walker_in_the_wildernessWalker in the Wilderness

The Life of R.J. Anketell

by Judith Anketell

ISBN 0 85905 243 5, (1988 new), Soft Cover, 196pp illustrated, HC 485grams, SC 340grams,

HC $40.00 SC $30.00 + POST  (An edition limited to 500 copies)

"We built no heroes, but we left no bones."

This remark, said by a colleague, sums up the meticulous planning and execution of the expeditions led by Richard John Anketell.

In Walker in the Wilderness the exploits of this engineer/surveyor are traced as he opened up large tracts of Australia.   He is one of a band of intrepid public servants who lived and worked in inhospitable country beyond the bounds of civilisation.   His efforts, and those of other public servants engaged in similar pioneering work, have been undeservedly overlooked.

Whether looking for water for survival or negotiating with settlers for politicians his skills were tested and were all part of the job.  A true pioneer, he lived and worked in inhospitable country. His life work is an important part of Western Australian history and in the broader context, of the nation's history.

Walker in the Wilderness brings to life the dangers, harshness and fascination of the lonely Nullarbor, the Sandy Desert and the Tasmanian wilderness as it traces the exploits and humanity of this intrepid surveyor/explorer and the men and animals under his command.  The outback, with its dangers, harshness and fascination, comes to life as Anketell relates the commitment and humanity of a pioneer explorer and the working life of the men and animals under his command.


Judith Anketell was born in Katanning and after completing training as a kindergarten teacher she taught in the U.K. for two years. On returning to Western Australia she married Ken Anketell.  She has two adult children.  In the 1970s she become an Adviser with the Pre-School Board, subsequently joining the staff of the Special Education Branch and gaining a Bachelor of Education degree in 1986. Judith has written poetry, professional articles and short stories for a number of publications and in retirement found time to undertake the research and writing of this biography.

An edition limited to 500 copies.