Best-selling author Liz Harfull has close connections with Robe and its history. Her great grandfather was one of the carriers engaged to guide Chinese gold miners from the port to Victoria’s goldfields during the 1850s. She captured something of that history in her first published story, written at the age of 11, as part of a tribute to local author Kathleen Bermingham, who was an early mentor and wrote the last full-scale book published about Robe (Gateway to the South-East, 1962).
Liz and her sisters own one of Robe’s historic cottages, which their parents very sensibly decided to buy in the early 1970s. She has been spending time there regularly ever since.
The author’s first book, The Blue Ribbon Cookbook, was published by Wakefield Press in 2008. The first publication to capture, collectively, the history and traditions of South Australia’s agricultural shows, the book revolves around the individual stories, recipes and generational knowledge of home cooks who participate in the amateur cookery competitions which are a much-loved feature of the shows.
The Blue Ribbon Cookbook is now in its fourth print run. It was selected as book of the month for The Big Book Club in February 2009 and was named runner-up in the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards Best in the World competition, announced in Paris, where it competed against 59 finalists in the Best Easy Recipe Book category in July 2009. In April 2010 it was short-listed for the World Food Media Awards. Liz is now working on a follow-up version covering shows across Australia, due for release in April 2014.
Her second book, Women of the Land, about eight Australian women who have run their own farms, was released by Allen & Unwin in April 2012. It hit the national best-seller list for non-fiction within a few weeks of being launched. An updated edition with an epilogue continuing the women’s stories was released in March 2013.
Liz has a passion for finding creative and engaging ways to tell the stories of regional Australia, its people, communities and traditions. A journalist and editor with some 30 years’ experience, she is immediate past president of the Australian Council for Agricultural Journalists – the umbrella organisation for Australia’s five rural press clubs, and serves on the executive of the International Federation for Agricultural J0urnalists.
She also works as a public relations and communication consultant, with a special focus on agriculture and environmental management. As a Churchill Fellow, she travelled overseas studying communication strategies which encourage farmers to take up best practice.