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Australia and the Pacific

The Colour of Courage, Sharon Muir Watson - Go into a bookstore and what do you see?  Row upon row of soon-to-be-forgotten titles.  That's not the case with this book.  It is a classic!
"The Colour of Courage" is the remarkable true story of the epic horse trip made by famed Australian equestrian explorers Sharon Muir Watson and Ken Roberts.  During the course of their mounted journey the young friends discovered enough adventures to satisfy even the most jaded reader, ranging from riding through leech-infested jungles to trying to herd their horses through some of the toughest terrain on earth.
Yet, if many of these pages are testaments to courage, other sections carry the reader away to the forgotten corners of back-country Australia.  For Ken and Sharon are not just horse people.  They are the dust of Australia given a voice.  Here are the old drovers recounting lost stories.  Here are the little people of a big land recounting their tales.  And here are two young people alive with vitality, ablaze with bravery, and determined to ride the length of an inhospitable country on a do-or-die journey.
Ken and Sharon were the first to ride Australia's 5,000 kilometer long Bicentennial National Trail.  They will not be the last.  But what is certain is that this book, and their legendary ride, will never be forgotten.  For these two brave explorers opened the door to the rest of us, and left this spell-binding story to show us the way.
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Fragile Eden, Robin Hanbury-Tenison - This is the story of Robin and Louella Hanbury-Tenison’s exploration of New Zealand on horseback in 1988. They rode alone together through what they describe as ’some of the most dramatic and exciting country we have ever seen.’ For two or thee days at a time, Robin and Louella would map read their way by compass across some of the largest farms in the world, at one moment crossing snowy passes of over 6,000 feet, at the next baking in the dry summer heat of the valley floors.  At night they would shelter from the rain and wind in primitive shepherds’ huts, brewing up soup and tea to keep themselves warm.

But while they found scenery so spectacular it more than justified the des­cription of New Zealand as “the most beautiful country in the world," they found, too, a country in crisis.  New Zealanders are striving in the face of new, often restrictive, world markets to lessen their sense of economic isolation and vulner­ability and to cut their country’s large overseas debt.  And serious environmental problems have, like those of the economy, hit the country’s major industry – agriculture – hardest.  As President of Survival International, Robin Hanbury-Tenison was struck, too, by the fear and hostility shown to the Maoris by many of their countrymen, though encouraged by his constructive meetings with their leaders.

But above all, as Robin and Louella entered the magic worlds of the remaining beech forests of the South and the even older kauri forest of the North, as they met and stayed with kind and energetic farmers who loved their land and worked hard on it, they came to feel a real affection for the country and its people.  Fragile Eden combines with rare sympathy the romance of the adven­ture story with the stark realities of twentieth-century life.  Click here to go to Amazon.co.uk or Barnes & Noble.

ISBN 1590481542



On Horseback in Hawaii, Isabella Bird - Think of all the clichés that come to mind when you consider the romantic word “Hawaii.” Palm trees, hula dancers, sun-drenched beaches, an untouched tropical culture. Now interject a group of hard-riding Mexican vaqueros chasing herds of imported wild cattle across the lush green mountain sides. Throw in a crew of Yankee swindlers and missionaries bent on conquering  the island. Bring on board the local king, who is trying to preserve his realm from outsiders, and you will begin to understand the equestrian kingdom of Hawaii circa 1872.

It was into this equine maelstrom that Isabella Bird had wandered by mistake.

Bound from New Zealand to San Francisco, Isabella had come ashore at Hawaii on an impulse. What she discovered was not what she had been expecting. Soon after cattle were introduced onto the island, they went wild and could not be managed by islanders on foot. The King therefore enlisted the aid of imported Mexican vaqueros, who brought with them not only their horses and saddles, but also their sense of equestrian panache.

When Isabella Bird landed she discovered a still untrammelled tropical paradise. However, the once pedestrian Hawaiians had taken to the saddle with a vengeance. The islanders rode – everywhere – and the clergyman’s daughter soon joined them. Having never ridden astride because of the English cultural taboo, Isabella was reluctant to cast aside her native equestrian traditions. When she did, the greatest female equestrian traveller of the Victorian age came to life.

This book recounts the first of Isabella Bird’s remarkable mounted adventures. Though she went on to explore the Rocky Mountains, Japan, Persia, and Tibet on horseback, Isabella first stepped into the saddle and onto the pages of Long Rider history in Hawaii. This classic account of thrilling equestrian adventure tells the story of one woman’s discovery of both her own soul and the wide world beyond.

For more information, please visit Barnes & Noble or Amazon.co.uk.

"Christina Dodwell continues the tradition of many renowned travellers, of Gertrude Bell, Annie Taylor, Isabella Bird, Freya Stark and Ella Maillart." Chris Bonington

Travels in Papua New Guinea, Christina Dodwell - This is the story of a young Englishwoman who set out to travel alone through the highlands, jungles and rivers of Papua New Guinea. It is the remarkable tale of a two-year expedition which included an eventful two-week walk and a thousand-mile journey on a stallion (in a country where almost nobody knew what a horse was) during which Christina witnessed a tribal fight with bows and arrows and a pig-killing celebration. She was accosted by bandits, sank into swamps, fell through rotten bridges and got stuck in a ravine.

For the fourth stage of Christina’s journey she bought a dugout canoe and spent four months paddling alone on the Sepik River and its tributaries. She met Stone-Age tribes and ventured through swamp forests; she spent four days with a team of crocodile-hunters and learned how to skin the animals; she was arrested as a spy and experienced an earthquake. In a remote village on the Blackwater tributary she arrived during preparations for the initiation of some boys into manhood. She stayed during a week of celebrations leading up to the boys’ initiation, which took place in the spirit-house and included a bloody skin-cutting ritual dedicated to crocodiles.

Christina’s journeys around this remarkable country have become legends which endure to this day.

For more information, please visit Barnes & Noble or Amazon.co.uk.


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