Journalist, editor and author


The Gardens: Celebrating Tasmania’s Botanical Treasure 1818 – 2018

The Gardens - Celebrating Tasmania's Botancial Treasure 1818-2018

The Gardens – Celebrating Tasmania’s Botancial Treasure 1818-2018

The people, plants and passion that have been the story of the Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens over its first 200 years are brought to life in this stunning bicentennial book.

As a photo-dominated publication, the reader can open this book to any page and be gifted with a reason to smile. If you choose to read from the start, you’ll be taken on a journey through:

  • the site’s ongoing and continuing Aboriginal heritage;
  • the adventures of the first superintendent as he collected native seeds on kunanyi/Mount Wellington;
  • the scandal of a 120-metre-long convict built wall, reportedly constructed to keep out grasshoppers;
  • the ancient wonder of 10,000-year-old Huon pines;
  • gardens such as the Friends’ Mixed Border (which creates a riot in spring);
  • generations of cultural and community events that have shaped our collective memories; and
  • the ongoing work of the Tasmanian Seed Conservation Centre which, to date, has collected and banked more than 43.4 million viable seeds.

Tasmanians responded enthusiastically to the call to submit their images and memories to this book, making it a deeply personal reflection worthy of this milestone.

“The Gardens: Celebrating Tasmania’s Botanical Treasure 1818-2018” reminds us that we all need a sheltering tree. This publication celebrates the many ways that the Gardens allows us to connect with nature, the arts, community, tranquillity, heritage, conservation, each other and ourselves.

“The Gardens: Celebrating Tasmania’s Botanical Treasure 1818-2018” can be purchased for $24.95 from the Gardens shop and ONLINE.

All profits from the sale of this book will support the conservation work of the Tasmanian Seedbank.

The Premier of Tasmania, The Hon Will Hodgman MP, launched “The Gardens: Celebrating Tasmania’s Botanical Treasure 1818-2018” as part of the site’s 2018 bicentenary. He was joined by (L-R) writer/researcher Natalie Tapson, designer Gina Donnelly and writer/editor Net Brennan.

SPORTSMANSHIP: How sport shaped Australia

SPORTSMANSHIP: How sport shaped AustraliaAustralia was a cricket team before it was a nation. In 1868 a group of skilled Aboriginal cricketers toured England to represent our six independent colonies, which were still 33 years away from Federation.

It’s interesting that Australian colonists formed national cricket teams decades before they bothered with Federation. Many nations boast a love of sport but in Australia, this passion defines us. The treasured names and legends – The Don, Our Dawn, Phar Lap and Australia II – speak of our history, our values and our identity.

These yarns are a charming part of Australian tradition. They include the clay perfume bottle that was given to the English cricket captain by his Australian sweetheart (The Ashes). Another story tells of the talented cricketer, a grandson of convicts, who helped write the oldest rules for any football code in the world (Australian Football).

Together, these tales also tell a larger story of our nation’s history, including: how the first Melbourne Cup was poorly attended because of the deaths of outback explorer Burke and Wills; why the conscription campaign of World War I targeted a boxer from rural New South Wales; how Bradman and Phar Lap gave hope to the nation in the Great Depression; and how an Indigenous athlete named Cathy Freeman, running at the Sydney Olympics, gave Australians a vision of how great our nation can be when we share a common dream.

Sport is a topic that many of us love. This book celebrates our passion and uses it to engage young people in reading and our history.

“SPORTSMANSHIP: How sport shaped Australia” is available from all good book stores and online booksellers. RRP $17.99

100 Years of ANZAC


What does an English journalist know about the Anzac spirit?

gallipoli landing

Why is ANZAC Day commemorated on April 25?

James_Martin_(Australian_soldier), died at 14

Dead at 14. The sad story of Australia’s youngest known soldier.

cricket match on shell green

Cricket anyone? Why were these soldiers playing cricket in the middle of a war?

windmill site poziers

Where can you visit a piece of Australia while travelling in France?

The Victoria School

The school in France that was built by Aussie kids.


Why would we want to remember the loss of a generation?



Why did Van Diemen’s Land become bushranger central?


Ned Kelly: good guy or killer or both?


This heartthrob was the Brad Pitt of his era.


One Tasmanian bushranger kept a diary, written in blood. Another had all his friends for dinner (he ate them).


The gold stolen by this bushranger is still out there somewhere.

Martin Cash

This bushranger was unusual because died as an old man in his own bed.

The Federation of Australia

flinders' map of Australia

Who came up with the name ‘Australia’ and what does it mean? Were the people of this land truly the first to write and vote for their nation’s constitution?

Henry Parkes

Was this man Father Christmas, or the Father of Federation?

Catherine Spence

This woman was said to be the best man for the job.

Alfred Deakin

Did this leader speak to dead people?


What was exceptional about this giant (apart from his height)?

Edmund Barton

Why was our first P.M. nicknamed Toby Tosspot?

Ivor Evans

Which 14-year-old schoolboy helped design the Australian flag?


convict flogging

How did the convicts fill in their time in the Australian colonies?

arthur phillip

Did Arthur Phillip’s bad teeth make him look like a ghost?


How many First Fleet convicts were aged under 15?


What was the impact of European settlement on Aboriginal Australians?

Kevin Rudd

Which former P.M. is the descendant of a child convict?

Mary Reibey

When this woman was a child convict, she was a boy.

captain cook painting

What beast was as big as a greyhound, had a long tail and could leap more than two metres?

Child Convicts

Child Convicts by Net BrennanAt the age of seven, children in eighteenth century Britain were tried in court like adults. Some, as young as nine, were transported to the colonies.

Their names may not be familiar, but one of these child convicts would become the first person hanged in Australia, another would be celebrated on our twenty-dollar note and a third would count a future prime minister as a descendant.

Their story is one of survival.

Their story is one of nation-building.

Their story is the story of Australia.

“A great deal of Australian history from the convict era and the discovery of Australia is portrayed in this title. But it’s the heartbreaking tales about children, especially those from poor families, that are the most moving.”

Anastasia Gonis, Buzz Words.

“Everything in Child Convicts is in stark contrast to life in Australia today, and it will provide a useful resource for children studying Australian history.”

Susan Whelan, Kids’ Book Review.

  • “Child Convicts” is available from online booksellers and at all good book stores. RRP $17.95
  • For teacher notes on this text, go to Walker Books Classroom

Australian Federation: One People, One Destiny

Australian-Federation-NotableBefore 1901 the nation of Australia did not exist.

New South Wales, Tasmania, Queensland, Victoria, Western Australia and South Australia were colonies under British Rule.

But among the people of the colonies, the idea of unity was emerging: “a nation for a continent and a continent for a nation.”

Here’s the story of how ordinary citizens became the first in the world to write and vote for their own constitution, coming together to form the nation of Australia.

“This is a fascinating book for any Australian. Whether you are aged 9-12 years (the group the book targets) or an adult who is a bit fuzzy on Australian history, this book will teach you things through its well-written text and numerous, wonderful images.”
Trevor Cairney, Adjunct professor of Education at UNSW and blogger.

“One of the winning aspects of this educational picture book for upper primary school students (and beyond) is its narrative flow: it reads like a story.”
Carole Poustie, Magpies (Vol 29, Issue 2) and rubyrainbowreviews.

  • “Australian Federation: One People, One Destiny” is available online and at all good book stores. RRP $18.95
  • For teacher notes on this text, go to Walker Books Classroom

Legends of Aussie Sport: Oi Oi Oi

This gallery contains 8 photos.


The Don: nearly twice as good as any other cricketer.

The Ashes

What is the love story behind The Ashes?


Are these bathers too brief’?


Why is Phar Lap remembered as a light in dark times?

Nicky Winmar and the winds of change

Nicky Winmar and the winds of change.


This man gave us one of the few things that are truly unique to Australia, but it’s not cricket.


Why did this man light his undies before the Melbourne Olympics?