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Part 2: Books from 1946 to 1969

More stories of northern Australia and the islands, and more on prospecting. This also includes some detailed anthropology and more futurology.

    In Crocodile Land Wandering in Northern Australia 1946

Another story of Idriess's own travels across Queensland and the Northern Territory, fishing, hunting and trading.

    Isles of Despair 1947

Another of Idriess's stories drawn from the history and legends of the Torres Strait Islands, to the north of Australia. This title tells the true story of Barbara Thompson, a European shipwrecked on the Islands in the 1840s, who spent five years living as a "Lamar". She was taken as a wife by Boroto, the chief of Murralug (Prince of Wales Island).

    The Opium Smugglers A true story of our northern seas 1947

A young boy's observations of Chinese opium smuggling on Cape York, northern Queensland. (It has been noted that the second edition of this title was published in 1951, not 1957 as appears in some editions.)

    Stone of Destiny 1948

A story of diamond mining and exploration in Australia. Not listed in the Mining and Prospecting series. Later edition titled The Diamond - Stone of Destiny. This book describes how alluvial tin miners of the 19th century in Queensland's Granite Belt picked fine diamonds out of the tin gravels. The majority, "well-shaped, rounded, smooth, generally good coloured under a filmy yellowish coat... shapely dodecahedrons, larger than most Australian stones."

  One Wet Season One Wet Season 1949

Stories about people in Derby and the Kimberley region of north-west Western Australia during the three month tropical wet season.

  The Wild White Man of Badu The Wild White Man of Badu A story of the Coral Sea 1950

Another Torres Strait Islands story. This title centres around the true experiences of "Wini" or "Wongai", an escaped European convict shipwrecked on the Islands, who elevated himself to a position of power, and terrorised both the Islanders and Europeans.

    Across the Nullarbor A modern argosy 1951

The Nullarbor is the treeless plain separating the inhabited areas of South Australia and Western Australia. The name is not Aboriginal, as often thought, but Latin (null arbor, meaning "no trees"). This is the story of Idriess's own drive across the Nullarbor from Perth to Melbourne in a Peugeot 203, a distance of some 3,700 km, and quite a feat on the unsealed roads of the early 1950s! Idriess visited the city of Colac in Victoria on this trip (where my family lived at the time), and signed some copies of his books that were on the shelf of the local newsagent. (We collected two of these shortly afterward.)

    Outlaws of the Leopolds 1952

The Leopold ranges are in the Kimberley area of northern Western Australia. The "outlaws" in this case were indigenous Australians. This is a story of police pursuit and capture; an "imaginative biography", told from the aboriginal point of view. See also Over the Range and Man Tracks.

  The Red Chief The Red Chief As told by the last of his tribe 1953

A story of Australian Aboriginal life and military strategy in New South Wales before European settlement.

    The Nor'-westers 1954

Another story of pioneering in the Kimberley region of Western Australia.

    The Vanished People 1955

For many years, it was believed that Australia's indigenous people were literally dying out, and would disappear completely. Idriess was driven by a need to chronicle their existence and culture before it was too late; this is basically a work of social anthropology. This theme was picked up again in Idriess's 1960s titles, Our Living Stone Age and Our Stone Age Mystery.

    The Silver City 1956

A history of Broken Hill, the silver-lead-zinc mining town built in the desert of western New South Wales, and the BHP mining company behind it. Due to its proximity to Adelaide, this town developed more as part of South Australia.

    Coral Sea Calling Pioneer tales of Australia's northern waters 1957

More of Idriess's own experiences.

  Back o' Cairns Back o' Cairns The story of gold prospecting in the far north 1958

Experiences and stories from northern Queensland.

  The Tin Scratchers The Tin Scratchers The story of tin mining in the far north 1959

Experiences and stories of tin miners from northern Queensland.

    The Wild North 1960

Stories of the North of Australia.

    Tracks of Destiny 1961

The development of northern Australia - the Kimberleys and the Northern Territory. History and future possibilities, based on Idriess's travel and anecdotes.

    My Mate Dick 1962

More stories and anecdotes of prospecting in Queensland. Refer also Men of the Jungle.

    Our Living Stone Age 1963

Another work of popular anthropology - refer also The Vanished People. This title and Our Stone Age Mystery effectively tell the story over two parts.

    Our Stone Age Mystery 1964

The second part to Our Living Stone Age.

    Challenge of the North Wealth from Australia's northern shores 1969

Idriess's last book, written and published when he was 79. The ideas in this book were tested with a number of authorities of the day, and just before publication, further developments convinced Jack that the ideas were not really very far-fetched. Conservation was just emerging as a driver of sustainable development, core to many of the ideas recorded here. These included:

  • Tourist villages built underneath the water in the Great Barrier Reef.
  • A fish trap built across the Gulf of Carpentaria.
  • Fish farming, including farming of dugongs and pearl-oysters for meat.
  • Tidal power generation in the Kimberleys, using the massive tidal rise and fall in some of the narrow-necked bays and estuaries, providing power for the then-new mining developments in the Pilbara.
  • Harvesting of seaweed for food, fertiliser and chemical production.
  Updated: 27 Aug 2003 To Top    

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