Publication Date: Nov 2023
RRP: $29.99
ISBN: 9781922633842
Format: Paperback with flaps
Size: 153mm x 234mm
Pages: 288
Category: Australian History, Environment

What the Trees See

A Wander Through Millennia of Natural History in Australia

Dave Witty

‘True to the fabled metaphor of “the tree of life”, Dave Witty reveals how trees touch every aspect of our existence. As few other writers can, he enables us to see trees as portals, not only into our own lives, but also into Australia’s history and its myriad landscapes – past, present and future.’ Mark McKenna

‘A fascinating and revelatory history of Australia told through the elemental and elegant device of its trees. Carefully researched, thoughtfully composed, and immensely revealing. Witty takes the trees of Australia – the icons, the beloved and the obscure – and hangs from their boughs a chain of stories about plants, history, humans, transportation, migration, celebration and loss. He tells us things we ought to know about this continent and its past, and lovingly describes the living trees that have witnessed what has come, and which may – if we revere them enough – accompany us into the future. If you love trees, or even if you don’t, this book will offer you a vision of Australia you’ve never seen before.’ Kate Holden

‘A wonderful and deeply researched book revealing, on occasion for the first time, the true history of some of Australia’s most astonishing plants.’ Tim Flannery

‘This is a book of curiosity and wonder. What the Trees See is the story of learning a landscape, coming to understand Country. It announces Dave Witty as a fresh, lively voice in Australian nature writing.’ Billy Griffiths, author of Deep Time Dreaming

A stunning meditation on the remarkable insights that Australia’s trees can offer into our past

The trees around us – some we may walk past every day – tell a story. The mallee box by the twelfth hole of North Adelaide Golf Course evokes a time when Adelaide was clothed in mallee scrub and desert senna. Brisbane’s remnant blue gum, growing by the botanic gardens, indicates a time when the city was once jungle. The river red gums of Melbourne bear the scars of Aboriginal craftmanship. Mangroves, Leichhardt trees, acacias, eucalypts, foxtails … together, they inspire a narrative that jumps from Burke and Wills to sugar slaves, Empress Josephine to Johnny Flinders. Eucalypts reveal lost cultures and lost children. Cabbage palms tell of incomparable migrations. In the spirit of Bob Gilbert’s Ghost Trees and Don Watson’s The Bush, this book explores how our trees hold our history and reveal it to us.

Dave Witty

Dave Witty is a Melbourne-based writer raised in London. His work appears in Island, Sleet and Meanjin. A chapter from this book won the highly commended award in the Nature Conservancy’s 2021 Nature Writing Prize.
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