Klaus Hueneke may be one of Canberra's rarest species - a successful small publisher in the digital age.
After a number of career moves - environmental planner, academic, ski instructor and teacher - he set up Tabletop Press in 1984 in a spare room in his house, with the aim of publishing and promoting books on the cultural history and ecology of the Australian Alps.
The German-born former plant ecologist, who arrived in Australia as a 10-year-old, has been made a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) for services to conservation and Australia's heritage, particularly the huts of the alpine High Country. It's a passion that owes its origins to his enthusiasm for long-distance cross-country skiing, camping out in the snow on five-day trips from Kiandra to Thredbo.
''I gained an appreciation of the shelter provided by the old mining and cattlemen's huts, but found there was very little written about their history. So, it was a bit of a blank canvas to work on,'' he said.
Mr Hueneke is also a well-known environmental photographer, whose work has been published in books, magazines and calendars featuring Australia's wilderness areas. He began photographing the Alps in the mid 1970s, building a portfolio that spans decades of ecological change.
He also began collecting interviews with ''old timers who had lived in and around'' the Alps, with a view to collating this oral history into a book.
In 1982, the Australian National University Press published Huts of the High Country, which documented the history of more than 100 huts and homesteads in the Snowy Mountains of NSW. The book became an unexpected best seller and is now in its sixth printing.
''It was a great start for a writer, and also introduced me to the nuts and bolts of publishing. I wrote another book, and decided to publish that myself, but then of course, you've got to sell the darn thing, so I became a book distributor. I loaded up the camper van, and took to the road as a specialist wholesaler.''
Mr Hueneke also began publishing other writers who had written histories, poems and recollections of the High Country. He has written eight books, and recently expanded his focus to the south coast of NSW, publishing a book of coastal wilderness photographs, A String of Pearls, last year.
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