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Australian Backyard Explorer Paperback – 21 September 2021
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Before you can tackle a task like that, you need to have experience as a rough and ready bush surveyor, to have led a few wilderness walks, to have worked with camels in the arid centre, and survived in jungle situations. The author, Peter Macinnis, has done all of that and more.
He has also been a teacher, a bureaucrat and a fraud investigator who can get the truth out of violent criminals (by guile!). These days, he is a Sydney writer, bushwalker, naturalist and chatterer about sci-tech, small animals, rocks and such, and he had other fish to fry. In more recent times of lockdown, he has cleared his back-burner of a number of stalled projects, before turning to the deserted orphans. He has claimed back the rights to a number of his out-of-print books from their former publishers, and is now revising, redesigning and enlarging them.
This is one of those works, and it attacks one of the most hackneyed and boring bits of school history, “the explorers” and livened it up. This is no Dead While Male hagiography, there are no lists of dates to be memorised, but we do have a pregnant woman riding side-saddle across the Top End of Australia and serving up fly curry; we do have teenagers out in the wilderness, including a governor’s daughter seeking fossils in 1839; and Mrs Lores Bonney, pioneer Australian aviator who, while supposedly deaf and almost blind, gave the author a two-hour interview.
That said, you will meet one dead white male, John Horrocks, who was shot by his camel, and others who really ought to have been dead, given what they ate, including dingo pups; crocodiles; partly-developed lowans’ eggs; crows; horses; camel’s foot (a delicacy); bats; goannas; eagles and even a greenhide (rawhide) case. One man found a fish choking in the shallows on a smaller fish, and ate them both. When they collected a scientific specimen and realised it wasn’t new, that went in the pot as well
And that was nothing to what they drank. Charles Bonney, an overlander, killed a calf so they could drink its blood. They drank mud; from pools of slime holding dead animals, water that the horses and camels would not drink. One strained water from mud that cattle and horses had been rolling in
This book tells the young reader what it was really like to go exploring, and reveals the biggest secret of all: those explorers didn’t explore, because there were tracks to follow, tracks made by animals and the feet of the original Australians, some of whom they took along with them. It explains why explorers climbed mountains and trees, and the instruments they used.
But there’s more. Having been a science teacher who always had some project on the go in his lab (like a vacuum cleaner-powered hovercraft; a still for eucalyptus oil; a dead sparrow being boiled for its bones; a pill bug culture; a gas discharge tube or a water-powered mineral sand extractor, all of which he would only discuss out of class time), he has added 30 related projects to engage the readers’ minds.
So here, in one volume, you have engaging and very practical science and also real history with just enough of the yukk factor to turn parents’ hair white (did they but know). This is far from what Macinnis was taught in school, because this book goes where only the brave will venture.
The second edition has lots of new material, because the past eleven years have seen the author digging a lot deeper into certain aspects of Australian history. Now it is time to share these joys.
Frequently bought together
- ASIN : B09GZBS1QL
- Publisher : Independently published (21 September 2021)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 180 pages
- ISBN-13 : 979-8481595085
- Dimensions : 15.24 x 1.09 x 22.86 cm
- Best Sellers Rank: 71,524 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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