“Is there any more fulfilling experience than getting back into the natural world, which cradled us human beings into existence?”
This is the question former Australian Greens leader Bob Brown poses in the introduction to his new book Green Nomads: Across Australia’s Wild Places.
Judging by the international growth in eco-tourism – or, if you prefer, “nature tourism” or “green tourism” – many people would answer in the affirmative.
Drinking in the harsh and dusty beauty of sprawling outback landscapes; losing yourself in cool, verdant rainforests; marvelling at turquoise waters at the bottom of rust-coloured ravines. Such experiences are life-affirming, while at the same time reminding us humans that we are but mere specks in a sprawling natural world.
Green Nomads, a glossy, hard-cover book published this month, is full of wild imagery and stories amassed by Brown and partner Paul Thomas during a 19,000km drive taking in Bush Heritage Australia sites across the country. Bush Heritage was established by Brown in 1990, initially to raise funds to save two forest blocks near his old home in Tasmania’s Liffey Valley; now it manages a million hectares of wildlife habitats nationwide.
The two “nomads” began their three-month odyssey at Thomas’s sheep farm overlooking the sea at Randalls Bay near Cygnet, south of Hobart, and travelled to places including South Australia’s Flinders Ranges and Arkaroola, Magnetic Island in the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Park, the Daintree in Far North Queensland, and Apollo Bay north of Melbourne.
Along the way, they camped by billabongs and immersed themselves in the natural environment, getting up close and personal with a range of wildlife, from snakes and lace monitors to brolgas and emus.
Brown’s narrative and anecdotes are interesting and informative, but it is the glossy photographs which are the highlight of Green Nomads – and which should entice many readers to hit the road and explore Australia’s natural wonders themselves. Or, as the author calls it, to “go billabonging”:
“… for going bush is going home to the natural universe – and that’s an experience without equal.”
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