Brisbane, Australia
Robert Rankin on the summit of Mont Blanc (4810m), France, 2012
ROBERT RANKIN produced Australia's first Wilderness of Australia Calendar way back in 1983 but his interest in wild landscapes began in the early 1970s with trips to places, which were then remote, such as Hinchinbrook Island, South West Tasmania and the New Zealand Alps. He did these early trips whilst studying physics at the University of Queensland. For some time, rock climbing became a passion.
Then, after a stint as producer of education programs with the ABC, he decided in 1980 it was time to launch, in a small part time way, his own publishing business dedicated to the production of high quality media products relating exclusively to Australia's wilderness. At the time there was a distinct lack of products depicting Australia's wildest regions and in fact few people had even heard of many of the regions such as South West Tasmania, Kakadu, the Bungle Bungles, the Franklin River and Hinchinbrook. For sure there were publications showing the Three Sisters in the Blue Mountains or Uluru in central Australia but few realised this country had many more natural and spectacular scenic icons on offer.

Robert became dedicated to recording the essential essence of Australia's wilderness - but not the usual clichéd depictions of well-known regions. Instead he spent many weeks walking into the most remote corners of this continent in an attempt to produce pictures of places few people had ever seen. His first calendar for 1981 depicted natural landscapes of the Scenic Rim of south-east Queensland where he lived and this product was snapped up so quickly that, for the next year, it was expanded to encompass all of Queensland. Subsequently, the success of this product led to the creation of the first Wilderness of Australia Calendar for 1983.

Throughout the 1980s, interest in Australia's wilderness accelerated phenomenally as concerns regarding the safe future of such pristine wilderness regions as the Franklin River and the Daintree rainforests became foremost in the nation's collective mind. Robert's Classic Wild Walks of Australia casebound book provided information so that all could go and visit the best remote areas of Australia. It became so popular that four editions were quickly needed to supply the demand.

The publication of Beyond the Horizon was motivated by Robert's other great passion - running. Having participated in runs as long as a marathon, in the early 1980s he decided to apply his running skills and fitness to traversing large tracts of wilderness, challenging himself to traverse as far as he could in a single day. As such, he uncovered some superb single day mountain challenges right here in Australia that any fit and motivated individual can complete. This book provides the inspiration for such challenges.

Rankin Publishers really began in a small way as a hobby in the early 1970s when Robert produced several small local bushwalking and rock climbing guides. By the mid-1970s he was making documentary films releasing Climb to the Clouds (filmed on Hinchinbrook Island) and To Walk the Vertical (depicting a rock climb on Crookneck, one of the Glasshouse Mountains). Both films were broadcast on television at a time when very little content featuring the Australian landscape was shown.

Then, with a Master of Science degree in environmental physics and a Doctor of Philosophy in science communication under his belt, in the mid-1980s, he went full time with his plans for establishing a publishing business which would go on to produce a range of products in various media relating to wilderness and, later, publications which explained the often difficult topics of theoretical physics. These themes continue to this day.
Camping on Mount Howitt in the Victorian Alps in preparation for taking sunrise photos across the mountain ranges the next morning.
The Rankin family, Carmel, Ben and Rob, on Mount Coot-tha, 2012.
On the summit of Mount Dixon (3004m), in the New Zealand Alps, 1975.
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