John Blay – On Track: Searching out the Bundian Way

Newsouth Australia  2015

This lyrically written account of John Blay’s quest to find the ancient Aboriginal path from Kosciuszko to Eden, The Bundian Way, is at once a history of the lands and people, a study of geography and botany and a love story with country.

Barbie speaks with John Blay about On Track

John Blay was the recipient of a writer’s award that enabled him to spend a year walking in the wild country from the alps through The Monaro to the sea at Twofold Bay.

The book is divided into these three sections and takes us deeply into the relationships that the author developed with the Aboriginal custodians of this country and with the country itself. It is an ode, however, not to isolation and wilderness, but to connection. The ancient wisdoms of how people have interacted with the country for thousands of years are clearly and beautifully illuminated.

Figures from the history of white settlement who contributed to early and current knowledge get a nod from the author but it is his relationship with Aboriginal communitiies and elders that predominates in the telling. John Blay not only gives an account as a natural historian but beguiles us entirely with his wordcraft.

He writes evocatively of everything from the most mundane to most sublime – from woodlice to sweeping vistas of superb landscape. This is a beautiful book, which I highly recommend to everyone with an interest in place, in natural beauty, in real histories of Australia and in reconciliation – read it for this but do also luxuriate in John Blay’s sentences. He’s a master of persuasion.