Wild Times Down Under
In this splendid illustrated travelogue, the author realises his dream of travelling in search of antipodean birds and other exotic wildlife by first hitchhiking around New Zealand before moving on to Australia. Armed with a backpack, a pair of binoculars and a sketchbook, Hanlon meets up with many wild animals and also has his fair share of adventures. Truly wild times down under!
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Author: James Hanlon
Publisher: Brambleby Books
Year of Publication: 15 September 2011
Format and Pages: Paperback, 250pp + 16pp illustrations
Retail Price: £12.99
Our Discount Price: £6.50
Sample text from Backpacker Naturalist
My desire to visit Thailand gave way to a single-minded desire to travel to Australia and New Zealand. Why these particular countries I’m not entirely sure, but more than 200,000 young travellers visit Australia each year, 25% of them from the UK and Ireland. According to one recent survey, Australia and New Zealand together represent the destinations of choice for up to half of all gap year students travelling from Europe, ahead of other popular destinations such as Thailand and the USA. According to foreign office statistics, some 2,000 British travellers recently ‘lost’ their passport in Australia in a 12-month period. It seems a favourable climate, tourist-friendly approach and friendly locals all prove a big draw to the lands down under. So too is the fact that both countries are English-speaking. Unlike the Australian High Commission in London that is. Whatever language the staff in that particular building understands, it does not appear to be English. Getting a working holidaymaker’s visa in London to visit and work in Australia turned out to be about as easy as finding a licensed London taxi cab prepared to go south of the river after midnight on New Year’s Eve. I eventually gave up, settling for a New Zealand visa instead. I could always get one for Australia once I was in the right hemisphere. ...
New Zealand is sometimes said to consist of not two, but three islands. The third is Stewart Island, an hour’s ferry journey from the south end of the country’s South Island across the Foveaux Strait. Despite its large area of nearly 1,800km2, Stewart Island has a population of just 400 people, confined largely to the shores of Halfmoon Bay in the picturesque port of Oban. The island itself was ‘discovered’ by Captain Cook in the 18th century but Cook thought it was part of the South Island and named it simply ‘South Cape’. Quite how he missed the 30 or so kilometres of sea separating it from the mainland seems a mystery to me, though that’s easy for me to say, I know. I guess he just sailed the wrong way round the island. ...
At Airlie Beach we stayed at a hostel called Magnum’s, from where I explored the local area to find woodswallows and Peaceful Doves feeding around the resort. In the grounds of the hostel itself an Australian Brush-turkey – the first of several I encountered in the area – foraged among the cabins and a Green Tree Snake – surprisingly the first snake I’d seen outside of England – slipped away quietly when I approached it. At night, geckos scurried around the walls of the cabin, as always providing excellent entertainment value. When you’re a naturalist in a foreign land there is always something of interest, no matter where you go.
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Reviews and readers' comments
Back-packers, particularly with an interest in wildlife, will love this lively travelogue. Australia & New Zealand Magazine, Jan. 2012
... Wine, women and song feature significantly. But there are also many encounters with birds, cetaceans, seals, dingoes and the like. And the reader contemplating similar notions of going it alone 'down under' will glean much information... Birding World, Jan 2012
...If you're yearning for travel and adventure, sit back with a copy of 'Backpacker Naturalist' to learn, discover and brighten your day. It's the next best thing to the real thing! Dr. Robert Davis, Biologist and Lecturer at ECU, Perth, Australia, March 2012
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