author of The Man from Coolibah
Ten Terrifying Questions
1. To begin with why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself – where were you born? Raised? Schooled?
I was born in the old Darwin Hospital ( before Cyclone Tracy ) blew her down. My baby years were spent on Gordon Downs station that straddled the WA-NT border. Dad was manager there. After that we travelled round a lot, through the Territory and Queensland. I didn’t go much on schools and I left for the last time when I was just a kid. Then, it was into the school of hard knocks.
2. What did you want to be when you were twelve, eighteen and thirty? And why?
I wanted to fly helicopters and be involved with cattle. Not much has changed over the years. It’s been a good, full life.
Don’t drink rum and chase girls!
4. What were three big events – in the family circle or on the world stage or in your reading life, for example – you can now say, had a great effect on you and influenced you in your career path?
The old fella, Stan (my father) had a huge influence on me. He worked bloody hard and that rubbed off on me. The years of bull-catching as a young man taught me a lot about bending your back and having a crack to make money. And the biggest influence of all has been getting my helicopter licence. I often wonder what I would have done if I didn’t get it; I know I wouldn’t have been as lucky and successful.
5. Considering the innumerable electronic media avenues open to you – blogs, online newspapers, TV, radio, etc – why have you chosen to write a book? aren’t they obsolete?
It’s a good record for my children to keep.
It tells a bit about my life and some of the experiences I’ve had. Looking back I suppose I’ve crammed a bit in. Not many people really know about life in the Northern Territory. More people should go there because it’s a bloody beautiful place with good people.
(From the Publisher:
In the tradition of Mailman of the Birdsville Track, The Man from Coolibah details the life of outback cattle property owner, helicopter muster operator and knockabout bloke Milton Jones.
The youngest in a family of five, Milton Jones grew up on large properties in the outback. His father was a farm manager and so his early life was a world away from that of city kids. Milton left school in Queensland in his mid teens and moved back to the Northern Territory. Mustering was in his blood and so his first job was as a bullcatcher.
Milton Jones is a man of his environment; tough and hardworking with a firm opinion on most things that he isn’t afraid to share. The story of how he bought Coolibah Station in 1988 in cash and the way he has built up his country empire is just one element of this book. For him, wrangling crocs, mustering cattle, fighting bush fires and riding rodeo are the norm. Over 500km away from nearest city, Darwin, his life is lived on horseback, his days ruled by the sunlight. With the help of a seasonal workforce, plus his 42 choppers and a dozen or so horses, his business musters cattle from across the territory.
The Man from Coolibah shows us what it is like to live in the never never and brings the Outback to life. For the men and women who live in Milton’s world, things are changing but the harshness and beauty of the outback stays the same.)
7. If your work could change one thing in this world – what would it be?
To make people more aware of bush life, especially life in the Northern Territory.
8. Whom do you most admire and why?
There are too many to mention, but there’ve been many old fellas who taught me a great many things. They taught me about cattle, about the bush, about helicopters, about life really. The Territory has many great characters. Real authentic Australian bushies that should never be forgotten.
9. Many people set themselves very ambitious goals. What are yours?
To look after my wife and my family. Make sure I have healthy kids, real healthy kids, that’s important eh.
I don’t reckon I’m really in a good position to give advice to writers, in fact The Man from Coolibah is the first book I’ve ever read. But if I was to give some general advice it would be: ‘Work hard, look after your family, stand up for your rights, and don’t get involved in race horses.’
Milton, thanks for playing.
About the Contributor
John Purcell (aka Natasha Walker) is the author of The Secret Lives of Emma trilogy published by Random House Australia. The Secret Lives of Emma: Beginnings reached the top ten on the Australian fiction charts and Natasha/John was the tenth highest selling Australian novelist and third highest selling Australian debut author in 2012. The trilogy has since sold over 50,000 copies in print and ebook and has been translated into French, Korean and Polish. John has worked in the book industry for over twenty-five years. While still in his twenties he opened John’s Bookshop, a second-hand bookshop in Mosman in which he sat for ten years reading, ranting and writing. Now he is the Director of Books at booktopia.com.au.