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SEI in the Media: Iain McCalman on ABC Radio’s Conversations with Richard Fidler

Iain shares stories of his time on the Reef and discusses some of the stories which would come to make up his book The Reef: A Passionate History.

Last Friday, SEI Co-Director Iain McCalman was a guest on the ABC radio program Conversations with Richard Fidler last Friday where he discussed his book, The Reef A Passionate History, which explores twelve stories of Human encounters of the Great Barrier Reef.

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Iain’s first experience with the Great Barrier Reef came in 2001 when he participated in a BBC re-enactment of Captains Cook’s Endeavour voyage through the Great Barrier Reef.

In the interview, Iain shares stories of his time on the Reef and discusses some of the stories which would come to make up his book The Reef: A Passionate History – published in 2013.

When asked how one can comprehend the enormity of the Great Barrier Reef, Iain explains that ‘when you are there, you have to comprehend it as a constellation of smaller things, as islands and of reefs because that is how you encounter it when you are there.’

You can listen to Iain’s full interview below, or go to the ABC website.


Iain McCalman is a highly respected and award-winning professor of history and the humanities at the University of Sydney and the Co-Director at the Sydney Environment Institute. He has published numerous books and journal articles. His latest book, The Reef – A Passionate History, from Captain Cook to Climate Change, was published in Australia and the USA. Beyond his research, he has been a historical consultant and narrator for the BBC, ABC and other TV and film documentaries. His interest areas are the history of western environmental and cultural crises; scientific voyaging, ethnography, and environmentalism.