Brenda’s Review of Red Dirt Odyssey in Goodreads

Red Dirt Odyssey

Red Dirt Odyssey
by Kath Engebretson


Brenda‘s review

Nov 26, 2016
Read on November 26, 2016 — I own a copy


Devastated at the sudden, shocking death of her beloved husband, Alice was buried in her grief. She took extended leave, then resigned, her academic position not enticing enough to keep her there. Will had been part of her life it seemed like forever – his death just prior to their retirement and travel in their campervan felt cruel and unjust. Alice’s married son and daughter were supportive but they were grieving as well…

Gradually Alice found a way out of the fog; a plan started to form in her mind for herself and her future. And when she tentatively and nervously told her children she was going to leave her home in Melbourne and head across the Nullarbor in her campervan, by herself, they were shocked. But after much preparation, Alice was finally on her way – heading for adventures she’d previously thought she’d share with Will; now doing it alone.

And adventures she found! A mistreated pup she named Matey joined Alice on her odyssey; before long they were inseparable. Alice was a good cook – her meeting of Tom, boss of a shearing team – and his invitation she join the crew as shearers’ cook was an eye opener for Alice. And she loved it – exhausted but happy, she made friends with the “boys” and they raved about her cooking. As she continued across the Nullarbor to Kalgoorlie and up the west coast, the people she met and scenery she viewed had a profound impact on her. When one door closed, another definitely opened…

Red Dirt Odyssey was a thoroughly enjoyable and entertaining read. A mix of emotions rippled through this book – happiness and new friendships; sadness and loss; grief and new beginnings – and it was set to the backdrop of the magnificent outback and coast of Western Australia. Aussie author Kath Engebretson has blended Indigenous Australians with ease into Red Dirt Odyssey – the varied and diverse characters are wonderfully written. I have to add that I love the cover as well! Highly recommended as a new voice in Australian fiction.

With thanks to Atlas Productions for this copy to read in exchange for my honest review.

Book launch and signing of Red Dirt Odyssey

Try to keep a little time aside on the morning of Christmas Eve December 24th to come to the launch and booksigning of Red Dirt Odyssey, 11 am to 12 noon at Eltham Bookshop, 720 Main Road Eltham. There’ll be champagne, mince pies and shortbread and the lovely voice of Teresa (Engebretson) Brown singing songs of the outback. Happy to provide more information at

Cover image
Cover image

I’m writing

Ninety mile beach
Ninety mile beach
Golden Beach store
Golden Beach store

I’m writing a new book set in contemporary Melbourne. One of its themes is the importance of the spaces in which we live, and how they affect our wellbeing. Golden Beach is a tiny hamlet on the south east coast of Victoria, beloved for its fishing and unbroken views of the ninety mile beach. It’s one of the spaces that appears and re-appears in the novel.

sand dunes
Sand dunes


I’m reading

Thomas Keneally, Crimes of the Father (October 2016). Keneally is a national treasure. He’s 81 years old and still writing big challenging books that stay with you long after you’ve finished reading.

Helen Garner, Regions of Thick Ribbed Ice, an essay on her trip to Antartica. Beautifully written as you expect, but Helen comes across as grumpy and depressed. She didn’t like the penquins, while I marvelled at their industry, and at the way the males and females protected the unhatched chicks. I laughed when I saw them slyly stealing stones from each other’s nests to add to their own.