The Big Twitch (2005) edit
- All page numbers are from the trade paperback first edition published Allen & Unwin, ISBN 1-74114-528-7, 23rd printing
- I was stained with a stigma that would take me the rest of school to shake for this was Homophobe High, where any difference was immediately stomped upon by that most conservative of bodies – the teenage peer group.
- Prologue (p. 2)
- Birding gave me the excuse to get out into the bush, to lose my self in the wider world of nature, detox my mind of everything that was going on. Without birdwatching who knows what sort of basket case I might have ended up? My God, I could even have become a lawyer.
- Chapter 2 (p. 22)
- Actually, I think that is part of the appeal of birdwatching for me – you come away from an encounter with a bird with absolutely nothing tangible to show for it other than the memory of the experience and maybe a tick in your notebook. You indulge in the experience merely for the nature of the experience. It is conquering without violence, hunting without the kill.
- Chapter 3 (p. 25)
- Cool people don’t bother becoming dictators; they’re too busy getting laid.
- Chapter 3 (p. 38)
- The Twitcher’s list is very democratic. Each bird counts as one tick. There are no extra points for beauty or rarity.
- Chapter 4 (p. 41)
- Saying I was taking a year off to make a documentary seemed easier than saying I was spending a year birdwatching. In this society being a wanker is socially unacceptable. Filming yourself while being a wanker, however, seems perfectly legitimate.
- Chapter 5 (p. 54)
- None of the locals I met could understand why I hadn’t immediately built on the land, the mentality being that if you weren’t putting your land to any discernible economic use then it was wasted land. Forget about aesthetics, forget about environmental values, unless you were running something on it, ploughing something into it or extracting something from it, then it was just a waste of space.
- Chapter 6 (p. 62)
- When I hear of someone suffering a mental illness that causes them to be ridden with anxiety, socially isolated and prone to feelings of paranoia, I think, ‘yep, sounds like a twitcher to me.’
- Chapter 7 (p. 69)
- I could see the same look of incomprehension on her face that my parents often wore: ‘this person cannot possibly be related to me.’
- Chapter 11 (p. 104)
- I remembered why I liked hanging out with the top rate twitchers – they might be freaks but they were awesomely brilliant freaks.
- Chapter 16 (p. 151)
- As I settled into the sleeping bag in the back seat of the car, I revelled in the glorious stillness of the country at night. The first night away from the city you can feel the tension almost physically draining out of you as you gaze at the achingly beautiful sky and greedily inhale the invigorating fresh scent of the country.
- Chapter 17 (p. 155)
- That was a pivotal moment in our relationship; that adolescent catharsis when you realise your parents cannot sustain you as they once did – the moment you leave the nest.
- Chapter 20 (p. 178)
- The wildlife follows the water.
- Chapter 21 (p. 184)
- On one side of the retaining wall were the dank, wonderful mangroves teaming with life; on the other side, sitting on landfill, were modern houses and manicured lawns. Why is it that building the Great Aussie Dream Home invariably involves destroying other creatures’ homes?
- Chapter 32 (p. 281)
- Everything seemed to be falling into place perfectly. That had to be a worry.
- Chapter 34 (p. 290)
- The countdown clock tipped through to midnight and as the fireworks exploded, people erupted in a frenzy of cheering and drunken pashing.
The Big Twitch was over. I was back in the real world. Looking around this world that I had turned my back on for a year, seeing the manic desperation of those around me to have a good time no matter what, suddenly my quest didn’t seem so absurd. In fact it seem to make more sense than any of the human behaviour I saw around me.
- Chapter 35 (p. 298)
- There are a million ways to occupy your time on this planet. They are all pretty much absurd if you analyse them too closely. I chose twitching, one of the more outwardly absurd of them all I suppose but really no more ridiculous than anything else, yet that year of absurdity has had a profound effect on my life since.
- Epilogue (p. 299)