If humanity survives, Stan Breeden’s memoir is destined to be a natural classic. For eight decades he has been a peerless observer and chronicler of Earth’s wilds and wildlife. In this book are some of the most poignant accounts of the human affinity with nature that have ever flowed from pen to paper. No one has written it up with finer or easier words to read than these.
In his search for meaning our human soul is pivotal. Beyond the reach of deductive science (brain) are feelings (soul) like those experienced lying beneath the giant eucalypts in Tasmania’s Styx forest, or at Uluru, ‘overpowering in its size, its sheerness, its isolation, its beauty and its silent mystery – a quality never captured in photographs or film.’ ‘Science denies our soul. Art, too busy being provocative, devalues our feelings. The result is a relentless widening of the chasm between people and nature, exacerbating the creeping malaise of the Nature Deficit Disorder.’
When young Breeden gave up on university, he had ‘wanted to feel nature with all my senses, but also with my very being, my soul’. Later, in the dunes of Cooloola, then threatened by sand mining but now protected, he reckoned that ‘if we could just show people the splendorous and seemingly miraculous workings of the natural world, it would become so obvious that nature needed protecting that there would be no need for conflict’. It was a time when we held high hopes that humankind would turn green. How wrong our expectations were. Yet Breeden has persisted as one of the world’s finest presenters of the splendours of nature right through to this new epoch of defiant environmental activism.
His presentations through National Geographic, his marvellous books on nature, and his role in establishing Queensland’s Wildlife Preservation Society, speak for themselves. The humble Stan Breeden wants a new Shakespeare to ‘find words — full of drama and imagination — that make nature come alive in our minds.’ We need only read this book.
About the author
Stan Breeden landed in the Australian bush in the middle of the night in May 1952. He was a 14-year-old immigrant from the Netherlands. The next morning he thought he’d woken in paradise, surrounded as he was by colourful birds and beautiful trees. Stan spent the next 70 years exploring the bush’s wonders. In the process, he became one of Australia’s pioneering nature photographers, writers and filmmakers with many award-winning works to his credit.