First across the Simpson Desert. E.A. (Ted) Colson's Pioneering Crossing in 1936 in his Own Words, in Two Versions
Adelaide, Friends of the State Library of South Australia, 2019 (first thus).
Large octavo, , 77 pages with 35 illustrations (some in colour) and a map.
Quarter calf and blind-pictorial cloth; a fine copy in the fine slipcase.
Number 93 of only 125 copies of this deluxe edition; the small numbered slip tipped in on the front flyleaf notes this is a 'Subscriber's Copy'. It comes from the collection of the pioneering desert field archaeologist Professor Mike Smith AM (1955-2022); his name appears in the printed list of subscribers in the preliminaries. Edmund Albert Colson (1881-1950), 'explorer and bushman ... was cameleer and guide on Michael Terry's 1930 expeditions to the Petermann and Tomkinson ranges, and conducted A. P. Elkin on his anthropological investigations west of Charlotte Waters. Colson understood the rites, customs and dialects of several Aboriginal tribes ... The triumph of Colson's explorations was his crossing of the Simpson Desert, which had previously defeated Charles Sturt and David Lindsay. Prompted by an exceptionally wet season and accompanied only by young Eringa Peter of the Antakurinya tribe, Colson set out from Blood Creek on 26 May 1936. He led a train of five camels eastward along the 26th parallel, clambering over a thousand steep, red sand-ridges, and naming Alice Hills, Glen Joyce and Lake Tamblyn. Navigating by compass, he reached his goal, Poeppel's Corner, the point where the Queensland, Northern Territory and South Australian borders met. Ted and Peter walked into the Birdsville pub, Queensland, on 11 June. Three days later they headed back, nailing a tin plate bearing the date and Colson's initials to the peg at Poeppel's Corner. After making a detour southwards, they arrived home on 29 June, having traversed more than 550 miles (885 km) in thirty-five days. In that exceptional season, the desert, said Colson, was "one vast field of herbage, grass and shrubs'' ('Australian Dictionary of Biography'). The book also contains a lengthy introduction by Valmai Hankel, and 'Introducing a Desert' by Dennis Hall.