‘This is a rich environmental history, bristling with big ideas and local stories.’ Billy Griffiths
‘We often hear the phrase, “the Mallee breeds em tough.” This book not only supports that but also gives a silent tip of the hat to the men and women over thousands of years who have called the Mallee home. It is a must read for every Australian.’ Kara Taylor, Agora
Mallee Country tells the powerful history of mallee lands and people across southern Australia from Deep Time to the present. Carefully shaped and managed by Aboriginal people for over 50,000 years, mallee country was dramatically transformed by settlers, first with sheep and rabbits, then by flattening and burning the mallee to make way for wheat. Government backed settlement schemes devastated lives and country, but some farmers learnt how to survive the droughts, dust storms, mice, locusts and salinity – as well as the vagaries of international markets – and became some of Australia’s most resilient agriculturalists. In mallee country, innovation and tenacity have been neighbours to hardship and failure.
Mallee Country is a story of how land and people shape each other. It is the story of how a landscape once derided by settlers as a ‘howling wilderness’ covered in ‘dismal scrub’ became home to citizens who delighted in mallee fauna and flora and fought to conserve it for future generations. And it is the story of the dreams, sweat and sorrows of people who face an uncertain future of depopulation and climate change with creativity and hope.
Richard Broome is Emeritus Professor in History at La Trobe University and President of the Royal Historical Society of Victoria. He is the author of 14 books on Indigenous and Australian history.
Charles Fahey taught history at La Trobe University, Melbourne until his retirement in 2018. His research explores Australian labour, rural and mining history.
Andrea Gaynor is Associate Professor of History, Chair of the History Discipline Group and Director of the Centre for Western Australian History at the University of Western Australia. Her research focuses on environmental history.
Katie Holmes is Professor of History and Director of the Centre for the Study of the Inland at La Trobe University. Her work integrates environmental, gender and oral history and seeks to understand the experience of Australian settlement.