Reviewed by Roger Lembit
Bushwalker and historian, Andy Macqueen’s, new book is about people who have travelled through and lived in or around the Wollemi wilderness. The Wollemi wilderness extends across about 4,250 square kilometres covering most of Wollemi National Park and a small part of Blue Mountains National Park, north of Bells Line of Road in the northern Blue Mountains. It forms part of the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area.
This book is about a selection of people and their travels in, and relationship to, this vast area of wild land. It covers early explorers, surveyors, settlers and cattle runners and adventurers, as well as a selection of those who fought to have the land secured from development and included within the NSW reserve system.
As a fellow traveller through this country, the book opened my eyes to past wayfarers, to the ways they have traversed the country and their attitudes toward this awesome, yet difficult, landscape.
It is skilfully written, filled with an extensive knowledge of the history and geomorphology of Wollemi. The stories of early European travels and travails through this land are captivating. Andy rightly draws attention to prior occupation of this land and the failure of some to acknowledge Aboriginal presence and their role in aiding these new people to access the many pathways across and within this area.
Andy has previously written books of historical travels through other part of the Greater Blue Mountains. This book is an important addition to the collection. It has certainly re-awakened my interest in this wilderness.
Wayfaring in Wollemi
Price: $40 (inc postage)
The Wollemi Pine is a member of the family Araucariaceae, which also includes the Norfolk Island Pine, Hoop Pine, Bunya and Kauri. This family is an important component of the southern hemisphere conifers. The Wollemi, despite being the most primitive member of the family, was only discovered recently, in 1994. Its current native distribution is restricted to remote canyons in the Wollemi National Park, north-west of Sydney. Extensive research and propagation work has led to its wide availability through nurseries. The native population is at risk of extinction, partly due to the pathogenic fungus Phytophthora sp.