"Woman of Altitude" ABC Radio National feature on Marie Byles. Rachael Kohn's enthusiasm for Marie's life story is much appreciated and swept the interview along. At the end of the show she noted how great it would be to see a movie made of Marie's life. That is the reason I wrote the book - I was telling a producer friend about this amazing woman and she said: "Producers like to option books". So I thought, "I'll write a book." Twenty years later...! Rachael also mentions a resemblance between Marie Byles' photograph and mine. Perhaps biographers come to resemble their subjects!
Marie Byles was the founder of the Beecroft-Cheltenham Civic Trust in 1961. It was the first civic trust in Australia. Marie was fighting the development of public land near Pennant Hills Reserve. While their campaign was unsuccessful, it had a positive outcome and the BCCT has maintained their vigilance in opposing major developments in the area. My book launch at the BCCT AGM was quite a political affair. Philip Ruddock, local Federal MP, spoke and then State MP Damian Trugold. During his speech Ruddock mentioned that while Federal Attorney-General, he had appointed two women to the High Court. I thought that deserved a complimentary copy of the book - but forgot to get a photo! I appreciated being invited to speak to those carrying on Marie's great work.
"For six years I have been studying the New Zealand Alpine Journals, and one by one I have seen my chosen virgin peaks falling to this or that enterprising party. But the head of the Mahitahi Valley was, Frank Alack assured me, still uncontaminated by the foot of any climber." Marie's account of her expedition to the Mahitahi Valley and Zora Glacier, and the naming of Crystal Peak. Read as an accompaniment to Martin Unwin's scholarly account of Marie's exploration achievements. Click here to access file: Mahitahi-Valley-NZ-1935
This proposal, written by Martin Unwin, a New Zealand-born astronomer and distant relative of Marie's, gives a detailed account of her exploration achievements in the Southern Alps. "Marie was a capable climber who made a significant contribution to New Zealand mountaineering, leading two expeditions into unexplored territory during which she made accurate and well-informed observations of topographic details." Click here to access file: Geographic Name Proposal
I enjoyed meeting Rachael Kohn yesterday at the ABC studio to record an interview for her great program on all things spiritual. The interview lasted 1 hour but felt like 5 minutes as we covered so much ground. I'm sure it will come up well as Rachael has such empathy and warmth and was enthusiastic about sharing and celebrating Marie's extraordinary life story. The program will be broadcast before the end of the month - stay tuned!