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The Explorers: Stories of Discovery and Adventure from the Australian Frontier Paperback – October 30, 2000

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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

There are few things more interesting than reading the actual words of explorers. These are the people who witness history at its creation, and through their eyes (and words) we can truly travel back in time. Imagine, then, the experiences of explorers seeing the spectacularly beautiful continent of Australia for the first time. After a long sea voyage, they come upon a land inhabited by a culture that has been on Earth longer than any other. Struggling to find similarities with their homelands, they give this wild country names that reflect their heritage but know all the while that they have ventured into something completely unknown to them. Detailing events from the 1606 discovery of "Nova Guinea" to a solo camel ride through the outback in 1977, the 67 stories in this anthology often read like science fiction and sizzle with suspense. Flannery's (Throwim' Way Leg) thoughtful introduction and his comprehensive bibliography are alone almost worth the price of the book. All libraries will do their patrons a favor by offering them this collection of firsthand accounts of the taming of a challenging continent.AJoseph L. Carlson, Lampoc P.L., CA
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

The conquest and settlement of Australia proves just as exciting as the conquest and settlement of North America, as readers will behold in this engrossing anthology prepared by Flannery, the director of the South Australia Museum. He has gathered 67 excerpts from a variety of accounts of Australian exploration, each one offering "the experience of being a fly on the wall at exemplary moments in Australian history" and each one, with a single exception, written by an eyewitness. The chronology ranges from 1606, when Willem Jansz (commanding a Dutch ship) paid the first authenticated visit to Australia by a European, to 1977, when a physician by the name of W. J. Peasley took his four-wheel-drive vehicle out into the Gibson Desert during severe drought conditions to rescue an elderly Aboriginal couple. In between are such interesting stories as the first European to obtain evidence of the existence of the koala (in 1802) and an 1848 narrative by an Aborigine about the tragic end of the John Kennedy Cape York expedition. Brad Hooper
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Grove Press; 1st American ed edition (October 30, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802137199
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802137197
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #420,859 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Darby Higgs on November 24, 2000
Format: Paperback
Look at a map of Australia. The interior of the continent will be marked with rivers, lakes and localities. But if you go there the rivers will be dry, the lakes just salt and the localities just a handfull of people. This collection of first impressions by the first Europeans to see this wide brown land reveals their awe at the beauty and terror of the alien and essentially empty landscape.
Drawn from journals, diaries and archives, these pieces convey the struggle for survival of Europeans in an environment where they were physically and culturally at a loss. The descriptions of early contacts with Aboriginal Australians written by the explorers themselves contain valuable insights into attitudes which informed the initial gropings for understanding across a vast cultural divide. As such they provide a sobering backdrop to inform us of the factual, cultural and emotional origins of the reconciliation movement in Australia.
Flannery lets the pieces speak for themselves with minimal introductions to set the scene. The result is a readable and moving story, and good history at the same time.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By choiceweb0pen0 VINE VOICE on April 13, 2004
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is an anthology of excerpts from Australian Explorers journals ranging from early sixteenth century European Explorers to Australians in the early 20th century. Flannery's introduction for each provides an excellent, concise biography and set up to each explorer's excerpt. In many of the excerpts, an explorer faces death and disaster. The most intriguing initially was Charles Sturt writing of his attempt to find the mythical lake in the center of Australia. He brings a boat, experiences weather so hot it bursts a thermometer his party carries, they suffer from extreme scurvy, and Sturt's desire to be the first to reach the center of Australia. The second explorer I read in this collection was Ernest Giles. His except focuses on an expedition with his assistant Gibson, who goes for help and manages to get lost, and then Giles slowly makes his way back to base camp. Reading The Explorers fascinated me enough that I wanted to read more about specific explorers like Giles, but also about Australian explorers in general.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Tony Watson on May 16, 2002
Format: Paperback
What possesses a person to set off into the trackless wastes of Australia, with the almost certain knowledge that death lies waiting to welcome them into his scrawny arms?
Reading this book gives you some of the answers and some of the idea of the pain and suffering undergone by these explorers (and in some cases the hapless Aborigines coerced into seeking water).
There are some amazingly good writers within these pages, quite unexpected when you consider that many of them were ex-convicts or self-taught (and comparing them to some contemporary American explorers); there are some delightful descriptive passages and the occasional bout of whimsy, especially the anecdote of how 'Rocket' got his name - I was in hoots!
An excellent read, which encouraged me to order several old copies of explorers' accounts.
Thoroughly recommended!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on June 2, 2003
Format: Paperback
My only criticism of Flannery's book is that it ends. I found myself wanting to read more of each story. But within a moment of turning to a new chapter, I was engrossed in another adventure. The Explorers is an outstanding selection of historical pieces and a fine example of the editor's art. First-person accounts like this truly offer a window into the minds and times of the people and places involved. (I recommend "Eyewitness to History" for those who enjoy this book.)
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Serious photographer on February 17, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
When I studied history for matriculation in New South Wales back in 1958-1959, there was no subject available to me called "Australian History". The two history subjects available were Ancient History and Modern History. Modern History was, in fact, the history of modern Europe. These days, it seems inconceivable that the school system at matriculation level back then could completely ignore the history of Australia, and the history of its nearest neighbours. Although the European settlement of Australia is relatively recent, the Aboriginal history of Australia covers millennia. The former received scant attention in earlier school years, the latter, none at all. (One presumes that Australian history is now accorded the place it deserves in the school curriculum, and receives a fuller and more balanced treatment). Because of this background, I found Tim Flannery's book of enormous interest. The meagre Australian history once taught consisted of drawing maps of the routes taken by explorers, and little else, or so it seems to fading memory. Tim Flannery relates his own experience: "The men were just names, their journeys snail-trails across paper. No attempt was made to bring exploring to life, perhaps because the inconvenient details about Aborigines and barren wastes would have simply got in the way of the main message: that the Europeans had triumphed". We are indebted to Tim Flannery for redressing the balance in this book, in the course of which we can read some superb writing that would otherwise be hard to come by. Some Australian history may be dull, but the history of exploration, as told by the explorers themselves, is instructive, exciting, and still relevant.
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