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Alquemie Recommended Reading List

Wildlife/Natural History

Birds of Australia – Simpson & Day (Penguin, 2000)

A Field Guide to the Mammals of Australia – Peter Menkhorst & Frank Knight (Oxford University Press, 2011)

The Future Eaters – Tim Flannery (Baker & Taylor)
A ‘must read’ if you want a true understanding of Australasia’s ecological history, the impact that the different settlers have had on its unique environment and the conservation challenges it faces today. An unorthodox but highly educational and insightful account.

The Whales’ Journey – Stephen Martin (Allen Unwin, 2001)
In what is one of the longest migrations in the animal world, this book describes the experiences of the humpback whales as they travel between the cold Antarctic and warm tropical seas off northern Australia. It also recounts the history of slaughter to the humpbacks’ timely conservation status today.

National Parks of Australia – Allan Fox (New Holland, 2000)
A hardback edition covering the main national parks in each state, with an excellent pictorial account of the biodiversity and spectacular environment across the country.

The Kimberley – Victoria Laurie (UWAP)
Hardback and comprehensive up to date account of the natural heritage of the Kimberley region, with excellent visual images. Good pre-trip read to whet the appetite for the Kimberley.

Kakadu National Park – Ian Morris (Steve Parish Publishing, 2001)
Detailed guide on the flora, fauna, habitat and aboriginal culture of Kakadu National Park, which can be used in conjunction with travel elsewhere in the Top End.


The Fatal Shore – Robert Hughes (Random House, 2003)
The definitive account of convict settlement in Australia – particularly appropriate for those visiting Tasmania or intrigued by Sydney’s history.

The Tyranny of Distance – Geoffrey Blainey (Pan MacMillan, 2001)
A great insight into Australia’s development in the years after 1788, and how transport and communications particularly shaped activities and patterns of settlement across the continent.

Sydney – Geoffrey Moorehouse (Allen & Unwin, 1999)
A very readable account of Sydney’s history and composition from the earliest convicts and settlers, through its sporting traditions, complex racial mix, its politics to the world’s largest gay Mardi Gras and the Olympics.

Terra Australis – Matthew Flinders – ed. Tim Flannery (Text Publishing, 2000)
Matthew Flinders remains, with Captain James Cook, Australia’s greatest navigator. His meticulous mapping of Australia’s coastline, which remains much in use today, is brought together in this very readable account of the episodes and adventures he encountered on his circumnavigation of the continent.

My Love Must Wait – Ernestine Hill (A&R, 2002)
A meticulously researched biography of Matthew Flinders, his circumnavigation of Australia, incarceration in Mauritius and the bride he left in England for nine years, which brings insight and sensitivity to the history behind one of Australia’s greatest explorers.

Triumph of the Nomads – Geoffrey Blainey (Pan Macmillan, 1988)
One of Australia’s most controversial historians, Blainey wrote this account in 1977, when most Australians knew very little of aboriginal history and culture. This book is an eye opening account of the specialisation and adaptation that Australia’s indigenous people applied to living in a very harsh environment.

The Explorers – Tim Flannery (Text Publishing, 1998)
Excerpts from the diaries and accounts of European people who were early arrivals in Australia. The book is full of little known facts and stories which will bring an interesting perspective to sites you visit in your Australian travels.

Journeys to the Interior – Nicolas Rothwell (Black Inc, 2010)
A series of personal accounts relevant to contemporary events, political and economic, in the Northern Territory, written by arguably Australia’s journalistic authority on indigenous culture and issues.

The Last Pearling Lugger – Mark Dodd (MacMillan, 2011)
A participant’s account of life in Broome and the pearling industry during the 1970s and 80s, from encounters with sharks and jellyfish to off work episodes in Broome’s Roebuck Bay Hotel.

In Tasmania – Nicholas Shakespeare (Random House, 2006)
A personal account of going to live in Tasmania into which Shakespeare discovers his own ancestral links to the state and weaves them into an account of the last 200 years of Tasmania’s settlement history with fascination anecdotes of Tasmanian characters past and present.

Batavia’s Graveyard – Mike Dash (Phoenix, 2002)
The story of one of history’s most bloody mutinies following the shipwreck of the Dutch East Indiaman, Batavia, on Western Australia’s Abrolhos Island reefs in 1628 and the extraordinary journey by the captain to go for help and rescue the remaining 80 crew and passengers who had survived the predations of a ruthless band of mutineers.

Coopers Creek – Alan Moorehead (Orion Publishing, 2001)
The classic account of the fateful Burke and Wills expedition across Australia and the drama that took place on Cooper’s Creek in the central outback in 1861.

The Wreck of the Barque Stefano – Gustave Rathe (Hesperian, 1997)
The account of the 1876 shipwreck of a Croatian barque on the west Australian coast. Of the 10 survivors only two escape death with the help of local Aborigines who lead them to the tip of the North West Cape (near current day Exmouth) for rescue. A historical read for anyone visiting the Cape Range and Ningaloo Reef.


The Songlines – Bruce Chatwin (Jonathan Cape, 1987)
A travel book offering unusual insight into the invisible pathways that once connected all Australia. These pathways were in the form of the songs which tell of the creation of the land, and the aboriginals’ close bonds with it.

My Place – Sally Morgan
An Australian classic – the saga of three generations of an aboriginal family to the present day. A very real insight into the emotional and practical issues that have faced aboriginals in succeeding in modern Australian society.

Jandamarra & the Bunuba Resistance – Howard Pedersen & Banjo Woorunmurra (Magabala Books, 2011)
The story of Aboriginal guerilla warfare that was fought by the Bunuba people against the pastoral settlement of the Kimberley.

Fate of a Free People – Henry Reynolds (Penguin, 2004)
An account of resistance that Tasmania’s Aborigines conducted using their bush skills in guerilla warfare against the soldiers and settlers who removed them from their lands in Tasmania to effective imprisonment on Flinders Island.


Hell, West and Crooked – Tom Cole (Angus & Robertson, 1988)
Tom Cole’s remarkable story of his life as a drover, horse-breaker, station-hand, buffalo shooter and crocodile hunter is written with great humour and drama. The places and people are all in recent memory (Cole’s travels were in the 1920’s and 30’s) and will be remembered by some people you meet in the far north and the Kimberley.

Kings in Grass Castles – Mary Durack (Constable, 1959 & Bantam, 1987)
An Australian literary classic and possibly the best account of life in pastoral Australia, the settlement of outback land and of how fortunes were made and lost as told by a member of a family whose successive generations have pioneered and managed land from New South Wales, to Queensland and, ultimately in the Kimberley.

We of the Never Never – Aeneas Gunn (ABC Books, 1999)
A classic Australian tale written by a Melbourne schoolteacher, who went to live with her husband on Elsey Station near Katherine in the Northern Territory and the hardships and experiences of the outback and her encounters with local Aborigines, which left her deeply impressed.

Bullo, the Next Generation – Marlee Ranacher (Random House, 2003)
Marlee Ranacher’s story of life growing up on Bullo River station, her love of the country and the relationships within one of Australia’s better known outback families.

Australian Novels

English Passengers – Matthew Kneale
A very well-written and factually based novel that brings to light with a humorous style that combines well with historical accuracy, the story of Tasmania’s settlement, from the perspective of a number of the players in the story: colonial administrators, settlers, convicts and the indigenous owners of the land.

The True History of the Kelly Gang – Peter Carey (University of Queensland Press, 2000)
A personal background and alternative version of the life of Australia’s most famous outlaw, that brings to life the hardships and prejudices of early settler life. Written in an evocative style, this ‘true’ account of Ned Kelly’s life won the author the Booker Prize in 2001.

The Commonwealth of Thieves – Tom Keneally (Random House, 2006)
An account of the first four years of the Sydney ‘experiment’ of penal settlement – and how a ‘thief colony’ survived and developed into a modern society.

Robbery Under Arms: A Story of Life and Adventure in the Bush and in the Goldfields – Rolf Bolderwood (New Holland, 2008)
An Australian classic that tells the story of a bushranging gang as they ride across the goldfields and stations of the Australian bush.