When this small paperback arrived on my desk, my immediate thought was “well, I won’t be reviewing this”, yet here I am doing so. What caused my change of heart?
The very first chapter. Here was Bob Cooper as a teenager lost north of Perth on what seemed a very safe trip. This could happen to anyone, and in this case, he was lucky to survive. Not truly in the outback, but in an everyday situation, which could happen to you or to me. There are many examples like this one, where a little knowledge would save a life. Water, for instance. How vitally important this was became clear to the adolescent Bob when he drank all that he had far too early in his walk. Where to find water is covered most carefully in this guide. And it is a guide in every sense of the word. The chapter devoted to snakes and spiders is particularly interesting. Both live in cities, in regional areas, and in the outback, so it is a chapter which could impact upon your life. As could the wise words about fire. As the climate changes, bush fires are coming closer and closer to built-up areas, so we need to know how to cope in this fearful event. Fear itself is looked at, and with over 30 years’ experience behind him, he is well qualified to write on the subject. Sharing his own perilous situations is part of this, naturally, and he tells of it in such a down-to-earth way, that it is easy to follow what exactly happened, and how he dealt with it, conquering fear, and moving on to survival, despite the desperate odds against this. All in all, it would seem that Australia is a dangerous land in which to live, but Bob Cooper adds his joy of the outback to overcome those feelings. It would seem that this small book could be of great assistance to migrant families, who are often faced with happenings in a strange land, without any knowledge of how to conquer their fear of the unknown perhaps the greatest fear of all. There are fine illustrations throughout to help the reader to identify plants, animals and insects, plus a collection of coloured photographs bringing the narrative to life, as nothing else can. That giant bomb tree in the Kimberley is especially striking, as is the red desert. It is not difficult to understand why I changed my mind. OUTBACK SURVIVAL is not just for the intrepid traveller, it is for us all, wherever we live in this “wide, brown land.”
OUTBACK SURVIVAL by BOB COOPER
PUBLISHED by HACHETTE for a recommended $24.99