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Judy in disguise – not with glasses but with a tough covering layer of western Queensland blacksoil and 65 millions years of geological changes.

She’s the latest sauropod unearthed by the Australian Age of Dinosaurs team.

Read all about their fascinating work and how to go about joining them on a volunteer dig in my story in a recent Weekend Australian

 

To shell and back – tagging turtles in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park…

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To bee or not to bee in the Tasmanian wild west – and finding it quite a lark to mosey down Tasmania’s whisky trail

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Getting into both kinds of music at south-east Queensland’s CMC Rocks Festival…

These stories and more coming soon in reputable and august publications near YOU! Stay tuned…

The Great Barrier Reef is without doubt one of the most mind-swimmingly superlative travel destinations of our modest blue planet, and two of my favourite spots there are Heron Island and Lady Elliot Island. Here’s a travel story I did for the Sunday ‘Escape’ supplement which somehow escaped being plugged by me here, until now:

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The Weekend Australian Travel & Indulgence supplement (August 27-28, page 16 ) has my ‘Perfect 10’ column feature covering Australia’s 10 best aquatic wildlife encounters for non-divers. Plenty of cetaceans, pinnipeds and elasmobranchs. Jump in!

Link to the online version is here

 

THE KING OF THE WORLD IN THE LAND OF THE PYGMIES – Joan Mark

From 1933 to 1953 Patrick Putnam was the eccentric overlord of Camp Putnam – part guesthouse, part medical clinic – deep in the Belgian Congo’s Ituri Forest. If you wanted pygmies or okapis in your African adventure, Putnam was your man. He still is, at least on paper.

An American expat from a wealthy Boston family, Putnam remade himself in a remote corner of colonial Africa. When his sanity lapsed towards the end, Camp Putnam devolved from jungle Eden into Heart of Darkness weirdness.

Some regret that Putnam forsook a promising career in academic anthropology but he was much more than a dude-ranch dilettante, as he once described himself. His sincere, lifelong and utterly reciprocated friendship with several pygmy/Mbuti clans was the critical enabler of Western study of their culture.

I first encountered Putnam in On Safari, the autobiography of pioneer wildlife documentary maker Armand Denis. Putnam’s second wife, the painter Anne Eisner Putnam, wrote a bestseller in the 1950s, Eight Years With Congo Pigmies, which, for all its strengths, glosses over intriguing irregularities (such as separate huts) in their relationship. Joan Mark’s book fills in these gaps (which is quite a jungle soap opera) while exploring Putnam’s unusual position amid the ambiguities of colonialism. It’s all relentlessly interesting.

One unshakeably memorable anecdote tells how Putnam dealt with his beloved pet chimpanzee Mr Fataki, who went vicious in his dotage and put several house servants in hospital. Options were limited and Putnam did not quail from the responsibility. After a last supper with his favourite chimp he drew a revolver and shot Mr Fataki dead at the dinner table.

Here’s one for the bucket list – Platypus diving!

Platypus diving, Oliver's Pool, Mackay hinterland. Photo courtesy Nelson Hall/Queensland Tourism
Oliver’s Pool, Mackay hinterland.
Photo courtesy Nelson Hall/Queensland Tourism

“Currawongs appearing at the Manor in vast numbers had come to portend one thing… death was on its way.”

CMsmall Join award-winning author Josephine Pennicott in conversation with Newtown Library’s very own Gayle Donaldson on June 24, when Josephine will talk about her latest crime novel Currawong Manor (Pan Macmillan), a mystery of art, truth and the ripple effects of death and deception, set in the spectacular Blue Mountains.

Intrigued? Free admission. Reserve your seat here

Event details: Tuesday, 24th June 2014,  6:30pm at Newtown Library, 8-10 Brown Street, Newtown (Sydney).

Read more about Currawong Manor and Josephine’s other novels such as Poet’s Cottage here.

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