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Southern Gazette (South Perth) - - Lifestyle - Michele Nu­gent

FOR years the ex­plo­ration work of John Sep­ti­mus Roe has been over­looked, but no more, ac­cord­ing to Bur­swood ge­og­ra­pher Mar­ion Hercock, ed­i­tor of a new book about WA’s first sur­veyor gen­eral.

Dr Hercock said Roe was prob­a­bly the most ob­jec­tive ob­server of the peo­ple of WA and their en­vi­ron­ment and The Western Aus­tralian Ex­plo­rations of John Sep­ti­mus Roe 1829–1849 fea­tured re­pro­duc­tions of his ex­plo­ration re­ports, hand­writ­ten jour­nals and many of his sketch maps and draw­ings.

Dr Hercock edited and in­dexed the tome and also wrote its in­tro­duc­tion as a vol­un­teer for WA Ex­plor­ers’ Di­aries Project (WAEDP), which pub­lished its first book in 2005. Carlisle-based Peter Bridge, of Hes­pe­rian Press, has pub­lished all WAEDP books us­ing lo­cal ma­te­ri­als and labour.

The hard­back in­cludes fresh anal­y­sis of Roe’s work by sci­en­tists, who have shown that his ex­plo­ration writ­ings are the ear­li­est and most de­tailed record of the WA en­vi­ron­ment at first con­tact by Euro­peans. The sci­en­tists also pre­pared the in­dexes of plants and an­i­mals.

Dr Hercock said donors recog­nis­ing the value of Roe’s records, in­clud­ing sev­eral coun­try lo­cal gov­ern­ments, the Land Sur­vey­ors Li­cens­ing Board, the WA In­sti­tu­tion of Sur­vey­ors and cit­i­zens, paid for the pub­li­ca­tion.

“The in­dexes alone show the breadth and depth of Roe’s records. Peo­ple, places, and gen­eral items are all in­dexed with sep­a­rate list­ings for plants and an­i­mals,” Dr Hercock said.

“The book’s ex­plana­tory foot­notes and ap­pen­dices as­sist the mod­ern reader to ap­pre­ci­ate the orig­i­nal 19th-cen­tury manuscripts and the so­cial con­text of the ex­plo­rations.”

■ The Western Aus­tralian Ex­plo­rations of John Sep­ti­mus Roe 1829–1849 (ISBN 978-0-85905-527-7) can be or­dered from Hes­pe­rian Press at www.hes­pe­ri­an­press. com. The 726-page book is $100 plus postage.

Pic­ture: Martin Ken­nealey

Bur­swood’s Mar­ion Hercock, ed­i­tor of a new his­tory of Aus­tralian ex­plo­ration(shown in­set), with Hes­pe­rian Press pub­lisher Peter Bridge.

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