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Francis Birtles

by: Warren Brown
published by: Hachette Australia


Bushman, cyclist, motorist, soldier, sailor, photographer, author and movie maker, Francis Birtles lived by his motto in life ….’chance it’.

Born in 1881 in the Melbourne suburb of Fitzroy, by the time he was nineteen Birtles had sailed around the world twice, fought in a war, and been shot at and almost burned to death. His later exploits included cycling around Australia twice, crossing the continent innumerable times – upwards of 70 - and becoming the first person to drive a motor car overland from London to Melbourne. He filmed a six month long journey following the route of Burke and Wills, as well as three other early films about outback Australia.

Author, Warren Brown, tells how Birtles managed to fit these extraordinary adventures into his sixty years of life.

“It was no secret. He just did not stop. Ever. He devoted himself to a lifetime of adventure and ‘hard living’ that saw him perpetually – relentlessly – on the move.

“Frank had no responsibiities. He had no home. He had no dependants. He had no job. He made his money by regaling theatre audiences with thrilling accounts of his outback exploits, showing moving pictures and magic-lantern slides and from selling photographs to anyone who’d listen. As far as he was concerned his sole responsibility was to stay alive.”

In Francis Birtles: Australian adventurer, Warren Brown brings to life this restless spirit, tracing the wild adventures of his life through to his rather suspect acquisition of wealth from a gold prospecting venture, his second marriage and his few final years of restless if comfortable retirement.

Published by Hachette Australia
RRP: $35
Web: www.hachette.com.au

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