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Driven, The Beadell Roads, Hell of a Time: Book reviews

By Ron Moon & Justin Walker, 16 Jun 2019 Gear

Driven The Beadell Roads Hell of a Time Book reviews feature

Tales of expeditions, travel, and conflict to inspire.

FOUR-WHEELING is a great way to get away from it all, and books are a fine companion on any 4x4 trip to enrich yourself with tales, real-life accounts and essential travel guides.

Here are some book recommendations to consider packing for your next outing.

Driven, Francis Edwin Birtles

FRANCIS Birtles was, in the first half of the 20th Century, one of Australia’s most well-known adventurers, writers and photographers, with his exploits in outback Australia being documented in hundreds of magazine and newspaper articles, numerous movies and a couple of books.

He crossed Australia 80 odd times, but his greatest feat was being the first to drive a motor vehicle from London to Melbourne in 1928, way before anyone else. The vehicle with which he did some of his most extensive and gruelling travels in, ‘The Sundowner’, as he called it, is now displayed at the Australian National Museum in Canberra.

This book is by far the most comprehensive biography of Birtles’ life and adventures. It is backed up by in-depth research, with access to family members and obscure records spread across archives and libraries Australia-wide. A host of photos are also included to illustrate his many travels and experiences.

The book shows the lengths he went to (some a little illegal) to achieve his goals, but most of all it illustrates his toughness and his perseverance to get a job done, no matter the odds. - Ron Moon

Available from: https://scholarly.info
RRP: $49.95
We say: Inspiring and well worth a read.
Author: Terry G Birtles
Publisher: Australian Scholarly Publishing

The Beadell Roads

THIS is an excellent publication for anyone who wants to travel the rich and varied desert country west of the Stuart Highway and north of the Eyre Highway. From Coober Pedy and Alice Springs west to Kalgoorlie, Wiluna and Marble Bar the book covers large areas of the Great Victoria, Great Sandy, Little Sandy and Gibson Deserts.

Many of the roads through this vastness were put in by Len Beadell and his Gunbarrel Road Construction Party during the 1950s and ’60s, opening up the country for others to follow.

The book also covers the early exploration of this vast desert region, as well as each of the main roads and highways surveyed and constructed by Len and his team. There are some great old pics included, which I hadn’t seen before. Half of the book is taken up with a series of excellent maps in the Westprint style that not only shows the tracks but also points of interest, camping spots and the routes of the early explorers. - Ron Moon

Available from: www.westprint.com.au
RRP: $39.95
We say: Greatly detailed
Publisher: Westprint 

Hell of a Time

Go back in time to the start of the Great War of 1914-18 with this publishing of a Digger’s personal diaries. Philip Owen Ayton was a Sydney tram worker at the time, but answered the call and joined the Australian Imperial Force (AIF) in August 1914.

Ayton experienced Gallipoli first hand as part of the AIF’s First Division where he was badly injured. He subsequently recovered and rejoined the AIF in the mud and misery of the Western Front in France until war’s end.

From the very beginning Ayton kept notes and then would transfer these to his diaries that record not only the hardship and heartbreak of the battlefield, but also the off-duty shenanigans of the Diggers and their allies. It’s a brilliant read filled with Ayton’s thoughts and unique archival images, as well as a postscript written by one of Ayton’s sons. - Justin Walker

Available from: www.textpublishing.com.au
RRP: $35