When in 1907 Francis Birtles arrived in Sydney after cycling the vast distance from Fremantle a large crowd welcomed him. Over the next two decades, his ‘overlanding’ achievements were honoured by cycling and motoring enthusiasts, and tens of thousands mustered for his 1928 completion of the first successful London–Rangoon–Darwin–Brisbane–Sydney–Melbourne car venture (his Bean ‘Sundowner’ is preserved in the National Museum of Australia, Canberra). City dwellers were captivated by Birtles’ cinematographic movies of inland Australia, including his retracing of the 1860–61 route by the tragic Burke and Wills expedition. His many newspaper articles encouraged greater public awareness of the remoteness of pioneer life, including Aboriginal customs and native flora and fauna. This book includes many photographs and draws upon his observations and comments by contemporaries.
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