Review of the first edition of 'WILD PLACES' in the 'Weekend Australian', September 23-24, 1983

'Good news for adventurers in search of primordial wilderness'

John Moses

'Looking at the great urban conglomerations of Newcastle, Sydney and Wollongong, almost now a megalopolis, and the spread of population along the coastal fringe, it is almost impossible to believe there are still many places where the primordial Australian wilderness still exists in eastern NSW.

A handsome, beautifully produced book, Wild Places, proves against all the odds, that such areas still exist, and they echo with the evocative sounds of their Aboriginal names: the Budawangs, Jagungal, Binghi, Goobarrangandra, Bimberi. And there is the later European nomenclature: Kosciusko, Genoa, the Macleay Gorges, the Barrington Tops.

The authors are Peter Prineas and Henry Gold, who took the pictures. In black and white, they capture the awesome grandeur of areas still untouched by habitation and agriculture. These are places where exploring humankind may be diminished in scale, but is enriched by the experience.

And on a practical and patriotic note, the book has been entirely produced - printing, typesetting and plate-making - in Australia. This in itself shows a spirit, enterprise, and expertise which matches the authors in writing and taking photographs for it.'

 

An image of walkers in the Budawangs, from Wild Places by Peter Prineas and Henry Gold

Bushwalkers descending towards the Clyde River from Mount Talaterang, Northern Budawang Range. Photograph by Henry Gold.

 

Review of the first edition of 'WILD PLACES' in the 'National Parks Journal', 1983.

'NSW in Black, White and Gold', by Peter Hitchcock, 'National Parks Journal' December 1983, Vol. 27, No. 6.

'Wild Places is an interesting new book which should have wide appeal. In the bookshop the glossy colour jacket and size of this book will not distinguish it from the many other "coffee table" productions adopting the Australian environment as their themes.

But don't judge this book by its cover. The outstanding colour photograph on the jacket is the only colour photograph you get with this book and that may deter the less discerning buyer looking for a glossy picture book. Prineas and Gold have a story to tell that requires a different approach.

Prineas will, of course, be better known in his professional role over the past decade as a defender of the wild places of New South Wales and as an advocate for their protection as national parks. Prineas, who is responsible for the text, presents a very readable and informative statement on wilderness in New South Wales and goes on to describe, often from first-hand experience, the history, environments and threats to the 20 select wild places which he has nominated. The text is generally very accurate and surprisingly objective - surprising, that is, considering Prineas' commitment to the cause of saving our heritage of wild places.

If, then, the text lapses occasionally into a blow by blow account of "how the west was won" (or lost in some cases) and the author's emotions are laid bare, the reader will understand and forgive.

Each of the "wild places" dealt with in some detail is illustrated by separate maps - an essential part of any book which delves into geographic detail. Unfortunately, the maps, which have absorbed many hours of fine cartographic work, are just not up to the standard expected in a special reference of this type. The detail is there but the broader and more important impacts of scale, relativity and status is lacking.

Co-author Henry Gold has a way with words - he converts them to photographs. Gold has already made a name for himself as an outstanding and commited photographer of wild places. His amazing colour photographs of Australian landscapes show up each year in a calendar series and his photographic posters will be known to many.

Wild Places is liberally illustrated with quality duotone photographs. They convey so much in geography and mood of a place that it is easy for the more discerning reader to put aside the initial frustration of not being able to revel in colour illustrations. The photographs are very compatible with and complementary to the text - which is more than can be said for many "coffee table" books on the Australian environment.

Wild Places represents the first authoritative book of its kind on the shrinking wilderness of New South Wales and as such will have immediate appeal to those committed to the cause of wilderness conservation. Hopefully also the book will have appeal to the discerning buyer wishing to discover more of the surprisingly little known wild places in this more densely populated part of Australia.'

 

 

The second (1997) edition of 'Wild Places' was reviewed on the Website 'Bushwalking NSW' By Tom Brennan

'Wild Places is an authoritative history of wilderness and the wilderness movement in eastern New South Wales. First published in 1983, it has been out of print for some time. It has been updated in detail since the passing of the Wilderness Act in 1987, and is excellent reading for those who care about wilderness in NSW.

The first few chapters review the history of man's relationship with wilderness in NSW. Starting from the aboriginal peoples, it traces the arrival of white men, the exploration and expansion of the colony, the subsequent development of interest in conservation in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, finishing with the battles of the '60s and '70s and the eventual passing of the Wilderness Act.

Each of the major wilderness areas has a chapter going into detail on history, landform, geology and flora, although fauna is less well represented. The history in particular is well researched and written.

The text is accompanied by detailed maps of each area, and Henry Gold's black and white photographs. The photos are superb, and alone are worth the price of the book.

Wild Places is a purchase well worthwhile for anyone with an interest in conservation, and those wild places that we all treasure.'

 

 

Learn more about these books by Peter Prineas

Wild Places

 

Katsehamos and the Great Idea

 

Britain's Greek Islands