Angelo Loukakis reviews 'A Single Tree: Voices from the bush' compiled by Don Watson

Angelo Loukakis reviews 'A Single Tree: Voices from the bush' compiled by Don Watson

A Single Tree: Voices from the bush

by Don Watson

Hamish Hamilton, $45 hb, 416 pp, 9781926428819

In The Bush (2014), Don Watson explored notions of what that most variegated of terms, ‘the bush’, meant to earlier generations, including his own family. In A Single Tree, he presents extracts from writings of all kinds for what he calls ‘a fragmentary history of humans in the Australian bush’. He takes as given the diverse applications of the word ‘bush’ over time and chooses pieces that give expression to a multiplicity of feelings, words, and thoughts around aspects of Australian place.

The urge to assign meaning to the natural world beneath our feet or in the distance is abiding and universal, and the work has been pursued on Terra Australis as elsewhere on the planet. For Australia’s British conquerors in the nineteenth century, the job was never going to be easy. Before any possibility of harnessing the continent to their various needs, a first difficulty lay in simply comprehending what it was they were seeing, so different was the scene to back home.

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.

Angelo Loukakis

Angelo Loukakis

Angelo Loukakis has been a writer, teacher, scriptwriter, editor, and publisher. He is the author of the fiction titles For the Patriarch, Vernacular Dreams, Messenger, The Memory of Tides, and, most recently, Houdini’s Flight (2010). His non-fiction works include a book for children, The Greeks, and the book of the SBS television series, Who Do You Think You Are? His collection of short stories, For the Patriarch, was winner of a New South Wales Premier’s Literary Award. He was Executive Director of the Australian Society of Authors, 2010–16.

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.