*Longlisted for the 2021 Indie Book Awards: Illustrated Non-Fiction*
Rivers have long runin the blood of Australians.
Givers of life and subjects of anguish, Australian rivershave shaped the nation from the moment the first Australians arrived tens ofthousands of years ago. Offering the vital ingredient for life, they are alsoguardians of culture, a means of transportation, sites for play and leisure,and sources of power--deeply entrenched in almost every aspect of human life andan irreplaceable part of the global ecosystem.
Australia's vast inland seas of some 50 million years agohave disappeared, leaving a continent that is mostly desert. Of the waters andwetlands that remain, most of which are connected to rivers, 65 are listed asRamsar Wetlands of International Importance. They are also of incredible -- sometimespainful -- local importance, as reminders of the dispossession suffered by thosefirst peoples and their descendants and evidence of the devastation wrought bydrought and dying waterways.
The damming of Western Australia's Ord River during the 1960sand 1970s captured monsoonal rains within a catchment of over 55,000 squarekilometres, creating the largest artificial lake on mainland Australia whiledestroying sites of cultural significance to the Miriwoong people and changingthe ecosystem irrevocably. Barely ten years after the completion of the Ord project,the success of the Save the Franklin campaign in Tasmania is a testament toevolving understanding of the precious nature of waterways. Yet even thistriumph was fraught: environmentalists' argument for preservation of Tasmania's'wilderness' contained the implication that the land was without people,despite Indigenous habitation for at least 30,000 years.
In this broad-ranging survey of some of Australia's mostwell-known, loved, engineered and fought over rivers, from Melbourne's Yarra tothe Alligator rivers of Kakadu, award-winning author Ian Hoskins presents ahistory of our complex connections to water.
A thoughtful foreword by former prime-ministerialspeechwriter Don Watson laments the price rivers have paid for human industryand calls for greater connection with the waterways we rely on for ourexistence. In 2015, Watson's The Bush -- partmemoir, part travelogue, part history -- was named the NSW Premier's LiteraryAwards book of the year and the Australian Independent Booksellers indie bookof the year.
Publication Date: 01-Oct-2020
Publisher: National Library of Australia