Furry friends, deadly pests or tasty treats?

The Easter Bunny may be cute and cuddly, but he’s a real pest in Australia (which is why we recommend the Haigh’s Easter Bilby instead – see below). A century ago Australia was home to 10 billion rabbits, thriving in their adopted home. Storyteller Bruce Munday finds the rabbit saga irresistible, and has collected it into his new book, Those Wild Rabbits. The book features this excerpt from the Age in 1925, including a recipe for baked rabbit with apple sauce.

Rabbit, the Cheapest White Meat

Visitors from England often express surprise that rabbits, which are a delicacy in Europe, are often despised here. They are the cheapest of the white meats with us, and if properly prepared, yield to none, in delicacy of flavor. White meats are both more digestible and freer from those deleterious substances which in beef and mutton contribute to the rise of blood pressure and all its attendant evils. During the winter months first-quality rabbits are difficult to obtain, but the young spring ones are just coming on to the market now, and lend themselves to varieties of tasty cooking. Part of the unpopularity of rabbit here is probably due to the fact that methods of preparation are stereotyped, but the following recipes will give dishes which are both economical and appetising.

Baked Rabbit with Apple Sauce

Before cooking always soak the rabbit in salt and water for 30 minutes.

Take a moderate sized rabbit and spread over it slices of carrot, onions, lemon and bacon. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, mixed spices and a few cloves, enclose in greased paper and cook in a hot oven. Make the sauce from six apples, the juice and grated rind of an orange, sugar and a little water. Pour the sauce over the rabbit and serve hot as possible. N.B. – If preferred, the rabbit can be stuffed before baking with any ordinary forcemeat.

(Age, 20 October 1925, p. 6)

‘Western Beach’ (SA), 1900 [State Library of South Australia]

Find out more about Those Wild Rabbits here.

Book Fair Success!

What a weekend it was!

Don Pyatt Hall looked incredible, thanks to Liz, who spent hours sewing bunting (so cool, right?) and finding the perfect decorations.

Then, the books themselves, all marked down and arranged neatly due to the enormous efforts of Trevor, our sales rep extraordinaire, and Jonny, warehouse manager and backbone of all WP’s operations.

But the best part of the whole weekend was the authors! We kicked the weekend off with Rodney Fox’s launch, and that guy can tell a yarn. The hall was in stitches for his speech, then they queued up for ages to get their books signed by the man himself.

Other highlights included Lisa Fabry’s talk on the guilt-free benefits of vegan desserts, which had us all drooling, and Derek Pedley’s explanation of the process behind Dead by Friday — an amazing book and an amazing author. Valerie Volk’s fascinating writing processes were explained, and Jude Aquilina treated us to a couple of readings. Bruce Munday explained all things stone walls and Margaret Merrilees gave an excellent overview of her work, The First Week, while Sharon Kernot explained the processes behind the creation of the world in Underground Road.

And, of course, we left Don Pyatt Hall on Sunday night with a lot less books than we’d arrived with on Friday, already talking about how we’ll do it all next year.

Thanks all for coming, enjoying, giving talks or just sipping wine. It’s lovely to have such a great bunch of people reading and interested in Wakefield titles, and it warms the cockles of our Wakefieldian hearts to know that more than a few of you will be reading our books over the break!

Author Profiles – Bruce Munday

In 1974 Bruce and Kristin Munday bought a farm in the Adelaide Hills where they raised sheep, cattle and three children, and planted many trees. When the kids left home Bruce established his own business as a communications consultant in natural resource management and discovered how much he enjoyed sharing stories with people living on the land – particularly those who love the land and want to conserve it. Those Dry-Stone Walls documents the beauty of South Australia’s dry-stone walls, many of which have defied gravity – without mortar – since early settlement.

We asked Bruce a few questions about his interest in dry-stone walls and the process of making the book.

Those Dry-stone Walls coverWhen did you first become interested in dry-stone walls, and how? 

I have always admired the stone architecture in SA and we have several old dry-stone walls near our property at Tungkillo. Some are in good condition while others are tumbling down, but they all said something about early settlement in the district. What really got me going was visiting Peru about 10 years ago and seeing the remarkable dry-stone structures about which so little is known as the Incas had no written language. That prompted me to investigate if there had been any research into the dry-stone walls in SA.

What was your favourite moment during the writing of the book?

Favourite was the comment from Marcus Beresford (Nat Trust SA) who, after reviewing the first draft wrote that ‘this is a compelling story, delightfully told. I will certainly buy the book’. At that moment I knew I had a book.

Those Dry-stone Walls has become very popular. Have you received any interesting feedback from readers? 

I have been lucky. The book launch was a great success and that set the scene for a positive reaction to the book. I have received many favourable comments from people who took the time to write or email and several invitations to speak to local history groups, etc. Perhaps the most encouraging comments came from serious history buffs who expressed pleasure that someone had undertaken this work. The most moving came from a letter I received from Liz Mitchell, the widow of Kim to whom I dedicated the book. Liz wrote: The book was passed around the family, and inspired many discussions about stone walls and Kim. The children asked what it meant to ‘dedicate’ a book to someone, and grew prouder of their Dad as I explained as best I could. I found that, and indeed her whole letter, very moving.

If you were a superhero, what would your superpower be? 

My power would be to recover all the stone that has been pillaged from old stone walls, remove them from their present location in private gardens, etc, and return them to from whence they came. I would leave behind a note saying ‘shame on you’ signed ‘History Superhero’.

What are your favourite Wakefield Press titles, aside from your own, and why? 

Your Brick Oven – just what I needed to build my own

The Adelaide Parklands – there is nothing else like it


So, you want to build a dry-stone wall?

Those Dry-stone Walls 01

Beautiful stone was nature’s gift to South Australia, and an irresistible building material for early settlers. Many stone walls, without mortar or with no more than mud as glue, have defied gravity and the elements all these years. Or did gravity combine with deft balance to sustain them?

In Those Dry-stone Walls: Stories from South Australia’s stone age, author Bruce Munday takes us on a journey across the state, exploring the history of SA’s dry-stone walls, and giving an insight into rural life. Hot off the press, this book is not just for history and nature buffs – it contains a comprehensive chapter (‘So, you want to build a wall!’) on DIY dry-stone walling, for those who are keen to have a crack.

Click here for further information, and to order your own copy!

Those Dry-stone Walls

Below, author Bruce is hard at work on his own dry-stone wall (picture by Kristin Munday).

Bruce Munday_Those Dry-stone Walls