Hilary Burden is a British/Australian author, journalist, writer and former ABC broadcaster. 

Born in Bristol, UK, Hilary’s family emigrated to Derby, Tasmania when she was six years old. Her love for the northeast was formed travelling with her father on his doctor’s rounds to remote places. Hilary graduated from the University of Tasmania in English and Politics and began her career in TV journalism in Hobart. She moved to Sydney and was a staff writer at Dolly and Vogue magazines before heading to the UK. Based in London, she worked as an editor and journalist for leading newspapers and magazines from 1987 to 2004, including as deputy editor at Elle, Sunday Times Style and Cosmopolitan in the UK. She spent a year in Sydney as editor of New Woman (Australia).

Hilary has a Diploma in Gender, Society and Culture from Birkbeck College, London.

She returned to Tasmania in 2004 to live on a smallholding not far from where she grew up. During this time she wrote the popular memoir A Story of Seven Summers – Life in the Nuns’ House, published in 2012 by Allen & Unwin. She co-founded a fresh produce box delivery service, Hilbarn, in 2008 which operated statewide until 2013. 

She has hosted popular conversations with best selling authors including Annabel Crabb, Nigella Lawson, Yotam Ottolenghi, Stephanie Alexander and Fiona McIntosh.

Hilary specialises in writing about nature, food and gardens and frequently collaborates with international garden photographer Claire Takacs. She worked as a roving reporter for the Tasmanian Country Hour, and as a freelance contributor to Gardens Illustrated. She was inaugural writer in residence at Patterdale, John Glover’s former home and studio in Deddington, Tasmania. She is a columnist for the quarterly magazine Forty South Tasmania, and former columnist/contributor for Country Style magazine and Tas Weekend (The Mercury). In 2019 she swapped her acreage in Karoola to travel and spend time with old friends in Europe: her “grey gap year”. Returning to a small block in the low hills of Swansea overlooking Great Oyster Bay, she now writes, while volunteering for Freycinet Marine Rescue and the East Coast Heritage Museum.

Most recently Hilary co-authored Tasmania-based chef Analiese Gregory’s first cookbook How Wild Things Are: Cooking, Fishing and Hunting at the Bottom of the World, published by Hardie Grant in March 2021.

Hilary also co-authored Behind the Smile – A Story of Life After Loss by Mitch McPherson, founder of suicide prevention organisation Speak Up Stay ChatTY.

Hilary’s book 100 Years of The May Shaw: a history of healthcare on the east coast was published in September 2020 to mark the centenary of the east coast health centre named in honour of Nurse May Shaw.

30 thoughts on “About”

  1. Hilary — I love love LOVE your piece in the Tasmania Times.

    So much so that I’ve included it in my almost-ever-week blog, My Wooden Boat of the Week, http://boats.woodenboat.com

    and on the WoodenBoat Forum, http://forum.woodenboat.com/showthread.php?184531-Handmade-In-Tasmania&p=4354500#post4354500.

    If you manage to read through the entirety of my post, you will learn that I will be coming to Tas to attend the Wooden Boat Festival in February. I am so excited — I’ve never been to Tas, except in my dreams.

    Thanks for a great article, and my best wishes to you, Carl (carl@woodenboat.com)

  2. Hi Hilary

    When I attended your blogging workshop in Devonport last week, I was half way through reading your book. I have finished it now and thoroughly enjoyed going on the journey with you. I have quoted from your book on my most recent blog post at waywardwanders.blogspot.com

    Also, I have to tell you this – the Ransons are my mother’s cousins. Mum and her parents were born and brought up in Derby. I was born in Launceston but grew up in Queensland. We would come to Tasmania for Christmas to visit both sets of my grandparents, about every second year so I have wonderful memories of summers at Derby. I also have a memory of attending a party at Doug and Neita’s where there were lots of people of all ages. It would have been in the early 70’s. Maybe you were there too?

  3. Dear Hilary,

    I’ve just finished your gorgeous book, A Story of Seven Summers, and I wanted to sincerely thank you! My 5 year old found it for me to read to her, she loved the colors on the front cover. Then, when I began to read I was instantly engaged with your courage and willingness to follow your instincts toward a fulfilling and beautiful new life. Your descriptions of the landscape, produce and people of Tasmania have lit a fire under me (thanks for that great line Les!). The way in which you translated your inner and outer journey onto the pages of this book really is magic. I am truly inspired and very grateful for the way you have shared life in Karoola and it’s surrounds. Thank you!

    1. Dear Ali, It is so heartening to read your generous words, and to know that your five year old daughter chose my book! I’m really pleased to know my story has inspired you. Thank you so much for letting me know. Warmest wishes and a big hug for your daughter, Hilary

  4. Loved your first book….truly breath of fresh air stuff….!!!!!!
    When is the second one coming out…???? Can hardly wait to read it……xxx

  5. Hilary
    Just wanted to tell you how inspiring your book seven summers was to me. I started the first chapter while laying on the beach at Bay of Fires of which you mentioned within the first pages! I was at the Bay Of Fires with a group of girlfriends camping in the true sense of camping, no toilet, showers etc. I was down from Sydney where I have lived for the past 30 years. Born in Tassie raised at Coles Bay!
    On my return to Sydney I checked out a map of the area surrounding Karoola and came across a very shabby shack at Bellingham for sale. This all happened in late March it is now 22nd June and I have been to see the shack and hope that I might buy it. My friends drove me up and we stayed at the beautiful Lowe Head Pilot Station and then drove to Bellingham (am in love with this area). We drove to Janz and meet some women that knew you WOW what a small well!
    Am leaving Tassie in 1hour and have just given my best friend a copy of your book that I know she will love as much as me. Thanks

    1. What an amazing message to come home to, Katrina, thank you. I know how it feels when you fall in love with a place. If you’re coming back make sure you let me know. Good luck with the flow of things. Warmest wishes, Hilary

  6. Hi,
    Have just arrived home to my husband’s delicious take on Audrey’s Impossible Quiche. The smell is DELICIOUS. My friend Marilynn gave me your book, A Story Of Seven Summers, for my birthday. – I have it by my bedside, I manage to only read 1 page a night, it prepares me for perfect sleep! She wrote in the book quote: Hillary’s excerpts in Country Style remind me of how you & I think about the seasons. Now my lovely husband has discovered your book. He’s hooked on reading it. We are waiting for your next book. Last year I cooked your delicious Quince Dessert. I spread it around all my friends. They adore it. Keep writing and he keeps cooking Hillary,
    Thanks, Sue

    1. Dear Sue, Thank you so much for your kind message. Every now and then life dishes up a surprise that leaves you flat, and when you get a message like this it’s an instant pick-me-up. Such a lovely reminder of what we need to do for each other. So glad you enjoy the recipes too. Next book still brewing but hopefully it will fall onto the page soon. Warmest wishes to you and your “lovely” husband and friend Marilynn, Hilary

  7. Hi Hilary

    Have just finished your book which I started last Friday!! A delight to read and a privilege to be admitted to your world for those 7 summers, also fantastic to have the recipes included – thank you sooo much:-).

    Originally Melbournians but having lived in several different Ozzie states and the UK my husband and I fell in love with this special island about 10 years ago when coming down for my brother’s funeral. We finally made it back 2 years ago finding our magic spot on the Tamar river at Lanena and constantly give thanks for the peace, tranquility and pleasure it brings us – so identify closely with sentiments you so beautifully expressed. It is our 29th and final house move, after 50 years we feel we have come home at last and hope we have many ‘summers’ yet to enjoy!!!

    Thrilled to hear you are ‘brewing’ another book – so looking forward to more.

    Warm wishes
    Joanne Jones

    1. Thank you Joanne, how lovely to read your words and hear how happy you are across the river. Lanena is a beautiful spot. Happy summer solstice tomorrow – and Merry Christmas to you and yours. Warm regards, Hilary

  8. I lost my sister in Nov 2012, one day before her birthday. The year she passed away I visited her in Tassie where she had been living for over thirty years. She had been reading your book that year and told me how much she enjoyed it. I picked up a copy in Hobart and was also quickly hooked onto its heartfelt story.
    Her dream had always been, as I have, to one day live in the country. I am now reading your book for a second time. I love the images you portray of the countryside, the people and the passing seasons of nature. I look forward to one day visiting Karoola -a beautiful gem of countryside! Hope there will be another book to inspire !

    1. Dear Saskia,
      Thank you so much for your note. I was moved to hear about the loss of your sister. You must miss her terribly, but hopefully it feels uplifting to be reminded of her through reading a book she enjoyed.
      My twin brother arrived last night from the UK on a flying visit so I am sensitive to feelings about siblings.
      He’s staying with Audrey in Launceston and I hope he manages to find time to visit Karoola and the countryside especially – it is so very underestimated in my view.
      Yes, I’m currently beavering away on another book – it’s been a long time gestating – and it’s hard to keep writing while also having to earn a living to pay bills – the lot of many artists. But I’ll get there! Notes like yours inspire and motivate me – so *thank you* to you and your sister.

      Warmest regards,


  9. I have just finished reading your wonderful book which my neighbour loaned me. I have ordered four more copies as I have friends I know will get the same pleasure as I have had from this book, my question is, will there or is there another one in the pipeline?

    1. Hello Linda, Thank you for your kind note. I’m glad you enjoyed my story and hope your friends will too! I’m working on a second that’s taking a while to write in between working, walking and gardening – but it’s on the way for sure. Thank you for your patience and encouragement! Warm wishes, Hilary

  10. Hello Hilary. I am an expat Tasmanian who has retired from the travails of managing an organisation and returned home to Tassie, with my wife, Louise . We’ve settled,very comfortably in the Huon Valley and met lots of mainlanders from all parts of Oz seeking a more fulfilling life here. ( how could you not!) I’ve loved reading your book a couple of times and given it as a gift to a few friends. Looking forward to your next one as I love the way you bring your observations to life on the page. Louise and Steve

    1. Hello Steve and Louise, wonderful you’ve found your way back to Tassie, too, and thank you for those kind words. The next book is simmering away – I’ve had to be so very patient with the themes – but inching closer every day… Hopefully next year will be the year it reveals itself, finally, as the book. You’ll be one of the first to know here! Enjoy your beautiful Spring shooting in the Huon.

  11. Dear Hilary, your book ‘sang’ to me. It was loaned to me from a very dear friend who I have connected with through my choir. Like you she has settled in the countryside but in Tassie’s north-west. She underlined many passages and wrote little comments in pink biro, complete with love hearts and dates. There are so many parallels.
    My husband and I are moving to the East Coast. We’ve bought a property that looks towards Maria Island. It comes with a beautifully established herb garden so I am inspired by your book to sell bunches of herbs at the monthly market.
    Thankyou. I felt like I knew the artisans, growers and every single person as I read your ‘unputdownable’ book.
    All the best. I can’t wait for the next book.

    1. Dear Robyn, Thank you, and to your dear friend. I love books that have been written in and passed on – visual proof that they have a life of their own outside of the author’s. I appreciate your kind words,thank you, and good luck grounding your dreams, inspired by a beautiful part of the world. Warm wishes, Hilary

  12. Hi Hilary. Our book-club meets next Monday (9/7/’18) and I thought earlier that some pix from Dombrovskis and Truchanas would be good as a slideshow as we talked. But then I found that 1074 Pipers River Road was for sale, and there were plenty of real estate pictures, far more appropriate as a backdrop to our discussions. I found your book a very easy read; no monumental dramas, just the small day-to-day ones of living a busy but quiet life in the country. I live in bayside Melbourne, my brother in Devonport. I’ve been to Launceston but no further east. Can I ask — where are you now? Do the real estate agents photos show the interior as it was when you lived there?

    1. Hello Charles, I’m in the process of moving, still at The Nuns’ House, awaiting a buyer, and not sure yet where the next nest will be as yet. You’re welcome to use the Nuns’ House garden photos – I’m glad you like them so much. What is your book club meeting about tomorrow? Warm regards, Hilary

  13. Hi Hilary I read your book about three years ago. Found myself unexpectedly in Launceston with a free day. Spent the morning (amongst other things) driving through the Karoola/Lalla/Lilydale area. Absolutely delightful. Stopped at the top near the old church overlooking the Nun’s House. Whilst your writing paints some fabulous word pictures, there’s nothing like seeing the real thing – so, of course, I shall now re-read! Just an enchanting place. All the best wherever you end up. Andrew

  14. Hello Hillary,
    I just wanted to know that I just read your lovely book A Story of Seven Summers while vising dear friends who are now living in the Nun’s House, the tradition of sharing conversation with friends over a glass or two of wine continues. I slept in the bedroom with your wonderful bookshelves and admired the beautiful view from the front verandah. As I read your book I visited each little location and stood admiring the space, re-reading your words and imaging it. It really is a very special house and I will make a return visit soon.

    1. I, too, loved that book, and the house. I have never visited the house, but Hilary’s book brings it alive.

  15. Hello Debbie, and apologies for the delay in replying to your message. So lovely to hear you spent time in the library and on that amazing front veranda, all covered in when I first got there. She is a grand old dame of a house, that’s for sure. Thanks for reaching out. I hope your return travels to dear friends aren’t too far away, warmest wishes, Hilary

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