Mallee Country

Land, People, History

Monash University Publishing
Richard Broome, Charles Fahey, Andrea Gaynor, Katie Holmes
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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 – to become 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.

'...a rich compendium that exposes the roots of many callous policies that continue state-sanctioned assaults on people and ecosystems. As tales of mass fish death, of drought-relief packages, and of billions of dollars allocated to dams and pipelines inundate the news, Mallee Country is a sobering reminder that we've seen it before. What is different now is the scale and urgency of the problems. Mallee Country is an urgent environmental history for these troubled times. As the authors forewarn, the super-imposition of rapid climate change will bring longer-term and wider-reaching consequences to the Mallee...Mallee Country can be read as a history for the future; a warning of what happens when we forget to remember.' — Lilian Pearce, Australian Book Review

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