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Explore a world of twisted beauty, haven to a variety of weird inhabitants but hostile to others. This is a place that hides animals surviving from the first age of the dinosaurs, but where insects can drown in the very air itself. Enter a world full of weird animals and unusual rock formations, overseen by still-living, giant prehistoric spiders the size of dinner plates...

"16 LEGS: SPIDER LOVE", a behind-the-scenes glimpse of the making of its still-in-production bigger sister "SIXTEEN LEGS", was a Finalist for the globally-renowned 2014 Banff Mountain Film and Book Festival in Canada, where it premiered at the same time as the film's Australian launch at the wonderful Tasmanian Breath of Fresh Air (BOFA) Film Festival - a dual global public premiere with events in both hemispheres at the same time! Since then, our cinematographer Joe Shemesh has been honoured with a rare double Gold Award and an Award of Distinction for his stunning work on the project, from the Australian Cinematographers Society.

SIXTEEN LEGS is an inter-linked suite of projects by Neil Gaiman and the Bookend Trust (, all focussed around the world of antipodean CAVES and CAVE BIOLOGY. It will report on the results of a 23-year scientific research project, 2 years of filming, and hundreds of millions of years of evolution, from the break-up of Gondwana to the present day!

  • SIXTEEN LEGS: Cave Search - Our interactive adventure learning program EXPEDITION CLASS takes Primary students around the world into the realm of caves, with real-time expedition links, full teacher resources aligned to the Australian curriculum, interactive online student activities, and an expert forum linking students directly with relevant scientists. In 2014 this provided (i) direct school visits to some 1300 primary students to discuss and develop an expedition topic centered on caves, (ii) creation of Australian-curriculum aligned teaching resources that were distributed to participating schools, totaling an additional online audience of 3000 students, (iii) running of a one-month expedition by experts to survey and explore new caves, with an online satellite link back to the online students who could interact with the explorers directly – asking questions and helping shape the expedition. The Mercury newspaper partnered with Bookend to print regular updates in the hard copy of the newspaper (reaching a weekday regional readership of 97,000 people) and to share a weekly blog online via the Mercury website (averaging 34,000 page impressions daily). See our SIXTEEN LEGS summary page or our Expedition Class page for more information.
  • SIXTEEN LEGS: Cave ART - Our high school program SKULLBONE provides students with hands-on experiences on and under ground to (i) experience an expedition to caves with scientific experts, (ii) to meet with media experts to view footage capturing key ecological events that are hard to witness directly in caves, and (iii) to undertake a behind-the-scenes visit to the Museum of Old and New Art (MONA) to see how artists use different methods to convey messages to mass audiences. This culminated in their own interpretation of caves to be shared with global audiences online and in display at the Enter the cave Exhibition (below), with the winners being offered the opportunity to win a trip to see Antarctica with their own eyes! Find out more about the Cave Art program and the spectacular student art it produced here or read about the winners here.
  • SIXTEEN LEGS: Cave ART Open - An Australia-wide version of the Cave ART program, without the specific tuition, but open to entries from around the country for students who want to try their hand at winning either an ocean adventure or an Antarctic flight alongside the other winners. More information available here.
  • SIXTEEN LEGS: Enter the Cave Exhibition - A showcase travelling exhibition of caves, cave biology and the work behind finding out what makes this unique environment work The Exhibition consists of (i) 48 giant backlit panels representing a photographic journey into the science and conservation management of caves and groundwater, including the biology of the caves and the spider, (ii) woven within these is the outline of the dark fairytale telling of this story, designed in collaboration with Queensland artist Jodee Taylah and international best-selling author NEIL GAIMAN; (iii) these panels are surrounded with art works inspired by the exhibition, and created by both local artists and the Cave ART students mentioned above, and (iv) 2 giant mating spider replicas with 18 foot leg-spans on a giant web in the roof of the exhibition area, and a giant egg-sac pulsating with spider young... More information available here.
  • SIXTEEN LEGS: A Visit to the Queen of the Dark - A coffee-table book of the Production Art developed for the SIXTEEN LEGS exhibition and documentary in collaboration with international best-selling author and Bookend Patron NEIL GAIMAN, with a supporting photographic book on the lifecycle of the animals involved. These books are a glimpse of the creative process in progress, they showcase the student art, and they act as a fundraiser supporting the overall project. Pre-orders of the books have flowed from all over the globe, including Australia, New Zealand, the UK, Ireland, the USA, Canada, Spain, Norway, Switzerland, Sweden, Denmark, Holland, Belgium, Finland, the Netherlands, Germany, France, Italy, Croatia, Latvia, Poland, Slovakia, Bulgaria, the UAE, China, South Africa, Brazil, Singapore and Malaysia! This is already supporting a student scholarship to undertake further research into cave environments - see our SHOP for more details on the books.
  • 16 LEGS: Spider Love - Although the main documentary won't be finished until 2015, this shorter 'making-of' piece on the filming to date had a dual-hemisphere world premiere on November 9, 2014 at both the Breath of Fresh Air (BOFA) Film Festival in Australia and the Banff Mountain Film and Book Festival in Canada. It was also a finalist in the Banff Festival's prestigious annual film competition! View a sneak peak
  • SIXTEEN LEGS: the Documentary - Composed from the footage captured to display this story - including lifecycles, secrets and unique animal behaviours that break the usual rules and have never before been captured in moving footage, let alone at a quality that not only illustrates the science but has informed and furthered our understanding of these unique animals. The SIXTEEN LEGS documentary was recently showcased to an audience of global broadcasters and media experts in France as one of only seven 'in production' natural history documentaries selected from around the globe. View the Trailer
  • And more - watch this space for a few more surprises...

To express interest in this project, for students, teachers, media or anyone around the globe, please contact us at