A Naturalist's Life, by Rica Erickson

Western Australia’s unique flora and fauna have long been a source of interest to a range of naturalists, locals and visitors alike. One of the most notable naturalists to live and work in Western Australia is Rica Erickson who was born in Boulder in 1908 and has spent most of her life studying and writing about her state’s orchids, plants, insects and birds.

In A Naturalist’s Life she shares a first person account of those studies, carried out both in her own backyard – a farming property in rural Bolgart – and around the rest of Australia, though her true passion was for Western Australian animals and plants.

Not really an autobiography, the focus is on Erickson’s work as a naturalist, against the background of her life as teacher, mother and wife. Several of the chapters are reprints of Erickson’s previous work – including articles from newspapers and journals, and brochures.

For anyone with an interest in Erickson’s work, this is an enlightening insight. It will also appeal to those with an interest in wildflowers and wildlife, or in Western Australian history. For this reviewer, a family link to the Bolgart district made the text especially relevant.

A Naturalist’s Life, by Rica Erickson
UWA Press for the Charles and Joy Staples South West Regions Publication Fund, 2005

The Country Undertaker, by Jim Eames

Here was my father, the brand new country undertaker, thrown in at the deep end of a funeral at least three times larger than he would have liked and probably the main reason I was sitting in the passenger seat of the Essex, wearing long pants, the only white shirt I owned and one of my father’s dark ties.

When Mick Eames moved his family to Holbrook in the 1940s, it was to pursue his career as a spare parts man, not to become the town undertaker. Soon though, his entrepreneurial skills came to the fore and he became first the local taxi owner and then the funeral director.

Jim Eames’ recollections of his father’s years as a country undertaker are candid, humorous and entertaining. Mick Eames’ story is at times funny, at others poignant and at all times gently honest. People who have lived in the country will recognise some of the characters, even without having ever visited Holbrook.

An enjoyable read.

The Country Undertaker, by Jim Eames
Allen & Unwin, 2005

I'm Not That Kind of Girl – Carlotta, as told to Prue MacSween

Born Richard Byron and growing up to become one of Australia’s best-known entertainers, Carlotta is a person who has attracted a great deal of interest over the sixty years she has been alive.

Tracing Carlotta’s evolution from the little boy who had to fight to be loved to the transexual showgirl who earned a place in Australian folklore, I’m Not That Kind of Girl is also the story of Les Girls, the famous drag cabaret in Sydney’s Kings Cross.

A story of courage, of love and laughter, and also of tears and struggle, I’m Not That Kind of girl is both entertaining and enlightening.

Carlotta: I’m Not That Kind of Girl, as told to Prue MacSween
Pan Macmillan, 2003