National Geographic : 1979 Feb
IS EXPLORATION DEAD? Has every place and every thing been discovered? Have the satellite, the airplane, the tran sistor, the snowmobile so reduced the risk that the challenge is only a fiction? Last year we presented the stories of Robyn Davidson, who crossed the western Australian desert by camel, and Naomi Uemura, who traveled to the North Pole by dogsled. Both were alone most of the time. But both journeyed over regions that had previously been crossed, and both relied in part on supplies delivered by truck or plane. So-what does one call what they did? Last December's issue featured the flight of the Double Eagle II across the Atlantic the first manned balloon to make that cross ing. High-technology navigation played an important part in the success, as did radio relayed weather reports based on satellite observations. Was this achievement a sport ing event or an exploration? Was it what historian Daniel J. Boorstin has called a "pseudo-event"? In the absence of overriding nationalistic or economic motivations that drove men to explore and discover and claim in previous eras, the adventure that has always been a trail mate to exploration seems still to exist for its own sake. This issue contains the story of the first ex pedition to cross Australia, nearly 120 years ago. Such ultimate daring has to an extent been shouldered aside by immensely expen sive and highly organized group endeavor, such as man's successful reach for the moon. Oceanographic expeditions are launched with all the resources of several institutions, and government-sponsored science has be come a multimillion-dollar enterprise. There are many who believe that explora tion has only passed into a new and more meaningful phase. After all, the famous Vic torian Age explorers were conquering little more than their own ignorance; the doughty Columbus "discovered" a hemisphere that was already populated and the home of high civilizations. If we sometimes feel that the last moun tain has been climbed, the last ocean crossed, the last river named, the last tribe encountered, we have only begun to under stand what has been discovered. And the spirit of pure adventure survives. " 4/7 tit~iyt THE NATIONALGEOGRAPHICMAGAZINEVOL. 155, NO. 2 COPYRIGHT© 1979 BY NATIONALGEOGRAPHICSOCIETY WASHINGTON,D. C. INTERNATIONALCOPYRIGHTSECURED February 1979 The Tragic Journey of Burke and Wills 152 Seeking the unknown in 1860, the first men to cross Australia struggled through a vast wasteland to its northern edge, only to die during their return. Joseph Judge and Joseph J. Scherschel retrace an epic in the history of exploration. Kangaroos! That Marvelous Mob 192 Biologist Geoffrey B. Sharman and wildlife photographersDes and Jen Bartlett report on the wondrous ways of their country's most extraordinarycreatures,portrayed as well on a special map-supplement with this issue. Sydney: Big, Breezy, and a Bloomin' Good Show 211 A visiting Yank of perceptive ear and eye, Ethel A. Starbird captures the special character and characters-ofAustralia's largest metropolis. Photographs by Robert W. Madden. Risk and Reward on Alaska's Violent Gulf 237 For those who can endure wretched weather and a rugged life-style, the Gulf of Alaska grudgingly yields great riches, Boyd Gibbons and Steve Raymer discover. Kathmandu's Remarkable Newars 269 The rich and sophisticated culture of Nepal's capital is largely the product of a talented, enterprisingpeople little known to the outside world. A picture story by John Scofield. Nature's "Whirling" Water Purifiers 287 Rotifers, tiny aquatic animals that even under a microscope give an illusion of spinning, help keep the world's ponds and puddles clean. PhotographerJohn Walsh takes a closeup look. COVER: Two red-necked wallabies, pugnacious members of the kangaroo clan (pages 192-209), square off in an Australian wheat field. Photographby Des and Jen Bartlett.