Hill, Ernestine (c. 1899–1972)

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Hill, Ernestine (c. 1899–1972)

Australian novelist and travel writer. Born in 1899 or 1900 in Rockhampton, Queensland, Australia; died in 1972.

Born around 1899 in Queensland, Australia, Ernestine Hill would spend most of her life roaming Australia and documenting her travels. She penned a book of verse for adolescents, Peter Pan Land, in 1916, many years before her travel writings appeared in print. After her husband's death in 1933, Hill wandered almost continuously, and her first adult publication detailed her five years of travel in the Australian outback, The Great Australian Loneliness (1937). In 1947, she published Flying Doctor Calling, an account of the establishment of the Australian Inland Mission. The book told of the devotion and grit of John Flynn and others who brought airborne medical care to inland Australia. Hill's book The Territory, considered by many to be her best, was published in 1951, by which time Hill had been, in her own words, "twice round Australia by land, clockwise and anti-clockwise … three times across it from south to north, many times east and west, and once on the diagonal." Hill's only novel, My Love Must Wait (1941), was based on the life of explorer Matthew Flinders and proved to be her most commercial work, selling a remarkable 10,000 copies during wartime austerity.

Ernestine Hill died in 1972, and her final effort, Kabbarli: A Personal Memoir of Daisy Bates (1973), was published posthumously. In this book, she claims responsibility, in large part, for the writing of Daisy Bates' Passing of the Aborigines (1938).


Radi, Heather, ed. 200 Australian Women. NSW, Australia: Women's Redress Press, 1988.

Wilde, William H., Joy Hooton, and Barry Andrews. Oxford Companion to Australian Literature. Melbourne: Oxford, 1985.

Judith C. Reveal , freelance writer, Greensboro, Maryland