Rural author Fiona Palmer asks what is it with kids and playing with matches?

Living in the country you would think our bush kids would be used to seeing fires. Bonfires, burning paddocks and even those random bushfires. You would think that they know the dangers involved more than others, but I’ve found this not to be true. I have such a child who was found out, burning his own little fire which ‘it’s okay mum, I put it out with water’. His own pee of course! Sure he had it contained and was being careful but trying to explain to a nearly 8-year-old that the wind could pick up, reignite it and start a bushfire… I don’t think he could see the big picture.

Author Photo Credit: Lata Photography
Author Photo Credit: Lata Photography

Now I can’t really be one to talk. I can remember myself, along with my cousins, burning a few things as kids out on the farm. We each had a few go’s. Once was in a paddock but we managed to get that out by ripping our shirts off our back and putting it out. The others lit a fire in the old house out on the farm (really old, falling down house) and it caught some old curtains but they managed to get that out. Then my last attempt at playing with fire, my cousin and I were playing with a candle, which for some unknown reason we stuck in an old hamburger container with straw. ( ?????) And somehow this caught fire onto a bush that was growing up the corner of my Auntie’s house. Flames were roaring up the side of the house in seconds. We call for the parents, who unbeknown to us were talking with their insurance people!!! They put it out with a nearby hose and we spent a very long day confined to a room.

But fire is fascinating and I always loved it when we were older and could help my uncle go burning on his property. And there is nothing more awesome than sitting by a big crackling bonfire on a winter’s night with the stars twinkling in the sky. So I find myself now, using all my lectures on my son, using my ‘stories’ to help him understand better and hoping (fingers and toes crossed) that this is enough to stop him ‘playing’ again.


Screen Shot 2014-09-02 at 3.34.19 PMThree generations of Stewart women share a deep connection to their family farm, but a secret from the past threatens to tear them apart.

Widowed matriarch Maggie remembers a time when the Italian prisoners of war came to work on their land, changing her heart and her home forever. Single mum Toni has been tied to the place for as long as she can recall, although farming was never her dream. And Flick is as passionate about the farm as a young girl could be, despite the limited opportunities for love.

When a letter from 1946 is unearthed in an old cottage on the property, the Sunnyvale girls find themselves on a journey deep into their own hearts and all the way across the world to Italy. Their quest to solve a mystery leads to incredible discoveries about each other, and about themselves.


Fiona Palmer lives in the tiny rural town of Pingaring in Western Australia. She discovered Danielle Steel at the age of eleven, and has now written her own brand of rural romance. She received an Australian Society of Authors mentorship for her first novel, The Family Farm. She has extensive farming experience, does the local mail run, and was a speedway-racing driver for seven years. She spends her days writing, helping out in the community and looking after her two children.

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