Brenda Walker reviews 'The Year of the Farmer' by Rosalie Ham

Brenda Walker reviews 'The Year of the Farmer' by Rosalie Ham

The Year of the Farmer

by Rosalie Ham

Pan Macmillan, $32.99 pb, 336 pp, 9781760558901

‘In time and with water, everything changes,’ according to Leonardo da Vinci, who worked with Machiavelli on a strategic and ultimately doomed attempt to channel the flow of the Arno. Large-scale water management has had some notable successes in parts of Australia, but as poor practices and climate change put river systems under near-terminal stress, we face irreversible and potentially catastrophic ecological failures. Michael Cathcart, in The Water Dreamers (2009), provides an account of this. Attempts to rectify the ecological degradation of our rivers involve expensive and possibly futile federal policies, opportunism, and the potential for suffering in farming communities. Everything may indeed change in time and with water, but changes in water practices in Australia are particularly fraught.

Read the rest of this article by subscribing to ABR Online for as little as $10 a month.

We offer a range of subscription options, including print, which can be found by clicking here. If you are already a subscriber, enter your username and password in the ‘Log In’ section in the top right-hand corner of the screen.

If you require assistance, contact us or consult the Frequently Asked Questions page.

Published in October 2018, no. 405
Brenda Walker

Brenda Walker

Brenda Walker has written essays, short fiction, four novels and a memoir, Reading by Moonlight. Her books have won numerous Australian awards, including the Victorian Premier’s Award for Nonfiction. Her story 'The Houses that are Left Behind' won the O. Henry Prize in 2018, and will be published in Australia in Best Summer Stories in October. She is Emeritus Professor of English and Cultural Studies at the University of Western Australia.

Leave a comment

Please note that all comments must be approved by ABR and comply with our Terms & Conditions.

NB: If you are an ABR Online subscriber or contributor, you will need to login to ABR Online in order to post a comment. If you have forgotten your login details, or if you receive an error message when trying to submit your comment, please email your comment (and the name of the article to which it relates) to We will review your comment and, subject to approval, we will post it under your name.