Winner of the 2019 Premier's Literary Prizes -

Tasmania Book Prize

Tasmania Book Prize People's Choice

‘An incredible debut by a brilliant new talent.’ Rohan Wilson, The Australian 

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St Albans Writers' Festival with Thomas Keneally, 2017

Bridget Crack is a new Tasmanian legend.  This is a brilliant, haunting evocation of women and history.’ Heather Rose  


‘I was not prepared for such a stunning read from the hands of a debut author… I could barely put the novel down.’  Theresa Smith, Australian Women Writers Challenge


‘Superbly written, incredibly bleak story, that grips the mind and the soul.’ drmaf, LibraryThing


Leary's bushrangers are rough, angry, often deranged but sometimes pathetic and sympathetic men... And Bridget herself is stubborn, independent, and tough but also a lost, vulnerable woman whose life we briefly share. Altogether, this is a compelling and fascinating story about people who, one way or another, hoped to find new and free lives in a new country.

Ann Skea, Eclectica Magazine


‘Rachel Leary’s interest is also in the marginalized — the convicts and bushrangers of the Tasmanian 1820s, particularly in their relationship to the beautiful but unforgiving Tasmanian bush which often becomes the brilliantly realised main character of the novel.’ Katharine England, SA Weekend 


‘Bridget Crack is a stunning debut and I’m looking forward to seeing what Rachel Leary writes next!’ Lisa Hill, ANZ LitLovers Lit Blog


‘The Australian imagination is almost overly populated with male bushrangers and convicts, and Leary’s narrative is one that adds a new and must needed texture to this mythopoeic fabric.’  Joseph Cummins, Southerly 


‘Remarkably, Bridget Crack is Leary’s debut release, but somehow I doubt it will be her last.’ Simon Clark, the AU Review 

To read an extract and see awards:

Tasmania Book Prize, Judges’ comments

Bridget Crack evokes, and then steps aside from, the romance of gothic Tasmania. In this remarkable novel of convicts and bushrangers, the central character is a young woman who struggles to take control of her life, but again and again is thwarted. History is not on Bridget’s side, and neither is the vividly realised landscape through which she travels as a runaway convict and as a member of a bushranging gang. In sparse prose, avoiding melodrama and sentimentality, the novel re-imagines Tasmania’s early years of European settlement. Through the character of Bridget Crack, history is absorbed into narrative with an insider’s understanding of lived experience. And while the history rings true, offering Tasmanians new insights into the convict period, there is also a contemporary feel to the narrative’s exploration of what it means to be a woman trapped by circumstances which curtail her freedom and threaten her life.