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No holds are barred as the Cleary family attempts to put long-held tensions behind them to celebrate a milestone. What could possibly go wrong?

Kungadgee, Victoria, Australia. A weekend in late November, 2014. At Hugh and Christine Cleary’s new vineyard, Whipbird, six generations of the Cleary family are coming together from far and wide to celebrate the 160th anniversary of the arrival of their ancestor Conor Cleary from Ireland. Hugh has been meticulously planning the event for months – a chance to proudly showcase Whipbird to the extended clan. Some of these family members know each other; some don’t.

As the wine flows, it promises to be an eventful couple of days.

Comic, topical, honest, sharply intelligent, and, above all, sympathetic, Robert Drewe’s exhilarating new novel tells a classic Australian family saga as it has never been told before.


He writes with humility and clarity, in spare, uncomplicated prose, with a storyteller's gift in short and long fiction, essay and memoir

David Gaunt, Australian Bookseller & Publisher

Every so often someone writes fiction that ravishes the popular imagination. Robert Drewe … has done it again in Whipbird, an absolutely compelling read and also something more. Like Tsiolkas’s The Slap, it has the great advantage of both a soap element and a massive ensemble effect, beautifully coordinated ... It's a kind of Canterbury Tales standing still, and it's a winner.

The Saturday Paper

Drewe's literary instincts are as impeccable as his ear for the English language is unfaltering . . .

Richard King, Weekend Australian

There's satire, revelation and redemption aplenty in Robert Drewe's latest novel.

Digby Hildreth, Verandah Magazine

Drewe has moved into the forefront of contemporary writing in English

Sydney Morning Herald

One of the most significant novelists currently working

The Guardian (UK)

Drewe’s writing is cinematically immediate and crackles with an intensity of sense

Independent (UK)

One of the undisputed masters of Australian storytelling

ABC Radio National

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Formats & editions

  • Trade Paperback


    July 31, 2017

    Hamish Hamilton

    320 pages

    RRP $32.99

    Online retailers

    • Abbey's Bookshop
    • Angus & Robertson Bookworld
    • Booktopia
    • Boomerang Books
    • Collins Booksellers
    • Dymocks
    • Books Kinokuniya
    • The Nile
    • QBD
    • Readings
    • Robinsons Bookshop

    Find your local bookstore at booksellers.org.au

  • EBook


    July 31, 2017

    Penguin eBooks

    320 pages

    Online retailers

    • iBooks
    • Amazon Kindle
    • Booktopia
    • eBooks
    • Google Play
    • Kobo

    Find your local bookstore at booksellers.org.au


A rich cloud of meat smoke drifting slowly across the grapevines and paddocks greeted the members of the Cleary family as they arrived at the vineyard. The tasty mist from a dozen barbecues billowed over the house – the ‘homestead’, as Hugh Cleary called it – and the stable and the rammed-earth wine cellar, and above the rows of newly planted pinot noir vines, and curled up into the blue gums and manna gums bordering the creek.

Now he believed he was a dead person, Hugh’s younger brother Simon ‘Sly’ Cleary peered out of the car window at the gaunt new vines and wondered how long he’d be spending in this gravelly realm between heaven and hell. In the eyes of the former keyboard player for Spider Flower, suffering a delusionary mental belief that he’d lost his vital organs and no longer existed, perhaps this particular phase was Purgatory.

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Book Clubs
Whipbird Reading Group Notes

Transport your book club to a vineyard setting with Robert Drewe’s topical-yet-comic family saga Whipbird.

Also by Robert Drewe

The Bodysurfers: Penguin Australian Classics
Swimming to the Moon
Montebello: A Memoir
The Local Wildlife
The Bodysurfers: Penguin Special
The Best Australian Essays 2010
The Rip
The Bodysurfers: Popular Penguins
The Penguin Anthology of Australian Poetry
The Best Australian Stories 2007
The Penguin Book of the Beach
The Shark Net
The Drowner
Our Sunshine
Savage Crows
A Cry in the Jungle Bar
The Bodysurfers
The Bay of Contented Men


The Handmaid's Tale
To Kill A Mockingbird
A Gentleman in Moscow
Echo Burning
Best Laid Plans
The Heart's Invisible Furies
The Girl on the Train
Dragonfly In Amber
The Narrow Road to the Deep North
The Curious Incident of the Dog In the Night-time
The Golden Age
The Golden House
Swing Time
The Bear and The Nightingale
The Mistress
The Girls
Tiger Men
Fifty Shades Darker
The Secret Vineyard
Ready Player One