Click to preview The Abaco Backcountry photo book

Jim Todd has produced an attractive self-published book, available in 3 formats, showcasing some of the outstanding features of the less-frequented areas of Abaco and its waters. It contains many excellent photographs, with interesting notes and observations. There are places and facts in the book that may not be known even to locals! Below are some sample pages. 

Abaco Backcountry Grab 2Abaco Backcountry Grab 3Abaco Backcountry Grab 4Abaco Backcountry Grab 5Abaco Backcountry Grab 7Abaco Backcountry Grab 6

Anyone who loves Abaco, its natural surroundings, its ecology and its wildlife will love this book. If this post has whetted your appetite, here are some further details:

Available exclusively on BLURB (this is the direct link)

“The Abaco Backcountry draws on the author’s extensive exploration of the area to describe a hypothetical traverse of its length in words and pictures. It is not a guidebook but an appreciation of a unique Bahamian marine ecosystem”

56 pp, available softcover ($35), Hardcover, Dustjacket ($38.99) and Hardcover, Image Wrap ($40.99)

                    A (INDEED THE) ROAD MAP OF ABACO                           


Rolling Harbour review **** (the best in a field of one… unless you know better)

The only helpful road map of Abaco that I have come across and that is readily available – for example at shops in Marsh Harbour – is Abaco Life’s ‘MAP OF THE ABACOS’. To the question ‘why in the world would you need a road map for an island that basically has one very long road, one roundabout and one set of traffic lights’, read on below…

The format is large folding (Ordnance Survey style) paper, double-sided, with both sides fringed with adverts of a predictable sort – restaurants, shops, scuba / boat trips, car rental, real estate and so forth. Quite handy in themselves.

Side One shows the complete island, and indeed runs from Hole-in-the-Wall in the south to the north eastern tip of Little Abaco. There are detailed plans of Little Harbour & Cherokee (handy for Delphi), Treasure Cay, Green Turtle Cay, Great Guana, and New Plymouth 

Side Two is the most helpful for the Delphi visitor: a large map of the Marsh Harbour area, with a detailed plan of central Marsh harbour; a map of Elbow Cay and a detail of Hope Town; and ditto for Man-o-war Cay and Settlement

Each detailed map has a numbered key to shops, banks, restaurants etc. And you will see that although there is only one highway, there is quite a network of roads in all these places. Let this map be your guide. Some image clips from the map have been used to illustrate posts – for example ‘Cherokee and Little Harbour’. If you are planning to renounce the pleasures of Delphi and / or bonefishing for a day or two during your stay, this map will be invaluable. Actually, we’ve lent it as much as used it… Oh, and there’s  also a Ferry Schedule. 


I came across a reference to this book recently and took a screen shot show the online library reference for it. I don’t know anything else about it, but since there are many people interested in the Abaco barbs, their sad plight, and the valiant attempts to save this unique species from extinction, I am adding the image in case anyone wants to locate the book. Any review of it would be  welcome!Jingo - Wild Horse of Abaco

STEVE DODGE, illus. Laurie Jones – White Sound Press

  • Original Edition 1983 (170pp), reprinted
  • Revised and expanded edition 2005 (270pp)  [I don’t have this one!]

rollingharbour rating ***.5                       

These are the 2 covers, to help distinguish them if you search online. Beware, the covers are often used interchangeably… so check the edition date

The cover image, colourfully made over for the new century, shows the Albertine ‘Adoue’ – the last Abaconian sailing mailboat (giving way to diesel power in 1923)

1st EDITION REVIEW: The first 5 chapters cover the more distant history of the Bahamas in general & Abaco in particular. Starting promisingly “Two hundred million year ago…”, the early chapters briefly cover the formation & geology of the islands and the demographic & social history, with plenty to interest and not too much detail – very informative for a non-Abaconian like me. I personally am uninterested in the boatbuilding chapter (I like the illustrations) but it will surely appeal to people who feel comfortable out of their depth. The history of gradual expansion, increased trading importance, & the less attractive sides – e.g. wrecking – are well-covered. 

The final 3 chapters form the second half of the book – the 20th Century when Abaco moved from relative isolation to greater significance. Here the detail becomes denser as Abaco rapidly develops. There are parts that I skimmed, but there’s much of interest and many factual nuggets about the political developments in the later 20th century. Overall the book is an excellent primer for an Abaco novice for an overview up to the 1980s. I guess residents will also get plenty from it as well.

I haven’t seen the new edition, but I am sure it is the one to get. The Am*z*n blurb for it, which I recklessly copy, says “This expanded and updated second edition has completely new sections on Lucayan Indians, Wilson City, and contemporary Abaco, and many revisions. This is the only general, comprehensive history of Abaco, Bahamas available; it covers from the geologic formation of the Bahama Banks to the middle 1990s. Cover painting by Phil Capen,; illustrations by Laurie Jones. 112 illustrations, photographs, and maps. Appendix on boat building in Abaco”  There are plainly many more illustrations and photos than in my copy; and I notice boatbuilding has been moved to an Appendix…

CURRENT COST: Unlike most of the books I have reviewed, this book is not cheap at the moment. The new edition can be bought for $25 on Amazon.com /  £33 on Amazon.co.uk – none on Abe. The original edition is a mere $4 on Amazon.com, unfeasibly expensive on Amazon.co.uk, but reasonable on Abe



ZOE DURRELL 1972 (160 pp)

 rollingharbour rating ***

This rather charming small book, illustrated by the author, was published at a very significant time in the history of the Bahamas. The first section deals with the Bahamas as a whole, its past, and matters governmental. The focus turns to Abaco, its history, socio-economy and development. There is a very short section on the (then) new project at Treasure Cay. The final 90 pages or so are devoted to plants, birds (30pp) and shells, with detailed and enthusiastic descriptions – some quite technical –  and the author’s simple drawings.

When I first got this book, I was disinclined to like it: seemingly dated, a tendency to use coy phrases like ‘harbingers of spring’*, and drawings that even I, who struggle to draw a stickman, wondered about… But I have gradually warmed to it, and anyway there is plenty of interest here for a book that can be obtained chips-cheap on Amazon (try .com as well as .uk) or Abe. Overall, it’s a fiver well spent.

*Reference point: J.B.Morton (‘Beachcomber’) and his parodic “…fresh buds, tiny harbingers of Spring, burgeoning as burgeon they must… yellowhammers flaunting their jaundiced livery among the scrithes and tussocks… the questing vole in the plashy fen…”


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