Nature of Australia

John Vandenbeld, the executive producer of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, has been involved with many award-winning wildlife films. NATURE OF AUSTRALIA is one of his strongest statements on the natural development of the Australian continent. The book contains a large number of stunning photographs of the unique creatures that have evolved over millions of years. Each photograph has an illuminating caption that makes this volume an easy book to browse through.

NATURE OF AUSTRALIA is divided into six sections, ranging from “A Separate Creation"--which delineates how Australia broke off from a larger land mass some 150 million years ago--through to “The End of Isolation"--which describes the impact European settlement has had on the delicate ecological system. The narrative in between is amazing; there is a new and wonderful story at the turning of every page. In fact, all the detail found in NATURE OF AUSTRALIA may be too overwhelming to absorb in one continuous reading. This is a marvelous book to go back to over and over again.

The welfare of Australia is taken up in the last section. The aboriginal settlers are thought to have landed on the continent fifty thousand years ago. Their impact on the ecological system has been slight, except for their setting of fires in a ritualistic tradition. The introduction of European settlers, however, has left Australia facing the possibility of environmental ruin. Since two-thirds of the land is either arid or semiarid, overgrazing and lack of proper water conservation could be disastrous. Rabbits, sheep, and cows compete for grasslands with some of the most distinctive wild creatures to exist anywhere. After reading NATURE OF AUSTRALIA, one can only hope that level heads will find a way for this island continent to make peace with its past as it rushes into the twenty-first century.