Mountain Tails


Mountain Tails

Product details

Product name: Mountain Tails: The lives and loves of my animal neighbours

Reviewer: Kate Arneman

Author: Sharyn Munro

Publisher: Exisle

Price: $24.99

G Rating:


Sharyn Munro has lived alone for the last six years in a solar-powered, mudbrick cabin in the New South Wales Hunter Valley. She divides her time between writing, environmental activism and regenerating her property.

Her first book, the biographical Woman on the Mountain, was written as an answer to those who wondered why she chose such a solitary, simple existence.

Mountain Tails is essentially a companion work in which Munro invites her readers to "come take a walk in my gumboots and meet my neighbours" - a diverse group including quolls, red-bellied black snakes, frogs, wallabies, goannas and an assortment of birds and insects.

This collection of anecdotes about the native animals with whom Munro shares her retreat is gently humourous and evokes a slower pace of life that allows time for reflection, close observation and appreciation of these creatures.

Munro is by turns dazzled, exasperated and intrigued by what she encounters. As with human neighbours, things don't always run smoothly. There are territorial tussles (when a tribe of small marsupials called antechinus takes up residence in the cabin), sound pollution (the cacophony from the baby bird nursery in her garden) and property damage (those pesky possums devouring her roses).

Each of the 44 short stories is accompanied by black and white sketches by the author, lending the impression of a journal or notebook.

The stories made me feel quite nostalgic, and I realised that's because they remind me of storybooks from my childhood: Snugglepot and Cuddlepie, The Muddle-Headed Wombat and even Beatrix Potter's tales.

Munro does tend to interpret her characters' behaviour in an anthropomorphic way, but that's not to say she's blind to the realities of life in the wild. There's more to this book than cute stories about cuddly creatures. A final chapter highlights the precarious future for many of these animals: 22 species are critically endangered and 345 are threatened.

There is also a list of resources for readers wanting to find out more and get involved in maintaining Australia's unique, but fragile, biodiversity.

Printed on 100 per cent recycled paper. For every new title, Exisle plants 25 trees in rural NSW.

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