Tag Archives: Australia

He who would search for pearls must dive below… John Dryden

Tears of mermaids : the secret story of pearls  Stephen G. Bloom  New York : St. Martin’s Press, c 2009  Hardcover. 1st ed. and printing.      x, 382 p. ; 25 cm. Includes bibliographical references (p. [357]-366) and index. Clean, tight and strong binding with clean dust jacket. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text. VG/VG

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For Tears of Mermaids, Stephen G. Bloom traveled 30,000 miles to trace a single pearl — from the moment a diver off the coast of Australia scoops from the ocean floor an oyster containing a single luminescent pearl to the instant a woman on the other side of the world fastens the clasp of a strand containing the same orb.

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Bloom chronicles the never-before-told saga of the global pearl trade by gaining access to clandestine outposts in Japan, China, the Philippines, French Polynesia and Australia.  Bloom infiltrates high-tech pearl farms and processing facilities guarded by gun-toting sentries, and insinuates himself into the lives of powerful international pearl lords.

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Bloom farms for pearls in rural China, goes behind scenes at million-dollar auctions in Hong Kong, trails pearl brokers and Internet entrepreneurs in Asia, hires himself out as a deckhand on an Australian pearling vessel, and goes backstage at Christie’s for a fast and furious auction of the most expensive pearl ever sold.  Teeming with rogue humor and uncanny intelligence, Tears of Mermaids weaves a nonstop detective story of the world’s most enduring gem.

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If you see a snake, just kill it – don’t appoint a committee on snakes… Ross Perot

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The snakebite survivors’ club : travels among serpents  Jeremy Seal  New York : Harcourt, 1999  Hardcover. 1st ed. and printing. 336 p. ; 24 cm. Includes bibliographical references (p. 323-328 ) and index. Clean, tight and strong binding with clean dust jacket. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text. VG/VG

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Snakes are Jeremy Seal’s fascination-and his greatest fear. In an attempt to overcome his phobia, he undertakes a voyage to Australia, Africa, India, and America in search of the most notorious and deadly species, and to meet the people who live among them.

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He encounters a Kenyan snake man, whose entire life seems like a preparation for a bite from the terrible black mamba, witch doctors who use snakes as instruments of vengeance, frightened Australian convicts. The compelling narrative is linked by a real-life murder mystery – a fundamentalist attempts to get away with the perfect murder by forcing his wife, at gunpoint, to put her hands in the boxes where he keeps his rattlesnakes.

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Along the way Seal recounts amazing scientific snake lore, legends, and historical facts. An erudite but highly entertaining narrative in the English travel-writing tradition, and a finalist for the Thomas Cook Travel Book Award, The Snakebite Survivors’ Club tells a funny, gruesomely fascinating account of the world of snakes and the people they repel, mesmerize, and sometimes kill.

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Don’t worry about the world coming to an end today. It is already tomorrow in Australia.

The Dig Tree : the story of bravery, insanity, and the race to discover Australia’s wild frontier New York : Broadway Books, 2002 Sarah Murgatroyd Australia Discovery and exploration, Burke and Wills Expedition, 1860-1861 Hardcover.  1st ed. and printing. viii, 355 p. : ill., maps ; 22 cm. Includes bibliographical references (p. 345-350) and index. Clean, tight and strong binding with clean dust jacket. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text. VG/VG

In 1860, Australia remained the truly dark continent. Although there were European settlements in its south, much of the north remained unknown and dangerous. But things were changing. On the 20th of August, 1860 The Victorian Exploring Expedition left Melbourne to make the journey into the Gulf of Carpentaria in the northern coast.

The expedition was headed by an Irish policeman called Robert O’ Hara Burke – a charmer, gambler, and a man infamous for taking long baths in his back garden. Burke and his team of eighteen men made a confident start. After leaving most of the group behind in Cooper Creek (in central Australia), three of the party, including Burke, reached the Carpentaria. They were the first ever to do so.

But the journey back was riddled with mishap and bad luck. By the time the three had returned to Cooper Creek, exhausted and starving, they discovered that the rest of the party had retreated, leaving behind only a carved message on a coolibah tree…

THE DIG TREE is the tale of this tragic expedition. Murgatroyd brings the story vividly alive – the political events in the background, the colourful characters, the spectacular and, often, unforgiving landscape, and the awful desperation of the final days. It is an intelligent, evocative and above all, utterly gripping book.

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In the desert I saw a creature, naked, bestial, Who, squatting upon the ground, Held his heart in his hands, And ate of it. I said: “Is it good, friend?” “It is bitter-bitter,” he answered; “But I like it Because it is bitter, And because it is my heart.” Stephen Crane

The ship thieves : [the true tale of James Porter, colonial pirate] London : Aurum, 2006 Siân Rees Escapes  Australia  Tasmania  History  19th century, Porter, James, fl. 1823-1843 Hardcover. 1st ed. and printing. 336 p. : ill., maps, ports., ; 20 cm. Includes bibliographical references and index. Clean, tight and strong binding with clean dust jacket. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text. VG/VG   

As dusk came down on the evening of the 13th of January 1834, James Porter and nine other convicts, transported at His Majesty’s Pleasure to Van Diemen’s Land, captured the newly launched barque the Frederick from their British masters. James Porter had spent the majority of his days since transportation planning how he would escape.

Though he had mastered the art of fleeing his captors, he had not ever managed to stay free for long. The men decided to make their way to Valdivia, on the coast of Chile. Six thousand miles away on the other side of the Pacific, surely they could evade the British and assume new identities as shipwrecked mariners? But the might of the British Empire was not to take the piracy and escape of ten convicts lightly and after surviving the perilous journey (an amazing feat of seamanship) and starting a new life in a small town, James Porter’s freedom was cruelly snatched away.

Porter was again transported to Australia. Eventually, after further attempts to escape he ended up on Norfolk Island. On the island many a convict’s spirit was broken but the tenacious attitude of James Porter survived.

Comments Off on In the desert I saw a creature, naked, bestial, Who, squatting upon the ground, Held his heart in his hands, And ate of it. I said: “Is it good, friend?” “It is bitter-bitter,” he answered; “But I like it Because it is bitter, And because it is my heart.” Stephen Crane

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The world is apt to judge of everything by the success; and whoever has ill fortune will hardly be allowed a good name… William Dampier

A New Voyage Round the World Warwick, NY, 1500 Books, 2007      William Dampier : with a new introduction by Kris Lane Book. Based on 6th edition of 1717 454 p., 24 cm. Clean, tight and strong binding. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text. VG   

Pirate, explorer and naturalist, William Dampier provides one of the earliest and most eloquent accounts of discovery and piracy on the high seas.

Filled with privateering exploits and detailed descriptions of the plants and animals he was one of the first Englishmen to ever have seen, A New Voyage Round the World provides a rare and exciting glimpse into life on the ocean at a time when a true map of the world didn’t yet exist.

Providing the inspiration for such works as Robinson Crusoe and Gulliver’s Travels, Dampier was the forefather of the English narrative.  His words come alive again in the new edition for the modern reader. William Dampier tells of his life as a pirate and his trips to the coasts of the Americas, the Galapagos, and Australia (then known as New Holland), among many other exotic locales.

This is one of earliest first-hand accounts of day-to-day life as a privateer. It’s as if we’re there with him as he explores the world at a time when maps were still a work in progress. Features an introduction by Kris Lane, College of William and Mary.

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