I’ve had time to reflect on an Australian classic book, A Fortunate Life, these past few weeks while travelling around Europe enjoying fine weather, fine food, fine wine and the company of fine friends.
AB Facey’s autobiography published in 1981 chronicles his early life in Western Australia, his experiences during the Gallipoli campaign in World War One and his return to civilian life after the war.
It also documents his extraordinary life of hardship, loss, friendship and love.
We’ve received a much kinder and more generous reception than Bert Facey and my grandfather – also a WWI veteran – could ever have imagined.
And so much of that is due to the collegiality of farm journalism.
I’m vice-president of the Australian Council of Agricultural Journalists.
Together with 16 other Aussie farm writers, photographers, broadcasters and bloggers, I am in Europe for our annual international congress, this year being held in The Netherlands, a pocket-sized powerhouse of food production, research and exports.
The conference is the brainchild of the organisation that represents the interests of ag journos from 50 countries – the International Federation of Agricultural Journalists.
One of the blue riband highlights of this annual get-together is the presentation of the IFAJ Star Prizes for excellence in journalism.
Once again Aussies figured prominently.
A dramatic aerial shot of cattle mustering in the Gulf Country was judged the world’s best rural photo for 2018.
Scott Radford-Chisholm’s image of cattle moving through swirling dust on Abingdon Downs, north of Georgetown, was published in the Townsville Bulletin.
Judges loved the vivid contrast of a herd of white Brahman cattle cutting through the dusty orange landscape, as well as the composition diagonally across the frame.
In 2021 the ACAJ will invite the world of ag journalism to Australia’s backyard to see those colours and characters for themselves.
We’re keen to showcase an authentic outback experience as well as the richness, diversity and mateship from which Bert Facey drew such strength and inspiration.
It is indeed “A Fortunate Life”.
– Peter Lewis, Brisbane-based freelance journalist