Long in the making

The Murray–Darling ecological crisis
by
November 2021, no. 437
Buy this book

Wounded Country: The Murray–Darling Basin – a contested history by Quentin Beresford

NewSouth, $34.99 pb, 426 pp

Long in the making

The Murray–Darling ecological crisis
by
November 2021, no. 437
Floodwaters surrounding the woolshed on Dunlop Station, Darling River,  New South Wales, 1886 (Charles Bayliss/National Library of Australia)
Floodwaters surrounding the woolshed on Dunlop Station, Darling River, New South Wales, 1886 (Charles Bayliss/National Library of Australia)

At the height of the Millennium Drought (2001–9), I took the late Deborah Bird Rose to my favourite childhood swimming hole near Dubbo, on the Wambool (Macquarie River). The banks had eroded and a flood had washed the sandy beach a hundred metres upstream, burying trees halfway up to their crowns. Weeds flourished in the churned ground, and scum floated on the shallows. Nothing seemed safe from degradation. Farther west, on the Barka (Darling River) near Bourke, we passed private water storages lining the banks of the river for kilometres. The scalded land was strewn with rubbish and discarded machinery. Wind blew dust into our eyes. At our feet, a dead sheep lay in an irrigation channel. ‘This is it,’ I said. ‘This is broken country.’ Rose thought for a moment, then turned and said, ‘No, it’s wounded.’ It was a reminder to afford nature its potential to heal.

Cameron Muir reviews 'Wounded Country: The Murray–Darling Basin – a contested history' by Quentin Beresford

Wounded Country: The Murray–Darling Basin – a contested history

by Quentin Beresford

NewSouth, $34.99 pb, 426 pp

Buy this book

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