Jack Jones is the inspiration for Katie’s illustrations.

Children’s book on living in the Outback

Former Smithers reporter creates children’s book on life in the Australian Outback.

Long-time Smithereens may remember Katie Cushing from her days as a reporter at The Interior News, and her column, ‘Adventures in Katieland.’

These days, Cushing goes by the surname Jones, has three children ranging in ages from five to one, and lives in the Australian outback.

“The weather has been a bit of an adjustment,” she admits with a laugh. “Today it’s mid-30s with a 99 per cent humidity.”

In March, Katie Jones and her Australian husband Jet Jones released their first joint project, a children’s book, Not Far to Go Now. The book, suited for children one to six or beginning readers, tells the story of a horseback cattle muster (or round-up) through the eyes of a small child.

“There’s something about the Australian Outback,” said Katie. “There’s nowhere else in the world quite like it. I remember when I got married to Jet, my Australian friends in Sydney and Brisbane were impressed that I had married a ‘real’ Australian. They didn’t know those existed any longer.”

Jet Jones and his family are in the beef cattle industry. They have a herd of approximately 500 free range ‘breeders,’ or female cows.

“Over here, that’s small beans,” noted Katie. “I know people whose herds run into the tens of thousands.”

An artist as well as journalist, Katie has illustrated the book in charcoals, with shades of black and brown giving the book a sepia-toned, rustic desert look suiting the subject matter. Their five-year-old son, Jack Jones, served as a model for the illustrations.

“I loved mustering as a kid – still do – and see how my own children love mustering, working cattle, and general station work, even if it’s a bit tiring sometimes,” said the book’s author Jet. “I wanted to show our culture from our point of view: a culture that people from many backgrounds have embraced; A culture that gives kids a sense of achievement and importance, while still letting them be kids. I love the way they repeat the work we do in their games, and the joy it brings them when they see a little newborn calf, or the way they get excited when it rains.”

The books were officially launched at the World Theatre in Charters Towers, Queensland, Australia on March 3, in conjunction with an art exhibition which showcases the books illustrations.

Copies of Not Far to Go Now can be purchased online from a wide range of book distributors, including Indigo and Amazon, and are available at SpeeDee Interior Stationary in Smithers.

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