Book Reviews

Australia's Remarkable Trees

Australia's Remarkable Trees

Text by Richard Allen
Photographs by Kimbal Baker
Published by The Miegunyah Press  2009
An imprint of Melbourne University Publishing Ltd.
187 Grattan Street, Carlton. Vic. 3053
254 pages    full colour    soft cover

Reviewed by Jan Sked

The photograph of the magnificent Boab on the cover of this book caught my instant attention before I even opened the pages. As I have a great love of trees, especially big trees, I knew I was going to like this book.

I suppose it is a sort of ‘coffee table’ book, with its wonderful photographs, but it is much more than that and provides a wealth of pleasurable reading.

The authors have made it their mission to seek out and record, in photographs and text, fifty of Australia’s oldest, largest and most unusual trees. Illustrated with over 500 photographs, each of the chosen trees has a story attached, some of the history of the actual tree itself and usually general information on the species and its place in Australian history. The authors have travelled over 60,000 kilometres to the far reaches of Australia to photograph these trees and tell their stories.

The book is divided into six sections – magnificent natives, old curiosities, foreign invaders, historic trees, private trees and local giants. As you can see, not all the trees featured are Australian natives. Thirteen of them are imports from foreign countries, but I would agree that they should be included, as they are remarkable trees in Australia. Four of them are included in the “foreign invaders” section and are in botanic gardens and the rest are in the “private trees” section.

I was pleased to see some of the trees I have seen myself included in this book – such as the big Bottle Tree near Gayndah and the huge old Brush Box with its split trunks and gnarled knobbly base in Lamington National Park. Also included from Lamington is the cluster of ancient trunks of the Antarctic Beech, which gives the area where it is found an eerie, ‘out of this world’ atmosphere.

Another tree I recognised was the fabulous Banyan Fig from the Brisbane City Botanic Gardens. What person who has ever visited those Botanic Gardens would ever forget that tree! I also recognised the famous Kauri Pines from Lake Barrine on the Atherton Tableland, which I last saw fifty years ago.

Although this book is primarily a celebration of Australia’s greatest trees, it also encourages us to wonder what lies in store for them, and how we can preserve and protect these magnificent living things (and the forests and wilderness in which they live).

Richard Allen has been a journalist for twenty years and has written on a wide variety of subjects.

Kimbal Baker is a Melbourne-based freelance photographer with more than thirty years’ experience. His images have been published in many Australian and overseas publications.

Special Price: $35.99 (including postage) while stocks last.

Available from:

Melbourne University Publishing,

Reply Paid 83102

187 Grattan Street, Carlton. Vic. 3053


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