The Washerwoman’s Dream

A friend recently lent me a copy of “The Washerwoman’s Dream” by Hilarie Lindsay. I enjoyed it so much I bought myself a copy.

It’s the story of an English girl, Winifred Oaten, who migrated to Australia with her father in the 1890s when she was about nine, and the amazing life she lead. (Her mother ran back down the gangplank just as the ship was about to pull away from the dock in England, and never came to Australia.) Winifred ended up marrying an Afghan camel man, going on a pilgrimage to Mecca as a Muslim, and having an audience with the then King Ibn Saud, among many other adventures and disasters. And she lived for a time in Billy Goat Lane in Oodnadatta (which runs along behind the Pink Roadhouse)!

I recommend it to anyone interested in the history of early European settlement in Australia. (It’s about 500 pages, so not an overnight read.) You can get a second-hand copy on for about $18.30 (incl postage). Or I’ll lend you my copy if you ask nicely.


About dazzlerplus

Writing about the things that interest me helps me to discover what I think. One of my loves is the Australian Outback, and I travel out there often, and when possible take friends with me.
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2 Responses to The Washerwoman’s Dream

  1. Gillian Hunt says:

    My mother sailed from England to live in Australia when she was 18. Her story is very different from that of Winifred, but I’m fascinated by that spirit of adventure and courage, especially in young women who make a life for themselves in a new land.
    Put me on your borrower’s list please Rob. Gillian

  2. dazzlerplus says:

    A reader who read “The Washerwoman’s Dream” wrote:

    Winifred the Washerwoman won the day. She had me stretched on the couch most of yesterday afternoon, as by Part Four there was only one place to stop and that was at the end of the book.

    Words like incredible, unbelievable and amazing barely describe her experiences, the places she travelled to and those she met along the way. She found herself in situations of such extremity, repeated throughout her life. They can scarcely be imagined. Her achievements read like a rather far-fetched yarn, except that she did them. Even looking at a map of Australia and seeing where she and her family walked, rode on camels, and lived… from Lambeth in England, to Queensland, NSW, South Australia, Northern Territory, India and Afghanistan is not bad going, in the days before backpackers.

    Over the years I have found that a particular book has come my way, often unsought, to reveal, connect, clarify something. It has happened again.

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