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Trains in the Sky -bookcover

By: Ivan Grosvenor Hawthorn

Trains in the Sky

Pages: 247 Ratings:
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Ivan Hawthorn's Trains in the Sky is a fascinating account of childhood as a young boy in the great drought and depression of 1930s outback Australia. Growing up in an all-male household, Ivan Hawthorn documents his boyhood years with his brothers, a wonderful insight into the deprivations and the challenges and the amazing resolve of the outback families during these difficult times. Not just a book for blokes, this is an intricate social history in which the role of women is set into sharp relief and there is more than a little love interest as Ivan grows up and pursues a career in the RAAF set against the backdrop of post war Australia. A blend of fascinating social insight, more than a passing commentary about early twentieth century farming, indigenous wildlife and the social positioning of men and women, Trains in the Sky will have you reaching for the sequel.  

Ivan Hawthorn was born in the heart of a great wheat belt in Ungarie, New South Wales, in 1930 to farming parents. Ivan is the third of eight brothers - there were no sisters.
At the local school house, where all grades from first to sixth learned together in one room, he started his journey through the corridors of education. This journey, whilst relatively brief, was far-reaching as his parents sought greener pastures, but in vain. During the great depression of 1929-1938, the family travelled to no less than seven different towns. At fourteen, Ivan left school and returned to Wagga Wagga where he was employed on a sprawling 44,000-acre property as a farmhand. As he grew older, he ventured far and wide, becoming a horse breaker, a shooter in the Northern Territory, a truck driver and an apprentice mechanic. In 1952, he joined the Royal Australian Airforce graduating as a motor mechanic, over seventeen years rising to the rank of Acting Warrant Officer.
Ivan is the recipient of a Certificate of Outstanding Service to Support Command and, the British Empire Medal for Meritorious Service. On discharge, he wintered four times, twice in Antarctica and twice as Officer in Charge of the 28th and 32nd Australian National Antarctic Research Expeditions. On return to civilian life, he was involved in an industrial accident which after major spinal surgery left him permanently handicapped. Writing became pain management. He has been married to his wife Margaret for sixty-three years, with four children, sixteen grandchildren and eleven great grandchildren.

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