Image result for Throwim Way LegBy Tim Flannery

What an intriguing and enlightening adventure that Tim Flannery takes you on in ‘Throwim Way Leg’. While Tim’s personal experiences covered in the book are during the 1980s and 1990s in New Guinea, the pace of change he saw during that period is similar to what other countries have experienced over much longer periods, if not centuries.

The finding of new species almost daily makes great reading, however it is particularly poignant to note that the local helpers just want to eat these new wonders, even if it has taken days or months to find just one specimen. During his travels, Flannery is introduced to new concepts of viewing the relationships between people and the planet. The different groups of people that Tim lived with while working in both the Papua and Irian Jaya parts of New Guinea could well be teaching the people of the ‘developed’ world how the ‘modern’ world could live.

From reading one gets a sense of how little we actually still know of our fellow planet’s inhabitants, whether they be flora or fauna. The grandeur of the Papuan landscape with towering cliffs, glacial capped mountain (at the equator) and raging rivers that disappear down what Tim describes as possibly the largest ‘plug hole on earth’ are all part of a wonderfully wet and forest clad landscape. This landscape is slowly being removed through ‘modern progress’ such as forestry and mining. Tim encounters very different approaches to the way locals are involved and treated by the large corporations.

The Tree Kangaroos are a strong part of the story, as they were the focus of the 15 trips Tim made primarily to research them. Tim’s discoveries are amazing. No wonder these tree dwelling Kangaroos are on the verge of extinction, some being so friendly that they would walk up to people! A very easy meal they then become.
Those fortunate enough to experience the forests and highlands of New Guinea obviously obtain new perspectives on the sustainability of our planet, as fellow writer-scientist and thinker Jared Diamond also explored the this region of the world. So enjoy another perspective on the great writing talent that Tim is. While having only read The Weather Makers before Throwim Way Leg I am now off to explore more of Tim’s writings!

Reviewed by Dr Merrin Pearse, March 2010