Saturday, March 24, 2018

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'm now down to my last 150 (of 1100) copies of The Living Rock. There's been a wonderful outpouring of support and information from readers, buyers, climbers, relatives and others which really has made all of the effort worthwhile. In fact, it's the aftermath of proiducing the book that hasd been the most rewarding. Despite all of that, I won't be embarking on a secondn edition in hard copy format but have decided to pursue 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 video clips -- both historical and current -- of climbs and climbing areas, mostly in Queensland. 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. If you haven't yet obtained a copy of the hard copy edition -- 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. 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.

Mountain Designs has been strongly supportive of the book since the launch and I thank all involved for this. It was very sad to witness the closure of all of its 39 walk-in stores across Australia in February 2018, particularly because of my own brief involvement in the company's first few years. I've also had strong support from other local climbing outlets -- The Far Outdoors (Boonah), Pinnacle Sports at Red Hill and K2 Base Camp in Brisbane's Fortitude Valley -- with the book available at all of these shops along with the following general book stores: Avid Reader (West End), Mary Ryan's (Milton), The Maleny Bookshop, Rosetta Books (Maleny), The River Read (Noosaville), Binna Burra Lodge, Canungra Visitors Information Centre, Rathdowney Historical Museum and Visitor Information, Glass House Mountains Information Centre, 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 (including postage to most places in Australia).


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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