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In the Middle of Nowhere

Updated: May 25, 2023

If you're not living on a cattle station, then you'll get transported to one on every page you read in Terry Underwood's epic autobiography 'In the Middle of Nowhere'.

“Terry with faithful shadow Kyber at her Riveren beginnings – the camp fire stove, the bough shed living area and the tent master bedroom – in the middle of nowhere.” | Feb 1968
"Terry with faithful shadow Kyber at her Riveren beginnings – the camp fire stove, the bough shed living area and the tent master bedroom – in the middle of nowhere." | Feb 1968 | Terry Underwood ©

Earlier this year in Darwin at the Northern Territory Cattlemen's Association Conference I had the pleasure of meeting Terry Underwood (see image below), the author of 'In the Middle of Nowhere'. I had been tipped off by my Aunt in Sydney that her sister had done nursing with Terry in Sydney, and they remain good friends. As you will find out in the book, the friend was Rosyln Carey who went on to become Sister of the Fransiscan Missionary of Mary - doing some incredible work herself.


Terry kindly sent me a copy of her autobiography and I couldn't put it down - a fantastic and intriguing read. I often get asked what a ringer is, so I also enjoyed reading one of John's early letters to Terry, where he says:


'You asked what a ringer is. He's a stockman, more so a bushie. One of those blokes that even if he was dressed in a tuxedo you could still pick him for a bushie.'


Among her many accomplishments and talents, Terry is also a photographer, many of her images having been exhibited around the country - she says "it was part of my mission to bring the bush to the big smoke". She has kindly shared some of the images from her book and others in this blog.


ABOUT THE BOOK


Terry says: "When "In the Middle of Nowhere” was published on 1 April 1998, none of us could have anticipated the world-wide response. Our mail plane delivered countless heartfelt letters and extraordinary gifts as people expressed gratitude for our love, faith, inspiration etc and then they shared their stories with us."


In the Middle of Nowhere is a story of beating the odds, of the power of love and the strength of family ties to overcome every obstacle.


Terry met John at St Vincents Hospital, where she was training to be a nurse and he was recuperating from a horse-riding accident. They wrote love letters to each other for five years before marrying. Terry's new home on the huge pastoral lease of Riveren consisted of a tent and a newly drilled bore - a tiny spec on the 3,000 square kilometre station, and a 6 hour drive to Katherine - then a relatively 'short' drive up to Darwin of 4 hours. The newlyweds literally built their station from scratch and raised and educated their four children on the station.


It is a story told with warmth and a knowledge of the bush, its people, and the issues facing the Northern Territory of Australia.


“Barefooted bush kids Becky, Michel, Marie  (holding Cuddle’s paws) and Patrick in 1981. Later, John went missing while flying this plane. When the search party spotted the tangled wreckage, grief turned to hope when a leg was seen moving in the gaping cockpit. Miraculously, John had survived.” | 1981
"Barefooted bush kids Becky, Michel, Marie (holding Cuddle’s paws) and Patrick in 1981. Later, John went missing while flying this plane. When the search party spotted the tangled wreckage, grief turned to hope when a leg was seen moving in the gaping cockpit. Miraculously, John had survived.” | 1981 | Terry Underwood ©

 

Headwaters of the Victoria River on Riveren, NT
Headwaters of the Victoria River on Riveren, NT | Terry Underwood ©

 

“Becky, in 1987, helping a slow learner to suck from a specially made “calfeteria” that allows twelve or more poddy calves to drink simultaneously. As they suck vigorously, frothy milk bubbles appear around their mouths, and their tails swish backwards and forwards with contentment.”
“Becky, in 1987, helping a slow learner to suck from a specially made “calfeteria” that allows twelve or more poddy calves to drink simultaneously. As they suck vigorously, frothy milk bubbles appear around their mouths, and their tails swish backwards and forwards with contentment.” | Terry Underwood ©

 

“Becky, Marie, Michael and Patrick working diligently in their Riveren schoolroom in February 1979. Correspondence lessons and Katherine School of the Air were a way of life for eighteen years.”
“Becky, Marie, Michael and Patrick working diligently in their Riveren schoolroom in February 1979. Correspondence lessons and Katherine School of the Air were a way of life for eighteen years.” | Terry Underwood ©

 

"Mustering the land we love" Terry Underwood.
"Mustering the land we love" | Terry Underwood ©

 

"Marie receiving congratulations from Mrs Maggie Lilly. Patrick and Michael also won numerous ribbons at the Annual Gymkhana held over Annual Halls Creek Race weekend".
"Marie receiving congratulations from Mrs Maggie Lilly. Patrick and Michael also won numerous ribbons at the Annual Gymkhana held over Annual Halls Creek Race weekend". | Terry Underwood ©

 

“The Riveren Underwoods 1997 – Michael, Patrick, Marie, Becky, Terry and John – as a storm approaches and rain drops fall from a darkening sky with the promise of follow-up rain, the family is aglow with optimism and togetherness.”
“The Riveren Underwoods 1997 – Michael, Patrick, Marie, Becky, Terry and John – as a storm approaches and rain drops fall from a darkening sky with the promise of follow-up rain, the family is aglow with optimism and togetherness.”

 

A record yarding at Riveren Station, NT
A record yarding at Riveren Station, NT | Terry Underwood ©

 

"This I took on the unforgettable day we loaded 8 roadtrains at Riveren as they travelled our access road across headwaters of the Victoria River on their way to Darwin." | Terry Underwood ©
"This I took on the unforgettable day we loaded 8 roadtrains at Riveren as they travelled our access road across headwaters of the Victoria River on their way to Darwin." Terry Underwood ©

 


In the Middle of Nowhere - Media article in the NT News July 25th 2000
In the Middle of Nowhere - Media article in the NT News July 25th 2000

 

Media article The Land Magazine re in the Middle of Nowhere
Media article The Land Magazine | In the Middle of Nowhere

 


Media article The Sunday Times | In the Middle of Nowhere |  September 12th 1999
Media article The Sunday Times | In the Middle of Nowhere | September 12th 1999

 

Order 'In the Middle of Nowhere' in hardcopy or audiobook:




All images, where detailed, are Copyright property of Terry Underwood ©, images are not to be reproduced without permission.



Terry Underwood with RFTTE Founder Simon Cheatham | NTCA Gala Dinner March 2023
Terry Underwood with RFTTE Founder Simon Cheatham | NTCA Gala Dinner March 2023

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Peter Gilmour
Peter Gilmour
Aug 18, 2023

I remember reading Terry's book when it came out, it deepened my love for outback Australia where I now live

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