Art & Science merge forces in newly released book The Great Forest

Words by Amanda Kennedy
Images Supplied

Can you feel homesick for a place you’ve never even been to?

The newly released book ‘The Great Forest’ somehow does just that. Giving the book its full (and lengthy) title ‘The Great Forest – The Rare Beauty of the Victorian Central Highlands’ by David Lindenmayer, with photographs by Chris Taylor, Sarah Rees and Steven Kuiter hints at the scope of the story contained within.

Yarra Valley resident and one of the book’s three photographers, Sarah Rees, was gracious enough to give OHO some of her time.

‘I help communicate science in a way people can digest,’ explains Sarah with typical modesty. For someone whose CV is full of well-hyphenated descriptors, perhaps most pertinent are that of full-time conservationist and co-founder of the Great Forest National Park (GFNP) initiative.

This initiative refers to a proposed area of eastern Victoria which would incorporate seven existing (State and National) parks, almost tripling the amount of protected area which directly feeds Melbourne’s water supply. The GFNP is also estimated to generate 750 new full-time jobs and $71 million for local economies.

‘The book was about how do we take what there is 40-odd years of science on – an area of forest that is incredibly significant to Melbourne – how do we turn that into something the average Melburnian can look at and understand, without having to understand the very complex equations around climate change and what’s going to happen to our forest and our water supply. These are things that sometimes people shy away from; I know I did.’

‘Once you communicate science through a visual medium like photo or film, or even an infographic, people say okay, I can accept that.’ And the visuals in the book are stunning. Sarah’s art & design background meant it was never going to be anything less. Her Instagram alone will have you pining for greener fields.

‘Because I’m a (Yarra Valley) local, I used art and photography as a method for not just healing after the fires but also for connecting and communicating my knowledge about the landscape. Myself and another scientist, Dr Chris Taylor, are quite close and we’ve worked together in photography before. We said – come on David (Lindenmayer) why don’t we just do a science and art piece.’


The Great Forest is available in most good bookstores and online. One Hour Out in conjunction with publishers Allen & Unwin are proudly offering a copy of the book to giveaway. Enter the giveaway here.


Of course, Melbourne lockdowns might have deterred some but not Sarah and co.

‘Being in lockdown, there wasn’t the freedom to go and photograph these areas. It was – ok, what have we got, and let’s look at if we need anything,’ she says. ‘We had an archive of some extraordinary photography. Chris and I have been taking photos for 20 years in the region. We see things that other people haven’t seen. Particularly because I live there, I get to see all times of the day, all seasons.’

Professor David Lindenmayer may be a world-leading expert in forest conservation, or as Sarah calls him the Australian Attenborough with a ridiculously impressive citation rating – but how does one harness 40 years of expertise into a compelling story?

‘We started thinking about what’s an interesting way to tell this story,’ Sarah begins to explain, while also acknowledging it is not really her story to tell. ‘We endeavoured to bring the role of the First Nations and the history of the landscape into the public spectre.

‘We deliberately intended to tell a story that was in line with the traditional owners (Gunaikurnai, Taungurung and Wurrundjeri) and what they felt comfortable about sharing. We made sure that every area we spoke about, we talked about whose nation that tree, that rock, that eco-system was found on. If they had a name for it, if that was ok for us to use, we sought permission to use it.

‘We looked into the geology, the under-story, the rainforest systems and the mountain ash which are historically some of the tallest recorded trees in the world.’

Sarah lays out some stark realities in regards to the water supply catchment and the dual challenges of fire and (over 100 years of) logging. ‘The fires are harder to manage; the logging is not. The mountain ash ecosystem is now critically endangered with only 1% of its original old-growth cover left unburnt and unlogged. Things like that are really important.’

The story of the animals, you can sympathise and fall in love with these animals, but you can also look at them quite objectively and say they are the canaries in the coal mine.

It’s little wonder the book is garnering glowing reviews from such luminaries as Tim Flannery (leading Australian writer on climate change) and the iconic Dame Jane Goodall (famed primatologist).

If you’d like to deepen your own relationship with forest ecology, then check out this Guided Rainforest and Mindfulness Tour once lockdown restrictions have eased.

We wish to acknowledge the Gunaikurnai, Taungurung and Wurrundjeri people as traditional owners of this land and to pay our respects to their Elders, past and present.

The regional bookshops you need to suss out pronto!

Words by Della Vreeland 
Images supplied

One of the sweetest parts of isolation (and we know there aren’t that many), is the fact that we can bunker down and savour those moments we may not have had the chance to savour when life was more – normal.

For some of us, bunkering down has also provided the time to snuggle in with a good read. Spring is one of the best seasons to get stuck into a good book, especially when the sun is seeping down on us and beckoning us to find our happy place – whether we’re sitting outside under the shade of the Coolabah Tree, or lazing away indoors in our sun-soaked library nook.

To coincide with Love Your Bookshop Day on October 3, and to give all our bookworms an excuse to search out their next read, we decided to compile a list of some of our favourite regional bookshops.

So whether you’re a regional resident in search of your next day trip, or a metro comrade hitting the online shopping, we have a bookshop for your perusal.

Verso Books

Healesville #onehourout

Verso Books

Offering local home delivery during COVID-19, this Yarra Valley beauty is filled to the brim with all the best new books! Located in Healesville, Verso Books specialises in new release fiction, gardening, food and wine, art and design, current affairs and an extensive range of beautiful Children’s Books.

Take a look here

The Bookshop at Queenscliff


The Bookshop at Queenscliff

Boasting all the literary goodness you could hope for, combined with a charm that can only be felt from a passionate family-run business, The Bookshop at Queenscliff is a real sanctuary. Owned by a local husband-and-wife duo, this corner-store bookshop aims to offer all the current reads in addition to books that are topical and worthy of exploration in the current climate.

Website here

Turn the Page Bookshop

Phillip Island #twohoursout

Turn the Page

One of Phillip Island’s most treasured spots, Turn the Page is renowned for its friendly customer service, product knowledge and nifty children’s corner. With comfy chairs scattered throughout the store, expect to wander in and escape to a world you’d rather be as you lose yourself in the words and the surrounds.

Find out more


Warragul #oneandahalfhoursout


Located in Warragul, Need2Read is a family owned and operated independent bookstore that focuses on customer service and helping bookworms source the perfect reads for themselves and their loved ones. With floor-to-ceiling shelves and a bright, contemporary interior, this bookstore is the town’s real pride and joy.

Discover the store

The Known World

Ballarat #oneandahalfhoursout

The Known World

Taken straight out of Diagon Alley, The Known World is a real book-lovers refuge. Housed in a 19th-century Ballarat building in one of the city’s most historic thoroughfares, the space is worth visiting just in itself. As soon as you enter the doors of this secondhand bookstore, you’ll be transported into a world of words and wonder, regardless of whether you make a purchase or not.

Take a squiz here

Minerva’s Books and Ideas

Ballarat #oneandahalfhoursout

Minervas Books

Another Ballarat-based beauty, Minerva’s Books and Ideas is a bookshop-turned-online store that focuses on classic fiction, literature, culture and philosophy, and antiquarian. What makes Minerva’s different is that its owners are as much about delving into the lives of books as they are about the stories themselves. Trading solely online and via Instagram, this is a real crowd pleaser for our metro friends who are searching for their next unique read.

Shop online

Bendigo Book Mark


Book Mark

If you can’t get enough of secondhand books, Bendigo Book Mark is another one to bookmark for a visit. A beautifully laid out independent store, the shop is a vibrant space with equally vibrant and joy-inducing reads.

Visit them on Facebook

The Bookbird Geelong


Book Bird

Founded in 2015, The Book Bird is Geelong’s local, independent book shop with a twist – because you never know what you’re going to discover. Stocking a large range of new release books across all genres, this store is a repository of pure delight in literary form.

Check out The Book Bird story

Squishy Minnie

Kyneton #onehourout

Squishy Minnie

Squishy Minnie is one of those spaces that leaves a lasting impression. With a plethora of children’s titles to enjoy, ranging from infant through to teen reads, as well as an exceptionally vibrant and quaint interior, this is a bookstore you need to experience to believe. Explore the array of books either in-store or online and find yourself or your loved ones the perfect gift!

Order online