03 November 2011

Arthur Upfield - less than "twenty years in the Outback”

A very common misconception about Arthur Upfield is that he worked in the Australian Outback for twenty years before becoming a full-time writer. It's based on the facts that he first arrived in Australia in 2011 and began writing full-time in 1931 – twenty years later. The error is in overlooking the lengthy period between those dates that he did not work in the Outback.

Upfield first arrived in Adelaide on 4 November 1911, and worked there for some time before “going bush.” He enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force on 22 August 1914, which would have been about two years and eight months later.

After serving in Australia, Egypt, France and England, Upfield was discharged on 15 October 1919. But he remained in England for another year before returning to Australia, arriving in January 1921. He then worked on his parents-in-law’s farm at Barrakee in western Victoria and in a Melbourne factory for some time before "going bush" again. He left the bush in mid 1931, about ten years and six months later.

So he worked in the Outback for a total of about thirteen years, seven years less than the commonly believed twenty years.