At home with Colleen McCullough
At home with Colleen McCullough

Reporter: Rahni Sadler
Producer: Rebecca LeTourneau
Date: 16 October, 2011
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There are many sides to Australia’s most successful female author. The 74-year-old Colleen McCullough is arguably also the country's most politically incorrect. She just doesn’t “like children”, and has a rather interesting nickname for Prime Minister Julia Gillard, Mrs Chook.

Colleen is full of surprises just like the latest chapter in her life where she’s collaborating on a musical based on her novel Morgan’s Run with composer Gavin Lockley. Her island home's
isolation provided her with both sanctuary and inspiration, it’s brutal history as a penal colony is the setting for the novel and musical.

Starting her career as a neuroscientist, Colleen got a job teaching at Yale University in the United States. In her spare time she wrote her first novel Tim in 1974. The movie based on the book launched Mel Gibson’s film career and her own as an author. Three years later she bashed out a literary classic - Thorn Birds. The epic story of forbidden love connected with readers around the world and became an international best seller.

Uncomfortable with the fame she escaped to Norfolk Island where she met and married Rick Robinson. Twenty-eight years later Colleen says Rick is the best thing that ever happened to her.

Today, Colleen’s mind is as sharp as ever but it’s her body that’s letting her down. She’s survived cancer, is nearly blind, has osteoporosis, diabetes and a rare and painful nerve condition. But, continues her work in the musical, writing murder mysteries and still tries to beat Rick at scrabble.

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