Melissa HarperDec 21, 2020
The Ways of the Bushwalker
On Foot in Australia
NewSouth Publishing 2020
Today I talked to Melissa Harper about her book The Ways of the Bushwalker: On Foot in Australia (NewSouth, 2020). Australians have always loved to step out in nature, whether off-track or along a marked route. Bushwalking – an organised long-distance walk in rugged terrain that requires maps and camping equipment, or a family day out – is one of our most popular pastimes. This landmark book, now updated, was the first to delve into its rich and sometimes quirky history.
From the earliest days of European settlement, colonists found pleasure in leisurely strolls through the bush, collecting flowers, sketching, bird watching and picnicking. Yet over time, walking for the sake of walking became the dominant motive. Walking clubs proliferated, railways organised mystery hikes attended by thousands, and Paddy Pallin established his equipment business. Bushwalking – serious walking – was invented.
Whether you are inclined to put on your walking boots and pack your sleeping bag, or would rather stay in a luxury hut, this surefooted and witty book reveals how the ordinary act of walking can become extraordinary.
Melissa Harper is a senior lecturer in communications and arts at the University of Queensland. She has published widely on the history of walking in Australia, including the acclaimed first edition of Ways of the Bushwalker. She wrote the chapter about the billy in Symbols of Australia and is currently working on a history of fine dining.
Bede Haines is a solicitor, specialising in litigation and a partner at Holding Redlich, an Australian commercial law firm. He lives in Sydney, Australia. Known to read books, ride bikes and eat cereal (often). firstname.lastname@example.org.