Annabelle vets the outback

Annabelle vets the outback


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Storyteller Annabelle Brayley of Morven, with a copy of her latest book Outback Vets, which will hit the bookstores this week.

Storyteller Annabelle Brayley of Morven, with a copy of her latest book Outback Vets, which will hit the bookstores this week.

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VETERINARIANS are a breed of their own, and outback vets even more so, and that is the very strong theme throughout Morven-based storyteller Annabelle Brayley's latest book.

Aa

VETERINARIANS are a breed of their own, and outback vets even more so, and that is the very strong theme throughout Morven-based storyteller Annabelle Brayley's latest book.

Outback Vets is Annabelle's fourth book and published by Penguin Books Australia; it will hit the bookstores this week.

Similar to her previous book, Nurses of the Outback, which told the story of 15 amazing lives in remote nursing, this book tells 15 stories of the fascinating people who care for animals in remote Australia.

And Annabelle is the first to admit that, when she began searching for veterinarians living and working in outback Australia, she knew a few vets socially - but very little about the world of veterinary science.

"Of course, I knew they fixed animals, but hadn't ever considered the significant difference they can make to animal production," Annabelle said.

"I also knew some of the bush vets travelled long distances to get to the next job, but hadn't realised just how far that can be.

"Also back in the 1960s and '70s most veterinary students were men, but not that most of the graduates these days are women - and that has certainly changed the dynamic."

Annabelle says she selected the first 14 stories in this book because of their strong ties to the outback, and knew the final chapter to make up the 15 stories would come from someone who is very special.

And that chapter titled 'A Tick in Time' is the story on the only vet on Norfolk Island, Candice Snell.

"Certainly, when deciding who would be included in Outback Vets, geography Australia-wide and strong links to most states and territories played a big part," Annabelle said.

Annabelle has spent time travelling to interview each veterinarian whose chapter appears in the book to establish a connection, with the exception of Candice on Norfolk Island.

"I interviewed Candice on Skype, which really illustrates how technology has really made it possible for people not to be as isolated as they have been previously," Annabelle said.

"What really struck me so often while listening to these stories was just how broad the experience these vets have - they have to be able to treat whatever walks in the door, and learn to deal with anything.

"As a storyteller, I think I have a huge responsibility to interrupt people's stories accurately and it is a privilege I value," she said.

"All of these people are without exception responsible, reliable, resilient, focused and dedicated.

"And while some of them are pretty damn tough - they have to be - they're invariably gentle. All of them work very hard and some of them work unbelievably long hours on their own."

In Annabelle's writing she takes her readers from the not-so-remote Clare Valley in South Australia to the vast cattle stations of the north, from the Pilbara in Western Australia to the foothills of the Snowy Mountains in Victoria, and to the dusty Birdsville races - and all these vets have strong connections to the outback.

"And then there's the ring-in from Norfolk Island, the most remote of them all."

And now that Outback Vets will be released this week, Annabelle is already working on collecting stories for her next book about nurses who went to the Vietnam War.

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