A Bush Capital Year


eBook - February 2011 - eRetailers

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Follows a year in the nature reserves, rural and suburban areas of the ACT.

The Australian Capital Territory is a treasure trove for naturalists, despite being without a coastline, without rainforest or without deserts. A wealth of biodiversity is found there, due to the close proximity of three major habitat types: the great western woodland grassy plains bump up against the inland edge of the coastal hinterland mountain forests, while the whole south-eastern Australian Alps system reaches its northern limit in the Brindabella Ranges. Each of these habitats has its own rich suite of plants and animals, so a great diversity of life can be found within an hour’s drive of Parliament House. + Full description

A Bush Capital Year introduces the fauna, flora, habitats and reserves of the Australian Capital Territory and includes the most recent research available. It also emphasises often unappreciated or even unrecognised urban wildlife.

For each month of the year there are 10 stories which discuss either a species or a group of species, such as mosses and mountain grasshoppers. While never anthropomorphic, many of the stories are written from the organism’s point of view, while others are from that of an observer. Beautiful paintings complement the text and allow better visualisation of the stories and the subjects.

2011 Whitley Award Commendation for Regional Natural History.

- Short description


No longer available in a print edition.


"This is a superb book. Naturalist Ian Fraser, artist Peter Marsack and CSIRO Publishing have combined their talents, skills and experience to produce a most attractive book that reveals, season by season, month after month, a wonderful cast of animals, birds, plants and other creatures of the ACT region. Experienced naturalists will enjoy Marsack’s beautiful illustrations, and find much food for thought in Fraser’s wonderfully detailed accounts and musings. Newcomers to Canberra, and would-be naturalists, will find this a mine of invaluable information. The book is handsomely, and strongly - the pages are sewn not glued - produced, and its makers and supporters (both authors acknowledge the support of ACT Government Environment Grants) are to be congratulated. I recommend it highly."
Robin Hide, Canberra Bird Notes 37 (2), June 2012

"Anyone who loves the Bush Capital will love this book. We are so lucky to have an incomparable bounty of natural wonders to delight us, but also to have talented communicators and interpreters like author Ian Fraser and artist Peter Marsack to open our eyes and to fill our ears with the hidden treasures found in our own backyards...one of the many pleasures of reading this book is that the author points out things I had half-noticed or half-forgotten: the rush of the wind over a white-throated needletail's wings or the glistening drops of dew on threads of a garden spider's web."
McComas Taylor, Canberra Times, 26 March 2011, p.24

"Fraser has written 120 entries about the area's fauna and flora, arranged according to month and season, and lists specific locations where they can be experienced. Thus, to catch a glimpse of a red-bellied black snake, go in Summer (December is particularly good) and head for the Lower Molonglo River Corridor. For something a little less dangerous, you can see a diamond firetail in the scribbly gums of the Canberra Nature Park on Tuggeranong Hill, preferably in May. Apart from being a useful guide, the book is greatly enhanced by a particularly fine collection of fauna and flora painting by Peter Marsack."
Bruce Elder, The Saturday Age, 16 April 2011

"Ian Fraser's writing is not of the dry, scientific style; it is evocative in describing his acute observations and understanding of nature...lots of fascinating information about a wide range of natural history subjects, described with beautiful word pictures. In this case the words are enhanced by magnificent artwork. In summary, this is a delightful, enlightening, easy-to-read book from which all readers will get a greater appreciation of the wonders of the natural world."
Don Saunders, The Bird Observer, May 2011

"The text is of a confiding and personal nature and Fraser’s passion for the outdoors comes through in his conversational style of passing on information. This is supported by Marsack’s illustrations. He has the ability to draw the reader’s attention to the critical parts of the subject which distinguish it without slipping into a field guide format."
Robert Digan, Canberra and District Historical Society Newsletter no 435, pp.6-7

"I think this is the best natural history writing I have read for a long long time. Ian combines science, beauty and wonderment at the natural world seamlessly."
Chris Bunn, Field Naturalists' Association of Canberra Inc., May 2011, P.4

"I’d recommend this book to anyone with an interest in the natural history of the Canberra region."
Martyn Robinson, Explore 33(2), Winter, June-August 2011, p.7

"Ian writes as well as he speaks, and you can 'hear' the words from the book, as if he was talking on the radio. Very informative, and captivating in style..."
Tom Butt, Fronds 67, April 2011

"I think this is the best natural history writing I have read for a long long time. Ian combines science, beauty and wonderment at the natural world seamlessly. What I like is that the writing is active, the reader is not being lectured but at the same time you are gaining information and are being given food for thought. The paintings by Peter Marsack also make the book come alive."
Chris Bunn, Field Natter, May 2011


ePDF | February 2011
ISBN: 9780643101654
Publisher: CSIRO Publishing
Available from eRetailers

ePUB | February 2011
ISBN: 9780643102248
Publisher: CSIRO Publishing
Available from eRetailers


  • An enhanced understanding and appreciation of many animal and plant species and groups
  • Results of recent biological research
  • Each story is positioned in a ‘real place’ and collectively covers every nature reserve, and many significant non-reserved areas, in the ACT


View the full table of contents.


Ian Fraser is a naturalist, conservationist, author, ABC broadcaster, natural history tour guide, environmental consultant and adult educator who has lived and worked in Canberra since 1980. He was awarded the Australian Native Plants Society’s Australian Plants Award in 2001 and the Australian Natural History Medallion in 2006, both for services to conservation and education.

Peter Marsack is a freelance natural history artist and illustrator, based in Canberra since 1994. He was senior artist on the final three of the seven volumes of the Handbook of Australian, New Zealand and Antarctic Birds (HANZAB), and his original plates from the HANZAB volumes are now in the collection of the State Library of Victoria. He was a finalist in the Waterhouse Natural History Art Prize in 2003 and 2004, winning a watercolour prize in 2003.