Ode to south-west

Journalist and author Victoria Laurie with her new book, The Southwest. Picture: Andrew Ritchie        www.communitypix.com.au   d441469
Journalist and author Victoria Laurie with her new book, The Southwest. Picture: Andrew Ritchie        www.communitypix.com.au d441469

The 230-page non-fiction book explores the South-West of Australia, a triangle of land that encompasses a multitude of natural worlds.

Called The Southwest, Laurie has explored this hotspot of biodiversity on the coastal plain of Western Australia which is home to a third of all known Australian plant species.

The region has been designated �Australia�s Global Biodiversity Hotspot�, one of only 34 such habitats in the world and the only place across Australia to be recognised for its diversity of species.

Laurie presents the voices of scientists and those dedicated to protecting a fragile ecology supporting up to 150,000 species and has asked residents in the Shire of Kalamunda passionate about biodiversity to spread the word.

One of the most enduring tales in the book is of spider expert Barbara York Main, who has a favourite trapdoor spider she visits each year.

Ms York Main�s fascination with spiders came about when, as a child, she noticed domed pebbles on the ground which were actually the lidded doors of a trapdoor spider�s home.

Her oldest favourite spider is at least 40 years old.

Laurie asks how she knows the spider is the same one situated in a Wheatbelt Nature Reserve.

�They don�t ever move out once they build a home,� she said. �And no other trapdoor spider moved in.�

Environment Minister Albert Jacob launched the book this month at the University of Western Australia. �It should be required reading for every politician in the State,� he said.

Laurie said she was motivated by concerns for the threats to the ecosystems that surround West Australians.

This compelling book confirms the South-West of Australia as one of the most intriguing places on earth.

In 2010, she published The Kimberley: Australia�s Last Great Wilderness.