie’s arm and forcibly held him back as Andy and the other officers stepped forward.     

     ‘Steady, Gun,’ said Wirra. ‘Easy, mate.’

     Gunnie leant against the veranda rail and looked directly at Jenni’s grandfather. There was something he needed to discuss with Nipper. ‘Nipper. Wirra told me about a speech Smokey gave to the Aboriginal drovers at Wave Hill. He said that he wept when he heard what Smokey said to those drovers.’

     Nipper glanced sideways at Gunnie. This time he looked serious. ‘So did I. I was there.’

     Gunnie was stunned by his reply. ‘I never knew that.’

     ‘Yep. That day was a proud day for Wiralee.’

     ‘How come Smokey was such a good talker? He wasn’t educated, he left school at fourteen and …'

     ‘Simple. He had passion,’ Nipper interjected.

     Smokey’s opening line brought happy tears to my eyes, “Dear Molly, your letters are like rain from heaven, like the crisp dew on a spring morning. They remind me of your beautiful smile and caring nature.” God, I couldn’t read any further. Tears were streaming down my cheeks, and my heart was heaving, wondering about Smokey. I hadn’t seen him for ages. It was such a strange situation. The one person who’d lifted my spirits the most was a drover who had no idea how harsh my life was at home. Unknowingly, he had kept me positive and given me hope while he was going through his own hell on the long paddock. I stared into the distance and thought of Smokey’s exceptional qualities. He is not only a fine drover and farmer, but also a romantic, caring and humble person. How lucky am I?

     ‘Are … Are you Magic Billie?’ I asked.

     He ambled towards me and stopped. ‘Well. I hear that there’s a white drover goin’ around callin’ me ‘Magic Billie’,’ he said with a droll expression. I didn’t know what to say; certainly didn’t know if he did or didn’t like the term ‘Magic’. Then, when he grinned and showed me the whitest teeth I’d ever seen, I giggled and liked him immediately. Smokey had told me that Billie was good at tricking people. Also, that he had a wonderful sense of humour. ‘Ya must be Molly, eh?’ he said. I blushed and looked away. ‘Smokey was right.’

     ‘Right about what?’ I asked.

     ‘He said ya were pretty damn pretty and pretty damn smart. I can see ya pretty … And ya must be smart if ya know Smokey. He’s a good fella.’ I stood in silence, lost for words – in awe of the man.

     ‘Don’t give me any backchat or I’ll give you a strapping. I know what you did yesterday. Everyone in Tamarang knows.’

     ‘But, why do you hate them so much?’ I asked, immediately regretting my question. When Dad stood up his chair fell over and made a thumping noise on the floor. My father looked angry as he stumbled towards me. Fearful, I jumped to my feet and headed for the door. Trying to dash past him, his big hand clobbered me on the side of my face. A sharp pain shot through my head like a bullet as I fell against the sideboard, knocking two of Mum’s precious plates onto the floor. Both of them smashed and shards of porcelain scattered. I heard Mum gasp as I tried valiantly to stand upright. Dad lunged at me again, but I ducked and bolted for the door.

     When I was approximately twenty yards from Smokey, he dismounted, crouched down and whistled. He had a piercing whistle that could be heard for miles, and I immediately looked down at Jedda. She pricked up her ears, yelped and took off with her pups in pursuit. I dismounted and walked forward, wondering what would happen. Tears welled in my eyes when Jedda leapt on Smokey, knocked him over and licked him excitedly. Roscoe and the pups joined in. It was wonderful to see the extraordinary bond between a drover and his dogs. However, I knew that they were no ordinary dogs. The drover was no ordinary drover either. Tears caressed my face as I waited for Smokey to notice me.  

     He soon felt a strange sensation on his hand. Gunnie looked up to find Roscoe standing beside him, licking his hand and panting. Tears raced down Gunnie’s face when he realised that the dog had broken its chain and run after him. Thirty centimetres of chain hung from Roscoe’s collar, and the blue heeler’s pink tongue hung from the side of his mouth as he panted loudly. Gunnie hugged the dog gratefully and thought about Smokey when he was on the long paddock. He recalled the countless times when Smokey’s dogs had offered his great-great-grandfather extraordinary loyalty and mateship on his lonely journey north.

     Gunnie continued his reckless behaviour that day and the following day. Life continued at Wiralee, but no one approached him; not even Artie. Three mornings later, he got out of bed, showered for the first time in three days and ate breakfast alone, feeling physically and mentally drained. He also felt confused, disappointed and lost. After breakfast, he grabbed a bottle of water and walked to the tree Artie had named after his uncle – The Wirra Tree. There, he sat for hours, thinking about everything that had happened since his arrival.


The paperback version of this book comes with a matching bookmark and is now available. Every book is signed by yours truly, so let me know if you want me to include a personal message. The e-Book version is also  available via Amazon, Smashwords, Apple iBookstores, Sony, Kobo and Barnes & Noble. Just head to the right-hand side of this page and click on the appropriate icon.

So, want to know more before you buy? Click on the heading above, 'Gunnedah Hero Reviews' and see what others have said about the first book in this series. 

Folks, I would most certainly suggest that you read 'Gunnedah Hero' before you tackle this book. No question about that. 

Happy reading, folks.

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