The printed copies of Where Australia Collides with Asia have finally arrived and there is nothing more exciting than holding the final result of many years of work in your hand. Unfortunately this feeling of euphoria is usually followed by the nagging thought as to whether it is any good. However, as always, it is the discerning reader who will decide.
Where Australia Collides with Asia follows the epic voyages of natural history of Continent Australia, Joseph Banks, Charles Darwin and Alfred Russel Wallace.
The voyage of Continent Australia after it breaks away from Antarctica 50 million years ago with its raft of Gondwanaland flora and fauna and begins its journey north towards the equator.
The voyage of Joseph Banks on the Endeavour who with Daniel Solander became the first trained naturalists to describe the unique flora and fauna of Continent Australia that had evolved during its 30 million years of isolation.
The voyage of Charles Darwin on the Beagle, who after his observations in South America and the Galapagos Islands, sat on the banks of the Coxs River in New South Wales and tried to rationalize his belief in the idea of biblical creation and understand the origin of species.
The voyage of Alfred Russel Wallace, who realized that the Lombok Strait in Indonesia represents the biogeographical boundary between the fauna of Asia and those of Australasia. On the Asian side are elephants, tigers, primates and specific birds. On the Australasian side are marsupials such as the possum-like cuscus and the Aru wallaby, as well as birds specific to Australia such as white cockatoos, brush turkeys and the spectacular Birds of Paradise.
It was tectonic plate movement that brought these disparate worlds together and it was Alfred Russel Wallace’s ‘Letter from Ternate’ that forced Charles Darwin to finally publish his landmark work ‘On the Origin of Species’.
Available on order from your favorite bookshop or online retailer for A$34.95
What Burnet achieves in his wonderfully illustrated and narrated book is to relate the important role the Indonesian archipelago has played in the intellectual history of the West. In their seperate voyages Banks, Darwin and Wallace discovered the astounding diversity of the southern hemisphere’s natural world, and it was through their observations that the enlightenment truly came of age. Western thought found it could not reconcile the static divine word of the Bible with the diverse and ever-evolving scientific reality of the natural world.
… Ian Burnet’s very perceptive use of quotes from their public writings and private diaries allow us to see through their eyes the world they found and understand the intellectual problems it raised for them. Moreover in the case of Darwin and Wallace, we enter into their very troubled worlds as they tried to explain the diversity of life they found.
… Like the geology of the earth we live on, and like British society that founded modern Australia this wonderfully enlightening and delightful book is many layered
— The Indonesia Institute, Dr. Ron Witton
Where Australia Collides with Asia will be launched at the Canberra Writers Festival on Saturday August 26 at 2pm at the National Library of Australia, when Ian Burnet will be in conversation with Sally Burdon of the Asia Bookroom (a free event).