Exploring, Scouting & Travel Books

bushtuckermanThe Bush Tucker Man: Stories of Exploration and Survival by Les Hiddins, 1996

A companion book to the series, this one steps away from bush tucker for bush tucker’s sake and concentrates on historical stories of survival and of Australia’s early European explorers. It’s a series of ripping yarns delivered in Les Hiddins’ familiar no-nonsense way. Click on the cover to go to Amazon.com.

art-of-travelThe Art of Travel: or, Shifts and Contrivances Available in Wild Countries by Francis Galton, 1864 (Third Edition)

Galton’s Third Edition of The Art of Travel is seen as the best. If ever there was a fair dinkum explorer’s handbook this would have to be it, and there’s good evidence that several of the European Australian exploration parties used it as a handbook. It was so good that large parts of it were co-opted into an early edition of Marcy’s The Prairie Traveler, a North American handbook of the same era covering the same sort of material. Click on the cover to go to Amazon.com.

shiftsShifts and Expedients of Camp Life, Travel and Exploration by William Lord and Thomas Baines, 1871

If Galton’s The Art of Travel was the explorer’s handbook, then Shifts and Expedients of Camp Life, Travel and Exploration was the explorer’s bible. Lord and Baines were the real deal, exploring all over Africa as well as Northern Australia and parts of Asia and North America. Flick the book open to any of its 800-odd pages and you’ll find something interesting or useful. These blokes were way ahead of their time in many cases, giving instructions for building a steampunk RIB (rigid inflatable boat). There’s even instructions for building your own Kelly kettle in this book – and that’s just for starters. Click on the cover to go to Amazon.com.

prairieThe Prairie Traveler: A Hand-Book for Overland Expeditions by Randolph B Marcy, 1858

This was THE handbook for American pioneers and settlers from “back east” heading west. It’s similar to British explorer Francis Galton’s The Art of Travel, but includes much North America-specific information such as routes and distances along with hints and tips for provisioning, travel, security, defence against the restless natives who didn’t appreciate the swarm of settlers sweeping over their land and defence against outlaws.  Click on the cover to go to Amazon.com.

aids-to-scoutingAids to Scouting for NCOs & Men by Lieutenant General Sir Robert Baden-Powell KCB, 1915

First published in 1899 while Baden-Powell was in South Africa conducting the defence of Mafeking, then under siege by Boer forces. Aids to Scouting is the book that kicked off the Boy Scout movement. This is a reprint of the 1915 edition, and contains much-expanded material. Despite the title, this book is not about helping little old ladies cross the road. It’s about military scouting and reconnaissance and much of the methodology covered was taught to Baden-Powell by the famous scout FR Burnham. Click on the cover to go to Amazon.com.

front-bookThe Frontiersman’s Pocket-Book by Roger Pocock, 1909

The Legion of Frontiersmen was a paramilitary organisation established in 1905 dedicated to providing a trained and experienced auxiliary force of scouts and irregular units for the defence of the British Empire and its Dominions. Made up of frontiersmen, explorers, prospectors, soldiers, sailors, stockmen and bushmen, the membership of the Legion of Frontiersmen included such famous names as Frederick Selous and Ion L. Idriess among others. The Frontiersman’s Pocket-Book is packed with old-style bush living and survival skills. Click on the cover to go to Amazon.com.


through-a-land-of-promiseThrough a Land of Promise: With Gun, Car and Camera in the Heart of Northern Australia 
by Michael Terry, 1927

Michael Terry F.R.G.S., F.R.A.I., F.R.C.I. was the last major explorer of the Australian interior. In the 1920s and 1930s, Terry undertook no less than fourteen expeditions through central and northern Australia by truck and later by camel. Michael Terry’s expeditions opened up much of the previously untraversed country in Australia’s “dead heart” and “top end”. It is for this reason that the books describing his various expeditions are much sought-after by modern Australian outback 4WD travellers. Through a Land of Promise describes in terrific detail the 1925 expedition from Darwin in the Northern Territory to Broome in Western Australia in Terry’s typical Boys Own style. Click on the cover to go to createspace.com.