With her usual frothy enthusiasm and limitless energy, Constance Helmericks turns from the Alaska snows (Down the Wild River North, 1968) to trudge the Australian Outback with two teenage daughters, a dog, and numerous traveling companions. Of prime interest to Mum is the exotic flora and fauna of the interior -- emus and echidna, 240 varieties of lizard, wombats, quokkas and other marsupials. Also of course the Aborigines, to whom she is certainly more sympathetic than most of the native Australians she encounters (Mrs. Helmericks has acquired at least a dash of anthropological savvy). Enchanted with roughing it, the women doggedly carry on their explorations across unpaved roads and blistering deserts, pausing for rest by a luminous black billabog complete with crocodiles, or in some grundgy redneck pub where, alas, they are sometimes dismayed to find that ""the Aussies had no hugs or kisses, or even smiles, for female Yanks."" The Aussies in fact here seem like a cussed and truculent lot; what's worse to Mrs. Helmericks, they are slaughtering many of their rare species of wildlife, including kangaroos and emus, and heedlessly destroying the life-preserving mulga desert scrub -- with less thought to pollution and ecological imbalance than even the notorious Yanks. But Mrs. Helmericks is too jolly to dwell on Australia's shortcomings; the safari is invigorating and rejuvenating, her daughters are her ""mites"" (mates), and pretty much everything from the opal mines to the Royal Flying Doctor Service in Alice Springs is ""Roight-oh. Fairdinkum, Mum.