Book Review – A Wide and Open Land: Walking the Last of Western Sydney’s Woodlands

Author: Peter Ridgeway (2022)

Reviewer: Julie Sheppard, Macarthur Branch

The author has, in this book, achieved a long held ambition to document what most Sydney-siders have on their doorstep but barely acknowledge, value or respect. “Cumberland Plain” is a term few recognise or understand (“Cumberland Plain Woodland” even less so). The natural features of the region, its unique geology, flora and fauna are being obliterated at a terrifying pace – The conquest of the Cumberland Plain is the largest construction project ever undertaken in the Southern Hemisphere. Every minute more than 100 tonnes of concrete and aggregate is laid in the rural valley of the Plain, 8 tonnes a year for every man, woman and child. (p.2)

Book Review – The Nutmeg’s Curse

By Amitav Ghosh, The Nutmeg’s Curse, Parables for a Planet in Crisis, John Murray 2021

Review by NPA Book Club

Some of us knew Ghosh as a fiction writer with a Bengali background and nature friendly perspective. Here he takes a scholarly and passionate approach to the current crisis of imminent planetary collapse. He begins with the Dutch finding nutmeg in the Banda islands in the 17th century and their subsequent dispossession and extermination of the human inhabitants.

Book Review: The Blue Mountains. Exploring landscapes shaped by the underlying rocks, uplift and erosion

Authors: Peter Hatherly and Ian Brown (2022)

Review by Roger Lembit, NPA Member

On my first walk in the Blue Mountains with the school bushwalking club over 50 years ago one of the teachers pointed to the railway cutting at Glenbrook Station. ‘There is a volcanic dyke running through this section of the Lapstone Monocline’ he said. I have been fortunate to have travelled widely through the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area in subsequent years, for pleasure, and for work, awed by the diversity of the landscape and the plants.

Book Review: Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer

Reviewed by Talara Blackwood, a guest at NPA Book Club

Braiding Sweetgrass truly is a book like no other. Each chapter is its own unique journey told in Kimmerer’s whimsical storytelling structure (which some readers mentioned initially struggling to follow). 

Book Review: Gum: The story of eucalypts and their champions by Ashley Hay

First Published 2002. Updated edition published 2021.

Review by the NPA’s Environmental Book Group

Eucalypts are a special group of plants that most represent the character of the Australian bush. This book was discussed by the Group at its meeting on 14 March. It tells the history of the development of knowledge of eucalypts and their place in the broader story of Australia and the world. The period covered is from Cook’s 1770 voyage to 2020, with a look to the future. It also recognises long standing First Nation knowledge, culture, and practices. The narrative is told mainly as the story of “champions” and their contributions in exploring, collecting, exporting, drawing, painting, studying, classifying, writing about, promoting, and conserving eucalypts.

Book Review: The Sea Around Us by Rachel Carson

First edition published 1951. 3rd edition published 2018.

Reviewed by Mike Pickles.

Since the publication in 1951 of Rachel Carson’s epic tribute to the ocean, more has been learned about the nature of the ocean and why it matters to the existence of life on Earth than had been learned in prior human history.’ So reads the opening paragraph of the introduction to the 2018 reprint of the book by Sylvia Earle, a marine biologist and Geographic Society Explorer in Residence with several books on the ocean to her name.