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Hard Country Robby and Garry Robilliard arrived in Golden Bay in 1957 as a young married couple with a baby They longed to own their own sheep farm but a lack of money stood in their wayThen they found Rocklands a rundown marginal property in the hills above Takaka Its three previous owners had gone bust; no wonder Robby came to call it ‘nightmare land’Sixty years on Robby and Garry still call Rocklands home Hard Country is Robby’s entertaining story of their decades eking out a living at Rocklands and their encounters along the way with the many and varied Golden Bay characters

5 thoughts on “Hard Country

  1. Robyn Smith Robyn Smith says:

    As a young married couple wanting to buy cheap land Garry and Robin Robilliard chanced upon Rocklands in Takaka Golden Bay and bought it It reuired almost impossible grit and stamina to turn this land into a functioning sheep and beef farm which Garry did with occasional help from neighboursMeanwhile Robin was busy having children 3 in the space of 5 years Living in primitive cramped conditions she nevertheless contrived to make the best of the situation and played an active role both on the farm and in rural community life Although she loved memories of her sophisticated life on a Hawkes bay farm while growing up and occasionally wondered what she and Garry were doing she supported Garry in his endeavours Only after a stint at Collingwood Hospital where she witnessed a regime of terrible cruelty and authoritarianism in the treatment of elderly people did she further her journalistic career which had begun years before with a column in the Auckland WeeklySuddenly with the support of Frank Haden the dynamic editor of the Dominion the Wellington paper she travelled overseas to various exotic locations to report on the lives of people there She even went to North Korea in the 1980s though it was hard for her to see the real life thereAn amazing story of a truly indomitable couple who still live on the same property in their 80s i especially liked the black and white photos of their children between each chapter of this book and the compact and easy to read style of this bookI expect this book would resonate with people in the southern states of the United States whose properties would often be as forbidding as this one

  2. Kathleen Dixon Kathleen Dixon says:

    'Robby' Robilliard takes the reader with her to Golden Bay beautiful country at the top of New Zealand's South Island where the farms are all hills and gullies and poor soil and the farmer's life is one of back breaking toil from dawn to dusk year after year Robby and her husband bought the land because there was nowhere else they could afford and they doggedly persevered Along the way they had three children and Robby also became a writer for the School Journals and then magazines and newspapers even when the children were grown travelling overseas through the Eastern Bloc to gather snapshots of life for articles Now she's 80 and has written this book of memoriesI found it fascinating reading of their first dozen or so struggling years Robby's children are my contemporaries but what a vastly different upbringing The tales of the other folk their neighbours are also marvellous to read Though I'm a born and bred Kiwi these are the people I think of as 'real' Kiwis They're hardy determined and they love this land with a passionFrom about halfway through the book I felt it lost its form There seemed to be a lot of great memories that didn't exactly have anywhere to fit so pieces were just popped in here and there Until then it had been a narrative Perhaps a second edition could have these little inserts set apart visually But even without improvement this book is an excellent look at our history told in the voice of a woman who lived it

  3. Hildegaard Badger Hildegaard Badger says:

    Would be a 4 but a little repetitive a little editing might have helped Having said that what a great sounding lady who made a life for herself and with her family in really tough conditions farming on marginal land in Golden Bay NZ Could never have done what she did Inspiring stuff

  4. Tataka Tataka says:

    Great book to learn about a family’s way of life starting in the 50’s in an isolated place I always wondered how people lived in small beautiful but isolated places in NZ and I enjoyed reading this book unfortunately last 100 pages or so it gets a bit repetitive otherwise would have given 4

  5. Chris Tait Chris Tait says:

    The book starts with a strong narrative but later becomes a series of anecdotes that are somewhat disjointed It would have benefited from tighter editing to lead the reader into and through the stories

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