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Road From Coorain, The (ATOM Study Guide)

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The Road from Coorain is a feature film for television based on Jill Ker Conway's celebrated autobiography. The film uses a narrative style to tell the story of various phases of Jill Ker Conway's life.

An inspiring, haunting work, The Road from Coorain is the story of a childhood and an account of the relationship between two extraordinary women, Jill and her mother. The film begins as Jill is about to leave Coorain for a new life, and then takes us back to when she is a young child living on an isolated sheep-farm in the rural New South Wales grasslands. The child, Jill, is a bright loner who loves the bush. Too far from civilisation to go to school, the only people she knows are her adored older brothers and the eccentric men who work for her parents. When her brothers leave for boarding school, Jill at the age of eight, becomes her father's helping hand. From her mother she discovers a passion for books. From both parents, Jill learns the abiding rule – you never cry, ever. The viewer gains insights into life in rural Australia in the 1930's and the hardships faced by her family at the time. There is bountiful rain in 1939 and then not a drop for eight years. As the dust storms come boiling out of the central Australian desert and as the sheep begin dying in thousands, Jill observes her father's declining spirits. To her parents, she becomes indispensable – they believe her capable of anything and at the age of ten she is doing the work of grown men. She finds herself becoming an unnaturally good child.

The story continues as Jill grows through her teen years to adulthood in urban Sydney. The Road from Coorain ends with Jill's decision to leave Australia in her mid 20's to pursue her academic life and studies in the United States of America.

The themes and activities about The Road from Coorain developed in this study guide will have interest and relevance for teachers and students from the middle to senior years of schooling and at the tertiary level studying these subjects:

  • Studies of Society and Environment
  • Australian History
  • Cultural studies
  • English
  • Personal development
  • Media studies

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