Inspiration and References


Over the years I've managed to collect a lot of books that have served to inspire all sorts of adventures, from rambles around suburbia to multi day treks around the world. Now I've often thought that I should share some of this information, but then my eyes have glazed over and I've gone back to something more exciting like watching the cricket on the couch! With the cricket not on over Easter I figured that I should knock out something a little coherent about my references..... but I have to warn anyone who has stumbled onto this page this is going to be as dry as the Simpson Desert.

In the beginning
Back in nineteen fifty-five
Man didn't know about a rock 'n' roll show
And all that jive
The white man had the smoltz
The black man had the blues
No one knew what they was gonna do
But Tchaikovsky had the news
He said

Something about rock....but coincidentally at about the same time a young Tyrone Thomas decided that what we really needed were bushwalking guide books and in another coincidence his career more or less coincided with that of AC/DC (don't try a tell me it's Acca Dacca with Axl out front!). Anyway all this information is pretty tenuous but hey, its my blog and if you don't want me to pass out on the keyboard you'll have to live with it. With Mr Thomas having been around since dinosaurs roamed the earth it stands to reason that his were the first walking guide books that I ever owned. Mr Thomas' books are big on information but light on production values if you read them now, but back in the day they were the ducks guts. It was Mr Thomas' notes and black and white mud maps that I used to cut my walking teeth, his hand drawn maps were (and still are) a great reference for walkers. There are many old routes that he has published walking notes for that are now long gone, the pads long since reclaimed by nature, but while these old books live on then I can always dream that one day, unencumbered by other responsibilities I'll be able to head to the hills and retrace his routes. Tyrone Thomas doesn't have a website and I'm pretty sure that he doesn't have any books in print anymore, but if you come across any of his books in a second hand book shop then they are definitely worth grabbing. Back in the day he published walks in every state and territory (although Western Australia and the Northern Territory were a little light on), he even had his guides translated to German at one stage. If you want to hunt up any of Tyrone's old books then the vast majority of them were published by Hill of Content, a couple of his later books were put out by Explore Australia.
Tyrone's last few books were published by Explore Australia.
The next authors to come into my walking life were John Siseman and John Chapman. Back in the day Mr Siseman and Mr Chapman use to publish separately but now days they collaborate on a couple of books, along with Mr Chapmans better half Monica. Like Tyrone Thomas, John Siseman's old books were a little old school, however if you were around when Moses did his best work like he was, then old school is expected really. If you are a little jaded with walking now days hunt out a copy of one of John Siseman's old tomes, you'll soon be planning trips to mountains and gorges that you didn't even know existed. John Siseman generally concentrated on the mountains to the east of Melbourne. He was also instrumental in formalizing what has become known as The Australian Alps Walking Track and published the only guide book for the track, most recently in conjunction with John and Monica Chapman. Alright, lets get onto the Chapman's. The Chapman's guide books are the Funk and Wagnalls (google it kids) of walking guides. These guys are the the most prolific and diverse walking authors in Australia, their walks are as diverse as easy strolls in suburban parks up to the most extreme walks that are out of the technical abilities of all but a handful of people in the country. The Chapman's also have the best bushwalking book web site in Australia, the free up-date page is worth checking out before doing any of their walks in case things have changed on the ground since the books were published. The Chapman's main go is the south eastern states of Australia, Tasmania is particularly catered for although they have published books on multi day walks around the country, firstly with Lonely Planet and lately self published, John Siseman and the Chapman's have also joined forces to publish the up dated bible for walking the AAWT. The Chapman's took guide book writing and maps to a new level that most have not been able to match.

If there is one author that could match the Chapman's then it must be Glenn Tempest. From what I can understand Mr Tempest cut his teeth writing rock climbing and bouldering books before branching into walking books. Mr Tempest publishes his books through his own Open Spaces publishing company. Over the years Mr Tempest has published walking guides that cover most of Victoria, although now days he has started to publish region specific guides. The maps in Mr Tempest's books are as good as Mr Chapman's and you can also down load GPS routes from the Open Spaces website if that's your thing. I think Mr Tempest got a bit disillusioned with the guide book industry a a few years ago and headed up to the small town at the foot of Mt Arapiles in something of a tree change. Glenn's old book Weekend Walks around Melbourne is worth chasing up if you are looking for an overnight walk that's off the radar a bit, most of Mr Tempest's books though seem to cover the areas to the north and west of Melbourne.

For awhile in the early 2000's the most prolific author and publishers of walking books in Australia had to be John & Lyn Daly's and their series of Take A Walk Books. The Daly's started writing walking guides to New South Wales and southern Queensland. Initially their guides were good for inspiration but fairly light on for details on the actual walks. Things changed quick though and their notes and maps improved in leaps and bounds. The Take a Walk books give the most extensive coverage of walking in Australia, they have even published a Northern Territory specific book. Like Mr Tempest I think the Daly's may be struggling to make publishing walking books a viable proposition, they seem to be publishing e-books now days as well as leading guided walking tours. Actually this is one of the reasons I don't generally publish walkable notes and in depth maps or GPS downloads, I love reading these guide books and these authors need to make money or they'll disappear altogether. If you can get your hands on some of the Take a Walk books you'll find plenty of walking notes that haven't been published anywhere else. 

Explore Australia have dipped their big corporate toe into the walking guide book pond in the last ten years. They initially started by publishing Tyrone Thomas & Andrew Close notes that were mostly lifted from Tyrone's old 120 Walks in Victoria books. After going through a few other authors they seem to have settled on Melanie Ball now, Melanie has been poking around the out door writing industry for awhile mostly writing for magazines, Melanie's notes and the maps in the later books are excellent and would be a good spot to start if you are new to walking, although it would be nice if Explore Australia  published an elevation profile in their books. Another publishing house that has sprung up in the last ten years or so is Woodslane, they publish an extensive series of walking guides with mostly fairly easy strolls in them, and while a lot of the walks in the Woodslane series of books are easy most of them haven't been published in any other books. The Woodslane web site is pretty ordinary but here's the link. I probably have books by another 20 or 30 different authors in my collection of guide books, a lot of these writers concentrate on one national park or region and most have only published one or two books, I'm happy to copy old notes from books that are out of print if you get in contact, but there are way to many books to go through them individually.
The Woodslane books feature lots of easy walks,
Alright that's Australia covered more or less....what about overseas? The go to book when I was growing up was the Lonely Planet guides, their walking/tramping/hiking books were the initial inspiration for many trips. Like a lot of guide book publishers Lonely Planet seem to be doing it fairly hard and it appears that the only walking specific guide that they now publish is the Tramping in New Zealand book, a book that I've used extensively and would highly recommend. Lately I've started to use Cicerone and Traiblazer books. Cicerone has a multitude (over 100) guide books to various treks and regions all over the world and I would highly recommend them, they are  especially handy when planning a walk from the other side of the world. Trailblazer don't quite have the same range as Cicerone but I find their books slightly better when on the walks. They have walking specific mud maps in them (think Tyrone Thomas' old maps if you're an older Australian walker), the maps feature water sources, cairns, fence lines and many more features that are important when on the ground in un-familiar country.
Trailblazer are the best going around at the moment for walks in the UK and Europe.
If you really want inspiration though you can't go past a coffee table book. The first coffee table style walking book that I ever laid my eyes on is probably still the best, Robert Rankin's Wild Walks of Australia, this book is a classic. Over the years Mr Rankin has infrequently released a few more books but the original is the best in my eyes. As far as overseas treks go then my favourite is a very old copy of Classic Treks - the most spectacular treks of a lifetime edited by Bill Birkett, it's a book that I'm slowly making my way through.....although I might have to live to be 103!
This is my somewhat presentable book case down stairs.
What about on line information I hear you ask, well at least I would if anyone made it past the first paragraph without falling asleep or flicking over to The Kardashian's (her on line stuff is way more riveting then mine I suppose). Well this might seem a little odd but I don't really read too many blogs, I'd much prefer to out and about than surfing the web, there are a couple of exceptions though. The original and by far the best is Hiking Fiasco, while the glaciers are melting quicker than Mr Fiasco knocks out a post, when they do pop out they are always a must read. Mr Fiasco was the inspiration for my own tepid offerings, but don't hold that against him as his work is far superior to mine, his photos alone should demand an admission charge, and then there are his slightly twisted ramblings which always have me in tears of laughter. Mr Fiasco's posts are pretty Victorian heavy, although he has posted on other areas around Australia. Around the same time that I was drawing inspiration from Mr Fiasco there was a lady up in Queensland doing the same thing, Jane started her Mildly Extreme blog a little after I started mine. Over the years Ms Extreme has become a good friend of mine as we talked about our respective blogs and pondered life's great mysteries like who the fuck voted for Donald Trump? Or will Mr Fiasco ever publish another post? Like Mr Fiasco, Ms Extreme publishes a post with about the same frequency as the Australian cricket team having a win in India, but when she does publish the post is inevitably worth the wait. While Mr Fiasco concentrates mainly on our southern states, Ms Extreme concentrates mainly on Queensland, at least initially Mr Fiasco published a lot of multi day walks while Ms Extreme tends to concentrate on day walks, maybe one day I'll be able to tempt her out on an over nighter, although I think she may have me pegged as a stalker! So we've covered eastern Australia, well what about our cousins over in the wild west....I'm glad you asked. The Long Way's Better is a blog run by Donovan and his partner Alissa and it mainly concentrates on their home state, Western Australia. The Long Way's Better serves up an interesting mix of day walks and multi treks and I look forward to each new post, Donovan and Alissa are currently working their way through the Bibbulmun Track in bite sized stages and their blog is great for getting a feel for what things are like on the ground. I must also mention that even though The Long Way's Better is hosted on blogger the presentation and graphics are stunning, if you didn't know better you'd swear it was a wordpress offering,...hmm I've got some work to do..one day. Moving away from blogs I have to mention probably the best resource for information on walking in Australia, Bushwalking.com. This online forum has wealth of information covering the whole of Australia, a fair bit of New Zealand and a smattering of other destinations around the world. Bushwalking.com relies on experienced walkers sharing knowledge and information with other walkers and as a general rule it works very well, what could easily end up as a self absorbed wank fest rarely ends up that way, if you are looking for information about walking in Australia this site should be one of your first stops in my opinion.

Now before I finish up here I'll quickly talk about maps. For anything other than a amble around suburban parks I still carry some form of paper map. When I started walking I wouldn't head bush without the relevant topographical map, now with the maps in guide books coming ahead in leaps and bounds I sometimes rely on them in conjunction with the topographical maps on my GPS. I still wouldn't head out on a decent walk with just my GPS (or phone) though as you just never know when the technology will let you down. A map, even if it is out of a guide book, and a compass are still essentials in my opinion....but then again I am old school.
This is my un-presentable up-stairs bookcase. The bottom 2 shelves are full of topographical maps.














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