I found (and bought) a book called The Lyre-Birds of Mount Buffalo.

The Lyre-Birds of Mount Buffalo

It's undated. The National Library is unsure, but thinks it might have been published in the 1930s. The photographs are pasted onto the pages. (But they are still dot screen printings, not original continuous silver prints.) To me this suggests an earlyish 20th century printing, when printers were still finding it difficult (or expensive) to merge photos with text in a book.

It contains photographs taken by the legendary Guide Alice, pictured below.

(I think our friend Janet who goes camping on Buffalo each Easter ought to get out her clothes making equipment and come up with an authentic "Guide Alice" costume to wear when we go camping. It would be stunning. Since the photograph is in black and white, she could choose her own colours: the only guidelines being to be consistent with early 20th Century colours, and remember that Guide Alice was probably adventurous in choosing colours.)

In the book her clothes are described as follows:

Guide Alice in the costume she wears when mountaineering. She was the pioneer of fashion in walking-dresses on Mount Buffalo. Tourists know that this dress is ideal for comfort in climbing where the snow lies deep in winter-time.

Guide Alice

According to the Parks Victoria description of Guide Alice, this was the first pictorial book ever published on lyre birds.

Compare the excellent photo of a male lyre bird on the cover of the book (above) with my best photograph of a lyre bird (below). Guide Alice (Manfield) would most likely have been using plates of glass as negatives for her pictures, or sheets of celluloid. After each exposure she would have had to pull the square of film out of position and push the next square of film into place and remove a dark slide before she could take the next picture. If she was really modern and not too worried about picture quality, she might have been using roll film. The speed of her film might have been somewhere around 6 to 12  ISO. Most photography these days is done at around 400 ISO, and my camera can go up to 3200 ISO. This means that Alice's shutter speeds would have been around 1/30th to 1/4 of a second, whilst my shutter speeds are typically somewhere around 1/400th to 1/4000th (making it easy to capture moving birds).

I also have auto exposure and auto-focussing. With all those tools at my disposal, this is as good as I've managed so far. It's truly embarrassing.

Image:Guide Alice and The Lyre-Birds of Mount Buffalo

Alice's approach is described in the book:

Guide Alice, before the chick appeared, won the parent birds' friendship by patience and quietness - and the Mopoke call. She had failed to secure photographs by hiding near the nest, so, morning and evening on several successive days, she sat on a rock, in full view, and accustomed the wary birds to her presence; and always she mimicked the mournful notes of the Boobook Owl, "Mo-poke". This plan at last succeeded: a photograph of the hen bird was secured.

I think that's my problem: I haven't sat, morning and evening, on a rock making the "Mo-poke" noise. Fortunately, I can practice by listening to the recording here. Once I've got the noise right, all I'll need is a nice rock and a whole lot of extra patience.

Comments (8)
Anthony Holmes October 10th, 2008 09:07:21 PM

1) Guide Alice and The Lyre-Birds of Mount Buffalo
Kathy 20/02/2009 7:37:21 AM


I am interested in buying a copy of this book. Where did you buy it?



2) Guide Alice and The Lyre-Birds of Mount Buffalo
Julie Skeggs 20/02/2009 3:33:19 PM

I am curious to know where you found this booklet. i have a long association with Mt Buffalo and have been gathering any historical items in relation to it. Of course if you still have the book I would love to make an offer to buy. Thanks..Julie

3) Guide Alice and The Lyre-Birds of Mount Buffalo
Anthony Holmes 21/02/2009 2:33:49 PM

I bought the book secondhand from Cornstalk Books: { Link }

Your best chance of finding a copy would be to search one of the sites that contains links to books being sold by secondhand book stores.

Two sites that you might try are:

{ Link }

{ Link }

Also, when searching, try different spellings for Lyre-birds such as Lyre birds and Lyrebirds.

4) Guide Alice and The Lyre-Birds of Mount Buffalo
John 27/03/2011 10:15:49 PM

Hi Anthony,

If you haven't found out by now, the book was published in 1924. Refer to the Wikipedia article { Link } (there's a link to the book's record at the State Library of Victoria).

I know you don't actually hold copyright or anything, but just to be polite, do you mind if I take a copy of these photos to add to Wikipedia?

Cheers, John

5) Guide Alice and The Lyre-Birds of Mount Buffalo
Anthony Holmes 28/03/2011 9:07:45 AM

By all means re-use the photos in Wikipedia. (And well spotted on the publication date. Thanks for that.)

6) Guide Alice and The Lyre-Birds of Mount Buffalo
John 29/03/2011 12:25:20 AM

Thanks Anthony,

Just need to check up the book cover - technically probably still covered by copyright, given Alice didn't die till 1960. However may be able to claim a non-free use rationale at a reduced size.

The image of Alice however pretty likely looks to have been taken at the same time as the one in the Wikipedia article (same general pose, the backdrop is identical, although, if anything, she looks younger here). The State Library say the other one is out of copyright, so should be right to use that one.


7) Guide Alice and The Lyre-Birds of Mount Buffalo
janis pirrie 13/07/2015 9:55:49 PM

could anyone tell me where I can find this book by alice manfield thanks

8) Guide Alice and The Lyre-Birds of Mount Buffalo
Pam Jones 21/07/2015 9:12:45 AM

I have a copy of this lovely book purchased some 20 odd years ago at a library sale for 20 cents. Until now I wasn't aware it was published in 1924. The pictures are excellent. I have not seen another book with the pictures pasted at the top.

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