Conservation and environment
news, issues and links for
northern Victoria and the Southern Riverina

'Books'. Photo: K. Stockwell

Review of birding and conservation books

Birding Guides

Indigenous Animals

The views and opinions expressed in these book reviews are those of the webmeister, K Stockwell, and do not necessarily represent the views of any organisation of which he is a member or of any organisation which may be associated with these pages.


Birding guides : reviews

Note: Steve Parish and CSIRO Publishing are working on a new field guide. A review will appear once a copy has been studied. Publication may still be many months off.

Note: Details of an e Guide by Michael Morcombe and David Stewart was recently added to this page: the eGuide is proving very popular with many birders. Early in August, having read the review, Mr Morcomb emailed comments, most of which appear on this page. I had inadvertently typed the wrong given name and for that I apologise. KS, August 2011.

Michael Morcombe, Field Guide to Australian Birds
It took Michael around 14 years to prepare this magnificent guide. It is similar in content to Pizzey and Knight, Simpson and Day, and Slater, but contains a wonderful section on identifying bird nests. Of the four guides, this one probably has the best layout, with colour drawings in line with descriptions. The drawings are by Morcombe himself. It is the best guide for Western Australian birds. The book has been published by Steve Parish and so should be available through outlets which sell Steve Parish's cards and calendars. Possibly the best guide on the market although many would disagree, questioning the accuracy of the distribution maps and/or the quality of the sketches. Ask four bird observers which of the guides is best and you are likely to get four different answers.


Michael Morcombe, Field Guide to Australian Birds: complete compact edition
A few years back, Michael Morcombe has emailed to advise of the release of a new compact edition (about same size as Slater's) for the many users who wished for a smaller size: "It has over 800 species, most subspecies, many new maps, and some features which I think could be unique world-wide such as a quick-guide page at beginning of each of of 26 family group chapters. It's on my web site, in more detail with pics:".

According to an enthusiast, the new compact edition has many good features, including:

  • compact size and little weight
  • quick guides inside the front and back covers
  • a page marker ribbon
  • illustrated introductions to family groups, drawn to scale
  • subspecies information and coloured dots
  • a plastic cover
  • overhead raptor comparison plates

Wishing to clarify an earlier comment on this page, Mr. Morcombe emailed the following information early in August of 2011: "The first printing was on rather thick paper, we reprinted after that (2005 onward) on paper of similar thickness to other guides, and since then has been slightly thinner and fractionally lighter than Slater, which also has grown heavier and thicker in its second edition.

"The maps are with few exceptions correct by the Birds Australia Atlases, HANZAB, and many other references. Map complaints mainly originated by a very few who did not understand the pale tint colour for rare and vagrant records. The other guides have all increasingly followed using pale tint in similar way now for many of their Maps. Eguide maps are updated versions.

"Both large and compact versions roughly similar popularity and sales, the larger appealing to users for in-car/in-house use, the smaller by those more active in field work, carrying scopes, cameras. The smaller version is more detailed, more on races, flight comparisons, and more the serious-birders version"


newMichael Morcombe and David Stewart, The Michael Morcombe eGuide to Australian Birds
This app contains images, maps and texts from the compact edition outlined above plus the calls of over 650 species by David Stewart of "Nature Sound". The app can be downloaded to iPhone, iPod Touch, iPod and some other devices. The eGuide is to be updated from time to time and upgrades are likely to be free. BOCA members who have been using this app have found it to be useful in the field.

Early in August 2011, Michael Morcombe sent the following by email:
" The eGuide has very recently also been released for the Android smartphones, e.g. the nokias, samsungs, mototolas and the many others using Google's android phone operating system. Until now, only available for apple iphone, ipod touch and ipad. And the price, which seems to be set by those sellers, is reduced to just under $30. It's a small fraction of price of combined book plus calls CDs.

From correspondence and internet chatter, seems quite a few are using it in the field in place of a book. There are many updates compared with any of the books, e.g. latest names, C & B (Christides and Bowles) order and list, many new and more detailed maps. A new version 1.1 is in preparation, new features, updates, for both apple and android versions, and free by download to all owners."


Graham Pizzey and Frank Knight, Field Guide to the Birds of Australia
A completely new and much improved version of the Pizzey Guide was released in 2000 (HarperCollins, Pymble NSW). 778 species are covered. The introduction states that "Each species entry provides essential details on field marks, habits, voice and behaviour as well as comparisons with similar species". Some feel that the descriptive notes are better than those in other guides. Others prefer the drawings. In a recent survey of ornithological field guides, Pizzey and Knight was rated best, Slater second, with Morcombe making inroads. A revised edition, by Peter Menkhorst (Graham is deceased), with "enhanced colours" was released late in 2003.

'In a recent survey of ornithological field guides, Pizzey and Knight was rated best'

An eighth edition of Pizzey and Knight, revised by Peter Menkhorst, was released in 2007. Textual information and maps have been updated, there are more or slightly changed illustrations, vagrants are marked with a V, the inside of the front cover has a key guide to all featured species groups. Species illustrated for the first time include Norfolk Island Parakeet, South Island Pied Oystercatcher, Narcissus Flycatcher and Lord Howe Island Woodhen. Some birders have suggested that it is worth browsing through any copy you intend to buy in case of such printing defects, e.g. colours offset from maps.
Many regard this as the best of the Australian bird field guides.


Ken Simpson and Nicholas Day, Field Guide to the Birds of Australia
Around 50 writers and illustrators contributed to this publication which has undergone many editions and revisions since it was first published over 20 years ago. It is similar to both the Morcombe and Pizzey guides insofar as it has location maps, descriptions and colour drawings. Toward the back of the guide is an informative section on nesting behaviour.

Slater Guide

Slater, Slater and Slater, The Slater Field Guide to Australian Birds
Unlike the Simpson & Day or Pizzey & Knight guides, the Slater Guide will fit into a large pocket and can, therefore, be more easily carried into the field. It is thinner and narrower. It is possibly used more often in the field than any of the other guides. In 2009, a revised edition was published, claiming to describe and illustrate all birds so far recorded in Australia: more than 750 species. There are 200 painted plates. The book has a 'waterproof' cover. Only the Morcombe compact edition can be as easily carried in the field.
Available through CSIRO Publishing and most book shops


Jim Flegg and N Longmore (eds), Readers Digest Photographic Field Guide Birds of Australia
This volume contains photographs from the Australian Museum rather than drawings. On the page opposite the photographs, there is a note on each species and a distribution map. Unfortunately,a few of the captions under the photographs are incorrect and this is confusing especially since it is often an unfamiliar bird that one wishes to identify. Hopefully, this has been corrected since the original edition was published in 1994. Otherwise, this is a very good publication similar in size to Simpson and Day, Pizzey and Knight and Morcombe.


We are fortunate to have at least four excellent field guides, five if the Readers Digest guide (photos of birds rather than sketches) is included. Add to these the increasing number of "coffee table" books on Australian birds and books which specialise in certain species, e.g. Night Birds, and birds of particular regions.


Birds Australia, New Atlas of Australian Birds
Some years ago, the Royal Australasian Ornithologists Union (now Birds Australia) published an atlas showing the location of Australian birds. Over 7,000 volunteers covered the Australian island-continent and offshore waters, completing thousands of bird surveys for this new atlas which was released late in 2003. A large book best used to supplement one of the above guides. The illustrations are not in full colour.


HANZAB is a detailed set of volumes on the birds of Australia and areas beyond. It has been published by Birds Australia in conjunction with Oxford University Press. A 'must have' for the true enthusiast. There are notes and illustrations on 956 species of birds which live in Australia, New Zealand and Antarctica or surrounding waters. Each of the seven volumes (Volume 7 comprises two bound sections) contains hundreds of pages. The recommended retail price for the set is around $3,275 but some retailers offer a discount of up to 20%.


A number of works on birds by other authors have been published and most are excellent but more specialised. Some are 'coffee table size'.

Other birding books : reviews

Tim Dolby and others, Where to See Birds in Victoria
Where to See Birds in Victoria outlines forty of Victoria's better birding localities, including Terricks, Wyperfeld, Hattah-Kulkyne, Chiltern, the Otway Ranges and Mount Buffalo. The book suggests where to look for particular species. As far as Terricks goes, it paints an optimistic a picture of what might be observed because the 1995-2010 drought has had a devastating impact: it will take many years for bird numbers to fully recover. Victoria provides habitat for at least 500 bird species. CSIRO Publishing. RRP $35.


Richard and Sarah Thomas, David Andrews and Alan McBride, The Complete Guide to finding the Birds of Australia
The earlier edition of 'Thomas and Thomas' were used by hundreds of keen birders over the years and helped birders observe some of Australia's rarer and more-elusive species. Thanks to the efforts of David Andrews and Alan McBride, a second (2011) edition brings the work up-to-date. As far as the greater Echuca area is concerned, the spots recommended are not necessarily the most-reliable sites (e.g. for Superb Parrot). Local areas included in the second edition (and covered on other pages of this site) include Terrick Terrick National Park and Goschen Reserve. Available from CSIRO Publishing.


Sean Dooley, Anoraks to Zitting Cisticola
After having completed 'The Big Twitch', Sean Dooley was asked lots of questions about birdwatching. Anoraks to Zitting Cisticolas sets out to explain what bird watching is all about, with definitions and comments on lots of bird-watching terms. This book might be best appreciated by beginners but experienced bird observers will find lots to chuckle over and contemplate. Having read the book, I might have to prove guilty to having a case of Ausbirder's Syndrome.

Some of the terms defined and discussed include Blocker, Buntie, Captain Twitchpants, Crippler, Dead cert (not), Dip, Dude and Endemic.

A dude, incidentally, is sometimes described as a Punter or Wombat, terms which do not appear in this book.

Anoraks to Zitting Cisticola is worth reading irrespective or whether or not you are a birder.


Sean Dooley, The Big Twitch
Television comedy writer Sean Dooley took a year off so he could try to break the Australian twitching record: he aimed to observe over 700 species over the course of 12 months. The quest took him all over the continent and much time was spent trying to track down uncommon and elusive species. To catch uncommon species, Sean sometimes flew from one side of the continent to another.

The book has proved very popular with bird observers. It will help non-birders to understand, perhaps, how bird observers can and do travel great distances in order to observe a particular bird. Birders will enjoy reading a special forward which non-birders are asked not to read. Birders are asked not to read the introduction for non-birders. But do.

The Big Twitch is a great read.


Jim Castles, Gary Deayton, Don Roberts et al, Broken Boosey & Goldfields Birds
This spiral bound book covers birds of the plains and Box-Ironbark regions of he Goulburn Broken Catchment. Most of the featured birds are also found around Echuca-Moama. Several government departments and non-government bodies worked together with the Broken Boosey Conservation Management Network and the Whroo Goldfields Conservation Management Network to produce this booklet which is aimed at land managers.


Gisela Kaplan and Lesley Rogers, Birds: their habits and skills
Did you know that galahs rear their young in crèches or that female zebra finches can identify the voice of their father? These are just a few of the interesting facts in this amazing book about bird behaviour. It is a great book for those interested in native birds because it supplements field guides such as the Morcombe Guide or the Pizzey Guide mentioned above.

Some of the claims made in this work have been questioned recently on "BirdingAus", an Internet email forum, e.g. is there sufficient evidence that some lyrebirds imitate a chain saw. Some forum contributors have argued that claims made in this text should be more clearly attributed to the source material. Perhaps some of these criticisms can be addressed if a second edition is ever published. These criticisms should not deter one from purchasing the work.


David Hollands, Owls: journeys around the world
The book describes an odyssey by David Hollands, who visited 12 sites and six continents to photograph owls.

The work deals with 21 species of the 205 owl species. David's photography is magnificent. Published by Bloomings Books, Melbourne. Available from BOCA's Blue Wren Gift Ship and the Birds Australia Shop for around $60 less member's discount.

David has published a number of books on Owls and Birds of the Night.


Note: A number of brochures have been published featuring birds of various regions. Brochures on the birds of Echuca-Moama and of the Gunbower area are available from local visitor information centres.

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Echuca and District Branch of Bird Observation & Conservation Australia's home page


Books about : SE Australia's plains

VNPA, Plains Wandering
Plains Wandering is a book about the grassy plains of south-eastern Australia. Many of the photographs were taken around Echuca and near Terricks (Mitiamo), site of Victoria's newest national park (incorporating the former State Park plus surrounding grasslands).

The book explains what the inland plains were like 200 years ago and explains why most of the grasslands have been lost. There are excellent photos of the plants which grow on the northern plains and in the southern Riverina. Produced by the Victorian National Parks Association in conjunction with Trust for Nature and Bush Care, this book should be regarded as a sister volume to Victoria's Forgotten Forests, a book on the box-ironbark forests which border the grassy plains.

Neil and Jane Marriott have also released a book on the plants of the Victoria's Western and Northern Plains.

Neither book goes into detail on the birdlife or mammals of the region, concentrating on the plants.


Dr Chris Tzaros, Wildlife of the Box-Ironbark Country
A former Bendigo resident, Chris Tsaros has produced a wonderful book on the forests and woodlands of Victoria's Box-Ironbark forests, which support a diversity of books and other animals. Chris has long been involved in the protection of endangered birds and habitats.

The book features detailed descriptions of 249 species and a guide to 16 key parks and reserves. The text lists the significant plants and animals which are found in each of the 16 reserves

A CD featuring bird calls comes with the book.

A map of box-ironbark parks is incorrectly numbered; the correctly numbered map can be downloaded from CSIRO Publishing's web site.

Unfortunately the book does not have a detailed index.

Available through CSIRO Publishing 1300 788 000


Dr Doug Robinson and others, A Wildlife Guide for Landholders in the plains and Box-ironbark regions of the Goulburn Broken Catchment
As the title suggests, this spiral bound booklet aims to help land managers to identify some of fish, fogs, reptiles, mammals and birds found in the Goulburn Broken Catchment. A number of government and non-government bodies worked together to fund the publication.


Natural Resources Commission NSW, Final Assessment Report and Recommendations Report, Riverina Bioregion Regional Forest Assessment, River Red Gums and Woodland Forests
These two associated volumes outline public forest wetlands in southern (Riverina) New South Wales. The assessment report contains lots of tables, maps, diagrams and coloured photographs. The recommendations volume is slimmer and recommends which State Forests should become national parks or regional parks and which State Forests should either be covenanted or remain as multi-use forests.

These books are similar to the reports produced a few years ago by the Victorian Environmental Assessment Council which has resulted in the creation of a number of national parks and reserves on the Victorian side of the State border.


Weeds of the North Central Region ~ a field identification guide
The North Central Catchment Management Authority (Victoria) has produced a booklet listing environmental weeds of north-central Victoria. The guide mainly addresses weeds which are declared under Victoria's Catchment and Land Protection Act 1994 and those which currently have a substantial impact on agriculture or environmental values. It does not cover invasive tree species in any detail.

This guide distinguishes between 'State Prohibited', 'Regionally Prohibited' and 'Regionally Controlled' weeds. There are coloured photographs of the weeds and symbols indicate how they spread. It is alarming to note that some weeds which could cause terrible problems if not controlled are yet to be 'declared', e.g. Cabomba and Parrot's Feather. The guide is available from North Central CMA.


David Lindemayer and others, Woodlands: a disappearing landscape
For centuries, the woodlands of eastern Australia have supported a range of native plants and animals. But they are being lost. In some cases, only small remnants remain.

It is important that we protect and enhance remnant woodlands. The book features photographs by Esther Beaton. Available from CSIRO Publishing. $39.95

David also maintains a web site (see links page).

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Books about : indigenous plants

G.M. Cunningham et al, Plants of Western New South Wales
This is a thick volume containing photos and descriptions of grasses, shrubs and trees found on the western plains of NSW.

City of Greater Bendigo and Bendigo Native Plant Group, Indigenous Plants of Bendigo
An illustrated guide to the plants of the box-ironbark forests around Bendigo, including the Whipstick and Kamarooka, this publication is aimed at the home gardener and those interested in Bendigo area plants.

Leon Costermans, Native Trees and Shrubs of South-eastern Australia
Long a best seller, this is a comprehensive guide to some 900 species.

John W Wrigley and Murray Fagg, Australian Native Plants
Long a best seller, this book has been revised and has a new lay out. Over 1,000 colour photographs are included in the latest edition. Around $100

There are some other books about Echuca area plants mentioned in the plants section.

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Books about : native animals


Peter Menkhorst, A field guide to the Mammals of Australia
This book provides a concise and accurate details of the appearance, diagnostic features, distribution, habitat and key behavioural characteristics of Australia's mammals. Peter is the person who has revised the Pizzey field guide to Australian birds.

This guide is available through CSIRO Publishing 1300 788 000,


Michael Braby, The complete guide to Butterflies of Australia
416 Australian butterflies are described in this book. It claims to cover all known Butterfly species. It is one of few books covering our Butterflies, possibly the only one.

This book fills a void. Available from CSIRO Publishing 1300 788 000.


Steve Wilson and Gerry Swan, A complete guide to Reptiles of Australia
This comprehensive field guide covers not only snakes, lizards and geckoes but crocodiles, turtles and skinks.

Around $50. Available from CSIRO Publishing 1300 788 000.


Michael Tyler and Frank Knight, Field Guide to the Frogs of Australia
This comprehensive field guide covers all known Australian frogs.

Around $45. Available from CSIRO Publishing 1300 788 000.


CSIRO Publishing also has field guides on: Stick and Leaf insects of Australia, and Dragonflies.


Graham Pizzey, A Separate Creation
Graham wrote many books during his lifetime. This one, which by now is surely out of print, contains extracts from the diaries of explorers and early settlers about the Australian wildlife they observed. The book illustrates the sad and dramatic changes which have occurred since European settlement. See if your local library can find a copy.

This page was created in April 1997 and revised February 2006, December 2009 and January 2010.


Barbra Triggs, Tracks, scats and other traces
Sometimes the only clue that an animal resides in an area is its tracks, scats or scratchings. Several editions of this classic book have been published over the past few decades.

Around $40. Available through CSIRO Publishing 1300 788 000,


There are links to several good web sites in the animals section.

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Books about : sustainability & climate

Several of the following are texts about global warming. But there's a great documentary about the topic too. Al Gore, who came close to being president of the USA, has produced a film on global warming called An Inconvenient Truth. It is a film which should be watched by everyone, including politicians and policy makers.

Tim Flannery, We are the Weather Makers
climate change booksTim Flannery 's earlier book The Weather Makers, which deals with the challenge and ecological impacts of global warming, became an international best seller, spearheading popular awareness of global warming. There is ample evidence that global warming is under way and its impact is likely to be horrendous.

We are the Weather Makers is a concise and revised edition that presents the facts about climate change to an even wider range of readers. In this passionate book Tim reminds us that climate connects us all, from the Arctic to the Outback. And our climate is influenced by how we choose to live; how we use our fuels, our water and our land.

Unfortunately, there are a handful of influential people who do not accept that governments must make a concerted effort to arrest global warming and that this involves huge cuts to greenhouse gas emissions. The Australian prime minister argues that Australia contributes less greenhouse gases to the atmosphere than some other countries. The fact of the matter is that on a per head of population basis, Australians are the biggest polluters of all! If the leaders of smaller nations accept this view then we cannot less-developed nations like China which contribute relatively little greenhouse gas per head of population, but much in total, to take action. All governments and all of us should try to reduce the output of gases which contribute to global warming.

Tim argues that whilst consumers have an important role to play, politicians and companies also have an important role. In particular, it is necessary to address the issue of pollution from coal-burning power stations. It is possible that a 70% reduction in greenhouse gases could be achieved, stabilising the Earth's climate. In reality, the 70% target is an immense challenge and if action is not taken we can expect greater climatic extremes, rising sea levels, economic and social upheaval and environmental refugees.

The new, revised edition is much cheaper than the original. (Text Publishing, $19.95)


A Barrie Pittock, Climate Change: the science impacts and solutions
This text also deals with the challenge and ecological impacts of global warming. Barrie, one of Australia's leading scientists in atmospheric research, was a senior scientist with the CSIRO for over 30 years. He argues that we need to act urgently to avoid increasingly severe, and possibly sudden, climatic changes. Unless immediate and drastic action is taken in all countries, Barrie predicts that most of Australia will become hotter and drier. Few books are as rigorous. This quality text book can (and should) be used by lay people as well as scientists.

* Unlike another recently-published book by a climate-change skeptic which contains misleading statements, Barrie's book is based on scientific papers and findings.


Ian Lowe, A Big Fix: radical solutions for Australia's environmental crisis
Professor Ian Lowe's book complements "The Weather Makers" but is a slimmer volume, dealing with a range of environmental issues. Climate change is covered in a few pages. There are other issues of concern: salinity, the loss of biodiversity, resource depletion.

We face a crisis and solutions need to be applied on a massive scale. Rectification will take years. Unless bureaucrats and politicians act now, we may soon be beyond the point of no return.

Professor Lowe believes that Australians in particular are living in a consumer-orientated manner which is unsustainable in the long-run. (Black, $16.95)


Dr Ron Nielsen, "The Little Green Handbook" ~ A guide to critical global trends
A physicist, Dr Ron Nielsen's guide outlines some alarming scientific research on the state of the planet: destructive climate change; the depletion of energy, food and fish stocks; a looming shortage of fresh water and social chaos. He argues that the human race is facing extinction in a matter of decades and will run out of some critical resources in just a few years.

The Little Green Handbook, which examines the ecological limits of human life on earth, warns that, for the first time in human history, we are approaching these limits and, in some cases, have already crossed them. The research is wide-ranging, looking not just at deterioration of our physical environment but at social, economic and political trends. His aim was "to analyse the problem, present the problem as it is and then leave to the people to use their intelligence and their initiative to do something about it."

As far as global consumption is concerned, which includes food and energy and material resources, Dr Nielsen believes we are already over the limit, having reached the limit around 1975-76.

He argues that we can't solve everything but we must immediately take steps to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases, of carbon dioxide and develop alternative sources of energy, we have to do it much faster and much more energetically.

New research, which he doesn't mention in the book because it is just the latest research, shows that we are changing acidity of the oceans. In an interview on ABC radio, Dr Nielsen said that "this will have devastating affect on life in oceans, on coral reefs, and again on protection of coastal regions; we have strong influence on our planet, and this is probably the area which might bring us to our knees".

In an interview on ABC radio, Dr Nielsen said "we are facing the problem of our survival for the first time in the history of the human race; we have many things which are happening which threaten our survival on this planet." (Scribe; available from CSIRO Publishing, $35).

Jenny Goldie, Bob Douglas and Bryan Furnass, In Search of Sustainability
Australian leaders from a range of fields discuss the key issues Australians should address if we are to maintain any thing like our present population at something resembling our present standard of living.

The search for a genuine path to sustainability is imperative. The book, published late in 2004, is available from CSIRO Publishing 1300 788 000.


Ian Lowe, Living in the Hothouse: how global warming affects Australia
Climate change is upon us. This well-indexed book has 230 pages of facts, stories and an action programme which individuals and governments may wish to follow.

We've long been warmed about global warming but Australian governments have chosen to do relatively little until recently. Will governments (and opposition parties) ignore or consider an action plan? (Scribe, $27)


David Yencken and Debra Wilkinson, Resetting the Compass
Australia's first "Chief Scientist", Ralph Slatyer, claims that everyone should read this book, a major contribution to understanding the deterioration of the Earth's life support systems and the urgent need to adopt policies and practices which will lead to a sustainable future.

The book draws on the findings of a large body of scientists. It examines the pressures on our environment from population growth, consumption patterns and technological change. The actions needed to address various problems are identified and detailed. The book is available from CSIRO Publishing 1300 788 000.


Reg Morrison, Plague Species
Reg Morrison poses the questions: 'have we set ourselves apart from the other animals of this planet by a genetic disposition for utter irrationality?'

The book raises the issue of overpopulation and stresses the need for the sustainable use of resources. (New Holland Publishers)


David Suzuki, The Sacred Balance
When, in November 1992,1600 senior scientists released a "Warning to Humanity" that our current practices put at serious plant and animal kingdoms and that our own future is at risk, the media chose to ignore the document. Instead, trivial items occupied the front pages of newspapers. The scientists gave us less than two decades to change our ways. A decade has passed. Suzuki's book suggests we should regard the warning very seriously and take action to help overcome environmental degradation.

The media, Suzuki claims, is dominated by large corporates who may fear that actions to protect the environment may threaten their profits. The media tend to label conservationists in disparaging terms ("do-gooders", "greenies", "anti-progressive forces"). Some members of the media allegedly praise corporations which have paid them large sums ('cash for comment').

Suzuki argues that "The media manta, repeated time after time, is that the real bottom line must be the market place, free trade and the global economy. When the media are dominated by wealth and large corporate interests, this economic faith is like religious dogma and is seldom challenged". Another good argument for a strong and independent ABC and for editorial independence!

David Suzuki argues that we are creatures of the Earth, dependent upon it for air, water and soil. We are also dependent upon the Sun for energy. What replenishes the air, water and soil and captures sunlight to vitalize the biosphere is the diverse web of all beings. Yet this web is being broken down and many plants and animals have become extinct or are facing extinction.

"The key to human survival will probably be the local community. If we can create vibrant, increasingly autonomous and self-reliant local groupings of people that emphasize sharing, co-operation and living lightly on the Earth, we can prevent the fate warned of by Rachel Carson and the world scientists and restore the sacred balance of life." No doubt he would approve of the work being undertaken by Landcare groups and by those who protect our remaining bushland.

David Suzuki's book is available at ABC Shops and good bookstores for around $25. As you would expect, it's printed on recycled paper. ( Allen Unwin Vancouver, Canada)


Mary White, Listen: our land is crying
Dr Mary White, author of "The Greening of Gondwanaland", produced another excellent book: "Listen...Our Land is Crying". This text may be out of print.

Dr White was a at the forefront in expressing concerns about the degradation of our land, resulting in the loss of species, both plant and animal, erosion and increasing salinity. Instead of trying to produce food for millions of people in other parts of the world, we would be better off in the long run by trying to be merely self-sufficient in agriculture, and earn income from tourism and other sources. Dr White is pessimistic about our chance of repairing or even halting the destruction of our country. The "she'll be right" attitude is not good enough. She is critical of proposals to grow cotton along Cooper Creek and gives a compelling argument for the status quo.

This is a book every Australian really should read, especially politicians and those who advocate we increase our population. After reading this book, one doubts whether Australia could support millions more people at our present standard of living and quality of life. (Kangaroo Press, Kenthurst NSW)


Tim Lowe, Feral Future
Tim Lowe argues that we are experiencing an ecological tragedy which is a greater threat than "the greenhouse" or "ozone depletion", the spread of introduced dominant weeds, the Macdonaldisation of our ecology.

Organisms like the giant sea worm, cane toad, blackberries, fox, rabbit, carp, bridal creeper and Cape weed are displacing native species. By promoting invasive plants, gardeners and nurseries are doing more damage to our environment than miners!


Tim Flannery, The Future Eaters
Tim Flannery traces the history of Australia and its neighbours over the past 100,000 years or so and points out the impact mankind has had on our continent. To quote Robyn Williams (of the ABC), it is "one of those landmark works that comes along so rarely". The work has been made into a television series. Subsequently Tim has written a number of other books which have become best-sellers, including We are the Weather Makers (see review above).

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Books about : Geology

David Johnson, The geology of Australia
Australia's geological diversity is featured in this book. Geological terms and processes are described. Australia's geological evolution is described. The book is illustrated with a variety of geological reconstructions, diagrams, landform pictures and sketches. There is little coverage of our region: even the Cadell fault is not covered.

This book is cheaper in paperback ($70) than hard cover ($150). Published and distributed by Cambridge University Press.


E.S. Hills, Physiography of Victoria
This text was printed many decades ago but is still useful.It has a very good section accounting for the formation of Barmah-Millewa Forest. It may be available for loan through larger libraries.


W. D. Birch, Geology of Victoria
This text tells the story of Victoria's geology and is richly illustrated. Broad in its scope, it covers a range of areas and is intended both for those with a background in geology and the general reader. It is available through Information Victoria bookshop for about $200.

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Book sales : on-line sites

Many of the books listed above are available from:

Information Victoria Bookshop

CSIRO Publishing

BOCA's Blue Wren Gift Shop

The Birding Shop

Andrew Isles Natural History Books

VNPA On-line Book Sales



new BOCA logo
Echuca and District Branch, Bird Observation & Conservation Australia

Birding Books


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