She studied English Literature at the University of Adelaide, then went onto work as a journalist and art critic.
She married Eldred De Bracton Norman in 1941 - they had two sons & one daughter.
They moved to Noosa in Qld where Cato became heavily involved in environmental and conservation issues.
In 1984 she was made a Member of the Order of Australia for services to Literature & the environment. In 1991 Cato received an Honorary Doctorate of Letters from the University of Queensland.
Cato died on the 3rd July 2000
She now has a Park and restaurant in Noosa named after her as well as a street in the new Canberra suburb of Franklin.
It took her a decade to write but quickly became a bestseller. It was the success of this story in the US market that allowed Cato to give up journalism to focus on writing & conservation issues.
Since the 1970’s the trilogy has usually been published as one book. It was made into a TV mini-series in 1983 starring Sigrid Thornton & John Waters, and of course, the Murray River!
This was how I was introduced to Nancy Cato and Philadelphia Gordon. Cato specialised in creating strong, gutsy outback women; as a young teen, I revelled in these types of romantic, heroic female stories. Mum also obviously loved this series because she bought the book soon after. We both devoured it.
Three years later we had our first family holiday to Victoria.
We didn’t go to Melbourne or travel the Great Ocean Road or go to the snowfields...no! we went to Echuca to travel on a paddle steamer just like in All the Rivers Run!
A few years later I read Brown Sugar, but didn’t really enjoy it – my reading tastes had moved on by then. Although I did learn a lot about the Kanaka slave labourers used in the cane fields of Qld and Northern NSW in the late 1800’s.
Novels and short stories
- All the Rivers Run (1958)
- Time, Flow Softly : a novel of the River Murray (1959)
- Green Grows the Vine (1960)
- But Still The Stream: a novel of the Murray River (1962)
- The Sea Ants: and Other Stories (1964)
- North-West by South (1965)
- Brown Sugar (1974)
- Queen Trucanini (1976) (with Vivienne Rae Ellis)
- Nin and the Scribblies (1976)
- Forefathers (1983)
- The Lady Lost in Time (1986)
- A Distant Island (1988)
- The Heart of the Continent (1989)
- Marigold (1992)
- The Darkened Window (1950)
- The Dancing Bough (1957)
- "Travellers Through the Night" in Noosa One-act Winners. Volume 2 (1994)
- Mister Maloga : Daniel Matthews and his Mission, Murray River, 1864–1902 (1976)
- The Noosa Story: A Study in Unplanned Development (1979). Second edition: 1982. Third edition: 1989
- River's End (1989) with Leslie McLeay
- Jindyworobak Anthology 1950
“Cato was a good journalist, and her novels are strong on historical and environmental detail,
less so on characterisations and narrative tension.”
Susan Sheridan (2013)
Have you had a favourite author/genre from your late teens that didn't survive into your adult reading years?
This post is part of Alphabe-Thursday with Jenny.