Noreen was born in Melbourne in 1947 and attended Canterbury Girls’ Secondary College.
Her love of life on the land began as a small child, having heard the stories her Mother told regarding her upbringing on a farm. From that time on all she wanted to do was live on a farm and own a horse. This dream eventuated when she met and married John. The isolation of living on a primitive outstation on Bougainville Island in pre-Independence New Guinea with three young children and dealing with the day to day challenges would probably have broken many young women at that time, but this experience helped mould her character which stood her in very good stead for the hard and sometimes gut-wrenching farming life they later lead in various locations.
In 1973 they returned to Australia where they acquired a small holding near the Gippsland Lakes in Victoria and began their dream of farming, owning cattle and sheep at various times. Because Noreen hated losing any animals through illness or disease, her tenacity surpassed itself in saving lambs when she put a live lamb in the oven to warm it up - and forgot it. After eleven years in Gippsland they bit the bullet and departed the rolling green pastures for a 250,000 acre sheep station in the parched outback of Western Australia where isolation was the "norm", and ingenuity and tenacity was required by the bucket load.
Having left the farming life behind, Noreen now lives and works in Perth, Western Australia. She worked for several years at the Royal Agricultural Society of WA and for the Wine Industry Association of WA, and is currently a Contracts Administrator for a firm of German engineers who design stackers, reclaimers and shiploaders for the mining industry.
Noreen’s second book will be a series of autobiographical short stories. Release date 2015.
"Two Shakes of a Dead Lamb's Tail" is a bittersweet memoir of a young Australian woman's journey to self-sufficiency and adventure by acquiring new skills and daring and overcoming tough challenges in remote PNG, and then farming in isolation in the Western Australian bush.
Each context tests Reeves' stamina, family, marriage and sense of self and is an interesting memoir about a woman finding strength through life’s trials. One hopes Reeves will persevere, for when her prose sparks a visceral experience when she sees the beauty of the landscape in the midst of her troubles, it sings.
I really enjoyed Two Shakes of a Dead Lamb’s Tail. I began reading it and I couldn’t put it down until it was finished. I think it was great and was really emotional and I really felt like I could imagine the whole thing bit by bit, as it was written really well. Good work!
This is an excellent story about the early adventures of marriage as experienced by a young woman living in PNG and Australia during the 1970’s. Noreen proves remarkable in her willingness to travel to the wilds of Bougainville Island with her husband and young son, where conditions are tough and where she learns that she has the determination, the ingenuity and the humour to be able to resolve or accept whatever fate casts her way. She then translates these experiences to guide her through the later challenges of living on farms in the Gippsland area of Victoria and on the sheep station in outback Western Australia. She is courageous in her youth and formidable in her determination to make a home for her family. This story provides snapshot moments of extraordinary fortitude in the life decisions of an ordinary woman making her way through life. Her tales are told with wonderful description and honesty. They lead the reader to realising there is still more to be said and hoping another book will soon be available to carry on her tales.
This book is a terrific read, captivating yet humbling, leaving you with a very uplifting outlook on life. Noreen shows the fine balance between hard work and fondness for animals. She has the “I can” attitude and shows amazing strength, both physical and emotional, required to survive the harsh realities of farming with its long days and the dangers associated with living in isolated conditions.
An awesome read. I felt I was right there with the author in the rain, dust and heat – but immersed too in the beauty and the excitement of all she has experienced. If I live half of what she has, I’d have had a full life.
Thoroughly enjoyed this autobiography about an Aussie girl who marries very young and then embarks on an amazing life journey with a growing family, initially through the trials and tribulations of isolation on an outstation in Papua New Guinea and then domestic farm life in Australia on a meagre income, until finally the family work as a tight adult team battling the harsh climate of a vast sheep station in Western Australia. This book tells a warm and heartfelt tale from a mothers very personal perspective of her journey through life: full of humour and an abundance of Aussie slang as each anecdotal tale reveals itself along the way. Beautiful and poetic descriptions of landscape and the Australian bush are breathtaking. Hoping for a second book from this very passionate and accomplished author!
What a great read. Noreen writes in a very friendly easy to read style and by the end of the book I felt like we were friends. She makes you feel like you were part of her awe inspiring life. Many of us dream of releasing the shackles and going where life takes us and Noreen and her family certainly did this. Noreen is certainly no ordinary woman and this book is no ordinary read. Well done Noreen.
You go Girl!
I have just finished reading Noreen Reeves’ book, Two Shakes of a Dead Lamb’s Tail. What a wonderful read; I couldn’t put it down!
It was beautifully written and took me to the places that Noreen described so powerfully. What a courageous woman who, along with her family, left all that was familiar to her and set out for an isolated area of New Guinea to brave the battles that each day seemed to bring. And boy, were they battles. Many people would have packed up and gone home by the first day.
The tales of her time on the station in Western Australia were both poignant and humorous. Noreen’s use of Aussie slang adds colour to her book and her description of the Australian land and bush will be understood by those who have ventured to these magnificent yet harsh areas of our continent. Thank you, Noreen! An impressive book that was well written and totally enjoyable!
Fantastic read. Read Noreen’s book and loved every minute of it. An easy and informative read worth taking the time to sit down and read it. Would recommend this book to all ages and there is something in it for everyone.
Awesome read. This is the first book I have read completely for a long time. Addictive and always looked forward to my next reading session. Being from the bush I could relate to it and could always make me smile, especially situations that happened on the station. Great read and highly recommended.
I found the author’s story of a hard life in primitive then isolated locations absorbing. It left me wanting to know more. I hope there are other stories to come from a natural and interesting writer.
Two Shakes of a Dead Lamb’s Tail is truly an inspiring book. It looks at one persons courage, determination, strength and humour in the face of adversity. I admired the author’s sense of adventure and her adherence to the saying “when the going gets tough, the tough get going. She is truly that. Being able to overcome the frustrations and disappointments of living in isolation, coping and improvising where necessary, raising a young family, these situations are difficult under normal circumstances. Her ability to adapt under trying conditions is amazing in itself. Many a person would have put this under the “too hard file” and walked away. It made me realise that with a will of iron, sheer courage and determination to succeed, that anything can be achieved. I can hardly wait to read the authors next book.
Very good book depicting a real life experience of a bold, courageous woman who did her very best to be the gutsy woman who took on everything life threw her way. I admire her skills and ingenuity at doing her damndest to make a go of everything she did! I take my hat off to her for all that did for so many years and mostly as an unsung feminist and trail blazer! We all have a lot to learn from Noreen and now, having read her book it is also clear that she is a very good writer. I would love to see Noreen as a guest speaker for International Womens’ Day.
Beautiful book about the life of some truly courageous people. Every young person should read it to understand how life can be for those who choose experience over possessions and comfort.
I have just had the pleasure of listening to Noreen Reeves as she talked about her book and some of the contents. I felt like I too was a part of it. She spoke with such humour and honesty and I can’t wait to read the whole book. What a wonderful achievement. Thankyou.
Thanks again for presenting at Whitford Library on the 19th of February. It was a fantastic attendance for a first time author, which I believe was due to the fascinating topic you presented – your amazing life!
Everyone seemed to enjoy the evening, proven by the comments made on the evaluation forms after your presentation: