Thorn Birds Author Colleen Mccullough Finds Love in the Outback with a Housepainter Husband

UPDATED 05/07/1984 at 01:00 AM EDT Originally published 05/07/1984 at 01:00 AM EDT

In both life and literature men have often seemed dispensable to Australian novelist Colleen McCullough. The Thorn Birds, her 1977 best-seller, is packed with lurid scenes of men un-sexed by bullet wounds, burned alive or disemboweled by wild boars. Some males manage to stay alive, only to be humiliated a few pages later. In one typical scene, a woman, eyeing a man's naked body, is described as "snorting with laughter."

Given this less-than-enchanting view of men, it's not surprising that McCullough has lived alone all her adult life. But that changed on April 13 in the rustic splendor of Hunter Valley, Australia, where McCullough, 46, married her onetime housepainter, Ric Robinson, 33. "I had never wanted to get married because I had too much to prove to the world and to myself," explained the multimillionairess. "But when I met Ric I knew I'd found Mr. Right. He has the guts to face what I am without being corrupt. He's not interested in money or publicity."

The couple were united in a garden outside the log ranch house McCullough built for her best friend, Jean Easthope. The hefty bride, in a burgundy beaded dress that clashed with her orange hair, and the groom, in a conservative business suit, said "I do" on a verdant hilltop overlooking the endless Australian bush.

The civil ceremony was witnessed by just 30 close family members and friends, who'd made the 120-mile journey from Sydney in six limos rented for the occasion by Colleen. During the vows a Bach recording played in the background while one of Colleen's "unks," Tom Clabby, cried softly. "This is the happiest day of my life," he blubbered. "Oh, don't be ridiculous," laughed Colleen. After the ceremony the guests feasted on lobster, pork, snow peas and endive salad. Observed Jean Easthope, "I've never seen Col so happy."

Colleen and Ric met two years ago when Robinson arrived to plaster and paint her two-story house on Norfolk Island, a lush, tax-free paradise 1,000 miles off the coast of Sydney. Robinson, who is descended from one of the Bounty mutineers, was married at the time and the father of two small children. After his New Zealand wife left him to go home, he proposed to Colleen. "I was only apprehensive about one aspect of marrying her," he says. "She's a public personality and I'm not. But she's a rare woman. Intelligent, warm, kind and thoughtful."

After a honeymoon trip to the U.S., the newlyweds will settle on Norfolk Island. While Ric oversees his recently purchased palm-tree plantation, Colleen will continue on a screenplay for Lina Wertmuller about a romance between an Australian boy and an Italian girl. The "suffocatingly male atmosphere" that drove her out of Australia for 20 years (she worked as a neurophysiologist at Yale while writing TTB) no longer bothers Colleen. These days she is engulfed by old-fashioned romance. "I've got him," she exulted, waving her bridal bouquet of red roses at a group of friends. "I've got him at last!"

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