History Books : Part Two : Australian Prehistory

In my last post, I discussed some of my favourite general books on archaeology and the prehistory of mankind. Today, I am focusing on Australian Prehistory, beginning with three books by the celebrated paleobotanist, Mary E White. The Greening of Gondwana and After the Greening are the first two books of her trilogy on the evolution of Australia, the continent and its biota, over 400 million years, the third volume being Listen.. Our Land is Crying. They are all beautiful hardback publications with luscious glossy photographs by Jim Frazier! I am only discussing the first two, as those are the books we own.

The Greening of Gondwana by Mary E White  Third Edition 1998

This book tells the story of Australia’s floral heritage from the earliest times, when all life was aquatic; the emergence of the first land plants, 400 million years ago; and the evolution of Australia’s modern flora and the Gondwanan broad-leaf conifer forests, when Australia finally separated from Antarctica 45 million years ago and moved northward.

There are over 400 wonderful photographs of fossils and living plants, as well as palaeographic maps, artist’s drawings and diagram and tables (Geological eras; Linnaean plant classification; Evolution of the plant kingdom; Australia’s fossil pollen record; and Fossil age and locality).

Part One starts with a description of the rocks of the earth’s crust; the dawn of life; the first unicellular life forms: the Western Australian stromatolites (fossil reefs of cyanobacteria, 3 500 million years old) and unicellular algae; and the formation of plant fossils (macro-fossils and microscopic spores and pollen).

The book then goes on to discuss the theories of continental drift and plate tectonics; Australia’s Gondwanan heritage; and the evolution of an Australian flora from the ancestral Gondwanan flora, which developed in isolation for 30 million years without any significant input from migrants, despite Australia’s proximity to South-East Asia.

While Eucalypts and Acacias predominate, 80 per cent of all the plant species and 30 per cent of Australia’s genera are endemic, accounting for the distinctive Australian character of the flora: its leathery, hard, spiny or reduced leaves, an adaptation to the low nutrient status of the Australian soils and the dry arid conditions called scleromorphy, these plants being called sclerophylls.

Australian plants also have many adaptations to fire: thick insulating protective bark or the shedding of outer layers of bark, so there is no build up of inflammable matter; new buds produced along the length of the stem after fire has destroyed the crown of the tree and underground lignotubers; and hard woody fruits and seeds, which can survive intense heat and often need the stimulus of fire to burst open and start to grow.

Part Two examines Australia’s fossil record in detail:

Life in the early seas (Cambrian, Ordovician and Early to Mid Silurian times);

First land plants of the Late Silurian and Early Devonian periods;

Giant club mosses of the Late Devonian and early Carboniferous periods;

Primitive seed ferns of the mid to late Carboniferous and early Permian years;

Glossopteris flora of the Permian period, when cool temperate swamps formed the early coal deposits and early gingkos, cycad ancestors, conifers and tree ferns were abundant;

Dicroidium flora of the Triassic period;

Age of the Conifers and the cycads of the Jurassic period;

Dawn of the Angiosperms (or Flowering Plants) in the Cretaceous Era;   and

The sequence of events in the Gondwanan breakup and its effect on the flora.

Australia became an ark with a living cargo of Gondwanan plants (predominated by flowering plants) and animals (marsupials, monotremes, large monitors, penguins and emus, parrots and frogmouths, pollinating honeyeaters, Southern Frogs and Side-Necked Turtles) during the Tertiary period, moving northward and having no outside contact for 30 million years.

Specific families are discussed in the book:

Antarctic Beeches Fagaceae (genus Nothofagus);

Winteraceae, one of the most primitive angiosperm families alive today, which includes native pepper Tasmannia;

Proteaceae (Banksia, Proteas and Leucospermum, Persoonia, Telopea, and Macadamia);

Casuarinaceae (She-oaks, Desert Oaks and River-Oaks);

Myrtaceae (Eucalyptus, Leptospermums, Baeckea, Syzgium and Angophoras);

Salt bushes Chenopodiaceae;

Mistletoes Loranthaceae; and

Wattles of Mimosaceae (genus Acacia).

The final chapters discuss Australia’s modern flora from the Quarternary period on, including vegetation types and a map (alpine, rainforest, wet sclerophyll, dry sclerophyll, woodlands, mallee woodlands and scrub, mulga scrub, desert and semi-desert, salt-bush scrub, grasslands and mangroves), as well as a brief mention of the intrusion of northern plants and animals, which came with man, especially after European colonization.BlogPreHxBooksReszd20%Image (591)

After the Greening: The Browning of Australia  by Mary E White 1994

This book continues the story of Australia’s prehistory and the geological processes behind the rifting (160 to 45 million years ago), drifting (15 to 2.4 million years ago) and drying (2.4 million years ago to today) of the continent to become the driest vegetated continent on Earth.

Two thirds of the land is classed as arid and half is desert, yet it supports an amazing variety of desert-adapted fauna and flora. The last 2.4 million years are particularly significant, as they represent the Age of Man and a time when icecaps had a profound effect on the physical landscapes, climate and biota of Australia.

Aboriginal Australians arrived around 60 000 year ago, but the most dramatic changes have occurred over the past 200 years since European settlement, completely unbalancing our delicate ecological balance through grazing; clearing; and the introduction of feral rabbits, goats, horses, donkeys, pigs, buffalo, camels, cats and foxes, not to mention garden escapees and weeds.

The formation of the Great Dividing Range, Australia’s river system, the Murray Basin, the Great Artesian Basin, Nullabor Desert, Ayers Rock and the Olgas is covered, along with the adaptation of Australian flora to the changing climate; ancient weathered soils; droughts and flooding rain; fire; and salt.

The last part of the book discusses Australia’s vegetation regions in detail, as well as future challenges. Again, there is so much information, supported by beautiful colour photographs, maps, tables and diagrams.BlogPreHxBooksReszd25%Image (590)

The final book in the trilogy: Listen.. Our Land is Crying examines Australia’s environmental problems: land and water degradation, increased salinisation and desertification, decreasing biodiversity and habitat destruction, water pollution, the greenhouse effect and feral weeds and animals, suggesting possible solutions and highlighting the amazing unique wonders of our continent. While we don’t own this final book, we do have another of her glossy geological books:

Time in Our Hands : Semi-Precious Gemstones: Keys to the Geological Past by Mary E White 1991, which covers many of her previous topics, but mainly concentrates on the semi-precious gemstones of Lune River, Tasmania: the agates, onyx, carnelian and jasper, all forms of quartz gemstones made from silica dioxide, as well as petrified conifers and tree-ferns.BlogPreHxBooksReszd25%Image (592)

Now for some excellent books on aboriginal prehistory!  One of the earliest  books on Aboriginal origins and culture was the first edition of John Mulvaney’s The Prehistory of Australia in 1969, with a second edition in 1975. The following book is the third edition with substantial changes in content, while still retaining the orientation and much of the original structure of the earlier books, when Mulvaney was the sole author. John Mulvaney is one of Australia’s foremost prehistorians and John Kamminga, an expert on Aboriginal stone technology.

Prehistory of Australia by John Mulvaney and Johan Kamminga 1999

A very comprehensive guide to the Australian aborigines and their traditional way of life.

Chapters cover the following topics:

Diversity of surviving traces: Surface artefacts; shell middens; caves and rock shelters; earth mounds; ceremonial mounds and rock arrangements; stone and ochre quarries; rock art sites; stone hunting-hides and bird and fish traps; scarred trees; hatchet-head grinding localities; and human burials;

Dating the past;

Changing Australian landscapes: Topography, climate, vegetation, cleaning the land, fire-stick farming, water resources and carrying capacity of the land;

People, language and society: Population estimates, language groups, social organization, the Dreaming; and culture areas;

Subsistence and reciprocity: Mobility and seasonality; Animal and plant food: bulbs and tubers, starch extraction, seeds and the farming debate; Material culture : travelling light, hunting weapons, skin cloaks, bone and stone implements, and stone hatchets; Reciprocity and cultural diffusion; and Aboriginal trade in pituri and greenstone;

Seafarers from Sundaland (South East Asia and Indonesia) to Sahul (the super-continent of Australia and Papua New Guinea) during the fluctuating sea levels of Pleistocene;

Extinction of the Mega-Fauna;

Initial colonization, migration theories and Pleistocene settlement: Kow Swamp, Lake Mungo and Tasmania;

Conquest of the deserts: Willandra Lakes; Lake Mungo; Menindee Lakes; Lake Eyre; Nullabor caves; the Pilbara region; and Central Australia;

Pleistocene artefacts : Wood, bone, and stone tools;

Holocene stone tool innovations;

Coastal aborigines: Kakadu; Aurukun and Weipa; South-East Queensland; Sydney; South Coast of NSW; and South-Western Australia;

Regional challenges and responses: The Snowy Mountains; Murray River societies; the arid zones; trade and exchange networks; and technological developments;

Island settlement of the offshore islands and Tasmania;  and a major section on

Rock Art:

  • Panaramitee style of engraving from western NSW to Eastern South Australia and northwards to Alice Springs;
  • Simple figurative motifs of South-eastern Australia: Simple outlines or stick figures with solid or linear infills and simple geometric designs and stencilling                     eg the Southern Highlands and the Grampians;
  • Engravings and pigment art of the Sydney region;
  • Art of Tropical Australia:

1. South-East Cape York: Laura: Quinkan country and Jowalbinna: engravings and painted figurative and non-figurative art; and Koolburra Plateau;

2. Kakadu National Park: Succession of styles and X-ray painting;

3. The Pilbara: Burrup Peninsula engravings;

4. Victoria River District;

5. Kimberley region: Bradshaw figures and Wandjina paintings;

6. Asian and European Newcomers: the Trepang industry; Macassan sites; Chinese and Arab traders; and the Portuguese and Dutch explorers;

This book is an indispensable guide to aboriginal prehistory, especially if travelling around Australia, which we did in 2008!BlogPreHxBooksReszd30%Image (614)

We found the next set of books by Josephine Flood, another prominent archaeologist, very useful in our travels as well:

The Original Australians: Story of the Aboriginal People  by Josephine Flood 2006

This book tells the story of Australian Aboriginal history and culture from their distant beginnings to the present day. She writes for the general public and uses history and culture to answer some of the major questions about the genetic origins of the First Australians; their lifestyle, culture, religion and beliefs; their impact on the megafauna and the Australian environment; and modern problems, including the stolen generation; land rights; the challenges of contemporary aboriginal communities (lower mortality, poverty, poor health, education, alcoholism and drugs etc) and future directions.

Chapters cover:

European discovery of Australia and encounters between the aborigines and Dutch explorers, Macassan traders and Captain Cook;

European colonization and its impact on the original inhabitants, including disease, kidnapping, the treatment of women, confrontation and conflict and severe depopulation between 1820 and 1920;

Indigenous life at first contact: Spirituality; totemism and animism; the Dreaming; Songlines; oral traditions; language (of which there were 250 different language groups); medicine men and women healers; shamans and sorcerers; childhood; initiation ceremonies; marriage and sex; other ceremonies, burials and fertility cults; the wisdom of the elders; law and order; and economy and exchange networks;

Aboriginal origins over the past 50 000 years: Physical characteristics; patterns of settlement; climate change; environmental impacts: the extinction of megafauna and use of the firestick; new technologies and diets; rock art; and language; and

Assimilation and modern day problems and challenges.

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Archaeology of the Dreamtime: The Story of Prehistoric Australia and Its People by Josephine Flood 1995

This book covers many of the above topics.

Part One examines stone and bone tools; the first boat people; routes to Australia; migration; life and death at Lake Mungo; the Australoids of Keilor, Kow Swamp and Willandra Lakes; genetic evidence; the peopling of Australia; early sites throughout Australia; Pleistocene rock art: petroglyphs (engravings) and rock paintings, with a discussion of all the major art sites in Australia; and the extinction of megafauna.

Part Two looks at climate changes and rising sea levels; the arrival of the dingo; food resources: Bogong moths; yams; eels and fish traps; processing toxic cycads; and aboriginal trade, religion and art over the past 1000 years.

At the back is a reference list of all the different Pleistocene artefacts, their location and dates.

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The Riches of Ancient Australia: An Indispensable Guide for Exploring Prehistoric Australia by Josephine Flood 1990

This book certainly lived up to the claim of its subtitle, especially on our 2008 travels around Australia, although we discovered that many of the sites described were no longer accessible to the public, due to cultural sensitivities, and many had a policy of ‘No Photography’. After a brief introduction to Australian prehistory over the last 60 000 years and a discussion of Australian rock art, each state is explored in detail.

We used this book at the following places:

Queensland :

1.Lark Quarry dinosaur footprints

2.Cape York:

Quinkan country at Laura:

The Gugu Yalangi Galleries;BlogPreHxBooksReszd25%IMG_4742BlogPreHxBooksReszd25%IMG_4828BlogPreHxBooksReszd25%IMG_4814 Split Rock;BlogPreHxBooksReszd25%IMG_5029 Giant Horse site and Mushroom Rock;BlogPreHxBooksReszd25%IMG_5068BlogPreHxBooksReszd25%IMG_5069BlogPreHxBooksReszd25%IMG_4993 and

Jowalbinna.BlogPreHxBooksReszd25%IMG_4567BlogPreHxBooksReszd25%IMG_45613. Riversleigh megafauna

Northern Territory

1.Kakadu National Park:

Anbangbang Gallery;

Nourlangie Rock;

Nanguluwur (Xray style); and

Ubirr;BlogPreHxBooksReszd25%IMG_5409BlogPreHxBooksReszd25%IMG_50872.Victoria River District

Western Australia

1.Chamberlain Gorge, El Questro

2.King George River and Mitchell Falls, Kimberley Plateau:

Gwion Gwion figures 20 000 years old;BlogPreHxBooksReszd25%IMG_9230 and the more recent Wandjina figures;BlogPreHxBooksReszd25%IMG_91183.Windjana Gorge and Tunnel Creek

4.Burrup Peninsula engravings: Over 10 000 engravings of humans, animals and geometric figures up to 20 000 years old;BlogPreHxBooksReszd25%IMG_1417

5.Stromatolites of Hamelin Pool, Shark Bay;BlogPreHxBooksReszd25%IMG_2249BlogPreHxBooksReszd25%IMG_2240

South Australia:

Naracoorte Cave megafauna: This is a model of a Diprotodon, the largest marsupial ever!BlogPreHxBooksReszd25%IMG_8120 Victoria:

1.The Grampians;

2.Condah fish traps

We have also used this book at other times:

Carnarvon Gorge and Kenniff Cave, Mt Moffat, in Queensland; and

Mt Yarrowyck, Armidale;

The Warrumbungles;  and

Bawley Pt, NSW, with its giant shell middens;

and will definitely be consulting it before our trip to Lake Mungo, Willandra Lakes and Menindee Lakes at some stage in the future!

After our big trip around Australia, my appetite for further knowledge whetted by the large amount of rock art seen, we bought the following books:

 Lost World of the Kimberley: Extraordinary Glimpses of Australia’s Ice Age Ancestors by Ian Wilson 2006

We particularly loved the tiny exquisite and ancient Gwion Gwion Figures, also known as Bradshaw Figures, of the Mitchell Plateau in the Kimberley area! It was so exciting searching and finding these delightful artworks under rocky overhangs at the King George River area en route to Mitchell Falls. Because we had limited time, we splurged on a helicopter ride out over the stone circles on the plateau (photo below) and north to the sea, where we saw a mother and baby dugong, then followed the King Edward River back past huge salt water crocodiles lazing in the sun and the Lower Falls to the Upper Mitchell Falls, where we disembarked to explore the falls.BlogPreHxBooksReszd25%IMG_9373 Because we had not walked in, we easily lost the track on the way out, circumnavigationg the area and finding ourselves back at the falls, so if we ever returned to explore the Lower Falls (which we would love to do!), I would definitely use a helicopter both ways!BlogPreHxBooksReszd25%IMG_9411 Apparently, there is a huge body of Gwion Gwion artwork at the Lower Falls, where the salt water meets the fresh water! Given that it is probably very unlikely that we will get back there, it is great to have this book! Ian documents the history of the discovery of this amazing artwork and describes the different artistic styles of Kimberley Rock Art:

Archaic Epoch: Cupules; Grooves; and Stencils;

Erudite Epoch:

Bradshaw Figures: Sash Figures; and Tassel Figures;

Clothes Peg Figures: Stick figures; and

Aboriginal Epoch: Clawed Hands; and Wandjina Period.BlogPreHxBooksReszd25%IMG_9470BlogPreHxBooksReszd25%IMG_9237BlogPreHxBooksReszd25%IMG_9203He examines the huge range of art sites and paintings, musing on the lifestyles, artefacts and clothing depicted, as well as their origins, not to mention the more enigmatic paintings of reindeer and high-prowed boats, which look very similar to those of the Ancient Egyptians!BlogPreHxBooksReszd30%Image (613)

Rock Art of the Kimberley by Mike Donaldson and Kevin Kenneally 2007

A record of the proceedings of the Kimberley Society Rock Art Seminar back on 10th September 2005, this book contains chapters by different contributors on a wide variety of topics.

The editor, Mike Donaldson, writes an overview of the Kimberley area: its geology, past climate changes and sea level rises; early European discoverers; the different art forms (cupules; engravings; stencils; beeswax figures; stone arrangements and paintings); the materials used (ochres, charcoal and clays); the subject matter (Gwion Gwion and Wandjina figures; animals; and fighting scenes); and finally, the topic of repainting rock art sites, particularly pertinent to the Wandjina art work.

The latter is further discussed by Donny Woolagoodja, a Worrorra elder and artist, while Denis Callaghan discusses the natural deterioration of rock art sites and Ian Crawford describes the 1960s field work on Wandjina art.

Jim Ross examines evolution and genetics, the migration of the original aboriginal ancestors, climate change, current dispersal theories and the peopling of Australia.

Sue O’Connor describes the different rock art sites and occupation sites in the Kimberley, while David Welch focuses specifically on the Bradshaw Figures.

And finally, Philip Playford explores the aboriginal rock art in the limestone ranges of the West Kimberley: Geike Gorge, Wandjina Gorge; and Tunnel Creek, another area we visited in 2008. Again, beautiful photos and an excellent record of the rock art of the Kimberley region.BlogPreHxBooksReszd30%Image (609)Mike Donaldson has since published a three-volume series on the prolific rock art of the Kimberley :

Kimberley Rock Art -Volume One: Mitchell Plateau Area,  released in April 2012;
Kimberley Rock Art -Volume Two: North Kimberley,  released in October 2012;
Kimberley Rock Art -Volume Three: Rivers and Ranges , released in April 2013.

See: http://www.wildrocks.com.au/ for details.

Mike Donaldson has also produced a lovely book on the rock engravings of the Burrup Peninsula:

Burrup Rock Art : Ancient Aboriginal Rock Art of  Burrup Peninsula and Dampier Archipelago by Mike Donaldson 2010

See: http://www.wildrocks.com.au/publications/burrup-rock-art-book/.

I would love to see this book one day, as we were so impressed with these ancient petroglyphs, of which there are over 10 000, up to 25 000 years old, at Deep Gorge, near Karratha, Western Australia, and so little is known about them.BlogPreHxBooksReszd25%IMG_1430 When we first started looking, all we could see were huge mullock heaps of red rock, but once you have spotted the first engraving, they suddenly become obvious, covering most of the rocks and depicting animals, birds, marine animals, geometric symbols and strange looking figures.BlogPreHxBooksReszd25%IMG_1406 Here are some more useful websites:

http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/backgroundbriefing/burrup-peninsula-rock-art-shows-extinct-megafauna/6561788

https://www.nationaltrust.org.au/publications/archaeology-and-rock-art-in-the-dampier-archipelago/    and

http://rockart.net.au/Burrup.htm.

Rock Paintings of Aboriginal Australia by Elaine Godden and Jutta Malnic 2008

Another terrific publication on aboriginal art work throughout Australia and the stories behind the paintings. It discusses the materials and techniques used and their deterioration and conservation. It then focuses on a few specific areas: The Kimberleys, Cape York, Arnhem Land and the Central Australian Deserts, with superb photographs of the art work throughout.

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 Journey in Time: The 50 000 Year Story of the Australian Aboriginal Rock Art of Arnhem Land by George Chaloupka 1999

This book explores the 50 000 years of Australian Aboriginal rock art of Arnhem Land: its depth and complexity, aesthetic achievements and the life of its creators. This fabulous book is so comprehensive and has wonderful photos.

The introduction starts with a world perspective and a description of :

Rock art in Australia ;

Rock art dating;

Arnhem Land Galleries;

The Land Gulbok:  its physical characteristics and climate;

The People: their totemism, language groups and clan territories; and

Aboriginal Dreamtime Stories and mythology, illustrated by examples of the artwork.

There is a large section on the rock art sites; the materials and techniques used; the aboriginal view of the art; a non-aboriginal sequence of the rock art; and

The different art styles and periods:

Pre-Estuarine : 50 000 to 8000 year ago:

Object imprints;

Large Naturalistic Figures Complex: Large naturalistic human figures and large naturalistic animals, including a thylacine (photo), a long-beaked echidna and a tapir-like Palorchestes, now extinct, and a Tasmanian devil, no longer found on the mainland;BlogPreHxBooksReszd25%IMG_5423Early X-Ray paintings;

Dynamic Figures;

Post-Dynamic Figures: Progressively stylised artwork representing boomerangs, fighting picks, spears and spear throwers, and yam figures.

2.Estuarine : 8 000 to 1500 years ago:

Early Estuarine Paintings;

Beeswax Designs;

X-Ray Art Complex: Humans and animals: fish; crustaceans; fishing spirits.

3.Freshwater Period : 1500 years ago to present day: Paintings of the contact period between aborigines and visitors:

Makassan fisherman from Sulawesi, Indonesia;

European explorers eg Ludwig Leichhardt; the riders and horses of the McKinley Frieze; and paintings of guns and a two-masted lugger.

Chinese gold diggers;

Buffalo shooters; and

Sorcery paintings.

Finally, there is a discussion of :

Particular motifs and themes: East Alligator Figures; Powerful Women; Human Sexuality; Dismembered Bodies; Dilly Bags and String Bags; Crocodiles; Turtles; and Ceremonies;  and

Other art forms: Stencilling; Rock Engraving; Earth Art; and Stone Arrangements.

It finishes with appendices of neighbouring rock art (Kimberleys and Papua New Guinea); and a list of international rock art sites.

Given these unique and priceless art sites are outside and vulnerable to deterioration and damage, these books are so important as a record of the wonderful ancient legacy of Australia’s original inhabitants.

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For more information about Australian rock art, another book, which we don’t have in our library, but is a classic in the field is:  Visions From the Past: The Archaeology of Australian Aboriginal Art by Mike Morwood, an archaeologist, renowned for his knowledge of Aboriginal Art. See:

https://www.allenandunwin.com/browse/books/academic-professional/archaeology/Visions-from-the-Past-MJ-Morwood-9781864487176.

Australia’s Living History: Arts of the Dreaming by Jennifer Isaacs 2002

Another fabulous book, which celebrates the diversity and richness of aboriginal culture, art work and oral traditions and covers a very broad range of artistic expression.

After a look at the regional variations in cultural expression, a wide variety of aboriginal art is discussed:

Body Adornment and Ornamentation;

Ceremony and Dance;

Fibre Crafts: Spinning and natural dyeing; Basket making; String bags and nets;

Rock Engravings and Paintings: Techniques; Styles; and Regional Examples;

Bark Painting;

Papunya Painting of the Desert;

Contemporary Works on Canvas;

Carved Weapons and Utensils;

Sculptures;  and

Future Directions for Aboriginal Art.

In the back is an appendix titled the Antiquity of Aboriginal Art.

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My final book is also edited and compiled by this knowledgeable lady:

Australia Dreaming : 40 000 years of Aboriginal History Edited by Jennifer Isaacs 2005

For aboriginal peoples, their artwork is a proud expression of their heritage and mythology, the stories of the Dreaming, the subject of this lavish book. This first aboriginal history of Australia and its people is told through the traditional myths and legends of over 40 aboriginal storytellers from a wide cross-section of communities and areas, showing regional variations in the beliefs of different aboriginal groups.

The stories are accompanied by beautiful photos of the land, people and artwork and are divided up into different themes:

The Reality of Myth: Arrival of the First Australians and their way of Life; Megafauna;  Rising Seas; and Volcanoes;

The Creation Era: Desert Ancestors and the Creation of the Desert Tors; the Origin of Lake Eyre; the Nullabor Plain; The Sky-Heroes of South Eastern Australia; The Earth Mother; the Great Serpents; the Wandjina; and the Creation Ancestors of NE Arnhem Land and North-Eastern Australia;

The Great Journeys: that of the Zebra Finch; and the Kangaroo and Euro;

Earth, Fire and Water;

Seasons: Lightning; Thunder; and Clouds;

Sun, Moon and Stars;

Cycle of Life: Men and Women; Birth of the Tribes; Early Years; Passage to Adulthood; Hunting and Food Gathering;

Death and the Spirit World;

Designs from the Dreaming;

The Visitors: Baiini; Macassans; and the Badu Islanders; and

The Invaders: First encounters with White Men; Violence; Spread of Disease; Vengeance of the Spirit Ancestors; and Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow.

As my last book in my post, it is very fitting that aboriginal people should have the final word on their own prehistory!

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Next week is the third and final post on history books in our library, covering the time since written records.

History Books : Part One: Archaeology and Anthropology

My previous posts on environmental books highlight the speed with which the modern world has evolved, producing massive changes to our planet and the rest of its inhabitants, but human beings have existed on this planet in harmony with nature for over two million years.

I have always been fascinated by the origins of our species, to the extent that I actually started an archaeology degree back in 2000 at the University of New England, Armidale. Unfortunately, the workload conflicted with our circumstances at the time, when we were still in the throes of child rearing and developing our bed-and-breakfast business, and given the scarcity of jobs in the field, it was always going to be an interest area only, so I only studied for a short while, but have continued to follow new developments and finds over the intervening period.

It is a fascinating area and knowledge and theories are constantly evolving with new discoveries and improvements in dating technologies, like the recent news of the  excavation of the Madjedbebe rock shelter in Kakadu National Park (http://www.news.com.au/technology/science/archaeology/what-globally-significant-archaeological-discovery-in-australia-actually-means/news-story/e5744f4826789b7300afe581d1521f98), so many of the following books are probably out-of-date, but they still form the basis of my knowledge and many of them have links to more up-to-date internet sites.

There are also many new archaeology programs on television, fulfilling that thirst for knowledge about our prehistory that many other people obviously share! One excellent program, which I recently watched was Alice Robert’s Lost Tribes of Humanity (2016) : https://www.dailymotion.com/video/x58use1 .

I will start with two books about the history of our planet’s formation, progressing through to general prehistory books and finally, books related specifically to Australian prehistory. Because of the large word count, I will discuss the latter in Part Two on Thursday.

Prehistory of Planet Earth

A Short History of Planet Earth  by Ian Plimer 2001

Our planet is 4600 Million years old, a time period of such enormity that it is often very difficult to comprehend, so this small publication, written for a non-scientific lay audience, is especially valuable for explaining the basics of the formation of our solar system and its planets, particularly our own planet Earth, its geological processes and the beginning of life forms, starting with cyanobacterial colonies, 3800 Million years ago.

Ian Plimer is a geologist with a special interest in Australia, so he provides plenty of examples of Australian geological history. His book is very readable and interesting, and even poetic in parts. For example:

‘Planet Earth and we humans are recycled stardust;      and

‘Our planet is an oasis in space, delicately balanced in its orbit’.

The first chapter explains the origins of our solar system and its planets and why there is life on earth.

While I am always daunted by the whole field of astronomy, I learnt many interesting new facts like the following:

40 000 tonnes of interstellar dust falls on planet Earth each year.

The earth’s magnetic field can suddenly reverse, an event, which has happened over 100 times over the last 50 million years, even when humans have existed, but would be catastrophic today with our dependence on modern communication.

The rates of continental drift vary from 1 cm per year to 17 cm per year and continents can move more than 1000 km over short geological time spans like 20 million years.

The first multicellular animals appeared 700 to 543 million years ago, leading to an explosion of life 540 to 520 million years ago.

Chapter 2 covers geological time scale, dating methods and the history of geological knowledge, while Chapter 3 examines the beginning of life on earth ‘before the oxygen revolution’, including 3500 million year old stromatolite colonies, some of which we visited at Shark Bay and Lake Clifton, in Western Australia, in 2008 (photos below); and eukaryotic organisms 2700 million years ago; as well as the impact of global glaciations, atmospheric changes and meteorite bombardment.BlogPreHxBooksReszd50%wa visit 027BlogPreHxBooksReszd50%wa visit 030Chapter 4 describes global stretching, resulting in the formation of rift valleys 1700 million years ago; mountain building and the development of continents, the evolution of multicellular organisms and the Age of the Bacteria.

When the glacial period ended 575 million years ago, the number of life forms exploded with most major animal groups appearing in the fossil record 540 to 530 million years ago. This is the subject matter of Chapter 5, well supported by diagrams of the biological time scale and mass extinctions.

While there are 550 million year old fish fossils from China, the first vertebrates appeared 530 million years ago.  Amphibians came on the scene 370 million years ago; reptiles 330 million years ago; insects 310 million years ago; mammals 214 million years ago  and hominids 4 million years ago.

The first land plants colonised continents 470 million years ago, but flowering plants are only 150 million years old. There have also been five major mass extinctions over the past 530 million years, most of which have been caused by impacts from extraterrestrial asteroids and comets.

Chapter 6 discusses the last 175 million years, especially in Australia, the formation of the Great Dividing Range, continental drift and the global greenhouse effect.

Chapter 7 focuses on the ice ages and the evolution of humans, starting with the 4.4 million old fossils of ape-like Ardipithicus ramidus in Ethiopia, followed by 4.2 Million year old Australopithecus aramensis, Northern Kenya; 3.8 to 3 million year old Australopithecus afarensis, East African Rift Valley; 3.5 to 3 million year old Australopithecus bahrelghazali, Chad; and 3 million year old Australopithecus africanus, South Africa.

Global cooling 2.5 million years ago and the resultant contraction of the East African Rift forests and expansion of grassland led to Australopithecine diversification with more species: Australopithecus garhi (2.5 million years ago, between A. africanus and the emergence of own genus, Homo); and a robust group of hominid species Paranthus aethipicus (2 to 1.4 million years ago), Kenya; Paranthus boisei, East Africa; Paranthus robustus and Paranthus crassidens, both South Africa.

Homo first appeared in the East African Rift Valley 2.5 to 1.8 million years ago and since then, numerous new hominid species have emerged, competed, coexisted and colonised new environments . Three early Homos flourished at the time: Homo habilis; Homo rudolfensis and Homo ergaster. Homo habilis had a larger brain than the Australopithecines, had primitive speech, used fire and made stone tools.

During the ice age, beginning 1.6 Million years ago, Australopithecines became extinct; and Homo erectus had migrated out of Africa and into Europe, India, China and South East Asia.

By 800 000 years ago, Home antecessor appeared in Spain; Homo heidelbergensis appeared in Africa 600 000 years ago and was well established in Europe and China 500 000 to 200 000 years ago; Homo neanderthalensis flourished in Europe and Western Asia 200 000 to 30 000 years ago and Homo sapiens, our species first appeared in the fossil record 200 000 to 150 000 years ago in Africa and lived in Europe 40 000 years ago, although this figure has now been increased to 300 000 years ago with the very recent find of Homo sapiens in Morocco. See: http://www.nature.com/news/oldest-homo-sapiens-fossil-claim-rewrites-our-species-history-1.22114 and https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/07/science/human-fossils-morocco.html?_r=0.

Australia was colonised by Homo sapiens up to at least 60 000 years ago, though there I always the chance that Homo erectus may have been the initial colonisers, given they survived in Java up to 40 000 years ago. Knowledge is always changing and growing with each new discovery, making it a very exciting field! The book concludes with chapters on climate change and the geology of history and of the future.

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The Atlas of the Prehistoric World by Douglas Palmer 1999

Sometimes, childrens’ books are an easier way to absorb monumental information and this is an excellent publication with maps of the globe during the different geological time periods, showing continental drift and formation, modern continental outlines, ancient seas and mountain ranges, and subduction zones with annotated key points discussed and a timeline at the top of each page.

The next section explores all the key changes, accompanied by excellent illustrations and examples: the origin of planet Earth and the solar system; aquatic microbes and the emergence of multicellular organisms; the Cambrian explosion; life in Ordovician seas; the colonization of land during the Silurian Period; the Age of the Fishes in Devonian times; the Age of Coal; the Permian expansion of life forms, including mammals; mass extinctions; the Age of the Dinosaurs; early birds and mammals; the evolution of plants and flowers; the giant Riversleigh marsupials; and the divergence of apes and hominids and the human journey.

The Earth Fact File at the back of the book discusses geological time scale; dating methods; geological controversies; rock types; plate tectonics; earthquakes and tsunamis; volcanoes; sedimentation; the fossil record; evolution; and catastrophic events; as well as including biographical entries; a glossary and a list of places and websites to visit. It complements the previous book well.BlogPreHxBooksReszd25%Image (593)

Now for a raft of books, specifically devoted to :

The Prehistory of Mankind

People of the Earth: An Introduction to World Prehistory by Brian M Fagan 12th Edition 2007

An update of my original 1998 archaeology textbook, though now, it is up to its 14th edition (2013)! After defining key archaeological concepts in the introduction, Part One describes the earliest stages of human evolution 7 million years ago to the emergence of tool-making Homo habilis in tropical Africa 2.6 million years ago, the spread of Homo erectus throughout the Old World and the spread of the first modern humans Homo sapiens into South West Asia during the last Ice Age. The text is supported by excellent diagrams, maps, photos of fossilized skulls and bones and tools and descriptions of early archaeological discoveries.

Part Two examines the Great Diaspora- the spread of humans all over the world from 45 000 years ago to modern times: Europe 40 000 to 8 000 BC; the first Americans 14 000 BC to modern times; Past and present African Hunter-Gatherers; Homo floriensis, 900 000 years ago; and the settlement of Australia, now dated to 60 000 years ago. Their lifestyles, tools, art and culture, and survival and adaptations during the Ice Age are all discussed in great detail.

Part Three focuses on the origins and development of agriculture and animal domestication from 10 000 BC on in all areas of the world, starting in South West Asia, and the repercussions- the development of sedentary lifestyles and early agricultural societies, which develop into the Old World urban civilizations and complex states of Part Four from 3000 BC to modern times:

Early Nubian States in the Land of Kush 4000 BC;

Archaic Period of Egypt 3100 BC (hieroglyphics, mummification and pyramids);

Sumerians of early Mesopotamian societies: the Sumerians ( cuneiform writing) 3000 BC; the Akkadians 2334 BC, the Semites 1990 BC and Assyrians 1000 BC;

Harappan civilization in India 2000 BC (pictographic symbols on seals; irrigation and flood control);

Shang Dynasty in Northern China 1766 BC (war lords and royal burial mounds; and bronzework);

Minoan Crete 2000 BC ;

Hittites of Anatolia 1650 BC;

Mycenaean civilization of Greece 1600 BC;

Phoenicians 1100 BC (the Sea People of the East Mediterranean);

Ancient Greeks (500 BC) and Etruscans and Ancient Romans (1 AD);

Angkor Wat, Cambodia 802 AD.

Pre-Roman Europeans: the Kurgans 3200 BC (Battle Axes) and Beakers 2700 BC (Copper); Bronze Age societies: Druids of Stonehenge 2950 BC, Urnfield cultures of Western Hungary (burial urns) 1800 BC, and Scythians of the Steppes from China to Ukraine 400 BC; Iron Age cultures: the Hallstatt culture, Austria 750 BC, La Tene culture of the Celts 390 BC.

Part Five describes the early Native American civilizations from 2000 BC to 1534 AD: the Mayan civilizations: the Olmecs 1500 BC; Teotihuacans 200 BC, Toltecs 900 AD and Aztecs 12th century AD of Mesoamerica and the Chavin 1500 BC ; Moche 200 BC; Chimu 1375 AD and Incas of the Andes 1476 AD in South America.

The book finishes with  glossaries of cultures and sites, and technical terms and a bibliography. It is such a comprehensive book and a wonderful guide to human prehistory.BlogPreHxBooksReszd25%Image (595)Essentials of Physical Anthropology by Robert Jurmain, Harry Nelson, Lynn Kilgare,and Wendy Trevathen   3rd Edition 1998

My other basic text for first-year archaeology! The first few chapters cover key definitions; the development of evolutionary theory; the biological basis of life and principles of inheritance; human evolution and population genetics; human variation and adaptation and the fundamentals of human growth and development.

The next block of chapters investigate our primate origins, behaviour and evolutionary history; our Hominid origins and taxonomy; Home erectus; Neanderthals and other Archaic Homo sapiens; and modern man, Homo sapiens sapiens and Upper Paleolithic art and culture.

The book finishes with a look at future prospects and problems with possible solutions and appendices (primate skeletal anatomy and population genetics), a glossary and a bibliography.

This is another excellent guide with timelines; a running glossary, maps and tables and interesting photo essays on  the tools and techniques of physical anthropology; primate studies; and paleoanthropology.

At the end of each chapter is a summary; questions for review; and suggested further reading and web sites.BlogPreHxBooksReszd25%Image (596)

The next two books are beautifully illustrated  coffee table hardback books, part of a five-part series of The Illustrated History of Humankind, produced by the University of Queensland Press and edited by Goran Burenhult, with chapters from a number of contributors from a wide range of scientific and academic fields:

The First Humans: Human Origins and History to 10 000 BC  1993

Chapters cover diverse topics from human origins and behavioural qualities, the Neanderthals and the Ice Age, prehistoric art and culture, and stone age tools; to the settlement of Ancient Australia; the first Pacific Islanders; the first Americans and early Arctic cultures.

The book starts with a diagram of key advances in the evolution of humans during the Lower, Middle and Upper Paleolithic Periods and finishes with a glossary and notes on the contributors.

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Traditional Peoples Today: Continuity and Change in the Modern World  1994

Starting with a chapter on the evolution of races, populations and cultures, the book progresses to detailed accounts of the customs, economies and social life of indigenous societies in Asia, South-East Asia, Australia, the Pacific, Africa, the Arctic and North and South America.

It finishes with a chapter on the  future challenges of mankind. It has such beautiful photographs of many cultures, of which I had never even heard : the Wahki on the roof of the world; the Bhotia, yak herders on the Changtang Plateau; the Ainu of North Japan ; the Naga headhunters of the Assam Highlands; and the Iatmul of the Sepik River Basin. This is a fascinating book, showcasing the huge global physical, cultural and linguistic variety of our species.

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See : https://www.goodreads.com/series/74407-the-illustrated-history-of-humankind  for the names of the other three books in the series.

Atlas of Man: A Cultural, Historical and Sociological Survey of the Way We Live   Omega Books 1987

This book covers over 400 different peoples throughout the world.

Part One, The World of Man, describes man’s evolution and history over the past 100 000 years and the factors which shape and influence all human societies: the universal features of social organization, kinship, and politics; language, writing and printing, and mass media; religion, ritual and mythology; and economics and lifestyles, finishing with an examination of the impacts of industrialization, modern communication and technology and population growth and their implications for the future of mankind.

Part Two is divided into 9 sections, corresponding to different geographical areas: North American/Caribbean; Central/South America; Europe; Middle East/North Africa; Africa; Soviet Union/Mongolia; India/South Central Asia; China/East and South-East Asia; and Australasia/Pacific region.

Each section begins with the historical, geographical and cultural characteristics of the region with appropriate maps ( including physical geography, population distribution and density;  language groups; colonization; temperature and rainfall; vegetation types) and then there are individual entries describing the countries and main ethnic groups in each region, with a map showing their location and a population estimate, which no doubt has changed considerably over the thirty years since its publication.

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Vanishing Primitive Man by Timothy Severin 1973

Tim Severin is a British explorer, historian, lecturer, film maker and writer, who has made a career out of researching, then re-enacting and writing about the legendary journeys of mythical and historical figures. His books include: Tracking Marco Polo 1964; Explorers of the Mississippi 1968; The Golden Antilles 1970; The African Adventure 1973; The Oriental Adventure: Explorers of the East 1976; The Brendan Voyage 1978;The Sindbad Voyage 1983; The Jason Voyage 1986; The Ulysses Voyage 1987; Crusader: By Horse to Jerusalem 1987; In Search of Genghis Khan 1991; The China Voyage 1994; The Spice Islands Voyage 1997; In Search of Moby Dick: Quest for the White Whale 1999; and Seeking Robinson Crusoe 2002. He has also written historical fiction  with  his Saxon, Viking and Pirate series. See: http://www.timseverin.net/.

We have read the Brendan Voyage. In fact, on our overseas trip in 1994, we actually saw his leather-hulled currach at Craggaunowen, Ireland ( watch the first video on https://www.shannonheritage.com/Craggaunowen/), as well as the spot, from where he launched his voyage (Brandon Creek, Dingle Peninsula, Ireland). His books are always so interesting and readable that I knew this book would be well worth reading!

In this lovely book on the vanishing  tribes of primitive man, Tim describes the physical features; tools and weapons; way of life; art; social organization; beliefs, rituals and customs of a wide variety of primitive peoples from Australian Aborigines and Polynesian and Melanesian Islanders; the hunter-gathering pygmies of Equatorial Africa and the Kalahari Bushmen; the Cunas of Golden Castile, Panama, and the Xavante of Brazil; the Inuit (eskimos) and the Lapps;  and Ainu (Sky People) of Hokkaido, Japan.

Throughout the book are superb photographs, as well as numerous picture portfolios, illustrating more general concepts, including living with nature; the hunter-gatherer lifestyle; the structure of primitive societies; rituals and ceremonies; art; religion and the pressures and changes primitive peoples face.

In the final chapter, he focuses specifically on the problems of contact with the modern world (disease, cultural collapse, psychological decline, habitat destruction, competition for resources, poverty or outright annihilation) and possible solutions to maintaining their cultural heritage, while slowly adapting to the changed world. Unfortunately, it is too late for many primitive tribes, so this book serves as a important record of the wide variety of primitive cultures that used to exist.BlogPreHxBooksReszd25%Image (599)Prehistoric Europe: An Illustrated History Edited by Barry Cunliffe 1998

A detailed look at prehistoric Europe, its changing climate and man’s adaptation and response to these changes and the development of Western culture from the arrival of Stone Age Man to the Fall of the Roman Empire, with chapters written by a number of different experts.

It starts with the historical background to the study of archaeology in Europe; the Ice Age climate and the earliest arrivals in Europe; and the knowledge we can draw from fossil hominids and their tools. It then explores the Upper Palaeolithic Revolution: its economy, society and art, before progressing to the Mesolithic Age: their settlements, dwellings, food, tools, boats, rituals, art and societies.

The following chapters looks at:

The first farmers in Greece and the Balkans, Central and Western Mediterranean and Central and Western Europe during the Neolithic Age;

The transformation of Early Agrarian Europe and the enormous changes which occured;

The Palace Civilizations of Minoan Crete and Mycenaean Greece;

The emergence of the elites in Early Bronze Age Europe and the development of long-distance trade routes;

The collapse of Aegean civilizations at the end of the Late Bronze Age;

Reformation in Barbarian Europe (the Agricultural Revolution, trade, transport and warfare);

Iron Age societies and Celtic migrations;

Scythian and Thracian societies;

The impact of the Rome Empire on the rest of Europe; and

Barbarian Europe after the Fall of Rome: the Goths and  the Visigoths, the Franks, the  Vandals, the Saxons and Angles and the Slavs: their settlements, cultures, craftsmanship, war and migrations.

It is such a detailed and comprehensive book with over 300 plates, maps and figures. In the back is a list of further reading on each chapter, as well as chronological tables: a simplified time chart; the Palaeolithic Period (climate, technology, human type, culture and achievements and time before present); Early Farming and Metallurgy in the different parts of Europe: Northern, Western, Central, Mediterranean, Balkans and Aegean; and Steppe; the Mediterranean States and Temperate Europe; the Roman Empire (Emperors and Events); as well as the historical events after the Fall of Rome. I wish I had owned this book before our overseas trip in 1994!BlogPreHxBooksReszd25%Image (602)

I have already mentioned Craggaunowen with respect to Tim Severin’s Brendan Voyage, but it is also worth visiting for its living history exhibits of life in a Celtic Bronze Age village, built on an artificial island called a crannog (photo below).BlogPreHxBooksReszd50%Image (621) Heritage Parks are such a wonderful way to get a feel for the past, especially for kids. See: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cn2wwYfjNAI. My children thoroughly enjoyed exploring the quaint houses, getting their hands dirty, applying mud to wattle-and-daub fences and learning about the weaving and natural dyeing.BlogPreHxBooksReszd50%Image (622) We visited another open-air museum at the Prehistoparc, Tursac in the Dordogne (See: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OKgPzyI35Ns and http://www.prehistoparc.fr/),with life size models of Cro-Magnon Man (Homo sapiens sapiens) and the animals they hunted, many of which we had seen painted and engraved in 12 000 to 15 000 BC artwork on the walls of caves and rock shelters, like that of Font de Gaume, Les Ezyzies; the Cave of 100 Mammoths, Rouffignac; and the recreation copy of Lascaux II, the previous two days.BlogPreHxBooksReszd50%Image (617)BlogPreHxBooksReszd50%Image (617) - CopyThe National Museum of Prehistory at Les Ezyzies (http://en.musee-prehistoire-eyzies.fr/) is a wonderful place to see over one million prehistoric objects from the earliest stone tools to bone objects, harpoons and fish-hooks (photo 2), weapons, needles and points (photo 1); whistles (photo 1); jewellery, engravings (photo 4), female fertility symbols (photo 3) and other phallic objects and a series of skulls and bones showing the development of mankind.BlogPreHxBooksReszd50%Image (618) - CopyBlogPreHxBooksReszd50%Image (618)BlogPreHxBooksReszd50%Image (620)BlogPreHxBooksReszd50%Image (619) We bought the following book there to learn more about the Prehistory of the Perigord region, especially since all the cave tours were in spoken French!

Wonderful Prehistory in the Perigord  by JL Aubarbier, M Binet, JP Bouchard, and G Guichard 1989

This is a very useful guide for visiting the rock art sites of the Dordogne region in France. After introductory chapters on the overall picture of the prehistory of man; Palaeolithic and Neolithic life; and rock art, it focuses on the Dordogne region and all the local rock art sites, supported by wonderful photographs, a full-colour map and explanatory tables illustrating time periods, prehistoric cultures and tool-making technologies and other inventions.

It certainly is a wonderful area to visit to see early prehistoric art in Europe and appreciate the ingenuity and skill of the early rock artists.BlogPreHxBooksReszd25%Image (601)

The Cave Painters : Probing the Mysteries of the World’s First Artists by Gregory Curtis 2007

A fascinating paperback for those of us, who cannot get enough of prehistoric cave art, especially that of France and Spain, and I would say without hesitation that would be anyone, who had ever visited these wonderful sites! They are so dramatic and awe-inspiring and tell us so much about the local lives, their culture and beliefs and the animals they hunted, but there is still so much more that isn’t known!

This book describes various theories about their lives and the role of art, as well as the history of the archaeological discoveries in the area. While many of the known sites are open to the public, some have been closed due to their fragility and potential for damage or contamination  like the original Lascaux ( closed in 1963, though it has been accurately reproduced in the impressive Lascaux II, opened in 1984) and some are underwater like the Cosquer Cave, so it’s great to learn more about them from this book. A very enjoyable and interesting read!BlogPreHxBooksReszd30%Image (604)

On Thursday, I will continue this post with books about Australian Prehistory.

Our Beautiful Earth : Part Six : Natural History Books : Lifestyle Bibles : Sustainability , Simple Living and Securing the Future

While it is easy to feel pessimistic about the future, there are still some wonderful organizations constantly working to improve the environment and state of the world. There are also many things you can do at an individual level, as pointed out by the following books in order of publication.

The 1970s was a period of growing awareness of the environment and a desire for self-reliance and individual creativity, qualities in danger of being lost in an increasingly technological and impersonal world. Here are two excellent books from that era.

Household Ecology by Julia Percivall and Pixie Burger  1973

An oldie, but a goodie, this well-thumbed paperback has almost fallen apart but, in keeping with its philosophy, is constantly re-mended and recycled!! It addresses the individual – what you can do yourself to effect change and help restore ecological balance, a huge task with our ever-increasing population, but every little bit counts!! It looks at :

Ecology in the marketplace: ecological shopping; laundry and household cleaners with appropriate more ecologically-friendly alternatives; and recycling discards;

Food for healthy living , including lots of recipes; sleep and exercise; food for particular situations and nature’s tranquilizers and destressors;

Seasonal adjustments and the climate indoors; natural air fresheners and deodorizers; preserving cut flowers; and house plants;

The medicine chest and natural beauty aids, again with lots of recipes;

Natural garden sprays and traps; encouraging birds and butterflies; companion planting, natural fertilisers, compost and mulches; and herb gardens;

Baby care; and child rearing to revere nature; and

A word on future prospects, although I fear that, despite some major gains (like not throwing rubbish out of car windows!), we have such a long way to go yet! This book however offers many valuable practical and possible solutions for those who do care about the future of our planet!BlogEnvtlBooksReszd40%Image (500) - Copy

In Celebration of Small Things by Sharon Cadwaller 1974

This useful book has many wonderful suggestions from making a container garden,  preserving fruit and vegetables and making wine and beer to simple sewing for the home, making furniture, doing electrical and plumbing repairs and wise supermarket shopping.

There is also a large section on honouring our natural environment, creating a more cooperative community and restoring ritual, all marvellous tenets for contemporary living. I also love the simple ink sketches by Anita Walker Scott, which compliment the delightful title of this book perfectly!BlogEnvtlBooksReszd30%Image (549)

The following books were particularly useful for farmers like ourselves at the time.

Water For Every Farm by PA Yeomens 1978

http://soilandhealth.org/wp-content/uploads/01aglibrary/010125yeomans/010125toc.html

In this landmark book, PA Yeomens (1904-1984) challenged conventional Australian farming practices with respect to water and soil fertility  in the 1940s and 1950s and designed a new agricultural system for water irrigation and storage, tree planting and maintaining (and even accelerating) soil fertility, which he called the Keyline System. It is a beautifully integrated system using the contours of the land to catch every drop of water falling on the farm, then redistribute it for pasture irrigation and growing vegetation strips, feeding the excess water by gravity into further storage dams at lower contour levels, as can be seen in this aerial photograph at Richmond (page 52-53 in the book), an area now sadly covered in urbanization. For a good grasp of his concept, see: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qz6vhoOg4Hc.

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 Keyline Design concepts are now part of the curriculum of many sustainable agriculture courses throughout the world and were a key factor in the development of permaculture. In fact, Yeomens’ principles have been further refined by permaculture practitioners. See: http://www.permaculturenews.org/resources_files/KeylineArticle.pdf.

My husband and his brother, Peter, attended one of his Keyline workshops and visited dams in the Kiewa Valley (see YouTube link above) in Victoria, before following his principles back on their farm. In fact, Peter is actually in a photograph of participants in another book by Yeomens, The City Forest, discussed next, in which he extends his ideas beyond farms to the whole environment!

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The City Forest : The Keyline Plan for the Human Environment Revolution by PA Yeomens 1971

http://soilandhealth.org/wp-content/uploads/01aglibrary/010127yeomansIII/010127toc.html

This tiny book is another early call to arms, warning about the state of the environment back in the early 1970s, almost 50 years ago! After discussing the basic principles of his Keyline concept and advocating a return to small scale organic farming, Yeomens focuses on urban landscape design, advocating the use of his concepts and the planting of forests near and within cities to help with pollution, sewerage treatment and water management. Both very influential books!

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Wildlife in the Home Paddock by Roland Breckwoldt 1983

In his book, Roland Breckwoldt looks specifically at the Australian situation and encourages an awareness of wildlife on farms and management practices to accommodate them. He argues that apart from strong ethical and aesthetical reasons for preserving native flora and fauna, there are also economic benefits from learning to live with the land. For example : the maintenance of biodiversity and natural ecosystems.

There is still so much we don’t know about all the interactions and interconnectedness and interdependence of life forms, not to mention their special properties, which hold potential for future use like rainforest medicinal plants. Upsetting the natural balance by removing certain elements can have catastrophic effects on the local environment, not to mention farm productivity.

Management practices include tree planting and regeneration to enhance the appeal and value of the property and provide windbreaks and wildlife corridors; the adaptation of farm dams for waterfowl and freshwater fish; the controlled use of fire; and the management of problem animals like cockatoos in grain crops and wallabies in forest plantations, using ecological methods of pest control based on the species’ behaviour and habitat requirements rather than by shooting, poisoning or trapping, which can adversely affect other wildlife (see Silent Spring by Rachel Carson in last week’s post). A very worthwhile addition to the natural history library!BlogEnvtlBooksReszd30%Image (512)

While the 1980s were hailed as a period of affluence, many of us, especially small farmers (!) were still pottering along on low incomes and this next book was particularly useful.

Hard Times Handbook by Keith and Irene Smith 1984

Another classic by the founders of Earth Garden, one of the two pioneering Australian magazines devoted to self-sufficiency, organic gardening  and sustainability (the other was Grass Roots), both of which were started in the early 1970s and both of which are still published today. A self-sufficient lifestyle is a wealthy lifestyle in terms of creativity and well-being, but not materially, so this Hard Times Handbook provides invaluable suggestions for living cheaply in the city, conserving scarce resources, growing your own food and making healthy family meals, making and recycling clothes, saving energy and cost-cutting and surviving without a job.

It lists 21 steps for living simply, staying healthy and being happy, expounds its frugality theory and the joy of simple pleasures, and discusses survival strategies used during the Great Depression of the 1930s, all in the first two chapters.

The next section looks at emergency strategies for electricity failures and food shortages, followed by in-depth chapters on water, power, heating and cooling, recycling, backyard food growing, hard times tucker and lots of recipes and household hints for making cleaning and  beauty  and first aid products.

It’s a terrific little book with great suggestions, which are still very useful and pertinent today.

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Jackie French was also a regular contributor to Earth Garden and wrote many books, perfect for this post, but already reviewed in: https://candeloblooms.com/2017/03/23/books-on-specific-types-of-gardens-part-two-vegetable-gardens-sustainable-and-organic-gardens-and-dry-climate-gardens/ .

The Voluntary Simplicity movement of the 1990s, while already practiced by many, began to reach a wider audience with the following publications.

The Simple Living Guide : A Guide Book for Less Stressful, More Joyful Living by Janet  Luhrs  1997/2000

Simple living is about living deliberately.  Simple living is not about austerity, or frugality, or income level.  It’s about being fully aware of why you are living your particular life, and knowing that life is one you have chosen thoughtfully.  Simple living is about designing our lives to coincide with our ideals.” Janet Luhrs

Our first book on voluntary simplicity, a flood-damaged and recycled copy, bought from a secondhand bookshop and unfortunately, a subsequent victim of an over-enthusiastic purge in the interests of downsizing and simple living!!! Fortunately, it spawned its own website (https://simpleliving.com/book/), so we can still make the most of its concepts and wisdom without our own hardcopy!

The book examines the practical aspects of time, work, money, and housing: home and clutter, health and happiness, stress, family life, peace and love, and mindfulness and inspiration, backed up by a great blog on the website. See: https://simpleliving.com/blog/.

It provides strategies, inspiration, resources and real-life profiles of people, who have slowed down, overcome obstacles, and created richer lives. The only thing the website doesn’t replicate are the lovely graphics in the book! Here is another good book review of this excellent book: http://www.thesimpledollar.com/review-the-simple-living-guide/.

Timeless Simplicity : Creative Living in a Consumer Society by John Lane 2001

A more theoretical book about voluntary simplicity and Ross’s bible, to which he refers on an almost daily basis for inspiration and validation. I loved the little story about the fisherman and the industrialist at the beginning of the book (page 8), which illustrates this notion perfectly:BlogEnvtlBooks50%Image (647)This book has two themes: the quest for personal contentment and a better simpler quality of life; and the need for a more frugal lifestyle (due to the consequences of overpopulation, homogenization of our cultures, waste and dwindling resources) and a more equitable distribution of wealth.

John Lane was a chairman of the Dartington Hall Trust and involved in the founding of the Schumacher College in 1991 (https://www.schumachercollege.org.uk/).

Schumacher College is an international centre for transformative learning for sustainable living and offers holistic courses about social and environmental issues, inspired by E F Schumacher. Lecturers have included James Lovelock (founder of the Gaia concept), Deepak Chopra, Hazel Henderson, Rupert Sheldrake and Vandana Shiva. See last week’s post about Small is Beautiful: https://candeloblooms.com/2017/08/15/our-beautiful-earth-part-five-natural-history-books-environmental-challenges/.

In this book, John Lane examines a short history of simplicity from the ancient world and Christian ascetics to the Arts and Crafts Movement, promoted by John Ruskin and William Morris; and the writings of other advocates of the simple life like Henry David Thoreau, Ralph Waldo Emerson and Leo Tolstoy. The Eastern religions of Buddhism, Hinduism, Jainism, and Taoism also advocated material moderation, mindfulness and spirituality. The current movement arose in the 1980s with Duane Elgin’s pioneering book about voluntary simplicity and sustainability. See: http://duaneelgin.com/books/.

He then examines the obstacles to simplicity : the fallacy that money makes you happy; mass conformity and beliefs; mass work, leisure and consumption; and life in the city.

The next chapter focuses on creative frugality and its rewards: rethinking your belief system; following your bliss; working for fulfilment; culling the unnecessary; reducing expenditure; setting limits; careful consumption; adopting a positive attitude; and living a slower pace of life.

The rewards of frugality include fidelity to oneself; living in the present; savouring the ordinary; a sense of place; companionship; the pleasure of listening and seeing; and the gifts of nature, play and creativity, love and laughter, and caring for the soul.

I love his notion of the sacred arts of life: imagination, creativity, individuality and beauty in the home;  the aesthetics and rituals associated with food preparation and mindful, thankful consumption; and the creation of a home and beautiful garden.

This is a very special book with a very important message. Despite our material wealth in the Western world, most people lead stressful lives, deprived of freedom, creativity and time, and while it may be difficult to get off the treadmill, it is possible if one changes one’s mindset and expectations to lead a simpler, more productive life. It is also essential for the survival of the planet and human life on Earth!BlogEnvtlBooksReszd30%Image (499)

Another way of securing the future is to ensure the next generation are environmentally aware and love nature, but firstly two seminal texts, which steered the way we approached our own children’s upbringing!

The Continuum Concept by Jean Liedloff  1975

One of the first books, along with The Magical Child, which I read on child rearing while breast feeding! Jean Liedloff  lived with a South American Indian Stone Age tribe in their jungle home for two and a half years, observing their way of life and child-rearing practices and radically altering her perceptions about human development.

She developed a theory called the continuum concept, in which human beings have an innate set of expectations, known as a continuum, which ensure the survival of the species by achieving optimal physical, mental, and emotional development and adaptability. To achieve this, young humans – especially babies – require the kind of experience to which our species adapted during the long evolution by natural selection, including :

Immediate placement, after birth, in their mothers’ arms;

Constant carrying or physical contact with other people (usually their mothers or fathers) in the several months after birth, as these adults go about their day-to-day business, allowing the child to observe and learn;

Co-sleeping in the parents’ bed for at least two years;

Breast feeding on cue;

Caregivers’ immediate and unconditional response to the infants’ urgent body signals; and

Trust and a sense of place and worth within the tribe, without making them the constant centre of attention.

She argues that in Western civilized cultures, which have removed themselves from the natural evolutionary process, certain evolutionary expectations are not met as infants and toddlers, resulting in compensatory behaviours and many forms of mental and social disorders.

For more on this interesting concept, see: http://www.continuum-concept.org/ and https://loveparenting.org/2013/02/25/continuum-parenting-and-attachment-parenting-whats-the-difference-and-what-is-love-parenting-really-all-about/. It certainly made a lot of sense to me and was much easier to read than my next book!!!

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The Magical Child  by Joseph Chilton Pearce 1979

A fascinating read about the different stages of mind-brain maturation and matrices the child experiences from the womb to adulthood and how modern life speeds up the process, often skipping essential stages for the development of the human brain, at detrimental costs to both the individual and society as a whole.

It is not an easy book to read, as one has to learn an entire new set of vocabulary in order to understand the concepts he wishes to discuss. Basically, the author believes that the human brain has not changed that much over the past 2000 years, even though our society and Western lifestyle has, and to fully develop the child’s potential and intelligence, it is essential that the time-honoured biological guidelines for brain maturation, based on a series of matrix formations and shifts, are followed.

Each matrix shift presents a range of unknown possibilities, challenges and experiences, resulting in the growth of intelligence, and progresses from the concrete to the more abstract, with each matrix shift being based on mastery of the old matrix. From the safe matrix of the womb, children progress to the world of the mother, then the earth (or natural world in its immediate vicinity, completed at around 7 years old), becoming increasingly independent over the next 4 years (7 to 11 years old) to complete autonomy by adolescence, when the mind-brain becomes its own matrix and source of power, possibility and safety.

He argues that much of our Western practices of child-rearing and education are preventing this logical development of the mind-brain, resulting in major problems like obsessive-compulsive attachment to material objects; a breakdown in interpersonal relationships; anxiety and stress; and far worse : autism; hyper-kinetic behaviour; childhood schizophrenia; and adolescent suicide.

These practices include:

Modern technological birthing practices; separating the mother and infant at birth; and using cribs and strollers rather than slings on the mother’s body;

Group childcare and formal education at a maturation stage, when they should still be playing and at home with their mother, gaining confidence in physical and mental abilities within a safe environment; and

Subjecting the child to information and experiences through education, TV, social media and inappropriate games, suited to a later stage, and inflicting them with our anxiety before their brains have developed sufficiently to absorb it all.

Throughout the book, he cites many examples of alternative child-rearing practices in less developed nations, where the child is far more advanced in maturation to Western children the same age.

A very thought-provoking read, especially for new parents and educators!

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Joseph Chilton Pearce develops his ideas about mind-brain development and the evolution of creativity further in the sequel to this book :

Evolution’s End by Joseph Chilton Pearce  1993.

In it, he argues that :

Hospital childbirth interferes with the natural child-mother bonding process, thus, in turn, impeding the potential for all other human bonds with parents, friends, spouse and society;

Daycare further dissociates the child from the mother, increasing the inability to bond and implanting a lifelong sense of alienation and isolation;

Television and premature formal education stifle spontaneous play and cripple the development of the imagination; and

Synthetic growth hormones used in meat, dairy and poultry products accumulate in children and accelerate physical and sexual development, while psychological and intellectual maturation is radically impaired.

He develops a  three-stage model of human development: heart-mind synchrony, which occurs in infancy; post-adolescent synchrony of the physical self and the creative process, which few of us attain; and a final mystical stage, nearly unknown, that “moves us beyond biology.”

Even more difficult to read than the former book, it needs a few readings to totally grasp his concepts, a feat which I must admit is a little beyond my limited intelligence!BlogEnvtlBooksReszd30%Image (496)

One of the best ways of encouraging children to appreciate their environment is to steep them in nature and natural history studies.

The Naturalist’s Handbook by Geoffrey C Watson 1962

Every child is naturally curious about the world around them. As Joseph Chilton Pearce pointed out, often today’s children are rushed through their natural stages of brain development and because of modern day factors, they too often skip the wonderful world of nature.

Today’s children are tomorrow’s naturalists and environmental advocates, so it is vitally important to introduce kids to the natural environment, if we still want a halfway decent world, in which to live. And it’s not only incredibly interesting, but it’s fun too!

This little British paperback, while small and old, still has some great ideas.

In Part One, it discusses comfort outdoors; maps and books; museums and natural history societies; and collecting and basic equipment, followed by chapters on animal detection (trails, tracks and signs); recording (field note book and logbooks) and identification.

Part Two becomes more specific with chapters on collecting rocks and fossils, plants and insects; watching birds and mammals; collecting reptiles, amphibians and shells and learning more about the seashore; and finally forming a nature club with a seasonal program of talks and activities. Observation, collecting, recording, identification, mounting and displaying, preservation and storage are all discussed in depth, as well as more specialist techniques, like making a plaster cast of a footprint or making a cabinet skin.

In the appendices are notes about the British Young Naturalists Association Merit Award Scheme, sadly now defunct, though I did notice awards for older British naturalists on : http://www.bna-naturalists.org/awards.html, including the Peter Scott Memorial Award, and the British Naturalists’ Association does do a lot of work with schools. See: http://www.bna-naturalists.org/education.html. However, there is no reason the guidelines to the different levels of the awards in this book could not be used for personal development!

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There are also useful lists of natural history books and magazines; sources for natural history equipment and supplies sources; natural history organizations, field study centres and bird observatories; and finally, British museums focusing on natural history, including the wonderful Natural History Museum in London, which we visited with our children in 1994 and where we bought our copy of the next book!

The Amateur Naturalist by Gerald and Lee Durrell 1982

We were reared on books written by Gerald Durrell (1925-1995), who was our generation’s equivalent to today’s David Attenborough. We were also lucky enough to visit his Rare and Endangered Species Zoo on Jersey on that same trip. See: https://www.jersey.com/durrell-wildlife-park and https://www.durrell.org/wildlife/visit/.

This wonderful practical guide to the natural world has a slightly different approach to the last book. Rather than dividing the topic up into the different components of natural history (rocks, insects, birds, shell etc), it explores all the different habitats from the home ground (always a good place to start!), to meadows and hedgerows; shrub and grasslands; desert and tundra; deciduous and coniferous woodlands; tropical forest; mountains; ponds and streams and marshland; coastal wetlands, cliffs and dunes; and smooth and rocky shores.

Throughout each entry are descriptions, illustrations and colour photographs of each habitat and its inhabitants, and suggestions for further exploration and experiments. For example, the section on Home Ground includes attics and cellars, spiders and mice and the garden and orchard and all its inhabitants, as well as signs of unseen guests; spiders and their webs; creating a wildlife garden; bird feeders and nesting boxes; and how to make a pitfall trap, while Meadows and Hedgerows includes information on butterfly flight patterns; collecting butterflies; attracting and trapping moths; making a plant profile and trapping and studying small mammals.

There is also an introductory chapter on becoming a naturalist with a brief history of evolution and ecology and information on essential equipment in the field, which is later expounded upon in depth in the back section of the book. Also covered in this section are the following topics:

Setting up a workroom;

Microscopes and dissection;

Home photography;

Preserving methods;

Plant anatomy; drying and pressing flowers; studying fungi, lichens, mosses and liverworts; bark, leaves and fruit; and tree anatomy;

Green houses and propagation;

Terrariums and aquariums;

Mounting and displaying specimens;

Feathers and nests;

Pellet identification;

Taxidermy;

Wildlife ponds;

Breeding butterflies and moths;

Wormeries and formicariums (ant farms);

Tadpoles;

Keeping animals; and the

Care of injured creatures.

The book finishes with a classification table of the different Kingdoms, with brief descriptions and illustrations; a chapter on the future; a glossary of natural history terms, suggestions for further reading and a list of useful addresses, including organizations, specialist bookshops and sources for equipment and supplies.

It’s a fascinating book and serves its subject well. One couldn’t fail to be absorbed and enthused by this wonderful book!BlogEnvtlBooksReszd25%Image (503)

It is also well worth reading his delightful and inspiring trilogy about his childhood and development as a naturalist in The Corfu Trilogy: My Family and Other Animals; Birds, Beasts and Relatives; and The Garden of the Gods; and the excellent authorized biography: Gerald Durrell by Douglas Botting 1999, from which I borrowed the quote at the bottom of this post from Page xv of the preface.

And finally, two inspirational books, celebrating our wonderful planet and its amazing natural history!

Observations of Wildlife by Peter Scott 2011

Peter Scott (1909-1989) is another conservation hero of ours, from a similar time period to Gerald Durrell. Son of Scott of the Antarctic and god-son of J.M Barrie (Peter Pan fame), Peter used his privilege and connections to further the cause of wildlife and environment, founding the Severn Wildfowl Trust, Slimbridge (now known as the Slimbridge Wetland Centre. See: http://www.wwt.org.uk/wetland-centres/slimbridge/), which we also visited in 1994 with our children, as well as the World Wildlife Fund (WWF).

In 1973, he was the first person to be knighted for services to conservation and the environment. Not only was he an environmental champion, but also lived life to the full, being an accomplished artist and the British National Gliding Champion in 1963 and a top yachtsman, winning a bronze medal for sailing in the 1936 Olympic Games. And he was modest and appreciative as well!!!

His watercolour paintings and sketches of wild geese, swans, ducks and coastal birds on land and in flight, as well as tropical fish, marine life and other animals are absolutely beautiful and accompany chapters about his life and love of birds; his development as an artist and naturalist; the founding of the Wildfowl Trust at Slimbridge and the WWF; his travels and encounters and his philosophy and concerns for the planet. A very beautiful book indeed!

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The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution by Richard Dawkins 2009

Highlighting the awe-inspiring wonders and beauty of nature and evolution, it was written as a counter-attack to creationists, followers of the erroneously-named ‘intelligent design’ and all those who still question evolution as a scientific fact.

Richard Dawkins supports the argument for evolution with living examples of natural selection in birds and insects, the time clocks of trees and radioactive dating, which calibrates a time scale for evolution to clues in the fossil record and molecular biology and molecular genetics.

Chapters cover scientific theory and fallibility; artificial selection and domestication; macroevolution; the age of the earth and the geological time scale; the fossil record; human evolution; developmental biology; biogeography and plate tectonics; the tree of life, homology and analogy; vestigiality and unintelligent design; and co-evolution and the evolutionary arms race.

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Richard Dawkins is so articulate and explains everything so clearly and rationally, both in his writing and verbal speeches. It is worth listening to the following YouTube clip, as a taster to the book: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PrgmHWg5wq0.

My next set of book posts in late September will be examining our origins and brief history on Planet Earth, but in the meantime, I am returning to our Winter Garden next week, followed by posts on one of my favourite types of Old Roses, the Noisettes and my most favourite Australian Old Rose garden of all : Walter Duncan’s Heritage Garden, at Clare, South Australia.

I will finish this post with an excerpt from this eloquent and beautiful letter (31 July 1978) from Gerald Durrell to his future wife Lee, which describes his awe and wonder of nature and our very special planet:

‘I have seen a thousand moons: harvest moons like golden coins, winter moons as white as ice chips, new moons like baby swans’ feathers…I have felt winds as tender and warm as a lover’s breath, winds straight from the South Pole, bleak and wailing like a lost child…I have known silence: the implacable stony silence of a deep cave; the silence when great music ends… I have heard tree frogs in an orchestration as complicated as Bach singing in a forest lit by a million emerald fireflies. I have heard the cobweb squeak of the bat, wolves baying at a Winter’s moon… I have seen hummingbirds flashing like opals round a tree of scarlet blooms. I have seen whales, black as tar, cushioned on a cornflower sea. I have lain in water warm as milk, soft as silk, while around me played a host of dolphins…All this I did without you. This was my loss…’

Our Beautiful Earth: Part Five: Natural History Books: Environmental Challenges

Having spent the last month, enjoying all the wonderful diversity and beauty our planet has to offer, I found this particular post quite disturbing and depressing to write, but the issues are so important and so urgent that they have to be aired and addressed! I have grouped the books according to their main subject matter: Warning Bells; Growth Economics; Disconnect From Nature; Climate Change; Australia; Overpopulation; and The Big Picture.

1.Warning Bells

Silent Spring by Rachel Carson 1962

One of the first very famous books to sound a warning bell about the state of our environment, especially in relation to the use of toxic chemicals in agriculture.

In her book, Rachel documents the detrimental environmental and physiological effects from the indiscriminate use of synthetic pesticides, herbicides and fungicides. Once these chemicals enter the biosphere, not only are the bugs killed, but the poison works its way up through the food chain, threatening bird and fish populations and ultimately, human health as well.

Examples include the death of large numbers of birds from aerial spraying of DDT to control mosquitoes and fire ants; the bio-accumulation of herbicide, Aminotriazole, in cranberries; the banning of milk from dairy farms in upstate New York after aerial spraying to eradicate gypsy moth; and the link between pesticides and cancer in humans.

The book raised a new awareness of humanity’s potential to wreak havoc on nature; the interconnectedness of all living forms; and ecology in general. It also raised the ire of major chemical companies, who launched a vitriolic campaign of personal attacks against her, but fortunately, she had some strong support from John F Kennedy and in the end, the national pesticide policy was reversed and DDT was banned in agricultural use nationwide. The book also inspired the environmental movement, leading to the creation of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

A very important book, it has sold over 2 Million copies worldwide over the past 55 years and is regarded as a landmark book of the twentieth century and the environmental text which changed the world, although in my opinion, the world still has a long way to go!!!

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Collapse: How Societies Choose to fail or Survive by Jared Diamond 2005

A fascinating book, this is also a timely reminder that past societies foundered, when they failed to limit their resource use to the sustainable productivity of natural systems.

Part One looks at the current environmental problems of South-Western Montana, while Part Two examines the collapsed civilizations of : Easter Island, Pitcairn Island and Henderson Island; the Native American society of the Anasazi in South-Western USA; the Mayans of MesoAmerica; and Norse Greenland, all underpinned by a five-point framework: environmental damage; climate change; the loss of friendly trade partners; the rise of hostile neighbours; and most importantly, the society’s response to its environmental problems.

Part Two finishes with a brief examination of three successful past societies by way of contrast: Iceland; Tikopia and the New Guinea Highlands; as well as the Tokugawa Era of Japan.

Part Three returns to the modern world with an in-depth look at the Rwandan disaster; a comparison of the Dominican Republic and Haiti, which both share the island of Hispaniola; the enormous environmental problems of China; and finally, the fragility and uniqueness of Australia, a country which holds a special place in Jared’s heart.

The last section of the book extracts practical lessons from all these case studies and examines the role of modern businesses and the types of environmental dangers facing the modern world.

The book is supported by further readings listed in the back, as well as suggestions for positive action, which an individual can take to address our major environmental problems.

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2. Growth Economics

Small is Beautiful: A Study of Economics As If People Mattered  by EF Schumacher 1974

If you cannot get hold of the book, you can read a pdf version at:  http://www.colinalexander.info/files/pdfs/Schumacher.pdf, as well as some of his famous quotes at: http://www.centerforneweconomics.org/content/small-beautiful-quotes.

An environmental classic and bible, this little book is one of the 100 most influential books published since the Second World War, according to The Times Literary Supplement, and it certainly made a big impact on my husband! The three major points he gleaned from the book are that the current growth-based economic system of the Western world is actually detrimental to people; takes no account of the environmental costs; and that smaller enterprises are far more efficient and people-friendly than larger corporations.

Schumacher, a British economist, published his critique of Western economics during the 1973 energy crisis and the emergence of globalization. While his figures are now out-of-date, his message is still as vitally important today, as when it was first published.

He argues that:

The modern economy is unsustainable;

Fossil fuels and other finite, non-renewable natural resources should be treated as capital rather than expendable income ;

Nature’s capacity to absorb pollution is also limited;

Gross National Product should not be used as a measure of human well-being; and that

Materialism should be secondary to ideals like justice, harmony, beauty and health.

He challenged mass production and statements like: ‘Growth is good’ and ‘Big is better’ and believed that governments should focus on sustainable development; the appropriate use of technology; the decentralization of large enterprises; and more people-centred economics of a human scale, addressing human needs, as if people mattered!

In his book, Schumacher predicted many of the issues we are now facing today:  a reliance on imports and exports; the energy crisis; and issues with oil consumption and dual economies in developing countries.

His book also inspired a number of offshoot organizations :

The Schumacher Institute (http://www.schumacherinstitute.org.uk), a think tank addressing many of these social, environmental and economic crises. Members use ‘systems thinking’ to determine sustainable solutions and promote convergent globalisation for a more equal distribution of wealth.

The Schumacher Centre for a New Economics (http://www.centerforneweconomics.org), which offers lectures, conferences and seminars on new economics; the annual EF Schumacher Lectures; an online collection of lectures and publications, including the Manas Journal and Lindisfarne Tapes; an e-newsletter; and the use of the Schumacher Library (also available online). It also offers programs like the Commons (Community Land Trust), Local Currencies and Berkshares, Community Supported Industry and a Curriculum for New Economics.

The Schumacher Circle (http://www.schumacherinstitute.org.uk/about-us/schumacher-circle/), a collection of organizations inspired by his philosophy and writings, including: the Centre for Alternative Technology in Wales, which we visited in 1994;  Jeevika Trust; New Economics Foundation (another think tank and a different organisation to the Centre for New Economics discussed above); the Resurgence and Ecologist Magazine; the Soil Association, of which my brother-in-law was a member for many years; Practical Action; and Schumacher College.

Schumacher College (https://www.schumachercollege.org.uk/), a wonderful educational institution for nature-based courses,  personal transformation and collective action.

Courses include:

Short courses like Sacred Activism; Nature Renewal; Agroecology; Leadership and Facilitation; Transitioning to an Ecological Civilisation; Ecological Restoration and Design; Nourishing the Soul; The Power of Local; and the Gross National Happiness Master Class;

Post graduate courses like Ecological Design Thinking; Ecology and Spirituality; and Holistic Science; and

Vocational courses like Sustainable Horticulture and a wide variety of crafts from cheese-making to kiln building, spoon-making, brewing beer and dressmaking.

See later entries on Vandiva Shiva (this post) and John Lane (next week’s post), both of them highly involved with this college.

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 Prosperity Without Growth: Economics for a Finite Planet by Tim Jackson 2009

Written by a British professor, who was a sustainability adviser to the UK government at the time, the book supports the view that the only way to sustainability is an economy, which is NOT based on growth. Exponential economic growth, based on ever-increasing production and consumption, continues to deplete our dwindling finite resources, threatening the very ecosystems that sustain our economies.

He identifies key problem areas like the scarcity of oil, minerals and productive land, as well as sink problems, the capacity of the planet to assimilate the environmental impacts of economic activity, the major one being climate change, caused by the accumulation of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and accelerated by human activities, especially the burning of fossil fuels.

Backed up by lots of evidence and figures, this book is not all gloom and doom and suggests a myriad of potential options for a green recovery and societies, which can still flourish, but within limits. A very important and readable book!BlogEnvtlBooksReszd30%Image (547)

The Mystic Economist by Clive Hamilton 1994

Another book, written by an economist, which examines current economic theory and its detrimental impact on our lives, despite its claims to the contrary, and which argues for a more holistic approach to our economic system!BlogEnvtlBooksReszd30%Image (551) - Copy

Quite a heavy book philosophically, it is well worth taking the time to read it, as there are lots of pertinent observations like the futility of materialism to buy happiness or give our lives meaning; the time-money debate (the trade off between work and leisure); and the huge gap in world views between Western capitalist societies and traditional indigenous peoples, the latter further explored in the following books:

3. Disconnect from Nature

Harmony by HRH The Prince of Wales, Tony Juniper and Ian Skelly 2010

As you will no doubt have surmised from a previous post (https://candeloblooms.com/2017/05/16/inspirational-and-dreamy-garden-books-part-two-books-about-specific-gardens/), I’m a bit of a fan of Prince Charles, who has been very prominent in his support of organic farming (as practised firsthand at his wonderful garden at Highgrove) and the ecological movement, as well as beauty in architecture, spirituality and the traditional arts.

In 2004, he even founded his own school, The Prince’s School of Traditional Arts (https://www.psta.org.uk/), which offers a variety of courses in the traditional arts of all the great civilizations of the world.

Courses include:

Traditional Methods and Materials of the Master Painters of the 14th to 17th Century;

Sacred Geometry;

Painting techniques from Byzantine Icon Painting to Indian and Persian Miniatures and Chinese Brush Painting; and

Mandalas;

Stained Glass;

Jewellery Making;

Ceramic Plate and Tile Making;

Carving Wood, Stone and Plaster;

Carpet Weaving;

Calligraphy; and

The Alchemy of Colour.

Theoretical study is integrated with practical application, with an emphasis on an awareness of:  ‘the holistic nature of the traditional artist, whose inspiration derives from the highest sources and whose skill and dedication creates masterpieces, which we can all recognize as part of our world heritage’.

There is a Postgraduate Academic Program (Masters and Doctoral level), including an Outreach Program in 20 countries over 5 continents, as well as an Open Program for the wider community and, for a younger audience, a Harmony Schools Program, in which mathematics, geography, history, science and art are integrated.

I would love to be a student at this wonderfully inspiring college, but in lieu of this possibility, I thoroughly enjoyed his book, in which he outlines his philosophy, his concerns for the planet and human civilization and ways to redress the balance!

He examines the essential principles of harmony, defined as the active state of balance between human society and the natural world, and which we ignore at our peril, as neglect will eventually result in a collapse of our very life-support systems.

These principles include :

Cycles, rhythms and patterns;

Diversity;

Beauty;

A holistic view; and

The interdependence of all living things.

He sources examples from scientific evidence to views and ideas drawn from many different religions, cultures and traditional peoples throughout history, who lived in harmony with their natural surroundings, all backed up by wonderful photos.

It is such an interesting and important book! Dick Smith (see below) obviously shares our appreciation and has made a practice of buying a large number of copies of this book and sharing it with his many acquaintances.BlogEnvtlBooksReszd25%Image (502)

A documentary based on the book was made in 2012. See:  http://www.theharmonymovie.com/home.php.

This YouTube clip is a taster: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VeS2T4GnRe8.

The Sacred Balance: rediscovering Our Place in Nature by David Suzuki 1997

Another book by well-known environmentalist, David Suzuki, in which he compares our modern environmental challenges and current consumerist, nature-disconnected lifestyles with the traditional lifestyles and belief systems of indigenous peoples, which supported healthy environments and a sustainable form of living for millions of years.

He discusses basic human needs:

Physical: Clean air; Water; Fertile Soil; Energy; and Diversity;

Social: Love; and Connection; and

Spiritual;

and how these needs are met or not met and the consequences.

I particularly loved Ashley Montagu’s list of the psychic needs of the growing child for full development of its potential (seen on page 164, as well as the photo below), as well as all the pertinent quotes and poetry throughout the book.

Image (561) In his final chapter, Suzuki offers hope, with suggestions for meeting these basic needs and creating an ecologically sustainable, fulfilling life, as well as stories of people, who have put their beliefs into action to create such a life.BlogEnvtlBooksReszd30%Image (551)

Since its first publication, 100 000 copies of the book have been sold.

David Suzuki also produced a three-part series called The Sacred Balance, which can all be seen at  the following links:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TVqnmX4Lh9U

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q8T0hsYLUAo  and

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Sf_0ajeifA.

The book has also inspired a beautiful four-part documentary (http://www.bullfrogfilms.com/catalog/sabas.html), each part accessible on this link and accompanied by teacher study guide (http://www.bullfrogfilms.com/guides/sabasguide.pdf).

If you want a taster of some of Suzuki’s quotes, here is another link: https://www.goodreads.com/author/quotes/145364.David_Suzuki.

4. Climate Change

Climate change would have to be THE largest challenge facing life on earth and yet politicians, corporations and the general public are often not facing up to the enormity or the urgency of this issue or are, in some cases, denying its very existence and bullying the messengers. I have always found it incredibly difficult to understand these attitudes, when all these people have their own children and grand-children and no one will be exempt from the effects of climate change! The next book looks at climate change denial and its implications for life on earth.

Requiem For a Species by Clive Hamilton 2010

Supported by video-clips of his book launch and speeches at these three sites: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2zQDBP4YClA

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2mccKiZ9AfE

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2CXtx9xnQSw.

In this important book, Clive reiterates the facts about global warming and examines the many  psychological barriers and reasons people stick their heads in the sand, as very cleverly depicted by this sculpture ‘No Climate for Change’ by Phillip Doggett-Williams from the Lorne Sculpture Show in 2011.BlogEnvtlBooksReszd50%october 2011 695 Here is the artist’s succinct statement:

We cannot hide from change. Dramatic social change, as is the global warming challenge, demands that individuals step beyond their political prejudices and self interest to build a collective wisdom that meets the challenges of the future with determination, persistence and optimism. The fundamental right of future generations is a right to a sustainable future.

Here are Clive’s thoughts about the reasons people hide from the momentous changes ahead:

Firstly, there is wishful thinking! Yes, it is a very hard and frightening notion to comprehend, but it is only going to get worse if we don’t face up to it and do something about decreasing global greenhouse emissions!

Then, there is the disconnect from nature, already mentioned by the previous books. Farmers and gardeners are all too aware of the changing climate!

The consumer culture and growth economics play a major part in climate change denial, because acceptance would require major changes to our lifestyles, and then there is the very damaging role of political conservatism and active lobbying by the wealthy and powerful fossil fuel industry. What is even worse is that we do have alternatives to the latter, which are feasible and effective, and have known about this problem for the last 50 years and yet we have done so very little to address it until it is too late!

Current predictions are for a rise of up to 5 degrees Celsius by 2070 (unless there is a concerted attempt to reduce emissions) and that figure is probably conservative, as it is very difficult to determine the effects once tipping points are reached. And climate change doesn’t just mean rising temperatures, but more extreme and frequent weather events like severe cyclones, floods, droughts, heat waves and fires, resulting in major human suffering and enormous repair costs, not to mention rises in sea level with the melting of the ice sheets; displacement of peoples living in low lying areas; uncertain food production and mass extinctions of plants and animals on earth.

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Living in the Hothouse: How Global Warming Affects Australia by Ian Lowe 2005

We have always admired Ian Lowe, an Emeritus Professor of Science, Technology and Society at Griffith University, Queensland (where my husband studied Environmental Science back in 1976), as well as being the President of the Australian Conservation Foundation from 2004 to 2014.

This is a very important and topical book, especially now we are over 10 years down the track and the situation is getting far worse and has still not been adequately addressed! What amazes me about all the prevaricating and not facing up to the problem is that we knew about this problem back in the late 1970s – the figures on greenhouse warming in Ross’s old environmental textbooks are spot on with their predictions – and while there appeared to be some potential for change in the 1980s, it was quickly squashed by climate change deniers and the major coal companies.

In Chapters One and Two, Ian Lowe explains the scientific basis to the greenhouse effect, especially in relation to climate change in Australia – its effects on temperature, rainfall, sea levels, tropical cyclones, snow lines, and especially extreme weather events and their severity and frequency.

In Chapter Three, he discusses the impact of climate change on agriculture; forestry; water resources; coastal development (and let’s not forget that most of the world’s major cities and urban populations were historically developed on the banks of estuaries and harbours!); the natural environment (bush fires, changed patterns of land use, loss of biodiversity and extinctions); and human health.

Chapter Four examines the implications for energy use, while Chapter Five suggests broad strategies for responding to climate change :

Adaptation;

Prevention;

Other options including:

Renewable energy;

Alternative approaches to transport: car efficiency; public transport; car pooling; cycling; and walking;

Land use planning; and

Reversing deforestation and restoring forest cover.

Chapter Six looks at the politics of greenhouse at all governmental levels: Local, State, Federal and International, as well as economic issues and impediments.

His final chapter is based on his conference presentation in 2001, where he looks at the driving forces increasing our emissions: population growth; lifestyle choices; and the consumption of material resources.

He suggests policies to cut greenhouse emissions, including:

‘A target of 20 per cent of electricity from renewable sources by 2012’. Well, that certainly didn’t happen!;

The elevation of minimum energy performance standards for all new appliances to be world best practice within 3 years;

Encouragement of public transport and cycling and the design and development of low-transport cities ( Eg. Banning cars from the CBD- maybe this will start to happen as a result of recent terrorist attacks!);  and

The installation of solar hot water systems in all new buildings;

as well as a number of approaches individuals can take to reduce their emissions.

The inaction (and positive subservience to the coal industry and multinationals!) of our current major political parties means that change has to come from the grass roots level- the individual and local government, who seem to be the most effective propagators of positive change!

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While it is very easy to become despondent about climate change and the future, there are some wonderful people out there, working for change, and it is important to maintain hope, as Al Gore explains in his latest film: An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power, currently screening. See the following links about this amazing man and his film:

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/19/climate/al-gore-climate-change-timestalks.html;

http://www.outwardon.com/article/hope-about-climate-change/;   and

https://www.theweathernetwork.com/news/articles/al-gore-inconvenient-sequel-truth-to-power-message-of-urgency-and-hope/84562/.

5. Australia

The following books also highlight other environmental challenges, especially in relation to Australia.

Shouldn’t Our Grandchildren Know: An Environmental Life Story by Graham Chittleborough 1992

A very interesting and readable book, tracing his development as an ecologist from studying seals, penguins and albatrosses on Heard Island in the Antarctic in 1949 to researching humpback whales and crayfish (Western Rock Lobster) on the Western Australian coast in the 1950s and 1960s and pollution in Cockburn Sound in the mid 1970s.

Along the way, Graham developed an increasing awareness of environmental issues facing Australia at that time from the accelerated loss of biodiversity, mainly due to habitat destruction, but now greatly exacerbated by climate change; the depletion of forests and land degradation; aridity, salinization and the low nutrient levels of our soil; air pollution and acid rain; and the enlarging hole in the ozone layer and increased greenhouse gases. He also came to grief with a number of governmental authorities, because of his criticisms about their failure or inability to address these problems.

His message is clear:

As a species, we are living beyond our means, both economically and environmentally. Current government policy, based on growth economics and an ever-increasing population and consumption, is suicidal, given the fact that Australia has a strictly limited carrying capacity, and will have a detrimental effect on the quality of life and standard of living for future generations.

He advocates:

An attitudinal change from a consumer to a conserver society;

The adoption of a steady state population and economy;

Treatment of the primary cause rather than constant band-aiding;

The decreased use of resources, especially fossil fuels; and

The adoption of renewable energies like wind and sun.

All suggestions being eminently common sense in my mind!

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 A Big Fix: Radical Solutions for Australia’s Environmental Crisis by Ian Lowe 2005

Written over 10 years ago now, this book identifies the major environmental issues facing Australia at the time and suggests recommendations for change, based on a non-growth steady state economy.

In Chapter Two, page 21, he defines a sustainable society as one which will:

prevent damage to the ecosystem services on which all human life depends’, which will ‘protect biodiversity, manage precious resources, prevent pollution and land degradation, and curtail disturbances to the great bio-geochemical cycles of the Earth’ and ‘pay careful attention to population pressures and consumption levels’.

He examines the key resource problems Australia faces:

Oil, upon which our entire transport system is dependent;

Fresh water: for drinking, washing, growing food, cooling over-heated equipment, producing minerals); and

Productive soils for agriculture, due to erosion, salinity and urban expansion;

as well as the notions of social equity and stability, our unique Australian culture, spiritual aspects and planning for our economic future, rather than blindly relying on ‘the magic of the market’.

In Chapter Three, he discusses:

The Great Barrier Reef, ‘Australia’s most outstanding natural asset’ (Page 43), at threat from mainland run-off, trawling and over-fishing and particularly, coral bleaching from rising sea temperatures from climate change, not to mention the risk posed by ships using the waters between the mainland and reef, especially oil tankers and now, quite possibly, Adani coal carriers!;

The Murray-Darling System, ‘Australia’s greatest river system’, upon which the environmental and economic health of New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia depend;

Salinity and Land Degradation; and

The Biodiversity Crisis, also to escalate dramatically with

Climate Change, which is also put under the spotlight.

Chapter Four examines the causes of the problems: population; consumption; lifestyle choices and our economic system, while Chapter Five looks at a different more sustainable society with a healthier, more stable population; stable consumption; zero waste; no loss of natural areas, restoration; a low-carbon society; greater equity; better decision-making processes and more mature politics.

He finishes with a look at:

The four major steps to change:

Discontent with the status quo;

Vision for a better future;

Developing feasible pathways to where we want to be; and

Commitment; as well as

Obstacles to change:

Short-Term Thinking;

Incomplete Knowledge;

Technical Hubris: the notion of technical fixes to any problem eg Carbon capture and desalinization plants;

Econo-Mysticism: the faith that pricing will solve problems; and

Cheer-Mongering: the belief that humans can solve any problem; and the

Role of the Mass Media, which is increasingly under the control of a diminishing number of players.

This is a very well-thought out book with a very sensible approach to solving some of our pressing problems and should be essential reading for politicians from both sides of the political spectrum!

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6. Overpopulation

Bigger or Better by Ian Lowe 2012

In my  final book by Ian Lowe, the patron of Sustainable Population Australia, he turns his attention to Australia’s population numbers and the effects of a larger population on our resources and environment, our society and our economy.

He argues that we need to stabilise our population as soon as possible and that Australia cannot support a large population due to its preponderance of dry areas; its unpredictable rainfall; and soils with low nutrients; and the fact that most of the population is concentrated on the narrow coastal eastern seaboard.

He also examines the key stakeholders in the population debate and their agendas, as well as the politics of population growth.BlogEnvtlBooksReszd30%Image (548)

The argument for the need to stabilise population growth is also supported by :

Dick Smith’s Population Crisis 2011

An excellent publication, written by Dick Smith, a prominent businessman, who knows the business world backwards and warns that we are on a totally unsustainable path with an ever-increasing population and an economy based on ever-expanding consumption.

Unless we stabilise our population as soon as possible, we run the risk of a major crash, whether it is due to climate change, depletion of resources or fossil fuels or pollution.  We really do ignore these warning signals at our peril!BlogEnvtlBooksReszd30%Image (546)

And finally, two wonderful and comprehensive books, written by two very knowledgeable and committed women!

7. The Big Picture

Making Peace With The Earth by Vandana Shiva 2012

Vandana Shiva, who initially trained as a physicist, is a philosopher, environmental activist, author of over 20 books, educator (see Schumacher College), eco-feminist and one very courageous and strong woman!

She established a research foundation for Science, Technology and Education in 1997 and  is a leader and board member of the International Forum on Globalization (http://ifg.org/), which analyses the cultural, social, political, and environmental impacts of economic globalization, and promotes equitable, democratic, and ecologically sustainable economies.

She also founded a wonderful organization called Nandavya (http://www.navdanya.org/), meaning ‘Nine Seeds’, promoting seed saving, food sovereignty and organic sustainable agriculture and the protection of biological and cultural diversity.

In this book, Vandiva Shiva is highly critical of large transnational corporations (including the Adani Group!), and governments, which support them to the detriment of their own country.

She cites many examples of destructive developments by multinationals in India, which result in the destruction of local economies and dismantling of local communities, with the ever-increasing drift to cities to find work. While she focuses on India in her book, the issues raised are relevant to the whole world.

She also believes that women need to be involved in the democratic process. BlogEnvtlBooksReszd30%Image (501)

This Changes Everything by Naomi Klein 2014

Another very comprehensive summary of the current environmental challenges the world faces by another very strong woman. She focuses on climate change and the enormous detrimental effects of our economic system on our environment and what we can do about it.

Like Vandiva Shiva, Naomi is very scathing of world trade agreements, which are totally out of synch with talks on climate change, and multinationals, who have no allegiance to anyone or any government and no regard for local environments or peoples.

She also is a very strong feminist, who believes that it is vital that women have more power in the world. There is so much detailed information in this wonderful book that you really have to read it!

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While it is easy to get depressed about the enormous challenges we face, all the books mentioned suggest constructive ways to address these problems and offer hope for the future.

In my final post on environmental books next week, I am focusing on the ways we, as individuals, can make positive changes and live more sustainable lives with lower carbon footprints and less impact on our beautiful fragile planet.

Our Beautiful Earth: Part Four: Natural History Books: Reference Guides

In this post, I will be discussing some fabulous general reference guides to life on earth, including the elements which underpin its very existence: the geology and soils, the weather and climate and lastly, the amazing night sky!

Natural History by Smithsonian Institute 2010

A fabulous door-stopper of a book for anyone interested in natural history and our amazing and unique planet with its huge diversity and extraordinary wealth of plant and animal life – in fact over 1.9 million living species described to date, with more than 20 000 new species discovered and described each year.

It starts with a note on how to use the book, including pointers on size measurements; and plant icons and abbreviations, followed by a general introduction to life on Earth: its geological foundations; evolution of life forms and the classification of organisms. Active geological processes, changing climates, different habitats, human impacts, origins of life, evolution and diversity, natural and artificial selection, animal genealogy and a Tree of Life are all included in this chapter.

The majority of the book is devoted to an amazing in-depth catalogue of 5000 full colour entries, including Minerals, Rocks and Fossils; Microscopic Life Forms; and the Plant, Fungi and Animal Kingdoms.

Each entry has

: a Section Introduction, highlighting the characteristics and behaviours that define the group and discussing their evolution over time, with classification boxes displaying current taxonomic hierarchy and highlighting the level of the group under discussion and a box showing the different groups of species;

: a Group Introduction with key features : distribution, habitat, physical characteristics, life cycle, behaviour and reproductive habits;

: a Species Catalogue with common and scientific names; family; height; essential notes and annotated colour photos, showing relative sizes;    and

: a Feature Profile, which examines single specimens with close-up photographs and side profiles and data sets of size, habitat, distribution and diet.

Almost an essential reference for every library, it is a wonderful guide to the huge diversity of life on earth with all its variety of form, colour, texture, size and function.BlogEnvtlBooksReszd25%Image (517)Another useful site, particularly for Australian flora and fauna is the Atlas of Living Australia: http://www.ala.org.au/.

Biology: An Australian Focus by Pauline Ladiges, Barbara Evans, Robert Saint and Bruce Knox 2008

Every natural history library should have an academic book devoted to biology, especially if it is a major interest,  and this is a good one, because it has an Australian focus, as well as a student interactive CD-ROM in the back.

It starts from the basics of life with cell biology and energetics and genetics and molecular biology, progressing through to plant form and function; animal form and function; evolution and biodiversity; and ecology, including Australian biota, population ecology, ecosystems and communities, and human impacts.

Plant Form and Function includes reproduction, growth and development of flowering plants; plant structure and nutrition; and plant hormones and growth responses, while Animal Form and Function covers animal reproduction and development; animal and human nutrition;, gas exchange in animals; circulation; water, solutes and excretion; innate defences and the immune system; hormonal control; nervous systems; animal behaviour; and their responses to environmental stress.

Evolution and Biodiversity is a huge chapter, which examines phylogeny and classification systems; the evolving earth (fossils; plate tectonics and continental drift; geological eras and biogeographic regions); and mechanisms of evolution, followed by a detailed look at all the different life forms: bacteria; viruses; protists; plants; fungi; and animals (sponges; jellyfish, sea anemones and corals; flukes and worms; molluscs; insects;  starfish; fish; amphibians; reptiles; birds; mammals; primates and humans).

I really enjoyed the chapter on Australian biota and its evolution from the time when Australia was part of Gondwanaland through the various geological eras and the influence of changing climate and aridity; changing landforms and weathering of soils; increasing frequency of fire; the glacial periods; and the arrival of humans on the continent and their impact. Terrestial and marine environments; the El Nino-Southern Oscillation influence; marine diversity; Australian flora and some of its main families and adaptive characteristics; and our unique fauna, including ancient megafauna, are also discussed in some detail.

The final chapter on human impacts is also very pertinent to Australia and looks at a host of environmental problems and concepts from decreasing biodiversity; biodiversity hotspots; land clearing and fragmentation;  the introduction of new species and the impact of feral animals and weeds; integrated pest management; land and water degradation; soil acidification;  increasing salinity; pollution; the greenhouse effect; climate change; coral bleaching; the illegal trade in endangered species; sustainability; and conservation and restoration ecology.

Being an academic textbook, each chapter concludes with a summary; key terms; self-assessment, review and extension questions and suggestions for further reading. An excellent book for basic biological concepts!BlogEnvtlBooksReszd25%Image (553)Smithsonian Earth  edited by James F Luhr 2005

Another terrific Smithsonian publication, this time focusing on the Earth !

Its history : geological time; fossils; its building blocks; birth of the solar system; the development of life forms through the various geological eras; the ice ages; and the development of humans, all supported by a tabulated time line at the top of the page.

Its place in space : the universe; the solar system; the relationship between the earth and the sun and moon.

Its anatomy: the earth’s structure, shape, form and layers; the Earth’s magnetic field;  the core, mantle and crust; mineral formation, crystal structure and shape, mineral classification and identification tests; rock types and examples; fossil fuels; and soils: their formation and types.

The changing Earth : plate tectonics, boundaries and movement; weathering and erosion; deposition; mass movement; the impact of meteorites (with examples from all over the world); water (water properties and different forms; the global and local water cycles; and water resources); and life (diversity; evolution; extinctions; biomes and ecosystems; biogeography; nutrient cycles; and threats to biodiversity).

Land features: mountains and volcanoes, fault-lines and hot springs and geysers; rivers and lakes; glaciers and deserts; grasslands and  tundra;  forests and wetlands; and agricultural and urban areas.

Oceans : currents; reefs; polar oceans; oceans of the world; tides and waves; coasts and sea level; and erosional and depositional coastlines.

: Atmosphere : atmospheric structure; energy; circulation; climate regions; climate change; air masses and weather systems; precipitation and clouds; and wind.

: Tectonic Earth : focusing on all the specific earth plates, with details like area, highest and lowest points, major features, major city, and population and boundaries with lots of illustrative examples.

A wealth of information , presented in a very simple and clear format with lots of interesting examples and great photos. This is another essential book for your library!BlogEnvtlBooksReszd25%Image (531)Australian Volcanoes by Russell Ferrett 2005

Large areas of Eastern Australia have experienced intense volcanic activity over the past 40 Million years, resulting in the creation of many landforms, which have since been eroded to varying degrees. I was fascinated to learn that 16 of Australia’s volcanoes have been formed by the crustal Australian plate moving northward over hotspots in the Bass Strait, with the oldest volcano at 35 Million years old at Hillsborough, Qld and the youngest at less than 10 million years old at Mt Macedon. Also, more disconcertingly, that the Victorian volcanic region is not actually extinct, but has been resting the last 4000 years and could actually become active again!

This book examines the earth’s structure; the different types of volcanic activity in Australia; the types of eruptions; volcanic material (tephra, lava and volcanic rocks and their formation); and types of volcanic landforms (volcanic cones; domes; plains; lava tubes; tumuli; plugs; dykes and sills), before concentrating on specific volcanic features in Australia, many of which we have visited. These include the Atherton Tableland with its crater lakes and Undara Lave Tubes in North Queensland; the Glasshouse Mountains, just north of Brisbane, Queensland, and Mt Warning in Northern New South Wales; the Warrumbungles and Ebor Volcano, New South Wales; Mt Canoblas near Orange, New South Wales; Lord Howe Island and Heard Island; the Organ Pipes National Park; Mt Macedon; the Camperdown district; Tower Hill and Mt Eccles in Victoria; Mt Gambier, South Australia;  Circular Head and Cradle Mountain in Tasmania; and the diamond deposits in Western Australia’s Kimberleys.

It is a fascinating book and explains the formation of all these landforms clearly and simply.

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Rocks and Minerals by Chris Pellant 1992

This is a Collins Eye Witness Visual Guide to over 500 rocks and minerals from around the world. It is a perfect book for rock and gemstone collectors, with introductory chapters on rock collecting; geological maps and field equipment; the home kit and organizing your collection. It then has a section on mineral definition, formation, composition, characteristics (crystal systems, habit, cleavage, fracture, hardness, specific gravity, colour, streak, transparency and lustre) and identification.

The section on rocks covers their formation; types of metamorphism; the characteristics of igneous, metamorphic and sedimentary rocks and a rock identification key.

The world of geology is an enormous and complex subject, but this little book explains the basics so well, that it is interesting to even the lay person like myself and it is so important for the natural history lover to have a basic knowledge of rocks and minerals, as they underpin the rest of life itself: the soils, the plants and the animals, which live in each habitat.

Each entry is categorized into its group and there is a short note about each group at the beginning, followed by specifics about each rock and mineral. Coloured tabs at the top and bottom of each mineral entry denote the group to which it belongs, its chemical composition, its hardness, specific gravity and its cleavage and fracture properties.

The main text includes notes on its characteristics, formation, and chemical tests for identification. There are clear photographs, annotated with identification features, and drawings of the visual outline of its crystal system. The igneous rock entries have coloured tabs of its classification group, its origin, grain size, crystal shape, chemical classification, occurrence and colour; the metamorphic rock tabs also include pressure, temperature and structure, while those of the  sedimentary group includes fossils. The main text in the rock entries discusses their chemical composition and content, as well as texture and origin.

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I would really like to have a copy of this book, now that we are living on the South Coast:

A Geological Guide to Canberra Region and Namadgi National Park by Geological Society of Australia (ACT Division) 2009.* See: http://www.botanicalbookshop.com.au/product/a-geological-guide-to-canberra-region-and-namadgi-national-park/gs9780646487342.aspx.

Colour in Nature by Penelope A Farrant 1999

A  fascinating book about the world of colour and its manifestation in nature. It combines information from across the board of scientific study: astronomy, geology, zoology, botany and physics.

It starts with a chapter on the nature of colour: its production; perception; visible light; spectroscopy; refraction, reflection, diffraction, interference and absorption; and iridescence and polarisation.

Further chapters explore :

Colour in the universe;

Atmospheric colour : including noctilucent clouds; coloured coronas, double rainbows and auroras;

Colours of the earth’s surface : oceans; rivers; glacial lakes; reflections; precious gems and opals; and different types of rocks and soils;

Colourful habitats :  tropical and subtropical rainforests; deciduous and coniferous forests; polar and mountainous areas; grasslands and deserts; oceans and lakes; and the darkness of caves and the deepest depths;

Leaves : photosynthesis and chlorophyll; other pigments; variegated leaves; Autumn colour of deciduous trees; new Spring growth; and low light habitats;

Flowers and Fruits : evolution of flower colour; inflorescences; variable and changing colour; pigments; environment and colour; pollinator preferences; fruit colours to attract birds; ripening fruits and seed colour;

Seeing in colour: light receptors; simple and compound eyes; adapting to light and dark; seeing underwater; animal eyes; human colour vision and colour blindness;

Animal pigments : skin colour and melanins; colour abnormalities and albinism; and all the different animal pigments with examples in the animal world;

Structural colour in animals : interference; iridescence; background colour; transparency; coloured lights; light regulation; luminescent lures; bioluminescence; nacreous pearls; and blue eyes.

Changing and variable colours : chromatophores; colour change with mood, day and night and camouflage; cuttlefish and chameleons; environmental factors and  visual stimuli; seasonal colour change; sexual colours; changes with age; colour and natural selection;

Survival strategies : camouflage and communication: false colours; warning colours; toxic insects; mimesis and mimicry; and  colour mimics in plants; and finally,

Colour, nature and humans: colour wheels; primary, secondary and tertiary colours; colour harmony and clash; colour in the garden; foliage colour; photography; and natural pigments and dyes.

The world of colour, particularly in nature, is such an enormous and endlessly fascinating field. This book offers a wonderful insight into everything to do with colour and, even though it can be quite complex with so much to know, the text and beautiful photographs help expand that knowledge and understanding of some of the basic concepts, like the colour changes with age and the seasons.BlogEnvtlBooksReszd25%Image (539)

The Australian Weather Book by Keith Colls and Richard Whitaker 2001

A very important book, given the enormous contemporary challenges of the changing climate! Climate change is upon us, whether we like it or not, and we are only just seeing the tip of the ramifications to come, and yet so many people still stick their heads in the sand and try to deny it, despite the wealth of scientific evidence:  the melting ice caps and sea level rises; the extinction of plant and animal species, changes in migration patterns and the dying of the coral reefs; the higher temperatures; and the increasing frequency of extreme weather events like floods, droughts and fire. I find the denial really hard to understand, given that these people have children and grandchildren, who will not be able to be insulated from the effects of the climate and will have to deal with the problems our generation has created. If one excludes sheer greed or fatalism, the only other excuse is ignorance about the weather and the fact that so many people have been separated from nature and live in controlled urban environments for most of their day. Hence, the importance of this book!!!

It starts with the history of meteorology, followed by notes, accompanied by weather maps, on our diverse Australian climate: its rainfall; temperature; snow and frost; thunderstorms and hail; hours of sunshine and cloud cover; evaporation; drought and flood; tropical cyclones and wind (cyclones and floods being particularly topical and pertinent, given recent weather events!); humidity; and climatic discomfort.

The third chapter discusses the general circulation of the atmosphere: its chemical composition; vertical structure; and global wind circulation, while the following chapters focus on macro-scale circulations (air masses and the forces acting upon them in the atmosphere; weather fronts and low pressure systems; and what those isobars on the nightly TV weather maps mean!); meso-scale circulations (sea breezes, the southerly buster, topographic and downslope winds, eddies and cloudlines) and clouds (their formation and type).

Meteorological instruments (barometers, thermometers, rain gauges, anemometers and weather stations) are discussed, as well as the effects of weather on society and finally, climate change, including its history and theories, greenhouse gases and ozone depletion in the upper atmosphere.

Further reading and websites and a glossary are provided in the back. A very factual and informative book from the Australian  Bureau of Meteorology.BlogEnvtlBooksReszd30%Image (530)

The Cloudspotter’s Guide by Gavin Pretor-Pinney 2006

For those of you, who wanted more than just one chapter on clouds, here is a whole book, written by the founder of the Cloud Appreciation Society in 2004! I love his manifesto, especially his description of clouds as nature’s poetry and an expression of the atmosphere’s mood, as well as his inclusion of Percy Bysshe Shelley’s beautiful poem ‘The Cloud’, which starts :

‘ I am the daughter of Earth and Water and the nursling of the Sky…’!

After photos of the different cloud genera and a cloud classification table, he proceeds to discuss the low clouds: cumulus and cumulonimbus, stratus and stratocumulus; then the middle clouds: altocumulus, altostratus, and nimbostratus; and the high clouds: cirrus, cirrocumulus and cirrostratus.

Each chapter has a guide to spotting that particular cloud type, including a description, its altitude, place of formation, precipitation, species and varieties and confusing look-alikes, as well as lots of interesting information about cloud-associated history, literature, mythology and artwork and their formation and effects. There are also accessory clouds, sidekicks to the 10 main cloud types: pileus, pannus and vellum, as well as supplementary features like tuba, the first sign of a waterspout (which we were lucky enough to see one day at Blue Pool, just south of Bermagui (see photo below), incus, mamma, arcus, virga and precipitatio; and the stratospheric and mesospheric  nacreous and noctilucent clouds.BlogEnvtlBooks2015-01-28 12.32.54There is even a chapter on contrails, formed by high altitude aircraft and their contribution to global warming;  the glider pilot’s cloud surfing nirvana, the Morning Glory of the Gulf Savannah region of North Queensland; and a cloudspotter’s quiz, in which you should be able to get full marks after reading this entertaining and informative book!

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It really makes you appreciate the beauty of our daytime skies with their ever-changing array of clouds!  For our wondrous star-studded nighttime skies, I have three books:

The Night Sky by Steve Massey 2003/ 2007

A very practical guide to observing the sun, moon and planets.

It starts with a concise history of astronomy, followed by a guide to understanding how and where stars and planets are placed and can be found in the sky.

Part Two examines observing the solar system and everything concerning the sun and the moon, including solar and lunar eclipses, solar flares, sunspots, earthshine, the moon phases and the craters and geography of the moon.

Planets are discussed in order of their respective orbits or distance from the sun, starting with mercury and ending with the furthermost planet, Pluto. Each planetary chapter starts with a table, detailing salient details like its visual diameter, axial tilt, magnitude, number of known moons, distance from the earth and the sun, orbital period and primary atmospheric composition. It’s a mind-boggling field, even more confusing than geology and geological time periods! Information is included on observing each planet, their structure, surface markings and rings or moons and their transits.

There are also chapters on asteroids, comets, meteors and meteor showers, as well as an in-depth section on using the tools of the trade: telescopes, refractors, reflectors, catadioptric designs, focusers, finderscopes, collimation, telescope mounts and axis drives, drive motors, eye pieces, lenses and filters and even binoculars; as well as recording your findings with sketches, conventional film photography, CCD imaging, digital cameras and video recorders.

Throughout the book are beautiful photos, as well as clear explanatory diagrams. A very useful book for the home astronomer.

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The Book of Constellations by Robin Kerrod 2002

The night sky has been a constant wonder to peoples from all cultures and time periods and has inspired a large number of myths and legends, which are explored in this book, as well as a wealth of factual information about each heavenly body and information about locating it in the night sky.

I love all the names of the constellations and all the history and mythology behind them. Apparently, there are 88 constellations (finalised worldwide in 1930), 48 of which were recognized by Ptolemy and the Ancient Greeks in 200 AD. While the Greeks were responsible for the names of the constellations, the Arabs named many of the bright stars like Betelgeuse in Orion and Aldebaran in Taurus.

The book explores the concept of the celestial sphere with maps of the northern and southern constellations; the constellations of the zodiac (12); and the major constellations (33) and planets.

Each double page spread includes the mythology behind each constellation; its astronomical features; its location in the night sky; and a constellation map showing the main stars, linked together by a fanciful image of the name of the constellation group.

It is a fascinating book and introduced me to many new constellations, of which I had never heard, as well as informing me about the more familiar ones!  I was amazed to learn that the Ancient Babylonians and Greeks were far enough south to see the Southern Cross, our most famous Australian constellation, and that the little cluster of coloured stars, which can be seen with the naked eye and through binoculars, at the base of left-hand cross, close to Beta, is called the Jewel Box. BlogEnvtlBooksReszd30%Image (550)

Incidentally, the Australian aborigines had their own mythological stories about the night sky and often saw patterns in the negative space between the stars like The Emu in the Sky and the Seven Sisters that make up the star cluster known as the Pleiades, in the constellation Taurus. See: http://www.emudreaming.com/whatis.htm and https://japingkaaboriginalart.com/articles/star-dreaming-seven-sisters/.

There are also two books about aboriginal astronomy:

Emu Dreaming: An Introduction to Australian Aboriginal Astronomy  by Ray and Cilla Norris 2008. See: http://www.emudreaming.com/book.htm  and

Night Skies of Aboriginal Australia- A Noctuary by Dianne Norris 1998 / 2014. See: http://www.botanicalbookshop.com.au/product/night-skies-of-aboriginal-australia—a-noctuary/sy9781743323878.aspx.

The Box of Stars by Catherine Tennant 1993

A similar publication in content to Robin Kerrod’s book, but with a slight different approach, using a lovely little boxed set of 32 cards called  Urania’s Mirror, originally hand-painted by ‘a lady’ and published in London in 1825.BlogEnvtlBooksReszd30%Image (528) Each card is pierced with holes, which mark the stars of the constellation and which glitter when held up to the light, acting as a learning guide to each constellation.BlogEnvtlBooksReszd30%Image (532) - CopyThere is also a small booklet with night sky maps of the northern and southern hemispheres and seasonal descriptions of the stars, including lists of cards to use during that time.BlogEnvtlBooksReszd30%Image (532) - Copy - Copy Each card is further discussed with information about each constellation, its location and the mythology behind it. It complements the previous book well.BlogEnvtlBooksReszd30%Image (534) - CopyBlogEnvtlBooksReszd30%Image (535) - CopyThe Australian Sky by WJ Newell 1965

I am including this tiny little Jacaranda Pocket Guide, despite its age and the fact that some of its information is no doubt out-of-date (!), because its explanations are so good and easy to understand. Each constellation is covered in great depth and while it also covers the mythology behind the stars, it seems to have more information about the actual stars, especially in relation to the Australian night sky!BlogEnvtlBooks50%Image (646)

I feel astronomy is such a vast and complicated subject, one can never have enough books or guides and each one has a slightly different slant. Finally, here are some excellent websites on this subject:

http://www.abc.net.au/science/starhunt/

http://www.scitech.org.au/the-sky-tonight

https://maas.museum/observations/category/monthly-sky-guides/

http://asv.org.au/

https://astronomy.org.au/general/sky-guides/.

And lastly, a good atlas is essential in any well-stocked home library! In fact, you probably need at least three or four atlases in a lifetime, as borders are constantly changing, as well as environmental challenges, and cities and populations are always growing!

We were given The Times Atlas of the World as a wedding present back in 1983 and it served us well, particularly for the two overseas trips we made over the following ten years, but since then the European landscape has totally changed. Yugoslavia no longer exists, having been replaced by Slovenia, Croatia, Boznia-Herzgovina, Serbia, Montenegro, Kosovo and Macedonia; Czechoslovakia is now two countries: the Czech Republic and the Slovak Republic; while East Germany and West Germany are now the one Germany; and White Russia is now called Belarus.

So, in 2014, we decided we needed to update our library and update bought a new atlas:

Philip’s Atlas of the World: In Association with The Royal Geographical Society with the Institute of British Geographers

While not as large as our original atlas, a distinct advantage, given the Times Atlas was an absolute whopper (!), this new atlas is incredibly comprehensive with a wealth of interesting information about our wonderful world!

The frontispiece features a Key to World Map Pages (including Keys to City Map Symbols and World Map Symbols; and World Maps Elevation and Depth Tints), while inside the back cover is a Key to European Map Pages and a World Country Index.

The atlas starts with a User Guide and Statistics for Countries (Area, in square kilometres or miles; Population; Capital City and Annual Income) and Cities (population figures), followed by large sections on :

The Future of the Oceans and Seas: Temperature; Salinity; Oceans and Carbon Dioxide; Oceanic Conveyor Belts; Ocean Currents; the Coriolis Effect; Oceans and Resources; Overfishing; Aquaculture; Oil; Dead Zones; Red Tides; Waste Material; Plastic; Ocean Acidification; and Rising Sea Levels.

Satellite Images of the Earth

Gazetteer of Nations (alphabetically organized):  Geography; Politics and Economy; and Key Statistics: area, population, capital city, ethnic groups as a percentage, languages, religions, currency; and a small map and flag.

World Geography:

The Universe: Life of a Star; Black Holes; Galactic Structures; the Home Galaxy; the End of the Universe; the Nearest Stars, with distances in light-years; Star Charts for both hemispheres; and a List of Constellations.

The Solar System: Planetary orbits; Planetary Data (Mean distance from the sun; mass; period of orbit; period of rotation; equatorial diameter; average density; surface gravity ;and number of known satellites); and descriptions of each planet.

Seasons, Time and Motion: The Seasons; Day and Night; Earth Data: distance from the sun; angle of tilt; length of year; superficial area; land and water surfaces; equatorial and polar circumference,s diameters and radii; and volume and mass; Sunrise and Sunset; the Moon and Moon data : Distance from the Earth; Size and mass; Visibility; and Temperature; Phases of the Moon; Eclipses; Tides; and a map of Time Zones and the International Date Line.

Geology of the Earth:

Model of the Earth; Continental Drift; Plate Tectonics; Distribution of Volcanoes; Geological Time Periods; a Map of Earthquake Zones; and a List of Major Earthquakes since 1900.

The Atmosphere:

Structure of the Atmosphere; Circulation of the Air; Frontal Systems; Chemical Composition; Air Masses; Classification of Clouds; Maps of Pressure and Surface Winds and Weather Records for barometric pressure (minimum and maximum); fastest wind speed; windiest place; and worst storm and tornado.

Climate: Climate and Weather Terms;  Maps of Climatic Regions, Temperatures and Precipitation; Temperature and Rainfall Figures; Beaufort Wind Scale;  Monsoons; and Climate Records (minimum and maximum temperatures and precipitation; longest heatwave; driest and wettest places; and heaviest hailstones and snowfall).

Climate Change and Global Warming: Maps of World Carbon Dioxide Emissions per capita; and Annual Average Surface Air Temperatures and Annual Average Precipitation; Models of Regional Climate Change and Projected Changes in Global Warming; and Diagrams of Recent and Future Sea-Level Changes and Arctic Sea Ice.

Water and Vegetation: The Hydrological Cycle; Water Distribution; Annual Sediment Yield; Longest Rivers; and Maps, showing Water Scarcity and Natural Vegetation throughout the world.

Biodiversity and the Natural World: World Maps of Threatened Animal Species and Environmental Hotspots; a Map of Australia’s Introduced Species (rabbits, foxes and cane toads) and the Value of Nature (provisioning, supporting, regulating and cultural services).

Population: World Maps of Population Density and Population Change; Diagrams and Graphs of World and Nation Income; Population by Continent; Japan’s Ageing Population; and World Population Change over Time; and Data Sets of the Largest Nations; Most Crowded Nations; Least Crowded Nations; and Fastest Growing and Declining Populations.

Food Supply: Water; Fertilizers; Demand for Meat; Pests, Diseases and Weeds; Genetic Modification; World Crop Production and Global Land Usage; Land Management; and Future Potential.

Cities: World Maps of Urban Population and Urbanization of the Earth over time; Graphs of World Urbanization, Urban Advantages (mortality/ literacy) and City Growth; the Largest Cities; Slum Cities; Sustainable Cities; and a List of Cities with over 10 Million inhabitants. Apparently, in 2008, for the first time in history, the majority of the world’s population lived in cities.

The Human Family: World Maps of World Migration; Refugees; and Predominant Languages and Religions.

Conflict and Cooperation: World Maps of the Global Peace Index and International Organizations; and Bar Graphs showing Refugee Numbers and Military Spending.

Energy:  World Maps of Energy Balance (the difference between energy production and consumption), Energy Production, and Oil Movements; Bar Graphs of World Energy Consumption and Energy Reserves (oil, gas and coal); Data Sets of Nuclear Power, Hydroelectricity and Wind Power; Peak Oil; Fracking; and Alternative Energy Sources (solar, wind, tidal, geothermal and biomass).

Minerals: World Map of Mineral Distribution; and Figures and Bar Charts for Specific Minerals (diamonds, blood diamonds; uranium; iron ore; rare earth elements and scrap metals).

Employment and Industry: World Maps of Employment, Industry and Trade, Unemployment, and Tourism and Travel; an Employment Pie Chart; the Percentage of Men and Women in Employment in Selected Countries; and a List of the World’s Busiest Airports.

Trade: World Maps of World Trade, Dependence on Trade (exports as a percentage of GDP), Globalization, Trade in Primary Exports and the Balance of Trade; a Bar Chart showing Traded Products, Pie Charts for Major Exports; and the Globalization Index.

Health: Millienium Development Goals; World Maps of Food Consumption and Infant Mortality; Bar Charts focusing on AIDS; Causes of Death, Medical Provision, Access to Safe Water, Sanitation, and Malaria; and Data Lists on Maternal Mortality Rates and Expenditure on Health in Selected Countries.

Wealth: World Maps of Income Levels, Inflation, and Growth in GNI; Bar Charts showing Indicators for Different Income Levels (high, middle and low), and Extreme Poverty; a Pie Chart for Continental Shares of Population and Wealth; State Finance; and Tackling Poverty.

Standards of Living: World Maps of Indexes for  Human Development and Gender Inequality; and Bar Charts showing Education Levels (primary, secondary and tertiary) in Selected Countries; the Distribution of Spending; Fertility and Education; and Gender Equality.

The next major section contains street maps of all the major world cities in alphabetical order, and then finally, we reach the main World Map Section: world maps of the physical and political world, including thicknesses and depths of the continental plates and oceans; followed by maps of each continent and individual countries.

It finishes with a geographical glossary and an index to all the World Maps with latitudes and longitudes, abbreviations and notes on pronunciation. An excellent publication!BlogEnvtlBooks20%Image (645)

Next week, I am discussing rose pruning, a timely topic since we have just finished pruning all our roses, ready for their new growth in Spring! We will then resume our book posts with the final parts of Our Beautiful Earth: Natural History Books, with two posts on the environmental challenges our special planet faces and measures we can take as individuals to help the situation, before finishing the cold season with a post on our Winter Garden.

Our Beautiful Earth: Part Three: Natural History Books: Animals and Marine Life

Following on from my last post about books on birds and butterflies are publications about other fascinating wildlife in our environment from reptiles to our unique Australian mammals and finally, the wonderful and endlessly fascinating marine life on our coast.

Reptiles

With all their beautiful diversity and colour, it is very difficult to comprehend that birds originated from dinosaurs, but reptiles are much less of a stretch of the imagination! We have a large number of poisonous snakes in Australia, as well as lots of lizards, so a good reptile guide is an important part of any natural history library!

A Complete Guide to Reptiles of Australia by Steve Wilson and Gerry Swan  2003

Our most recent acquisition and a second-hand copy of a book, which we have wanted for a long time, this field guide is a very comprehensive look at the 836 named species of : crocodiles; sea and freshwater turtles; geckoes, lizards and skinks; dragons and monitors (goannas); and a wide variety of sea and land snakes, which live on continental Australia, Norfolk Island and Lord Howe Island.

The book begins with notes on using the guide; a glossary; anatomical illustrations; and brief notes on their environment, followed by detailed chapters on each reptile family with general notes, genus notes and species entries. Each of the latter is described on the left-hand page, including the common and scientific name; a distribution map; a description of its physical appearance and length specifications; notes about its behaviour, diet and habitat; and its conservation status. Particular diagnostic features are highlighted in bold type. The right-hand page is devoted to excellent photographs of each species in its natural habitat.

I never knew there were so many different kinds of snakes in Australia, and while I am quite happy to steer a wide berth, they can be very beautiful and they do play an important role in Australia’s ecology.

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Mammals

Mammals are a totally different story! The cuddly koala, quaint wombats and cute little pygmy possums and gliders are iconic Australian animals, much beloved by the general public, though often difficult to see in the wild due to their nocturnal habits. The next two books are excellent identification guides to our unique Australian animals.

The Australian Museum Complete Book of Australian Mammals Edited by Ronald Strahan 1983

This large tome is the coffee table guide, which you consult at home! Here in Australia, we have some fascinating and very old mammalian fauna from the egg-laying monotremes, the platypus and echidna, and the amazing pouched marsupials (carnivorous; omnivorous; and herbivorous), both of which are descendants of the days when Australia was still part of Gondwanaland, to the more modern placental mammals (including bats and fruit bats; mice and rats; marine mammals; and introduced mammals).

Each subclass is described in great depth, with single or double page spreads devoted to each species and superb photographs of each animal in its natural environment, except for the extinct Thylacine and Julia Creek Dunnart.

Each species entry has an italicized sidebar with details on size and weight; identification; synonyms and common names; conservation status (though this information would now be greatly out-of-date, many more species now being in a much direr state with the impacts of habitat destruction, feral animals and now climate change!); subspecies; extralimital distribution; and references.

The main text discusses their physical appearance; history; distribution and preferred habitat; diet; behaviour; reproduction and offspring; and threats to their survival.

They are all such unique and interesting creatures and it is vitally important that we do everything in our power to preserve the rapidly dwindling diversity of marsupial species, which we are currently lucky enough to have here in Australia.BlogEnvtlBooksReszd25%Image (514)

Key Guide to Australian Mammals by Leonard Cronin 1991/ 1997

A much more compact field guide, ideal for the bushwalker and naturalist! In the front is a basic visual key, which refers readers to the pertinent pages. Animals have been categorized into subheadings: monotremes; carnivorous marsupials; bandicoots; wombats; koalas and possums; kangaroos; bats; rodents; sea mammals; and dingoes.

Each double page spread has text on the left, covering two species, with a distribution map for each and colour illustrations on the right, with the scientific name of each species.

The text includes information on the common and scientific names; physical appearance, size and weight; behaviour; development; food; habitat and conservation status.

Ross has used this book a lot, judging by all the notes he has scribbled on his sightings throughout the book!

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It is also worth looking out for books on specific Australian animals, which are part of the Australian Natural History Series, originally published by New South Wales University Press and now produced by the CSIRO. See: http://www.publish.csiro.au/books/series/48. They cover a wide variety of Australian animals from birds (kookaburras; magpies; cockatoos; bowerbirds; herons; albatross; scrub turkeys; bustards; tawny frogmouths and wedge-tailed eagles) and sea mammals (whales, sea lions and fur seals) to dingoes; kangaroos; tree kangaroos; potoroos and betongs; native mice and rats; echidnas; platypus and wombats.

We love our local wombats, such bumbling, amiable trundle-buses, so vulnerable to fast-moving night traffic, and were thrilled to watch platypus, feeding  in broad daylight, at a local stream recently, so both the following books are valuable additions to our natural history library.

The Wombat: Common Wombats in Australia by Barbara Briggs 1988/ 1990

This small publication contains everything you want to know about wombats from their evolution and early history; their classification; physical characteristics; burrows; behaviour and daily life in the burrow and above ground; its life cycle from birth to old age; the risk factors wombats face from disease to environmental (predation; flood; drought; fire) and man-induced hazards (poisoning; land clearing; and road deaths); and finally, raising orphaned wombats.

I love the pencil sketches by Ross Goldingay of these endearing creatures, as well as the many black-and-white and colour photographs. In the back are appendices of growth and development tables and the dos and don’ts of hand rearing orphaned wombats, as well as an excellent bibliography.BlogEnvtlBooksReszd30%Image (668) - Copy

I was fascinated to learn the following facts about wombats:

Wombats evolved 100 Million years ago, the oldest fossils being 24 Million years old;andthe largest wombat ever was Phascolonus gigas, weighing up to 100 Kg (at least twice the size of modern wombats!)

There are currently three species: the Northern Hairy-Nosed Wombat Lasiorhinus krefftii, which is critically endangered and is confined to a small colony in Epping Forest National Park, Central Queensland; the Southern Hairy-Nosed Wombat Lasiorhinus latifrons, now confined to the Nullabor Plain and a few semi-arid areas of South Australia; and the Common Wombat Vombatus ursinus, the subject of this book and found in South-Eastern Australia and Tasmania.

It is the only marsupial to have two incisor teeth in its upper jaw and their teeth are continuously growing throughout its life, which is reassuring, given their diet of tough grasses, sedges and even bark and dry leaves.

Burrows can be up to 30 metres long and are used by a number of wombats on a time-share basis. They can live up to 10 to 15 years old in the wild and 20 to 25 years old in captivity.

Wombats enjoy dust baths, known as wombat wallows, and slide down steep river banks and snow slopes. They are also efficient swimmers over short distances, dogpaddling silently with their short legs under the water with no splashing at all! I would love to see a wombat gliding silently through the water, however platypus viewing is much more likely! On a recent visit to Bombala and Delegate, we watched 4 platypuses in two different streams, such a thrill given they are more commonly seen at dawn and dusk!

The Platypus: A Unique Mammal by Tom Grant 1989.

Another excellent publication, which covers their physical characteristics; taxonomy;  and distribution and status in the first chapter, after which the book is divided into seasonal chapters:

Winter : Diet and Body temperature regulation;

Spring : Floods; Reproduction; and Social organization and the crural system

Summer : Milk; Burrows and their use; Adaptations to burrowing and diving; growth; location of position and of food; and the environmental impact of dams.

Autumn : Population studies; disease and mortality; age; juvenile dispersal and movements.

In the back is a species profile and bibliography and again, the book is full of excellent photographs, and diagrams and pencil sketches by Dominic Fanning.BlogEnvtlBooksReszd30%Image (667) - Copy

Mammal Tracks and Signs: A Field Guide For South-eastern Australia by Barbara Triggs 1984

Because many Australian animals are nocturnal, we often don’t see them in the wild unless we are out and about, spotlighting at nighttime, but we often see signs of them in their scats, tracks and evidence of foraging activities, as well as unfortunately the all-too- often and disastrously plentiful road kill!

There are four keys provided : a key to tracks at the beginning of the book; a key to scats; a key to skulls; and finally, a key to shelters. Each key refers to the pertinent pages for each species.

There is an introductory chapter concerning where to look; the structure of feet; gaits; scats and their analysis and the identification of animals from their bones.

The rest of the book is divided into the different mammal types, including their tracks, scats (including diagnostic features), shelters, bones and skulls and species. There are distribution maps, including preferred habitat; black-and-white photos; excellent illustrations of tracks, scats and skulls; and useful tables specifying the lengths of the hind foot, toe print, and stride when hopping and punting, essential for separating out large kangaroos from large wallabies, small wallabies and rat-kangaroos!

It is a very detailed and complex field and this book is invaluable! At the end is a list of useful books and journals for further reading.BlogEnvtlBooksReszd40%Image (525)

Whales, Dolphins and Seals by Hadoram Shirihai and Brett Jarrett 2006

A must, given that we now live so close to the coast and an excellent lead-in to my next category! We always get so excited when we see a whale spouting or breaching close in to our local coastline or a pod of dolphins surfing the waves or encounter a seal unexpectedly on a wild deserted beach.

Every year, Humpbacks and Southern Right Whales migrate north from the Antarctic Ocean, up the eastern coastline of Australia, to the warmer subtropical waters of Queensland from June to August (Winter), then return home with their calves from September to November. Their annual migration covers a journey of 10 000 km. See: http://www.environment.gov.au/resource/humpback-whales-eastern-australia and https://www.wildaboutwhales.com.au/whale-facts/about-whales/whale-migration. The latter site even has a Whale App, which records the latest sightings. See: http://www.wildaboutwhales.com.au/app.

In our area on the Far South Coast of New South Wales, Green Cape is a particularly good spot to see them, as it juts so far out into the sea and the path of the whales, that it is possible to get a really good look at them up close. They are such beautiful, huge, gentle and highly intelligent mammals, so it is great to have a field guide, not only for our Australian species, but all the different types of whales around the world!

Each entry has a feature box covering basic information to aid identification, like scientific name; range; maximum size and physical appearance and typical behaviour on surfacing, as well as notes on variations (age/ sex/ individuals); similar species; distribution and population; and ecology (behaviour, breaching, diving, diet, reproduction, immatures and life span), all accompanied by superb photographs and maps.

The dolphin and seal sections have a similar format. I never knew there were so many different types of dolphins, including estuarine and river dolphins (Amazon River, South America; Ganges River, India; Yangtse River, China and the Irrawaddy Dolphins of South-East Asia). This book also explains the differences between dolphins and porpoises, which are closely related, but have different teeth, patterns and pigmentations, range and behaviours.

I also learnt that not all seals are the same! Fur seals (our type of seal) and sea lions are eared seals (external ear flaps), while true seals only have a small ear canal with no earflap. Their anatomy and agility on land is also very different, but you will have to read the book to learn more!

There is so much information in this book about the 129 species of marine mammals worldwide! It even covers the old mermaids of delirious sex-starved sailors : the dugongs, sea-cows and manatees of tropical waters , as well as arctic animals like walrus, otters and polar bears. It finishes with a list of prime marine mammal sites for viewing all these animals in their natural environments and a conservation checklist for all the different species.

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Now for more on marine life…!!!

Having lived in the country for most of our lives, we feel so lucky here in Candelo to have excellent access to the coast, especially one with such natural unspoilt beauty, protected by National Park status. Having grown up in Tasmania, it is so lovely to be able to still experience beaches in their natural state without a house or building in sight, an increasing rarity these days, with the increased population and urbanization of our coastline, especially on the mainland.

Marine Life

When I was a teenager, my parents developed our interest in natural history by encouraging collecting as a hobby. I collected Tasmanian shells, which I swapped with fellow conchologists in New Zealand and Queensland, while my sisters collected gemstones and butterflies and my brother, rocks. I had a set of special narrow drawers, lined with cotton wool, as well as a glass display cabinet, to store my shells, which I labelled with their scientific names and sorted into family and genus groups.

We spent many fascinating hours, head down and walking slowly along beaches, searching for the best example of a particular shell, as well as marvelling at the rich rock pool environment. Along the way, I learned so much about their natural history, as well as that of their fellow marine life: the seaweeds , algae, coral and plankton; sea tulips and cunjevoi;  the sea slugs and sea hares; the sponges, sea anemones, starfish and chitons and all the tough survivors of the littoral zone, not to mention the fish, larger sea mammals and sea birds. I love the fact that the sea can still astound and surprise us with new discoveries constantly being made! These books were indispensable to my education.

What Shell is That by Neville Coleman 1975

A good all-rounder for an appreciation of shells as living animals, it covers 750 common species of Mollusca, which are divided up into the different types of environment, in which they are found, including mud and mangroves; rocky reefs; coral reefs; sand and rubble; continental shelf and ocean pelagics.

It contains photographs, both of the shells and the living animals in their natural environment, which makes for easy identification. Each species entry contains its family name; common name and scientific name, as well as a brief description of its physical appearance, distribution and abundance. As you can see, it was a very well-used book!

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Australian Shells by BR Wilson and K Gillett 1971

This subtitle of lovely book is ‘Illustrating and Describing 600 Species of Marine Gastropods From Australian Waters’ and it certainly delivers!

Gastropods are just one of six classes of the phylum Mollusca, but it is the largest with over 90 000 living marine, freshwater and terrestrial snail and slug species. The other classes are : Monoplacophora (only 2 to 3 very deep water limpet-like molluscs); Amphineura (chitons; several hundred species); Bivalvia (bivalves; 15 000 species); and Cephalopoda (octopus, squid and nautilus; several hundred species).

Gastropoda is divided into three subclasses: Prosobranchiata; Opisthobranchiata and PulmonataProsobranchiata includes most of the marine and a large number of the land snails. They have gills in the mantle cavity and most are able to seal the aperture with an operculum. Opisthobranchiata includes marine snails and slugs like bubble shells, sea hares and nudibranchs, where the shell is commonly reduced or absent and all are hermaphroditic.  Pulmonata includes all the hermaphroditic land snails and slugs, which lack an operculum and gills and breathe by means of a lung, which is a modified mantle cavity. All the molluscs in this book are marine prosobranchs.

There is a large section on gastropod anatomy; feeding; and reproduction and development, followed by an examination of its shell – the composition; shape; colours and patterns; and growth and age.

The book then describes the different geographical distribution zones: Northern Australian; Southern Australian; Eastern and Western Overlap zones and their affinities with certain gastropod species ; discusses shell collecting practices and gives a list of relevant books and journals.

The majority of the book is devoted to the different gastropod families, with the left page covering general notes, then entries about specific species, including a description; date discovered; size; abundance and distribution; and the right page featuring photographs of each species. Throughout the book are also photographs of the living creatures with the most amazingly patterned feet, especially the volutes (the Amoria genus in particular)! The underwater world is endlessly fascinating!BlogEnvtlBooksReszd25%Image (575)Australian Seashores by W. J. Dakin 1976

The original Australian seashore bible!

Part One covers the physical elements: the sea, the tides and ocean waves; the sculpture of the coastline; the pasture of the sea, plankton; and  luminescence, camouflage and living colour!  and

Part Two looks at the seashore life : the zones of animal and plant life; seaweeds and sponges; jellyfish, anemones, blue-bottles and corals; worms and worm-like creatures; sea-mats and sea-mosses; crustaceans (lobsters, crabs, prawns, sea slaters and sandhoppers);  and barnacles; molluscs, including sea hares, nudibranches and sea slugs; echinoderms (starfish, sea urchins and sea cucumbers); sea squirts (cunjevoi and ascidians) and finally, flotsam and jetsam.BlogEnvtlBooksReszd30%Image (516)

WJ Dakin’s Classic Study: Australian Seashores by Isobel Bennett 1987

This revision of Dakin’s book has many more photos and maps, which support the text admirably. For example, the chapter on The Sculpture of a Coastline, with its original diagrams illustrating coastline features, zones and rock platforms, comes alive with the new addition of photographs of concrete examples from different coastlines around Australia. The different zones of the seashore and all the different plants and animals are even easier to understand with all the supporting photographs.

The other big advantage of this book, especially when it comes to identification of the latest new discovery, is its use of colour photographs, compared to the black-and-white photos of the old book. So, this is definitely the version to get!BlogEnvtlBooksReszd30%Image (519)Spirals in Time: The Secret Life and Curious Afterlife of Seashells by Helen Scales 2015

A very readable paperback, which brings the seashore to life with all its wondrous diversity, randomness and infinite possibilities.  The author’s enthusiasm and passion for her subject shines through – she must have had so much fun doing all the research for this book!

She explores a wide variety of shell-related topics from their prehistory and anatomy; shell architecture and building; human use of shells (currency; funerals; jewellery; symbolism; and seafood); the oyster industry; hermit crabs; spinning sea-silk (of which I had never heard , but found fascinating!); ammonites and argonauts; shell mania; the coral triangle; nautilus fisheries; shell collecting; the venomous cone shells; and the sea butterfly effect!

I hope I have whetted your curiosity for further reading of this interesting little book!

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Next week, I am featuring some excellent general reference guides to life on earth, covering the geology and soils, the weather and climate and lastly, the amazing night sky!

The Autumn Garden

It has been a beautiful Autumn with good rain early in March; a superb display of colour with the deciduous foliage from April to late May and long-lasting zinnias, dahlias and salvias, as well as a repeat-flush of roses; and lots of gardening activities, creative pursuits and local exploratory trips!BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-17 11.35.40BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-15 11.44.40BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-12 14.34.52BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_1019BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-28 11.58.13BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-10 12.50.42BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-14 18.07.56BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-14 18.07.30Autumn vies with Spring in my affections. The weather is much more stable, though is tempered by the knowledge of the impending Winter, only to be assuaged by the parade of brilliant deciduous colour, as each tree prepares for its Winter dormancy.BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-18 10.07.28BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-18 10.08.01BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-18 10.07.51BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-12 10.01.18BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-12 11.52.44BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-12 11.59.43BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-20 16.12.47 The verandah is such a vantage point, the backdrop changing daily.BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-30 17.16.16BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-14 10.23.52BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-14 10.37.55BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-26 18.02.13BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-19 09.47.55BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-18 10.07.44BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-15 10.25.17BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-30 18.59.23The zinnias and dahlias lasted well into late May, having been touched up by a few early frosts, and Ross has finally put them to bed with a good layer of protective mulch.BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_0199BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-03 11.06.50BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-03-30 18.53.29BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-25 11.50.02The roses have taken centre stage again with a wonderful Autumn flush. These photos were all taken this Autumn. I have organised them into their separate beds:

Soho Bed:

Top Row: Left to Right: Just Joey; Fair Bianca; LD Braithwaite and Alnwyck.

Bottom Row: Left to Right: The Childrens’ Rose; Mr Lincoln; Eglantyne and Icegirl.

Moon Bed

Top Row: Left to Right: Golden Celebration; Heritage; Windermere; William Morris

Bottom Row: Left to Right: Lucetta; Jude the Obscure; William Morris; and Troilus

Main Pergola

Top Row: Left to Right: Mme Alfred Carrière and Adam

Bottom Row: Left to Right: an older Adam bloom and Souvenir de la Malmaison

Hybrid Musk Hedge : Left-hand side : White Roses

Top Row: Left to Right: Autumn Delight and Penelope

Bottom Row: Left to Right: Penelope and Tea rose Sombreuil on arch.

Right-hand Side: Pink Roses

Left to Right: Cornelia on arch; Stanwell Perpetual and Mutabilis

Rugosa Hedge

Left to Right: Fru Dagmar Hastrup and Mme Georges Bruant

House

Left to Right: Cécile Brünner first two roses and Mrs Herbert Stevens

Shed

Top Row: Left to Right: Viridiflora and Archiduc Joseph

Bottom Row: Left to Right: Archiduc Joseph and Countess Bertha

I have organised the rest of the garden blooms by colour:

Blue :

Top Row: Left to Right: Wild Petunia, Ruellia humilis; Violet; Pasque Flower, Pulsatilla;

Bottom Row: Left to Right: Poor Man’s Lavender Plectranthus neochilus; Plumbago; and Hydrangea

Green :

Top Row: Left to Right: Tree Dahlia buds and Elkhorn Fern

Bottom Row: Left to Right: Rosebud Salvia new bud and Bells of Ireland, Molucella

Orange, Gold and Yellow :

Top Row: Left to Right: Paris Daisy with Salvia, Indigo Spires; Woodbine; and Paris Daisy

Bottom Row: Left to Right: Hill Banksia, Banksia collina; slightly older bud of Rosebud Salvia; and Orange Canna Lily

Pink :

Top Row: Left to Right: Fuchsia; Salvia; Christmas Pride, Ruellia macrantha;

Bottom Row: Left to Right: Rosebud Salvia, Salvia involucrata; Christmas Pride; Pink ‘Doris’

Red :

Top Row: Left to Right: Grevilleas Lady O and Fireworks; and Salvia ‘Lipstick’

Bottom Row: Left to Right: Grevillea Lady O; Echeveria and Azalea Dogwood Red

Purple :

Top Row: Left to Right: Mexican Heather, Cuphea hyssopifolia; Cigar Flower, Cuphea ignea

Bottom Row: Left to Right: Dames’ Rocket, Hesperis matronalis, and Violet

White :

Top Row: Left to Right: Nerines; Honeysuckle; Strawberry flowers and first of the Paper White Ziva jonquils for the season!

Bottom Row: Left to Right: Autumn Crocus; Windflower; Tea, Camellia sinensis; and Viburnum opulus – an out-of-season bloom.

We have been very busy and productive in the garden, gradually crossing jobs off the list! Weeding is a constant in the Soho and Moon Beds, as well as around the feet of all the shrub roses and bulb patches.BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-07 13.25.16 We have just dug up either side of the shed garden path, so the shed roses are now in garden beds and we planted out many of the potted cuttings, which we took from my sister’s garden at Glenrock. All are doing well!BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_1186BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_1237We also made two arches out of old gate weld mesh, one leading into the future chook yard and supporting Cornelia (photo 2) and Sombreuil (photo 3);BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-27 18.04.14BlogHybridMusksReszd2016-11-10 09.19.26BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_0877 and the other on the corner of the shed, with Reve d’Or (photo 3) and Alister Stella Grey (photo 4) either side.BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-15 15.33.44BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-15 10.27.37BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-03-31 18.58.37BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-11 17.13.31 Ross defined the edges of the vegetable beds with old recycled fence palings and planted out young vegetable seedlings, which he then mulched. We are really enjoying their Winter crop in our salads at lunchtime.BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_0277BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_0274From front to back in the photos below: red and green mignonette lettuce; spring onions; broccoli; spinach; cos lettuce and kale. BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-03-31 19.07.15BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-24 19.24.20 We harvested the pumpkins, which again engulfed the compost heap, zinnia bed and maple tree, as well as the last of the tomatoes, making 3 bottles of green tomato chutney.BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-03 13.43.42BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-05 11.44.26 We also have plenty of late Autumn fruit, now that the bats have gone, though I suspect our citrus is fairly safe anyway!  Unfortunately, the figs did not ripen in time, but the Golden Hornet crabapples have lasted well on the tree.BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_0879BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-11 17.15.23 All the new citrus are growing madly  and bearing fruit – the lime (photo 1) has a particularly fine crop and the lemonade (photo 2) is also bearing well.BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-15 18.09.05BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-07 10.33.13 The cumquats have been an absolute picture, both in full blossom and fruit.BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_0773BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_0774BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_0778BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-11 17.12.41We picked 6 Kg of fruit to make into cumquat marmalade and there was still fruit left!BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-18 18.28.35BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-18 18.28.27BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-18 18.46.41BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-18 18.46.48The loquat trees were in full bloom for weeks,BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_1241 attracting huge noisy parties of rainbow lorikeets,BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-03-31 10.54.27BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-03-28 14.30.57 which then went on to eat the Duranta berries, along with the Crimson RosellasBlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-14 18.33.53BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-14 18.34.29 and huge flocks of King Parrots.BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-07 10.57.37BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-14 18.33.04BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-14 18.30.07BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-14 18.28.57BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-12 11.01.50BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-07 10.59.33 Up until early May, we had even larger flocks of screeching Little Corellas in the thousands, gathering in the trees, recently vacated by the bats,BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_0518BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_0642 then flying off en masse right on dark to their roosting trees to the north,BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-03-31 08.51.21-2BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-03 19.44.23BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-30 19.54.50BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_1253 occasionally accompanied by the odd Galah!BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-30 18.46.46BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_0807 We have enjoyed flyovers by the local Gang-Gangs (photos below) and Yellow-Tailed Black Cockatoos. We even had a rare flypass by a Red-Tailed Black Cockatoo, en route to the local mountain forests. BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-03-31 19.08.34BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-14 18.20.25Other exciting glimpses included three Dollar Birds (photos 1 and 2) and a Figbird (photo 3), both Summer migrants, normally found further north.BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_0116BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_0090BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-14 18.16.41 Other larger birds in our garden at the moment include very quiet Australian Magpies (photo 6), a pair of courting Australian Ravens (photo 2), a Grey Butcherbird (photo 3), Pied Currawongs (photo 5), Spotted Turtle Doves (photo 4) and our Blackbirds (photo 1), which have been on holiday and have just returned.BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-12 11.40.23BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-04 14.53.01BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-23 12.07.56BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-13 17.29.54BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-14 14.37.25BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-18 17.46.44 And our littlies: the Eastern Spinebills (photos 1 and 2), Silvereyes (photo 3) and Double-barred Finches (photo 4).BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-23 11.54.46BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-07 14.54.51BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_0707BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_0319 all of whom do a stirling job keeping the bugs in check.BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-03 13.48.38BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-27 13.07.27BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-27 13.30.41BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-06 12.11.05We found this delightful Grey Fantail nest in our old camellia tree at the front door.BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-18 14.54.13The slightly cooler weather has been wonderful for pursuing creative tasks from cooking to sewing, embroidery and paper crafts. I made my son a delicious carrot cake, using a recipe from https://chefkresorecipes.wordpress.com/2017/03/23/carrot-cake/ for his birthday:BlogAutumngardenReszd7517-04-25 17.56.10BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-03-25 15.00.36 and hot cross buns for Easter Friday, using a recipe from https://bitesizebakehouse.com/2017/04/08/cranberry-hot-cross-buns-2/ , with a fun Easter Egg hunt in the garden with friends on the Sunday.BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-12 13.33.28BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-14 12.09.54 My friend Heather, who visited us during the Candelo Arts Festival and is the Melbourne agent for Saori (http://artweaverstudio.com.au/), gave us a Saori weaving workshop and we were thrilled with our woven runners.BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-22 14.27.11BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-22 15.36.30BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-22 16.16.34BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-24 10.56.10 I gave my friends Rae, Brooklin and Kirsten, a hand embroidery lesson, inspiring Rae’s wonderful exhibit. I was so impressed!BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_0441BlogAutumngardenReszd2517-04-24 16.19.41BlogAutumngardenReszd2517-04-24 16.23.44 I made embroidery rolls for their birthdays,BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_0510BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_0516BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_0845BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_0505 as well as a pair of felt appliqué cushions for my sister’s bed.BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-06 17.44.17 And another decoupage floral card and a paper owl, assembled from a German kit, which was given to me by my daughter in Berlin.BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_0499BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_1220BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_1221And finally, there were the bouquets from the garden! Masses of colourful zinnias…BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_0037BlogAutumngardenReszd2517-05-06 11.16.50BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-29 20.26.32BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-18 12.12.28 and bright dahlias;BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_0226BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_1148 Scented roses;BlogAutumngardenReszd2517-03-25 09.39.26BlogAutumngardenReszd2517-03-25 09.39.32BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_0888BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-15 11.26.09BlogAutumngardenReszd2517-05-06 11.16.58

Simple blue salvias and bold hydrangeas;BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-08 10.20.45BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_0264BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_0261 And wonderful mixtures of colourful blooms!BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-12 18.58.02BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-12 10.49.40BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_0021BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-19 12.16.03BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-27 11.42.23BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-27 11.42.46BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-18 12.49.55BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-18 12.50.00 How I love arranging flowers!BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-03 14.11.26BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-18 12.07.18BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_0003And finally, we had some wonderful days out, exploring new spots and revisiting old haunts. The Bendethera day in March was rather inclement and while we could not reach our final destination due to the amount of water in the final creek, we did ascertain that our vehicle could manage the 4WD tracks for a future camping trip and despite the rain and constant cloud, it was still a lovely day out.BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_1007BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_0985BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_0995BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_0998BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_0948BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_0952 We had much better April weather for our Monaro drive to Delegate, Jindabyne (including the wonderful Wildbrumby Scnapps Distillery in photo 2) and Thredbo (the Kosciuszko chair lift in photo 3) and discovered a wonderful birdwatching and trout fishing  venue, Black Lake, near Cathcart, on our way home (photo 5), where we saw six elegant Black-Winged Stilts (photo 6).BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-03-30 11.21.45BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-03-30 12.59.21BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-03-30 13.28.40BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-03-30 15.11.43BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-03-30 17.14.48BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-03-30 17.48.57 We introduced friends to Bay Cliff and Greenglades (also see: https://candeloblooms.com/2016/12/13/wonderful-wonboyn/) in late April (see if you can guess the tracks on the beach in photo 7!); BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-04 15.15.12BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-04 13.45.15BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-04 14.50.15BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-04 14.12.57BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-04 14.55.38BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-04 14.09.03BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-04 18.08.42BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-04 18.08.12BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-04 18.10.41 and Aragunnu (also see: https://candeloblooms.com/2015/09/11/aragunnu-and-bunga-head/) in May, two of our favourite spots on the coast;BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-08 12.37.22BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-08 12.40.29BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-08 16.05.58BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-08 15.28.36BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-08 13.43.10BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-08 17.30.24as well as revisiting Nunnock Swamp and Alexander’s Hut (also see: https://candeloblooms.com/2016/10/18/south-east-forests-national-park/).BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-16 12.15.50BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-16 13.16.33BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-16 14.21.55BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-16 12.23.20BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-16 14.15.53BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-16 12.52.27And we went canoeing on Back Lake at Merimbula, where we photographed a beautiful Azure Kingfisher, as well as a teenage cygnet and white egrets.BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-15 16.40.28BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-15 17.09.44BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-15 16.49.59BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-15 17.26.18BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-15 17.20.48BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-15 17.39.23BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-15 17.01.11BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-15 16.56.10 We are so lucky to have such easy access to these beautiful unspoilt natural areas! Next week, I am returning to our dreamy roses!