When an informative book captures the attention of a three year old to the same extent that it thrills a bunch of seasoned scientists, you know you have come across a valuable educational resource. The recent release of ‘A Natural History and Field Guide to Australia’s Top End’ caused a flurry of excitement as the nature lovers around me compared images, and recalled their encounters of the wonderful wildlife and natural features found within its pages.
What is strikingly apparent upon the first read is the quality of the photographs and beauty of the lay-out and design. The images not only enable the easy identification of their subjects but, in many cases, provide a snapshot of their key traits and behaviours (yes, there is action in these pages!). After devouring the graphics with great relish, I quickly lost hours perusing the text. Structured logically and written in accessible language, the book can easily be read cover-to-cover but is equally suited as a quick reference. Setting the scene with chapters on the geology, biogeography, seasons and climate of the Top End, the authors have brought together information that was previously found in scattered technical publications. The focus on habitat in the field guide component reinforces the links between species and the need to preserve the natural systems that sustain them. Finally, if the reader needs any additional encouragement to go and experience the natural wonders of the region, a locality guide provides information on where to start.
‘A Natural History and Field Guide to Australia’s Top End’ instils wonder and helps us make sense of our surroundings. It reflects the deep love and understanding the contributors have for the Top End of Australia and is an outstanding example of what passionate collaboration can achieve. I feel extraordinarily lucky to reside in such an amazing region but am even more fortunate to have this talented team of individuals bring it into my home and inspire me to spend more time out amongst it.
Alicia Hogan, Environmental Scientist
Published: Gecko Books, 2014
Softback, full colour, 202 pages