Aussie Bites, Nibbles, Chomps, Solos and Mates

Australian Animals

Australian Books: Presentation at 2014 ECIS Librarians' Conference

Australian Children's Fantasy

Australian Children's Fiction

Australian Children's Nonfiction

Australian Children's Picture Books

Australian Fiction Series popular with young readers

Australian History Curriculum Fiction

Australian History Curriculum Non-Fiction

Australian Indigenous Peoples

Autobiography and Biography

Big Books

Bilingual Picture Books

British Children's Fiction

British Children's Picture Books

Early Childhood

ESL and Low Literacy

Graphic Novels

Great Books to Read Aloud


International Children's Books

Middle East and North Africa


New Zealand


Sophisticated Picture Books

Strong Australian Theme

Wordless Picture Books

Good Reads for Grade 2 & 3

Good Reads for Grade 8 & 9

Australian CBC Book of the Year Awards — 2015 Winners, Honour Books and Shortlist

Australian CBC Book of the Year Awards — 2014 Winners, Honour Books and Shortlist

Australian CBC Book of the Year Awards — Short List 2014

Australian CBC Book of the Year Awards — Short List 2013

Australian CBC Book of the Year Awards — Short List 2012

Australian CBC Book of the Year Awards — Short List 2011

Australian CBC Book of the Year Awards — Short List 2010

Australian CBC Book of the Year Award Winners 1965 - 2012

Carnegie Award Winners 2012

Kate Greenaway Award Winners 2012

Guardian Award Winners 2012

Nestle Awards Winners 2012

Fiction Resource Books for the PYP

Non-Fiction Resource Books for the PYP

Professional Resource Books for the PYP

Literature to support the Attitudes of the PYP

Literature to support the Concepts listed of the PYP

Literature to support the Learner Profile of the PYP

Fiction Books to support the MYP Areas of Interaction

Non-fiction Resource Books to support the MYP Areas of Interaction

Fiction to support the IB Learner Profile for the MYP

Literature Studies in English

Books for IBDP Visual Arts

Books for IBDP Theory of Knowledge

Books for IBDP and the School Library

Australian Adult Fiction

Fiction from East and Southeast Asia

Fiction from India, Pakistan & Sri Lanka


Children's Books - Nonfiction about Australia

AUSTRAL ED Contact Details:
a division of gleebooks
PO Box 486
NSW 2037

Phone: 61 2 9660 2333
Fax: 61 2 9660 3597

ABN  87 000 357 317

March 2014 update

This is a list of suggestions for nonfiction titles about Australia for elementary and secondary school. Books on Australian Animals and Australian Indigenous Peoples have not been included because we have compiled separate lists on these subjects. See the website   Please take the age suggestions as a rough guide.

All prices are in Australian dollars and include 10% GST tax. However this GST does not apply to exports from Australia.

Titles newly included are marked with •

If you would like to order any of the books on the list, send the orders to Austral Ed by email to   Payment can be made by direct bank transfer or bank cheques in Australian dollars or by Credit card especially for private purchases.   Freight is sent by the most economical method within Australia or overseas, depending on urgency.

Recommended by Kate Shepherd and Mandy Clarke


• A is for Australia: A Factastic Tour by Frane Lessac hardback 9781922179760 $24.95

At first glance this picture book with its wonderful, full-page colourful painted  illustrations appears to be quite simple. It is, in fact, packed with information, both visually and in text! The illustrations are very detailed, filled with people, plants, animals, buildings and landscapes. Each letter takes you to a different location, some well known, some not so, covering all the states and territories. Scattered around each page there are snippets of facts about that place: historical facts (some quite curious), information about the geography or flora and fauna, and reference to the Indigenous owners and their language. The book shows the amazing diversity of Australia and its landscape. At the front of the book there is a map of Australia showing the places you are about to visit. Highly recommended. (4-10 years)  MC

• Ancient Australia Unearthed: 50,000 Years of Australia's Indigenous Past by Alethea Kinsela  pb  9780980594737 $39.95  
This book has been written especially to support the secondary Ancient History curriculum however it also provides fascinating reading for primary teachers and advanced primary students.  It is a fascinating study describing the work of archaeologists in various parts of Australia, unearthing its ancient history and the 50,000 year history of the first humans on this continent.  Each case study emphasises that students need to question and find out information for themselves.  In order to encourage students to develop historical enquiry skills, there are many suggestions for questions under the headings Understand, Inquire, Create and Investigate. The book is well set out and includes many photos of case studies, illustrations, diagrams and maps.  There is a Glossary, Index and a section of Links and further reading.   (11 years up)  KS       

Australian Backyard Explorer by Peter Macinnis pb 9780642276841 $29.95
This is a fascinating book with a very different and detailed look at explorers in Australia. Filled with interesting anecdotes and varied questions such as how did explorers calculate the height of mountains? In the section on Journals and Notebooks, there are different entries made on the same day by James Cook and Joseph Banks showing a different perspective on their journey. Filled with illustrations and paintings of the period and also many photos and journal extracts, there are also many interesting activities and projects that students can undertake in their own backyard. Activities such as how to find water, collect plants, or make a shelter. There are sections on measuring distance, mapping and navigating by the stars as well as the difficulty of finding water and of making it fit to drink and coping with disasters. (10 years up)  KS


 • Australian Story: An Illustrated Timeline   by Tania McCartney pb  9780642277459  $19.99

This is an extended timeline with many photographs and illustrations of showing Australia’s history from millions of years ago to the present day.  There is very little detail in the text but it does provide images of plants and animals, people, events and achievements and so would be a helpful addition to the Library.  (8 – 11 years)  KS


• Australians All:  A History of Growing Up From the Ice Age to the Apology  by Nadia Wheatley &  Ken Searle (illus) hardback 9781741146370  $49.99

This is a history of Australia from two main perspectives: from the perspective of the original Indigenous inhabitants and also of the many people who have come and settled this country.  The emphasis is on the history of young people for she also tells the stories of about eighty young Australian boys and girls from all walks of life who lived through this period.   Since the stories are about children they unfortunately finish when the children are about eleven to fourteen years old.  However there are additional informative notes about what happened to these children when they grew older at the end of the book.  Nadia was determined to provide a strong, simple chronological structure to the book.  This structure is reinforced through informative time lists at the end of each chapter.  These provide a summary of the main events of each period covered.  The book is beautifully illustrated with large and small paintings by Ken Searle.  It contains a Bibliography, an Index and a Glossary and is a most informative large hardback book of 280 pages.  (11 years up) KS

• Australia's Greatest Landmarks & Locations by Virginia Grant pb/flexi-cover 9780857983886 $24.99

There are eight chapters covering Australia’s states and territories, with many photos throughout. With 1-2 pages for each city or area, this book is full of information and interesting facts about the many and varied landmarks and locations, both natural and man-made, and reveals the amazing diversity of Australia. At the end of each chapter is a double-page pictorial spread scattered with fact boxes. (10-14 years) MC

• Australia's Greatest People & Their Achievements by Linsay Knight pb/flexi-cover 9780857980205  $24.99

Explorers, prime ministers, sportspeople, artists, scientists, writers, business people, architects and social justice advocates; read the stories behind the people who helped shape this relatively young country. Many of these people were from humble backgrounds, and this book is both informative and inspiring. Lots of photos, illustrations and break-out fact boxes. (10-14 years) MC

•  The Big Book of Australian History by Peter Macinnis Macinnis (2nd edition) pb 9780642278722  $39.99 

This is a more traditional history endeavouring to describe events from the earliest times of geological formation, through the life of Indigenous Peoples, exploration and early settlement. This second edition has been revised and updated.  Contents include Federation, the ANZACS, the Great Depression, Defending Australia, Disasters, Sport, Controversial Issues and Multiculturalism and Science, Culture and Entertainment.  It is a mammoth task and the book forms a very helpful introduction and basic reference.  However what makes this book so different and interesting is its very extensive use of paintings, illustrations, posters and photos from the various periods.  It has been published by the National Library of Australia and they obviously had access to an extraordinary range of illustrative materials which add greatly to its interest.  It will be a very welcome addition to the elementary and secondary library.  (10 – 15 years)  KS

Black Snake: The Daring of Ned Kelly by Carole Wilkinson pb 9781876372934 $18.99
Ned Kelly was a bushranger in Australia in the 1870s. He robbed banks, stole horses and cattle but is regarded by many as a folk hero a bit like Robyn Hood. To others he was a murderer who deserved his sentence of death by hanging for his crimes. Here Ned Kelly's life is described factually but is interspersed by short fictional personal accounts by various people who knew Ned Kelly or who were there at the scene of his crimes. (8 - 12 years)  KS

• Colonial People series by Carmel Reilly hardback $31.99 net each

Convict Labourers 9781420293623

Domestic Servants 9781420293630

Gold Diggers 9781420293647

Squatters 9781420293654

This series explores every day life from the point of view of various workers in Colonial Australia.   The text includes from a range of primary and secondary sources as well as short first person fictional narratives.  Many illustrations and photographs and paintings of the period are included as well as an index.   Upper Primary level. KS

Crash! The Search for the Stinson  by J Beck, D Blacklock and K Allan pb 9781862913783 $19.99
An absorbing account of a very famous air crash in 1937. A yong bushman found the wreckage after making his way thorugh almost impenetrable mountain bushland. How the survivors were brought down from the mountains makes fascinating reading. The story is presented in detail, chronoligcally, with many quotations from the rescuer and survivors, as well as colour and black and white photos, illustrations and newspaper extracts. An extraordinary story of courage and physical endurance which will appeal especially to those boys who prefer to read true accounts. (9 - 14 years)   KS

Gogo Fish! The Story of the Western Australian State Fossil Emblem  by John Long      pb $9.95

The fascinating story of how palaeontologist, John Long discovered a new type of fossil fish while studying Gogo fish fossils in the Kimberley region of Western Australia.  This fish later became the State emblem of Western Australia when a primary school class put forward a proposal that it would make a good emblem.  There is discussion of why we study fossils and excellent support material is included through illustrations, photographs, maps, glossary and index.    (8 - 11 years)   KS

* Gold Rushes series by Ann Parry pb $17.99 net each
The Discovery of Gold 97814202297805
Everyday Life on the Goldfields 97814202297829
Gold Rush Journeys 97814202297799
Riots, Robberies and Rebellions 97814202297812
This series presents four different perspectives on the people and places of the Australian gold rush era. (upper primary)  KS

• Ice, Wind, Rock: Douglas Mawson in the Antarctic by Peter Gouldthorpe hardback 9780734411556  $28.99

In 1907 Douglas Mawson was a geology lecturer at the University of Adelaide in South Australia and on his many field trips to the arid interior he finds evidence that glaciers once covered this vast landscape. Curious to learn more he joins Ernest Shackleton’s British Antarctic Expedition and, along with two companions, becomes the first to reach the Magnetic South Pole in 1909. The first part of this book tells the tale of that arduous and dangerous expedition which leaves Mawson vowing never to return to the Antarctic. Yet just a couple of years later, in the name of scientific research, he leads the Australasian Antarctic Expedition (1911-14) in order to map, study and record the Antarctic and its oceans. The courage, strength and resourcefulness (along with a bit of good luck!) needed to survive the enormous challenges and dangers of such an extreme climate and unforgiving, inhospitable landscape is truly impressive; especially when you consider that their clothes and equipment were quite rudimentary by today’s standards. The text is accompanied by full-page illustrations in a realistic style, and there is a pull-out timeline with maps inserted in the end of the book. This is an excellent introduction to this important slice of Australian history. (9-11 or 12 year olds) MC  

• Let the land Speak A history of Australia:  How the land created our nation  by Jackie French hardback 9780732296759  $45.00

Over many years, Jackie French has come to realize just how much the land itself has shaped Australia’s history.   Her interpretations are often very different from the more usual historical accounts with their usual greater emphasis on social forces.  I found the book fascinating, especially her re-interpretations of the role played by Indigenous women and the way they shaped and changed their environment.   She also discusses why the early sea explorers were so disappointed in their contact with New Holland and why they continued to search for a more fertile grassy Great South Land, the role of the Great Droughts and extremes of weather, Indigenous firestick farming and how this has been misunderstood.  It is a thought provoking book.  Jackie French is certain that past misunderstandings of the land have had and are continuing to have severe consequences.   (15 years up)   KS

Lost! A True Tale from the Bush  by Stephanie Owen Reeder hardbaack 9780642276865  $29.95

In 1864 three young children, Isaac 9 years old, Jane 7 and Frank nearly 4, got lost in the Australian bush and in trying to find their way home, they walked 100 kilometres and spent 9 long days and 8 very cold nights in the open.  Being lost in the bush is a particular Australian nightmare and this retelling gives a very believable description of the lost children and of the anxiety of the parents.  A search party was sent out immediately but was unable to track the children till some skilled Aboriginal trackers found the children close to death.  The story if retold well but the book is made so much more interesting by additional information about the daily life of the 1860s.  Beautiful watercolour paintings of the period by William Strutt and also many other illustrations and paintings document the book making it a fascinating and innovative way to tell this story.  (8 – 12 years)    KS

Also Amazing Grace: An Adventure at Sea hardback  9780642277435  $29.95

Grace Darling was just sixteen years old when the steamship Georgette was beached near her home in South West of Western Australia.  She put her life in danger when she and rode their horses into the surf to save as many of the passengers as they could.   Reeder’s imaginative retelling of this famous story is especially interesting because of her copious use of documents such as newspaper articles, personal letters, official reports and illustrations from the 18700s.   It gives a vivid account of life in country Western Australia and of the hazards of ship travel at that time.  She also points out how the various accounts of these historical events vary and how recollections and eyewitness accounts of historical events can change over time.   (8 – 14 years)  KS

• Lennie the Legend: Solo to Sydney by Pony by Stephanie Owen Reeder hardback 9780642278654  $$24.99   An incredible story.  In 1932 a young nine year old boy, Lennie Gwyther, rode his much loved pony from a rural town east of Melbourne all the way to Sydney.  He made the trip of 1,000 kilometres on his own to see the opening of the Sydney Harbour Bridge.  Most of the time Lennie was on his own, camping in the bush with his pony or approaching farm houses for shelter and food.  It was at times dangerous like the time he was perilously close to a serious bushfire.  The text is part fiction to dramatise the story but is based on fact from Reeder’s detailed research of diaries, newspapers and historical records from the time.  The many photos of the period and additional information about the 1930s help to give us a vivid picture of the period of the great Depression and also of the effects of World War 1.  The new city of Canberra and the opening of Sydney Harbour Bridge are described.  There is a detailed map of Lennie’s trip, a glossary, an Index and Author’s notes describing the extent to which Stephanie Owen Reeder has used fiction to tell this true story.  (8 – 13 years)  KS

• Meet Captain Cook by Rae Murdie & Chris Nixon (illus) hardback 9780857980175  $19.95  pb 9780857980182  $16.99 

This is a simple introduction in picture book format to the story of how Captain Cook discovered the east coast of Australia.  It contains brief details about Cook’s early life and how he was chosen to captain a ship to travel to Tahiti so that he could chart the transit of Venus across the sun and then to sail south in search of new lands.  Cook did find land and called it New South Wales.   There are descriptions of the new plants and animals discovered by Joseph Banks and of the calamitous near sinking of the ship on the Great Barrier Reef.   Striking illustrations show the ship and mountainous seas and also sea creatures.  At the end of the book, there is a detailed timeline of Cook’s life and all of his voyages and also a map of his voyage to Australia on the end pages.  (7 – 9 years) KS

Other titles in this series telling the true stories about men and women who have played an important part in the shaping of Australia’s history are:

• Meet Ned Kelly by Matt Adams & Janeen Brian (illus) hardback 9781742757186  $19.95  pb 9781742757193  $16.99

• Meet Mary MacKillop by Sonia Martinez & Sally Murphy (illus) hardback 9781742757216  $19.95  pb 9781742757223  $16.99

• Meet the ANZACs by Claire Saxby & Max Berry (illus) hardback 9780857981929  $24.99

• Meet Douglas Mawson by Mike Dumbleton & Snip Green (illus) hardback 9780857981950  $24.99

• Meet Nancy Bird Walton by Grace Atwood & Harry Slaghekke (illus)  hardback 9780857983879  $24.99

Nature Storybooks series:  Emu  by Claire Saxby & Graham Byrne (illus) hardback 9781922179708  $27.95

In this latest addition to the excellent Nature Storybooks narrative non-fiction series, we learn about one of Australia’s most unusual birds, the emu. Unlike most birds, emus cannot fly so they build their nests on the ground. Once the eggs are laid, female emus have nothing more to do with hatching or raising the fledglings. It is the male who sits on the granite-green eggs for about eight weeks, slowing his metabolism so that he seldom has to leave the nest for food or drink. Once hatched, Emu teaches the lovely striped chicks to forage for fruit, seeds and insects, protecting them from predators such as dingoes and eagles until they become independent at about 6 months old. The story is accompanied by information in a different text style, and the illustrations are excellent. (5-8 year olds) MC

Other titles in the Nature Storybooks series:

Big Red Kangaroo by Claire Saxby & Graham Byrne (illus) hardback 9781921720420  $27.95 (Shortlist: 2014 CBCA Awards, Crichton Award)

Python by Christopher Cheng & Mark Jackson (illus) hardback 9781921529603  $29.95 (Shortlist: 2013 CBCA Awards, Information Books)

Bilby Secrets by Edel Wignell & Mark Jackson (illus) hardback 9781921529320 $29.95  pb 9781922077042  $16.95 (Shortlist: 2012 CBCA Awards, Information)

Just Ducks! by Nicola Davies & Salvatore Rubbino (illus) hardback 9781406327397  $27.95  pb 9781406344776  $16.95

Flight of the Honey Bee by Raymond Huber & Brian Lovelock (illus) hardback 9781921529665 $27.95  pb 9781925126266  $16.95 (due Feb 2015) (NZ author and illustrator)

John Nicholson
The following titles are by John Nicholson. He has won a number of the Australian Children's Book of the year Awards for nonfiction and all his books are very highly regarded for their accessibility, excellent illustrations and informative text which is always interesting and inviting. He writes the text and also illustrates the book.

Building the Sydney Harbour Bridge pb 9781865082585 $15.95
Fascinating story of how the Sydney Harbour Bridge was built. Wonderfully detailed illustrations. (10 - 15 years)
Songlines and Stone Axes: Pre 1788 hardback 9781741750027 $29.95 This describes the amazing network of trade and ceremonial exchange between Aboriginal peoples that existed long before European came to Australia. Items of particular value that were carried sometimes over thousand of kilometres and exchanged were pearl shell from the Kimberley in WA, greenstone axeheads, belts made of human hair, outriggers for canoes, songs and dances, ochre, feathers and cloaks made of possum skin. The illustrations are beautifully detailed and extremely informative. (11 – 15 years)   KS
Other titles in this series are:
Cedar, Seals and Whaling Ships 1788 – 1830s hardback 9781741750034 $29.95
Wool, Wagons and Clipper Ships 1830s – 1880s hardback 9781741751987 $29.95
Steam, Steel and Speed 1850s – 1920 hardback 9781741750461 $29.95
100 Years of Petrol Power 1900 – 2000 hardback 9781741750478 $29.95  (all 11 - 15 years)

One Small Island: The Story of Macquarie Island  by Alison Lester and Coral Tulloch hardback  9780670072361 $29.95

A beautiful book with a strong environmental message.  Through text and detailed illustrations, Coral Tulloch and Alison Lester have produced an excellent chronological record of this island in the Southern Ocean between Antarctica and New Zealand.  It begins with the geological history of the island and then describes the arrival of sealers who plundered the fur seals and later the elephant seals and penguins for their oil.  They also introduced pests such as mice, rats, wekas, feral cats and rabbits all of which had a devastating effect on the plant and bird life of the island.  The story is told simply through a text which runs across the bottom of most pages; above this there are detailed diagrams or extracts from sealers’ and sailors’ diaries, charts, maps and drawings of the plant and bird life on the island, giving a wealth of information.  Since the sealers left, there has been a sustained effort to rid the island of its introduced pests and to try to allow the island to return to a state closer to the way it was originally.  However the eradication of the cats caused the mice, rats and rabbits to multiply rapidly, further ravaging the vegetation.  Macquarie Island was given World Heritage listing in 1997.  A Glossary and a timeline are included.    (8 – 15 years).   KS

• Our Australia series (Australian Geographic) by Phil Kettle pb $12.95 each

Mildura  9780980713305 

Broken Hill  9780980713312 

Longreach  9780980713329 

Alice Springs  9780980713336

Kununurra  9780980713343

Kangaroo Island  9780980713350 

Hobart  9780980713367 

Byron Bay  9780980713374 

Canberra  9781742452692 

Esperance  9781742453125 

Darwin  9781742453132 

Cairns  9781742453118 

Eleven year old Taha is a Greek-Australian boy whose mum has just become an Australian citizen. To celebrate, they set off in a campervan to explore the country. Taha’s enthusiastic descriptions of the road trip and the places they visit are interspersed with lots of photos (presented as holiday snapshots), cartoon illustrations, occasional emails and letters to his friend Joel and elderly neighbour Mr Wilson, and entries in the journal he promised to keep for his teacher. To help them on their adventure, Mr Wilson gave Taha an Oracle Pod – “press the button, ask a question and the Oracle Pod will give you the answer”. Ever-curious, Taha often consults The Oracle, which gives him a lot of information about the history, industry, geography and wildlife of the places they visit, and about Australia in general. There are a couple of pages of Aussie slang and jokes at the end of each book. The format may appeal to reluctant readers. (8-11 years) MC

* Our Democracy series by Nicolas Brasch hardback $27.00 net each (2011)
Australia’s Democratic History 9781420281330
Australia’s Electoral Process 9781420281347
Australia’s Federal Government 9781420281309
Australia’s Local Government 9781420281323
Australia’s Prime Ministers 9781420281354
Australia’s State and Territory Governments 9781420281316
A helpful series for information on the democratic system of government in Australia. Gives an overview of the history of the various governments and political parties. Each book includes contemporary and historical photos, tables, maps timelines and brief biographies of important peoples. Glossary and Index also included. (10 – 14 years)  KS

Prehistoric Giants: The Megafauna of Australia by Danielle Clode pb 9780980381320 $24.95
Published by the Museum of Victoria this is a guide to the Australian megafauna of the Pleistocene – when humans shared the land with giant creatures. Gives details of many of the fossil discoveries.and then lists the various megafauna such as giant goannas, giant wombats and koalas and many others. As well as maps showing the fossil finds and possible distribution and photographs of fossil bones, there are beautiful paintings of these animals showing how they may have looked and lived. (11 years up)  KS

• Sand Swimmers: The Secret Life of Australia’s Dead Heart by Narelle Oliver   pb 9781922077288   $16.95

This picture book, originally published in 1999 has recently been reprinted.  The illustrations are striking linocuts in ochre colours and the texture gives the impression of the grainy sands and pebbles of the inland red desert of Australia.  Narelle Oliver uses short extracts from the diaries of a very well known Australian explorer, Charles Sturt, in order to contrast his impression of this Dead Centre with the wealth of life actually in the desert.  On his voyage north, instead of the inland sea he was hoping for Sturt found an endless waste of sand dunes and burning rocks.  At the bottom of each page Oliver sketches scenes from his despairing trip and contrasts these with the bold ochre coloured linocuts of desert scenes.  Oliver shows the wealth of life, of small creatures that shelter under the sand or rocks and come out at night to feed and hunt.   A beautifully simply written text complements the innovative illustrations.  She also explains that some Aboriginal groups living in the desert have known about this life in the desert for thousands of years and they survive by eating the plants and animals of the desert.  (8 – 13 years) Australian. KS

• * Stories from Australia’s History series by Melanie Guile
These stories have proved to be very popular. The stories offer background and context to significant events ad explain their significance to Australia’s development as a nation. They include profiles, letters, quotes and newspaper extracts as well as graphic-style re-enactments which bring the stories to life.  KS

Set 1   hardback $27.00 net each
The ANZACS and the Battle for Gallipoli 9781420269086
Captain Arthur Phillip and the First Fleet 9781420269048
Douglas Mawson’s Antarctic Expedition 9781420269055
Peter Lalor and the Eureka Stockade 9781420269062
Vida Goldstein’s Fight for Women’s Rights 9781420269079
Vincent Lingiara and the Wave Hill Walkout 9781420269093

Set 2   hardback $27.00 net each
Burke and Wills Expedition to Cross Australia 9781420281132
Charles Perkins and the Freedom Ridge 9781420281095
C Y O’Connor and the Goldfields Pipeline 9781420281118
Fanny Durack’s Olympic Quest 9781420281101
Ned Kelly and the Kelly Gang 9781420281149
Weary Dunlop and the Burma Railway 9781420281125

Set 3  hardback $28.99 net each
Blaxland, Wentworth and Lawson’s Crossing of the Blue Mountains
Captain Bligh and the Rum Rebellion 9781420293524
Captain Cook’s Voyage in the Endeavour 9781420293500
Eyre’s Expedition across the Nullabor 9781420293531
Mary MacKillop’s Path to Sainthood 9781420293494
The Story of Federation 9781420293517                                            (middle – to upper primary)       

Topsy-Turvy World:  How Australian Animals Puzzled Early Explorers  by Kirsty Murray hardback 9780642277497  $29.95 .  When the early explorers drew these strange Australian animals they were unable to draw them accurately, instead they were drawn reflecting the animals that were already known to them from their familiar European world. Consequently the kangaroos look more like large rats and the koala looks a bit like a monkey. Murray describes the encounters of the first explorers with some 15 animals. As well as the very early illustrations of these animals she also includes diary entries, descriptions of the circumstances in which the animals were seen and the reactions of the explorers to the animals and also to the way the animals tasted when cooked!  For each animal there is a beautifully and accurately drawn illustration by a later artist. Also included is a page of factual information about each animal, its habitat and distribution. There is also a detailed list of all the illustrations and artists as well as a list and description of the early explorers and a glossary and an index.  (9 – 15 years)  KS

Upside Down World Maps in envelope   9781865001081    $14.95       Laminated $29.95
Drawn from the perspective of those living in the southern hemisphere, the Upside Down World Map is centred round the Pacific Ocean and of course Australia. It promotes some interesting dsicussion about cartography and give students a different geographical perspective.  KS

Tom the Outback Mailman by Kristin Weidenbach & Timothy Ide (ill.)  hardback 9780734412249  $28.99  

This is the story in picture book format of Tom Kruse who was the mailman on the Birdsville Track for twenty years, from 1936 - 1963. The Birdsville Track is a very challenging track running for 500 kilometres from Maree in the north of South Australia to Birdsville just over the border in Queensland.  For those twenty years, Tom Kruse delivered not just the mail but also food, medicine, petrol, friendship and even beer to many people living very isolated lives along the track.  And he did so over sand dunes and rough stony deserts and through all sorts of weather, whether it was the normal severe heat or floods. (5 – 10 years)  KS

If you would like to order any of the books listed above, send orders to Austral Ed email to    All prices are in Australian dollars.

For additional lists of recommended books and newsletters from Austral Ed, visit our website

© Kate Shepherd 2010.