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Australian Field Guides and Nature Books

Australian Field Guides and Nature Books

See Also: Survival Books, My Top Two Survival Books, Survival DVDs, Permaculture, Self Sufficiency And Sustainable Living Books, Dystopian Fiction / Novels, and Books About Near-Death Experiences.

This page contains (mostly) specifically Australian books. The non-Australian books that are displayed are also relevant to Australia. The other pages listed above have books that are relevant to any country.

This page suggests some books to get if you are interested in learning more about the kinds of things you see on survival.org.au. It mainly contains nature guides and other related books. I will be adding more other pages that describe other kinds of books.

In many bookshops (especially online ones) you are presented with hundreds of books and not much idea which one(s) to get. So here I have described the books that I myself have used to learn from, and that are the most popular and the most recommended. (Since I have spent a ridiculous amount of time over the last several years looking into what books are available).

I am using the Australian online bookshop The Nile, which gives me a 5% commission on anything you buy from them if you go there from this website. If you live in Australia I would recommend trying them out as their prices are very cheap and you usually get free shipping to anywhere in Australia. They are also cheap if you live in New Zealand.

Amazon is usually quite expensive for Australian sourced books purchased from within Australia, presumably because they have to be shipped overseas (to Amazon) and then back again.

If you live outside Australia, an excellent source of nature, wilderness awareness and wilderness survival material is Wilderness Awareness School (located in the USA). I have recently signed up with them as an affiliate so I will get 10% of anything you buy there if you go there from the links on my site. They are a registered charity so you will be supporting both survival.org.au and an awesome wilderness school if you buy anything that way. As I get around to it I will add links to more nature and survival books available from there.

I also have links to some of the books from Amazon.com. The prices are current as of when I have last updated this page, so they may possibly change when you click on the links.

Unfortunately a few of the greatest books are out of print. To find out of print books try Amazon.com, or www.biblioz.com.

Categories Found On This Australian Nature Books Page

Wilderness Survival and Wilderness Living
Bush Tucker
Medicinal Plants
Indigenous Studies
Poisonous Plants and Animals
Plants
Fungi
Mammals
Birds
Reptiles and Amphibians
Fishes
Invertebrates


Wilderness Survival and Wilderness Living

See here for more Wilderness Living books (from all countries, the books on this page are the Australian ones only).


Australian Bushcraft, Richard Graves. Australian Bushcraft, Richard Graves. (Out of Print). This is the new version of his "10 bushcraft books" about wilderness survival and wilderness living skills. The original version is long out of print but has been made available online here by Christopher Molloy. From his website: "The 10 Bushcraft Books are the seminal texts on bushcraft.... As far as is known, The 10 Bushcraft Books are unique. There is nothing quite like them, nor is any collection of bushcraft knowledge under one cover as comprehensive." A classic. Out of print as far as I know and expensive secondhand (I paid about AU$60 for mine, which was okay, but I have seen them for a lot more than that.

NEW: New version published 2013 $12.36 USD from Amazon

New 2013 version from The Nile (Australian company, posting from UK) $22.72 AUD with free Australian shipping

Click here to look for it on Amazon (secondhand only)

See also Indigenous Studies further down on this page.


Bush Tucker


Wild Food Plants of Australia, Tim LowWild Food Plants of Australia, Tim Low. This is easily the best book for edible plants that I know of for Southeast Australia. (And probably for almost all of Australia, though if you are mainly interested in the North, check out Les Hiddins' Pocket Guide). It is also small enough to carry easily. If I had to survive with only two books, this would be one and the other would be a survival book — the first "Naked Into the Wilderness" book by John and Geri McPherson, or possibly Thomas J Elpel's book.

Purchase from Australia $28.99 AUD (free shipping)
Only available used on Amazon for $60+ USD


The Weed Forager’s Handbook, Adam Grubb and Annie Raser-RowlandNEW: The Weed Forager’s Handbook, Adam Grubb and Annie Raser-Rowland. This is the best Australian book on edible weeds that's currently in print that I know of. Most of the book is about the author's top 20 edible weeds, with each weed getting a few pages that include detailed photos and drawings for identification. First published in 2012.

"Step into the world of our least admired botanical companions, peel back the layers of prejudice, and discover the finer side of the plants we call weeds. This book reveals how to distinguish a tasty sandwich-filler from its dangerous look-alike, which weeds are among the most nutritious vegetables ever tested, and how you cook with delicious nettles without fear of being stung ...It will forever change your concept of where to go looking for lunch."

Purchase from The Nile (Free postage in Australia) $18.78 AUD
Purchase from Amazon $26.99 USD


Wild Herbs of Australia and New Zealand, Tim LowWild Herbs of Australia and New Zealand, Tim Low. The best book I have seen about edible/medicinal "weeds"—which are usually introduced plants, the kind that grow between the grass in your suburban garden and along the railway tracks. See my weeds page. It is not the best book for learning to identify the weeds, though, although it is okay. Black and white line drawings of the plants, no colour pictures. You would be better off with another book to identify the weeds, and this book to learn what to do with them. This book contains an excellent description of the different types of plant toxins. Note that there are a few plants included that it could be debated whether they are really edible. Out of print.

Click here to look for it on Amazon (secondhand only)


How can I be prepared with Self-Sufficiency and Survival Foods - Isabell ShipardHow can I be prepared with Self-Sufficiency and Survival Foods, Isabell Shipard. I have not had this book very long but I am very impressed with it. It covers a great many of the topics discussed on survival.org.au and covers them quite well. There are 16 pages (large A4 pages, with small writing) devoted to edible weeds, including colour photos of many of the weeds. Apart from edible weeds it also covers a few bush tucker (native) food plants, survival kits, storing food, permaculture, sprouting, herbs, and more. Her Course on DVD (PAL format, $35.00 AUD) looks like it would also be excellent, though I have not seen it yet.

Click here to purchase from Isabell's Site (Australian) $37.00 AUD


The Bushfood Handbook, Vic CherikoffThe Bushfood Handbook, Vic Cherikoff. This is more of a reading book than a field guide, and also has a bit about commercial bushfood industry and gourmet recipes, but still does have some very very good stuff in it. Like Tim Low's Books it is not focused on the north only (there is lots of stuff about the sydney region). There are tables in the back, and other sections throughout the book that contain a lot of really useful information, like what wattle seeds you can eat, and so on.

A large all-colour book, probably the best "reading" book I have seen on bush tucker, and overall one of the three or four best bush tucker books that there is.

Click here to purchase from Amazon (probably secondhand only)


Bush Tucker: Australia's Wild Food Harvest, Tim LowBush Tucker: Australia's Wild Food Harvest, Tim Low. A large, hardcover book with colour pictures (actually most of these books have colour pictures). A very good "reading" book, perhaps my favourite (the other contender would be Vic Cherikoff's book above). Out of print.

Click here to purchase from Amazon (secondhand only)



Bush Food: Aboriginal Food and Herbal Medicine, Jennifer Isaacs Bush Food: Aboriginal Food and Herbal Medicine, Jennifer Isaacs. A really lovely book, very large and with many nice pictures. Again more of a "reading" book than a field guide. There is some bias to the North of Australia but Southern plants are also featured.

Click here to purchase from Australia $44.99 AUD
New or used on Amazon


A Companion Guide to Bush Food, Jennifer IsaccsA Companion Guide to Bush Food, Jennifer Isaccs. A summarised version of the book above, small and light, but I would not really call it a field guide. It was the first bush tucker book that I read all the way through from front to back. If you want to read one all the way through, this would be a good choice since there is less to read than most of the other books, and it gives you a good overview. There is some bias to the North of Australia but Southern plants are also featured.

Click here to look for it on Amazon (secondhand only)


Bushfires and Bushtucker, Peter Latz.Bushfires and Bushtucker, Peter Latz. This is the larger version of the book below, reprinted in 2005. It focuses on the arid regions (i.e. central Australia). It contains multiple colour photographs and scale line drawings for each plant including fruit, seed, form and habitat.

Purchase from Australia $38.49 AUD (Probably unavailable)
Used on Amazon (expensive $150+)


Pocket Bushtucker, Peter LatzPocket Bushtucker, Peter Latz. This is a nice field guide, but only focuses on the arid regions. Mostly black and white line drawings with a few colour photos. It was the first bush food book I found (and therefore bought). It would be good to take on a trip to the interior but is not so useful in the Southeast. There is a larger version of it also (like the Jennifer Isaacs books) which I do not have, but I have borrowed it from the library. It lives up to its name, Pocket Bushtucker, being the smallest field guide that I have, and very easy to carry around.

Click here to look for it on Amazon (secondhand only)


Grow Your Own Bushfoods, Keith and Irene Smith Grow Your Own Bushfoods, Keith and Irene Smith. The book to get if you want to try growing some of the Australian native bush tucker food plants yourself. It does not have colour or photos (or many pictures) so its not for identification of plants.

Click here to purchase from Australia $23.49 AUD


Explore Wild Australia With the Bush Tucker Man, Les Hiddins Explore Wild Australia With the Bush Tucker Man, Les Hiddins. Quite a good book, but really only focuses on the North of Australia.

Click here to purchase from Amazon (secondhand)


Bush Tucker Field Guide, Les Hiddins Bush Tucker Field Guide, Les Hiddins. A much smaller book containing the bush tucker list from the above book, by the famous "Bush Tucker Man". Quite good, but like his larger book (see above) it really only covers the North of Australia. If you don't live in the North, get Tim Low's Field Guide instead.

I was given this for Christmas one year and by good luck it happened to be basically the only current Australian bush tucker book that I didn't already own (I even had the larger version of this book listed above).

Click here to purchase from Australia $18.52 AUD


Wild Food in Australia, A. B. and J. W. CribbWild Food in Australia, A. B. and J. W. Cribb. William Collins Publishers, 1974. Older style book with the colour pictures on separate colour "plates", and the text on black and white-only pages. A pretty good book though (apart from not having the pictures of the plants close to the text, which I find quite annoying). I bought mine for $12 from a second-hand shop.

Click here to look for it on Amazon (secondhand only)

Bush Tucker, A Guide to, and Resources on Traditional Aboriginal Foods of the North West of S. A. and Central Australia, Cathy Winfield. Mimili Aboriginal School, North West South Australia, and Wattle Park Teachers Centre, 1982, Reprinted 1985, 1986, 1987. This is a black and white booklet that has been printed on A4 paper, rather than published as such as an actual "book". It contains a list of the most common animals and plants eaten in the traditional diet of central Australia. Each food source is described on a page with a description, black and white drawing, and its uses.


Medicinal Plants


Medicinal Plants in Australia, Volume 1 — Bush Pharmacy, Cheryll Williams. This is a new book (November 2010) that looks like it will be really good. It has 640 pages so that is a good start.

Click here to purchase from Australia $68.99 AUD


Medicinal Plants in Australia, Volume 1 — Bush Pharmacy, Cheryll Williams


Medicinal Plants in Australia, Volume 2 — Gums, Resins, Tanin and Essential Oils, Cheryll Williams. This has less pages than the first volume (only 304) but the topics sound really interesting. I have been wondering how to find out more about native Australian plant essential oils.

Click here to purchase from Australia $61.81 AUD


Medicinal Plants in Australia, Volume 2 - Gums, Resins, Tanin and Essential Oils, Cheryll Williams


Medicinal Plants in Australia, Volume 3 — Plants, Potions and Poisons, Cheryll Williams. Now there is a 3rd volume of this excellent series.

Click here to purchase from Australia $72.86 AUD


Medicinal Plants in Australia, Volume 2 - Gums, Resins, Tanin and Essential Oils, Cheryll Williams


Indigenous Studies


Hunters and Trackers of the Australian Desert, Pat Lowe. This is more of a "reading" book than a "how to" book, but its pretty good. They sell it at Australian Geographic shops so if you are at one you can decide if its worth getting. It's about Aboriginal hunting and other skills and practices, with a fair bit about tracking. At one point in the story they ask the author if she likes cats, to which she replies "Oh, yes, I like them very much" — so they cook one up for her. (In the outback, feral cats cause a huge amount of destruction.)

Purchase from Australia $41.99 (Probably Unavailable)
Used on Amazon (expensive, $120+ USD)


Hunters and Trackers of the Australian Desert, Pat Lowe


Blue Mountains Dreaming: The Aboriginal Heritage, ed. by Eugene StocktonBlue Mountains Dreaming: The Aboriginal Heritage, ed. by Eugene Stockton. This has a scientific flavour to it, and has chapters about customs and lifestyles, archaeology, stone tools, food and diet. There is a list of about 75 plant foods that I have typed up and printed and am learning. There is a new edition of it in a larger format (pictured), that you can find in some bookstores (a lot of places in the Blue Mountains sell it). The newer edition is rather expensive, about $60 new (update - it seems to be cheaper now), and has some colour plates, where the original edition was only black and white and only cost about $20 or $25 new.

Click here to look for it on Amazon (1st edition, secondhand)
Click here to buy 2nd edition $35.00 AUD from Wentworth Falls


Aboriginal People and Their Plants, Philip A. Clarke. I got this book from Macquarie Uni when I was studying BIOL 350: Aboriginal Impact on Australian Ecosystems with Dr Jim Kohen. It is a great book, a large colour "reading" book rather than a field guide. The level is kind of halfway between a coffee table book and a scientific book, so there is lots of information but it's not too dry to pick up and read.

Click here to purchase from Australia $40.99 AUD


Aboriginal People and Their Plants, Philip A. Clarke


Aboriginal String Bags, Nets and Cordage, Alan L. West. This is a good and detailed book about the construction of Aboriginal string bags, nets, and cordage (how surprising). It is written in a scientific style, more like a scientific paper than a how-to book, it contains a lot of useful information.

Click here to purchase from Australia $35.99 AUD


Aboriginal People and Their Plants, Philip A. Clarke


Dreamkeepers: A Spirit-Journey Into Aboriginal Australia, Harvey Arden Dreamkeepers: A Spirit-Journey Into Aboriginal Australia, Harvey Arden. HarperCollins Publishers, 1994 and 1995. I asked the author Robert Wolff if he knew of a book like Original Wisdom, but set in Australia, and this is what he told me to get. From the back cover: "An extraordinary spirit-journey into the minds, hearts, and dreams of Australia's Aboriginal peoples, custodians of the oldest culture on earth."

Author's Link. Buy from Amazon.
Click here to purchase from Australia $24.99 AUD


The World of the First Australians, R. M. and C. H. Berndt. 1st ed. 1964, 2nd ed. 1977, 5th ed. 1988. A thick hardcover book (600 pages) with comprehensive details about the traditional tribal life of Australian Aboriginal people.

Click here to look for it on Amazon (secondhand only)
Click here to look for it on Amazon (2ndhand only, 5th edition paperback)



The World of the First Australians, R. M. and C. H. Berndt


Lonely Planet: Aboriginal Australia & the Torres Strait Islands — Guide to Indigenous AustraliaLonely Planet: Aboriginal Australia & the Torres Strait Islands — Guide to Indigenous Australia. 1st ed. July 2001. This was out of print for ages, but last time I looked there were some secondhand copies of it on Amazon. It is a unique book (as far as I know), a traveller's guide to the remote areas of Australia and also a listing of Indigenous-related sites and places that you can visit all over Australia.

Click here to look for it on Amazon


Poisonous Plants and Animals

Jon Young says to learn the poisonous/dangerous plants and animals in your area (or the wilderness area that you are going to be going out in) first.


Venemous Creatures of Australia, Struan K. Sutherland Venemous Creatures of Australia, Struan K. Sutherland. Giving details of 64 of Australia's most venomous creatures, with full colour photographs, maps; this work shows their habitats, diagrams to help with identification and first aid procedures. The binding is styled by Oxford University Press and has the same look and feel (and smell) as the Menkhorst and Knight and Barbara Triggs field guides to Mammals.

Click here to purchase from Australia $35.99 AUD

Pretty But Poisonous, R.C.H. Shepherd. An excellent book covering the types of plants that you are likely to find growing in your garden, not so much the native ones that you will find in the bush. You can get it here.

Some Plants are Poisonous, Sally Wilson. Until I found the book above this was about the only decent book about poisonous plants I have been able to find for australia. (Please let me know if you know of any others). This book is hard to find. (Again let me know if you find a source for it).

Poisonous plants of Australia, Selwyn L. Everist. This is a very large book that goes for about $300 secondhand, and is far too big and serious for casual use, its at my local library. Most of the (few) books on poisonous plants are focused on livestock poisoning. 684 large pages. It's the bible of poisonous plants for Australia. Click here to look for it on Amazon.

Toxic Plants and Animals, A Guide for Australia, ed. by Jeanette Covacevich, Peter Davie and John Pearn. The plants section takes up 70 of the 504 pages of this book, so it is mostly about animals. It is fairly technical, and out of print.

Australia's Dangerous Creatures — Understand, Identify, Avoid, Survive, Reader's Digest. A large colour book, I found it for $6 secondhand and at that price very much well worth it.


Plants


Field Guide to the Native Plants of Sydney, Les Robinson Field Guide to the Native Plants of Sydney, Les Robinson. Revised 3rd edition, 2003. Kangaroo Press, Sydney. Great book for comprehensive, strict and technical descriptions of the plants. Probably the best technical small field guide, if you don't mind line drawings. Has no photos, only black and white line drawings. Contains a lot of species (over 1370) and an excellent key to identification in the front of the book.

Click here to purchase from Australia $30.75 AUD
Purchase from Amazon $16.27 USD


Native Plants of the Sydney Region, Alan Fairley and Philip Moore.Native Plants of the Sydney Region, Alan Fairley and Philip Moore. This is a new book (2010), that looks like it will be really good. Nearly 1400 species in 624 pages. The authors also wrote "Native Plants of the Sydney District" which was one of the best (if not the best) plant books I have seen for Sydney. It was a large, expensive (well over $100 new) hardcover book that you will probably pay at least $200 for secondhand now. This new one is softcover and less than half the price.

Click here to purchase from Australia $48.79 AUD, with free shipping in Australia
Purchase from Amazon $32.04 USD


Cronin's Key Guide to Australian Wildflowers, Leonard Cronin.Cronin's Key Guide to Australian Wildflowers, Leonard Cronin. This book is really good for identifying plants that you see in the field based on their flowers. I have a few other plant field guides but none of the others are as good for finding plants (provided that they are in flower) so quickly.

Click here to purchase from Australia $32.16 AUD


Field Guide to Australian Wildflowers, Denise Greig.Field Guide to Australian Wildflowers, Denise Greig. A lovely book, with beautiful pictures of the flowers. The plants are grouped into families. It provides identification of over 1000 of the most common species, encompassing a high proportion of those most likely to be seen in the field. 448 pages.

Purchase from Australia $41.99 AUD (free shipping)
Click here to purchase from Amazon


A Field Guide to Australian Trees, Ivan Holliday.A Field Guide to Australian Trees, Ivan Holliday. Small, portable book with trees grouped by their genus and colour photographs of the whole tree from a distance. Black and white line drawings are given of other identifying parts of the trees, such as leaves or fruit. Contains a lot of trees (about 400). Good to take in the car when you are going on road trips.

Click here to purchase from Australia $28.49 AUD


Native Plants of the Blue Mountains, Margaret Baker and Robin Corringham.Native Plants of the Blue Mountains, Margaret Baker and Robin Corringham. Small book with the plants arranged in their communities (such as open forest, heath, swamps, etc.), and in order of descending height within each community. Colour photos of the plants. A very good book if you live in the Blue Mountains.

It was originally published as two separate books, Native Plants of the Upper Blue Mountains and Native Plants of the Lower Blue Mountains. There was also a Native Plants of the Sydney Region, in the same style. You can sometimes find these secondhand.

Click here to purchase from Australia (Wentworth Falls) $20 AU
Click here to look for Upper Blue Mountains from Amazon (secondhand)
Click here to look for Lower Blue Mountains from Amazon (secondhand)
Click here to look for Sydney Region from Amazon (secondhand)

The Random House Encyclopedia of Australian Native Plants, Geoff Bryant. Large book with about 2000 plants described, and 550 colour photographs. The plants are grouped by their genus.

Soul of the Desert, Philippa Nikulinsky and Stephen D HopperSoul of the Desert, Philippa Nikulinsky and Stephen D Hopper. It's not a field guide, its a large, beautiful book, with lovely hand-painted pictures of plants (mostly) and some animals from the central deserts of australia, with descriptions of them. The best thing about this book is that somehow it makes you feel very connected to the subject matter, which is in contrast to many field guides (especially plant ones) that can be somewhat overwhelming or even alienating to beginners. If you live in the centre of Australia, I would say definitely get this book.

Purchase from Australia $38.05 AUD (free shipping)
Click here to purchase from Amazon (probably unavailable)


Eucalypts of the Sydney Region - A Bushwalker's Guide, Gary Leonard.Eucalypts of the Sydney Region — A Bushwalker's Guide, Gary Leonard. A small colour book with the most common Eucalypts ("gum trees") found within 100 kilometres of Sydney and how to identify them. There are something like 700 species of Eucalypts in Australia and learning to identify them can be quite difficult. This book would be a good place to start. It seems expensive for the size of it, though.

Click here to purchase from Australia $29.99 AUD

Weeds


Weeds of Blue Mountains Bushland - Garden Plants Going Wild, Blue Mountains City CouncilWeeds of Blue Mountains Bushland — Garden Plants Going Wild, Blue Mountains City Council, National Parks and Wildlife Service, and Sydney Catchment Authority. A 45 page colour pamphlet with details of the most common introduced weeds found in the Blue Mountains. Most (or all?) of these weeds are also found in Sydney and many other parts of Australia.

It is available free by phoning the council, they will even post it out to you, although you may need to be a resident of the Blue Mountains.

You can also download it here for free from the Weeds of the Blue Mountains website.


Weeds of the South-East — An Identification Guide for Australia, F. J. Richardson, R. G. Richardson, and R. C. H. ShepherdWeeds of the South-East — An Identification Guide for Australia, F. J. Richardson, R. G. Richardson, and R. C. H. Shepherd. An excellent book on identifying (mostly introduced) weeds. The best weeds book I have seen that is still in print. Over 2000 species and 1600 colour photos. Its expensive but its the best weeds book ever (well pretty much).

You can get it here.

There are a couple more weeds books listed under Bush Tucker


Fungi


A Field Guide to the Fungi of Australia, Tony Young and A.M. Young A Field Guide to the Fungi of Australia, Tony Young and A.M. Young. This is the best field guide to Australian Fungi that I have seen. Note that it is extremely dangerous to eat fungi if there is any doubt whatsoever that you have an edible species. There are many stories of people — even a fungi expert and his family— around the world who died from eating fungi that they mistook for a different species. I would recommend you don't eat any wild growing mushroom or fungus. Its's just not worth the risk. Even if the risk is only small. They don't have many calories anyway.

Purchase from Australia $26.99 AUD (no longer available)
Purchase from Amazon (I think this book is rare as the prices on Amazon range from a few thousand $ up to $23,680).


Mammals


A Field Guide to the Mammals of Australia, Peter Menkhorst and Frank Knight A Field Guide to the Mammals of Australia, Peter Menkhorst and Frank Knight. This is my favourite mammal guide, it has all the mammals, even the introduced ones. Frank knight also illustrated the famous bird guide "Pizzey and Knight". It even has track information on the inside of the rear cover. The only thing I don't like about this book is the strong smell, that is probably vinyl chloride or something like that, which is a carcinogen.

Click here to purchase 3rd ed. from Australia $40.49 AUD
Purchase from Amazon $34.46 USD


Cronin's Key guide to Australian Mammals, Leonard Cronin. Cronin's Key guide to Australian Mammals, Leonard Cronin. This is a nice book, and I like the pictures a lot. It doesn't have all the mammal species, but almost all of them, and it has good information. It was the first mammal field guide that I bought. It doesn't have the nasty vinyl chloride smell of the Menkhorst and Knight book, it just smells like a normal book.

Click here to purchase from Australia $27.58 AUD


Tracks, Scats and Other Traces: A Field Guide to Australian Mammals, Barbara Triggs Tracks, Scats and Other Traces: A Field Guide to Australian Mammals, Barbara Triggs. Oxford University Press, 1996. (Third Edition, 2005). Not your usual mammals field guide with pictures of each animal and a description of them. Instead it has pictures of the tracks, the scats (droppings), the skulls and other bones, and other kinds of traces such as scratchings on trees. In other words, the things that you see that the animals have left behind. Which in the case of most of Australian mammals, being nocturnal, that is all you actually see of the animal. Very highly recommended!

Click here to purchase from Australia $44.49 AUD


The Mammals of Australia, Ronald Strahan and Steve van Dyck. The Mammals of Australia, Ronald Strahan and Steve van Dyck. Third Edition, 2006. This is a truly lovely book, with a huge amount of information in its 888 pages. It has every mammal species plus the introduced ones (like the rabbit, hare, fox, etc.). I had my eye on it for years and then recently I was lucky enough to find a 2nd edition one for sale for $30 at a library, presumably because they had updated to the 3rd edition.

Click here to purchase from Australia $106.49 AUD


Birds


Field Guide to the Birds of Australia, Nicolas Day, Ken Simpson, Peter Trusler Field Guide to the Birds of Australia, Nicolas Day, Ken Simpson, Peter Trusler.This is known to birdwatchers as "Simpson and Day". I like the pictures in this one the best out of all the major field guides. The information is still very highly regarded compared to most of the other guides. Many serious birdwatchers think "Pizzey and Knight" (listed below) is the best though. I bought this one since I liked the pictures so much I figured (correctly) that I would spend more time looking through it. I feel that I made the right choice since I love the pictures in this one so much. I have the 6th edition, the current one is the 8th and there is an updated version of the 8th edition (I'm not sure why they haven't called this the 9th edition).

Click here to purchase 8th ed. updated version from Australia $29.61 AUD
Click here to purchase 8th ed. original version from Amazon $28.00 USD

I also have the Simpson and Day CD-ROM edition of their field guide, version 5.0. Its okay, though it really bugs me that you need to have the CD inserted in your computer for it to work, even if you copy the whole CD to your hard drive, which means its really slow. I think they must have made this version before there were CD burners, because they thought it would stop people copying it—as I can't see any other reason why they would have made it this way. There are audio tracks of the calls of almost all of the birds, which are of medium-grade quality. I don't think its available anywhere anymore.

The Field Guide to the Birds of Australia, Graham Pizzey and Frank Knight The Field Guide to the Birds of Australia, Graham Pizzey and Frank Knight. This is the other of the two best bird field guides for Australia. It is the one preferred by most serious birdwatchers. However I find the pictures a bit dull looking for my taste — the birds all kind of look the same to me, making it harder to remember them in my mind. The illustrations are meant to be the most anatomically correct, though. If you want the most serious bird field guide get this one otherwise get Simpson and Day.

Click here to purchase 8th ed. from Australia $44.99 AUD
The 8th ed. from Amazon is over $200 USD.
Click here to preorder the 9th ed. from Amazon $26.99 USD


Slater Field Guide to Australian Birds, Peter Slater, Pat Slater and Raoul Slater Slater Field Guide to Australian Birds, Peter Slater, Pat Slater and Raoul Slater. This is a smaller field guide, and its advantage is it is easy to carry around. Its size is 21.3 x 11.4 x 2.8 centimetres, or 8.4 x 4.5 x 1.1 inches in the old scale. So it is a good one to get if you want to have your field guide with you out in the field. Unlike most of the field guides it also has illustrations of the eggs of all the birds that breed in Australia. It has very good reviews on Amazon.

Click here to purchase from Australia $28.45 AUD
Click here to purchase from Amazon (about $20 USD)


Photographic Field Guide Birds of Australia: Second Edition, Jim Flegg Photographic Field Guide Birds of Australia: Second Edition, Jim Flegg. This field guide to Australian birds is different to most in that it has photographs of each bird, rather than drawings or paintings. If you would prefer to see actual photographs of the birds, this is your guide. Most people prefer a field guide with drawings though, since the drawings are specially done to look like a generic representation of the bird, and also to point out details that can be used to tell one species from another very similar species. Photographs, especially of the more rare birds, do not always show the birds looking like they will when you see them in the wild. However, sometimes it is nice to see a real photo rather than a drawing.

Click here to purchase from Australia $39.49 AUD


Reader's Digest Complete Book of Australian Birds Reader's Digest Complete Book of Australian Birds. A very very large blue hardcover book with a dust jacket that matches the cover. It is the tallest book I own, and it is so big that I have only one shelf that it fits on. You could work out by lifting it a few times. Colour photos and detailed descriptions of all the birds. Not a field guide as such (so not as good if you just want a book to learn to identify the birds). Not your usual coffee table book either because it lists every bird. Contains lots of information about every bird in Australia. Excellent.

Click here to purchase from Australia $62.49 AUD
Buy from Amazon (About $300 new or $40+ used)


Birds of the Blue Mountains, Margaret Baker and Robin CorringhamBirds of the Blue Mountains, Margaret Baker and Robin Corringham. This was my first bird book, and a really good one to start with for the Blue Mountains (and probably also, to a lesser extent, the greater Sydney area). There is only a few birds in it (about 50), you can flick through it and quickly find common birds when you are starting out. They are all native birds, there are no introduced (feral) birds like the Indian Myna or the Feral Pigeon.

Click here to purchase from Wentworth Falls $12.00 AUD


Common Birds of Australia (Green Guide), Peter Rowland Common Birds of Australia (Green Guide), Peter Rowland. A smaller, more introductory book. It won a Whitley Award for best zoological book. The publishers say "This book provides an introduction to the major bird groups, with an emphasis on those that the amateur naturalist and nature-lover is most likely to see. The book is organized into six sections which cover birds of prey, waders and waterbirds, seabirds, songbirds, pigeons and parrots and other birds. Information is organized simply, with individual species or group entries describing key characteristics — where they are found, food requirements and behavioural habits. Each entry is accompanied by a colour photograph and, where appropriate, distribution maps. A key feature of the text is the "gee whiz" spreads which answer many of the most commonly asked questions about why birds do what they do, revealing facts and providing practical information for the amateur enthusiast. In addition, fact panels interspersed throughout highlight surprising snippets of information.

Click here to purchase from Australia $21.99 AUD

Australian BirdKeeper MagazineAustralian BirdKeeper Magazine is Australia's premier publisher of bird pet and aviary literature. Apart from the magazine itself they have a huge range of books on different types of birds. They also have DVDs, and fish, amphibian, and reptile material as well.

What Bird Call is That? Terence Lindsey. This is probably out of print. It comes with an audio cassette with the bird calls on it. Contains the most common birds in the Southeast of Australia.

A Field Guide to Australian Birdsong, Bird Observation and Conservation Australia (BOCA)Birds of Australia, John Gould. Published in 1848, this is a classic set of seven huge leather-bound volumes containing high-quality plates of many of Australia's birds. In the Australian Birds section of my site I've used (with permission) many of the bird images from the digital collection of this book at the National Library of Australia. Many of the bird names (both common names and scientific names) have changed since then, so it can be confusing to match up the birds with the original names used by Gould. On this site I have shown Gould's plates along with the modern names for the birds.


Birdsong For Beginners, Bird Observation and Conservation Australia (BOCA) Birdsong For Beginners, Bird Observation and Conservation Australia (BOCA). I haven't heard this CD (nor do I get any commission for selling it or any of the BOCA stuff), I am including it to make this page a more complete collection of Australian field guides and naturalist resources.

Get it from BOCA


Australian Bird Call Series with Bird Calls of the Greater Sydney Region, Fred Van Gessel Australian Bird Call Series, Fred Van Gessel. There are a few different volumes, each one focusing on a different area of Australia. Volume 5 is the Greater Sydney Region. The Sydney ones (at least) are the standard by which all the others are judged, which are recommended by birdwatching clubs.

Bird Calls of the Greater Sydney Region
Other sets of Australian bird calls


A Field Guide to Australian Birdsong, Bird Observation and Conservation Australia (BOCA) A Field Guide to Australian Birdsong, Bird Observation and Conservation Australia (BOCA). A comprehensive 10-CD set that covers the bird calls from all around Australia. Each CD may be purshased separately or as a set of all 10.

Click here to purchase from BOCA Australia


Advanced Bird Language, Jon Young Advanced Bird Language, Jon Young. Advanced Bird Language is an 8-CD audio set which teaches you how to interpret bird language, and other aspects of naturalist awareness. Note that these are not recordings of actual bird calls used to learn to identify which bird sounds like which call — rather they are a series of talks where Jon teaches you how to learn, by observing the birds yourself, what the birds are saying by their calls, their body language, and their other behaviours. The teachings are from North America but they apply to any country.

Click here to purchase from Wilderness Awareness School $74.95 USD


Sydney Birds and Where to Find Them, Peter Roberts. Sydney Birds and Where to Find Them, Peter Roberts. The 30 top bird-watching localities in and around Sydney. These birding hot spots stretch from Tuggerah Lakes on the Central Coast to Lake Illawarra near Wollongong and from the Blue Mountains in the west to some surprisingly accessible sites tucked away in the heart of the city. Each locality entry lists the key species to look out for including rare and seasonal visitors. It describes how to access the location, and what amenities to expect; maps are featured. There is also a handy list of Sydney birds, each entry providing information on the best spots to find it.

Click here to purchase from Australia $26.51 AUD


Attracting Birds to Your Garden, John Dengate. Attracting Birds to Your Garden, John Dengate. Now available in paperback, this is a practical guide to encouraging birds to inhabit your garden and to enjoying the results. Well-known radio and TV personality, John Dengate covers subjects such as planning and planting a garden to suit birds; natural versus artificial feeding; creating a garden wetland; and much more.

Click here to purchase from Australia $39.49 AUD


Eagles, Hawks and Falcons of Australia David Hollands. Eagles, Hawks and Falcons of Australia David Hollands. A blend of writing and photography with an essay on each of the 24 species of eagles, hawks and falcons in Australia.

Click here to purchase from Australia $44.49 AUD


Owls, Frogmouths and Nightjars of Australia, David Hollands. Owls, Frogmouths and Nightjars of Australia, David Hollands. A comprehensive look at all seventeen Owls, Nightjars and Frogmouths of Australia. Richly illustrated with over 200 photographs, showing all aspects of the birds' lives.

Click here to purchase from Australia $47.49 AUD


Birdsong, Don Stap Birdsong, Don Stap. From the promotional material: "Following one of the world's experts on birdsong from the woods of Martha's Vineyard to the tropical forests of Central America, Don Stap brings to life the quest to unravel an ancient mystery: Why do birds sing and what do their songs mean? We quickly discover that one question leads to another. Why does the chestnut-sided warbler sing one song before dawn and another after sunrise? Why does the brown thrasher have a repertoire of two thousand songs when the chipping sparrow has only one? And how is the hermit thrush able to sing a duet with itself, producing two sounds simultaneously to create its beautiful, flutelike melody?"

Click here to purchase from Wilderness Awareness School $24.00 USD


Reptiles and Amphibians


Cronin's Key Guide to Australian Reptiles and Frogs, Leonard Cronin Cronin's Key Guide to Australian Reptiles and Frogs, Leonard Cronin. This is my reptiles and frogs field guide. It has drawings rather than photos (as do most field guides) and in this one I really love the drawings. I have the edition before this one which is called "Key Guide: Australian Reptiles and Amphibians" It doesn't have all the species, but most of them. There is another, thick, book (see below) with photographs that has all the reptiles (and no frogs) but it is more expensive.

Click here to purchase from Australia $26.43 AUD


A Complete Guide to Reptiles of Australia, Steve Wilson and Gerry Swan A Complete Guide to Reptiles of Australia, Steve Wilson and Gerry Swan. This book has photos of all the reptiles in Australia. (I think its all of them, its a lot anyway, over 800 species.) Its a good one to get if you like photos and you want the most comprehensive field guide.

Click here to purchase from Australia $44.49 AUD


A Field Guide to Reptiles of New South Wales, Ross Sadlier, Gerry Swan and Glenn Shea A Field Guide to Reptiles of New South Wales, Ross Sadlier, Gerry Swan and Glenn Shea. I've flicked through this book several times in shops and almost bought it. From what I remember it is similar to the Complete Guide to Reptiles of Australia (shown above), but it only covers NSW so it is smaller and cheaper. It covers all the reptile species in NSW, including freshwater and marine turtles.

Click here to purchase from Australia $31.49 AUD

Australian Frog Calls, Subtropical East, David Stewart (an audio CD). Quite good quality recordings of the calls of 74 species of frogs.


Fishes


A Field Guide to Fish of Australia, Pocket File SeriesA Field Guide to Fish of Australia, Pocket File Series, Penguin Books. A small fold-out field guide (not a book as such) of the most common freshwater and saltwater fish. Colour photos and descriptions. It's not very large, it folds out to the size of about two A4 pages stuck together end to end.

Click here to purchase from Australia $7.49 AUD


Swainston’s Fishes of Australia, Roger Swainston.Swainston’s Fishes of Australia, Roger Swainston. A new fish book (October 2010). The publishers say Roger Swainston's breathtaking artwork provides a fascinating overview of the extraordinary diversity of Australia's marine and freshwater fishes. Here, more than 1500 remarkable illustrations portray every family of fishes ever recorded from Australian waters. The names of all known species are listed alongside detailed information on the taxonomy and biology of each family.."

Click here to purchase from Australia $111.49 AUD


A Photographic Guide to Sea Fishes of Australia, Rudie H. Kuiter.A Photographic Guide to Sea Fishes of Australia, Rudie H. Kuiter. A guide for the diver, traveller, fishing enthusiast, or layperson, which aims to provide easy identification of the 222 species of fish covered. Photographs and distribution maps accompany each description, and some show juvenile and adult, or sex variations.

Click here to purchase from Australia $17.99 AUD


Sea Fishes of Southern Australia, Barry Hutchins.Sea Fishes of Southern Australia, Barry Hutchins. A complete guide for NSW, Victoria, Tasmania, South Australia, and southwest Western Australia, covering more than 700 species, with 1000 colour illustrations; also gives information on dangerous fishes and first aid; fish deformities and parasites; edibility, fish preservation and photography; Australian record sizes.

Click here to purchase from Australia $26.99 AUD


Field Guide to Freshwater Fishes of Australia G.R. Allen, S.H. Midgely and M. Allen.Field Guide to Freshwater Fishes of Australia G.R. Allen, S.H. Midgely and M. Allen. A really nice fish book. The publishers say "From tiny gobies to the giant barramundi, this volume provides in-depth coverage of nearly 300 species - every fish known to inhabit fresh water on the Australian continent. Each species is illustrated with additional hints for rapid identification and a concise summary of biological knowledge."

Click here to purchase from Australia $40.49 AUD


A Handbook to Australian Seashells, Barry Wilson A Handbook to Australian Seashells, Barry Wilson. This is a lovely guide to seashells. Seashells are actually invertebrates, though it seems like they should go in the fishes section.

The product info goes like this "A Handbook to Australian Seashells will help you to identify most of the shells you find, no matter where you are on the Australian coast. It includes over 375 species of the most common seashells found along our seashores. Each one is illustrated with a beautiful colour photograph showing its colours, patterns, shape and sculpture."

Click here to purchase from Australia $26.99 AUD

Click here to see more Australian fish field guides from "The Nile" bookshop.


Invertebrates


A Field Guide to Insects in Australia, Paul Zborowski and Ross Storey A Field Guide to Insects in Australia, Paul Zborowski and Ross Storey. New Holland Publishers, 1995-2003. To be honest I haven't used this book very much. Often I see things in the garden and look in the book, and don't find them there. It's a good book though, more of a scientific book (though it has lots of colour pictures). Since there are "more than 86,000 species of insects described in Australia", I guess it is hard to find a book that has more than a tiny fraction of them in it. This book goes through the orders and suborders and families, rather than listing a representative sample of the species. The book is only about insects — that is, no spiders or ticks or centipedes, etc.

Click here to purchase from Australia $29.49 AUD


Spiderwatch, Bert Brunet Spiderwatch, Bert Brunet. This is the best Australian spider book I have seen, I saw it at Featherdale where they sell it. I should have got it and I will get it next time (if not before)...

Illustrated with an identification guide, colour drawings and photographs, this is an easy-to-use and practical field manual. It contains advice on where to find spiders and how to draw, photograph, and take notes on them as well as facts on anatomy and evolution. More than 100 of the most often encountered Australian spiders.

Click here to purchase from Australia $26.99 AUD


Australian Spiders and Insects, Niki Horin Australian Spiders and Insects, Niki Horin. This is a new book (2010) that I haven't seen yet — I added it because I don't have many insect books (and no spider books) on this page yet. It doesn't cost much or have many pages (80). The advertising for it goes "Accessible, informative and entertaining, this spotter's guide to Australian insects and spiders is the perfect family reference, bushwalker's field guide and gardener's companion. It includes 130 colour photos, identification support and a first aid section."

There is another spider field guide that is really good, I have seen in shops, with a white cover and a black and red spider on the cover. Unfortunately I can't remember what it is called, though. (Its "Spiderwatch", shown above!)

Click here to purchase from Australia $13.49 AUD

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