Title: Changing Horses – The Life of R.S. Porteous – Soldier, Sailor, Stockman, Artist, Author

Author: Laurent, Rob

Condition: Very Good

Edition: 1st Edition

Publication Date: 2001

ISBN: 0646409794

Cover: Soft Cover without Dust Jacket – 239 pages

Comments: R.S. Porteous was best known for his prizewinning novel Cattleman, published in 1960. Prior to becoming a writer, however, Syd Porteous tried his hand at many other occupations. 

He was a Light-Horseman in the First World War; a commercial artist in Melbourne during the early 1920s; a Jackeroo, then part-owner of a vast central-Queensland cattle property; one of the first tourist-launch operators who took passengers to the Barrier Reef Islands in the late 1930s; and First Mate on a US Army merchant ship during the Second World War. 

When he became a writer in later life he produced some of Australia’s most authentic novels and short stories – all based on his own adventures and experiences. 

Syd Porteous is largely forgotten these days. Changing Horses sets out to remind Australians of a man who lived the sort of life that most of us today can only dream about. Rob Laurent’s task of writing Syd Porteous’ story was made difficult by the fact that Syd destroyed most of his personal records just prior to his death from cancer in 1963. 

Where possible, Rob has selected excerpts from Syd’s own works and assembled them in a way that lets Syd tell his story in his own words. The writing of this book took three years and involved a great deal travel and research into old records, as well as the interviewing of a large number of people who had been involved with this enigmatic personality in the various stages of his exciting life. 

A very readable book that covers a variety of fields of interest, including: the Light Horse; the art world; the cattle industry; Barrier Reef tourism; the US Small Ships fleet of WW-2; amateur theatre, and Australian literature.