Thursday, April 14, 2016

The living rock: the invention of climbing in eastern Australia

The Living Rock has been officially archived by the National Library of Australia. To search the   archive of websites like this one, click on the logo above.

I'll be starting work soon on on placing most of the original documents I have gathered throughout this project online -- indeed, on this very site. This will make them accessible to anyone who is interested in Australian climbing history. I'm grateful to several correspondents who have provided me with additional information on climbing history in other states and as more material becomes available, I'll post it here. Although the primary objective was to explore the origins of climbing in Australia (essentially before World War II) and postwar climbing in Queensland, it has necessarily expanded to include related events and ideas that more accurately offer a foundation on which modern Australian climbing has been built. Please keep the comments coming -- I value each one.

In addition, I'll be working with Robert Thomson in setting up a Flickr page on which we plan to place a selection of the many thousands of images contributed to this project -- with permission from the contributors, of course. We hope this will provide a lasting resource that will be open to anyone with a passion for this remarkable history. So watch this space...

I can now squeeze the remaining copies of The Living Rock into one room in our house and although the pace has slowed, there's a continuing interest in the book. The useful and informed feedback I've received  readers, where possible, will be incorporated into an iBook version that I plan to publish later this year. It will include most of the images in the hard copy but with some additional photographs and even some video clips. It'll be available through the iBook store and readable only on iPads or Macs, mainly because of the large file size of the document. I will not be publishing a second edition of the hard copy which now seems highly likely to be sold out by the end of this year. If you haven't yet obtained a copy of this once-only production -- and would like to -- please contact me.

Since publication in September 2015, I've been involved in various promotional events, beginning with a fantastic launch at Mountain Designs' Valley store in Brisbane. Mountain Designs has been strongly supportive and I thank all involved for this. It was wonderful to see Donn Groom (with virtually the entire Groom family!) and Paul Caffyn who came from their homes in New Zealand for the event along with about 80 others, including old friends from decades ago. It was an uplifting evening. A highlight was meeting 85-year-old Bernice Manley for the first time. I spoke to Bernie at the very start of my research by telephone from Melbourne where she lives. She happened to be in Queensland staying with relatives and it was wonderful to meet her and to experience her continuing enthusiasm for climbing. Bernie was one of a handful of pioneering women who were climbing in the late 1940s/early 1950s in Southeast Queensland. Peter Barnes who is close to 86 was also there, along with his old climbing partner Alan Frost. Both look incredibly fit and are still active in the outdoors: what wonderful examples for us all. Long-time friend Ian Thomas flew up from Melbourne with the doyen of Australian climbing Keith Bell kindly coming up from Sydney for the event. Ian, Keith and I managed to squeeze in some memorable moments in the Glass House Mountains during their stay.

I've also had strong support from other Brisbane-based climbing outlets -- Pinnacle Sports at Red Hill and K2 Base Camp in Brisbane's Fortitude Valley -- and the book is now available at all of these shops along with the following general book stores Riverbend Books (Bulimba), Avid Reader (West End), Mary Ryan's (Milton), Mary Ryan's (Hervey Bay), Mary Ryan's (Noosa), The Maleny Bookshop, Rosetta Books (Maleny), The River Read (Noosaville), Binna Burra Lodge, Canungra Visitors Information Centre, Rathdowney Historical Museum and Visitor Information, Paddy Pallin (Katoomba), Fullers Bookshop (Hobart) and the Hobart Bookshop. I thank all of these outlets for their support.It's also available in selected bookstores in southern Australia thanks to Glenn Tempest who is distributing copies from his Natimuk headquarters.

Below is a Table of Contents to give you an idea of the span of the project. Part I explores the earliest known European ascents in Australia and the emergence of rockclimbing as a recreation before World War II. Part II focuses on climbing in postwar Queensland until about the late 1980s. I stopped at that point because of both the enormity of the project and the diversification of climbing into more specialised categories: sports climbing, bouldering and  indoor climbing, for example. In addition, the most recent stories and images of climbing in Australia -- particularly since the mid-1980s -- have been published in a range of climbing magazines, including Thrutch, Rock, Wild, Crux, and current online offering, Vertical Life.

The price of the book is AUD$39.95 (plus shipping -- $10.00 for most of the East Coast and $5.00 for Brisbane) for the paperback. The hardback version is sold out.  Please contact me for payment details.


Living Rock Press
PO Box 52
Rochedale South
QLD 4123

Articles on climbing history from 2013-present: Vertical Life (free subscription).
Climbing wars: or Victoria versus the rest (Crux 2007)
Transport trauma (Crux 2007)
Women with attitude (Crux 2007)
Ghosts and the Glasshouses (Crux 2006)
The origins of Australian climbing (Crux 2006)
Return to the North Face of Leaning Peak  (Wild 2003)
The changing role of QLD newspapers in imagining leisure and recreation (eJournalist 2001)
Close to the edge: imagining climbing in S. E. Queensland (Queensland Review 2000)


Rokrover said...

G'day Mike: The "The Living Rock" is a most valuable treatise justifying your effort the past 15 years or more since our reunion at the Doog. 

It's good you ferreted out so many references and first-hand material from active protagonists. I'm pleased the tone is not too academic and is spiced with charming vignettes that define the Australian culture. You unearthed a lot of material new to me and placed it in a broader historical context with your journalistic insight. 

Naturally I look back with nostalgia on those good old days and am grateful you kept the memories alive and enshrined in published form. There's nothing like a good hard-copy book to savour in this predominantly digital age.

Cheers, Ted Cais

Noosa Strade Bianche said...

Hey Mike im on the sunny coast how do i get my hands on a copy?
Cheers Alex McConnell

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