Red Steers and White Death: fearing nature in rural Australia

By George Main

© all rights reserved

Good rain fell across southern Australia during the winter and spring of 1986. On the southwest slopes of New South Wales, bulky pastures and crops turned to gold as summer approached. January days were dry and hot. One windy afternoon, we watched a great plume of smoke—tall and bulbous like an atomic mushroom cloud—rise in the south. On a hillside west of Cootamundra, a man cutting thistles and burrs struck a stone with a hoe and sparked a catastrophe. Dry and gusty westerly winds pushed flames through paddocks, across roads, beyond frantic firefighters. Next day, the forested range beside Bethungra was alight. Winds subsided and temperatures fell as night came. In the darkness, workers burned back into the hills and graded wide swathes on lower slopes. Fears were realised the following day as temperatures climbed and erratic gusts lifted burning embers over containment lines. Three new fire fronts swept eastward with extraordinary intensity. Witnesses described great fireballs running across hills, walls of fire igniting paddocks a kilometre ahead, and flames taller than thirty metre pine trees. Fire truck drivers could not keep pace. One farmer recalled a tube of fire speeding across paddocks, flames coiled and rolling—a fabled ‘red steer’ of Australian wildfire.

Firefighting coordinators kept track of developments from a helicopter. One hundred and fifty Sydney bushfire brigades arrived in large trucks fitted with advanced equipment. To save homesteads, a local crop-spraying pilot released loads of water above encroaching flames. Bethungra village residents abandoned homes as the blaze approached. Cootamundra police reported ‘widespread panic and general chaos’. Likened to a ‘steam train running on full power’, the inferno pushed east towards Muttama.1 In one tragic incident, a ball of flame enveloped firefighters Allan and Paul Rolles. Severely burned, the father and son drove back to their farm near Gundagai. Allan asked his wife Patsy to spray them with a garden hose. The men were treated in local hospitals then transferred by air ambulance to Sydney. Both died in the burns unit of Concord Hospital.2

Cooler weather and light rain helped firefighters contain and eventually extinguish the inferno. In three days and across thirty farms, the fire consumed more than twenty thousand hectares. Twenty-five thousand sheep and cattle perished. Farmers buried scorched, blistered bodies in deep pits. They wondered where and how to begin restoring their devastated properties. Later, in a Muttama park, the local bushfire brigade erected a cairn of quartz stones in memory of Allan and Paul Rolles. The memorial cairn stands under a mature ribbon gum. Long strips of bark sway from branches above the cairn, some nearly touching the ground. Most varieties of eucalypts ache for the heat and power of flame. Crisp streamers of dry bark peel away and invite fire upward. Seedpods burst as flames build. Once fire passes, fresh leaves sprout from lignotubers. With rain, seed germinates on surfaces burned clear of grasses and shrubs. Tragically, the shady area under the ribbon gum seems an appropriate position for the memorial cairn of white stones. Over millennia, fire has shaped and energised local ecologies across Australia.3 Efforts by settlers to suppress the natural force continue to bring dreadful harm to land and people.

Poet and essayist Mary Gilmore noted differences between settler and Wiradjuri responses to summer bushfires on the southwest slopes more than a century before the devastating event of January 1987. ‘I have seen a whole station in a panic’, wrote Gilmore,

men, women and children nearly killing themselves with frantic and wasteful effort; and then a handful of blacks and lubras [Aboriginal women] under their chief come and have the fire confined and checked in no time. Having the confidence of habit they allowed the fire freedom where it seemed least dangerous. In one such fire they concentrated on the sides, letting the centre flame run forward. But far in advance of this ran lubras hunkering down over their half-yard-wide flares. Behind the first row a second line was at work, and behind this a third, each fire opposite the gaps between the forward ones. The advancing tongues of flame having been kept narrow by attention to the sides, the draught was narrow, so a very wide front of little fires was not necessary. When the advance met the little islands of burnt grass it died there; in the lanes between it was beaten out. The chief told my father that unless fire was kept narrow and beaten out before it created a high wind it was no use trying to fight it. Once it created its own such wind it was invincible.4

Settlers applied force to contain fire outbreaks. In contrast, Wiradjuri relied on detailed understanding and subtle action:

There was a difference between the blacks’ methods and the white’s. The white man used large bushes and tired himself out with their weight and by heavy blows; the blacks took small bushes and used little and light action. The white expended the energy of panic; the blacks acted in familiarity, as knowing how and what to do. They used arm action only, where the white man used his whole body. Where, as a last resort, the white man lit a roaring and continuous firebreak, the aboriginal set the lubras to make tiny flares, each separate, each put out in turn, and all lit roughly in line. The beaters they used were so small that they hunkered to do the lighting and beating.5

Wiradjuri and other Aboriginal peoples considered fire ‘a major totem, a friend’, writes historian Bill Gammage.6 Settlers did find uses for fire. Smoke haze cloaks the southwest slopes of New South Wales in autumn, as farmers burn the sun-faded stubble of crops grown the previous year. Nevertheless, most settlers came to see fire primarily as a natural force to be feared, not an amiable agency to befriend. Eucalypts, wattles, chocolate lilies, yams, cumbungi, and other native plants flourish after the passage of fire. Not so ripe wheat crops and expanses of annual pastures turned dead and dry by summer heat. In the twentieth century, Australians developed sophisticated firefighting trucks, water-bombing aircraft, and other powerful technologies to master bushfires and protect paddocks of imported plant and animal species.

‘Men pay for the increase of their power with alienation from that over which they exercise their power’, philosophers Theodor Adorno and Max Horkheimer observed in their famous critique of the Enlightenment.7 Reliance on force above detailed knowledge to meet bushfires maintains a dangerous ignorance. After fire devastated wide parts of New South Wales in December 2001, the Federal Government established the Bushfire Cooperative Research Centre ‘to form a vital ‘fighting force’ to increase understanding of bushfires and how to control them.’8 While seeking to better understand bushfire behaviour, the announcement wording implied the new Research Centre would maintain the same agenda of mastery responsible for the ignorance the Government hoped to dispel. Since the beginning of British colonisation, settler efforts to master dynamic rural terrains blocked close learning. Powerful relationships tend to be monological. Understanding does not easily flow both ways. Quests to suppress fire have obscured the interdependency of fire and Australian living systems. Humanity is the ‘fire agent’ of the biosphere, argues fire historian Stephen Pyne. As such, people hold a ‘duty of care to the living world’ to recognise their ‘ecological presence’ and to nourish local ecologies with careful burning, Pyne said recently at a fire conference in Sydney.9 Fortunately, the conference gathering, the formation of the Bushfire Cooperative Research Centre, and other developments indicate that settler Australians are increasingly willing to hear the crackling voice of bushfire.

Since the start of British colonisation, settlers have often responded with surprise and fear when natural forces and ecological constraints arise in strident ways. Harmful, incomprehensible, and unexpected phenomena are frightening. Panic behaviour during bushfire, as observed by Gilmore and reported by Cootamundra police in January 1987, is one example of fearful responses to powerful expressions of a natural force.

Similarly, Australians have shown fear in the face of farmland salinisation. In the late 1990s, scientific forecasts of escalating salinisation destroying infrastructure and limiting agricultural production captured public attention. People imagined the salinisation process as a frightening beast stalking inland paddocks. Journalists and politicians spoke fearfully of a ‘silent, creeping menace’, a force ‘that threatens our farmers’, the ‘dryland killer choking the land’s lifeblood’, an ‘insidious poison’, ‘a cancer slowly creeping along the system’, ‘the White Death’.10 Are such descriptions more than hyperbole of political speechwriters and reporters? Does a profound haunting underlie these vivid responses to dryland salinisation? Rising, salty watertables draw attention to the ecological limits of farmland. Salinity challenges the established, demanding models of agricultural science and modern farming. Agriculture is banished from productive places.

As scientists reveal the seriousness of ecological disorders in agricultural regions, a widespread lack of familiarity with natural patterns evokes fearful responses. Few Australians, it seems, understand how modern agricultural systems induce dryland salinisation and other ecological problems. In turn, few can imagine how to address those disorders presently undermining food and natural fibre production. Kentucky farmer Wendell Berry observes that ‘when we have destroyed the forests and prairies to replace them with agriculture we have never known what we were doing because we have never known what we were undoing.’11 A similar process took place on the western slopes of New South Wales. Ancient herding and agricultural traditions infused the modern restlessness of settlers.12 Ignorant of local ecologies, colonists erased grassy woodland and built patchworks of crops and pasture. Rural landscape images of country homesteads, wire fences, old paddock trees, golden crops, and iron woolsheds are familiar to many Australians. Complex links between ecological disorder and the operation of industrial farmland are rarely understood.

Cultural analyst George Myerson observed a ‘dark relegitimation of the modern order of things’ at work in Britain as people responded to global warming, ‘mad cow disease’, and other phenomena.13 Faith in narratives of scientific and technological progress faltered as the disorders arose, until science and industry generated explanations and remedies. In each case, the modern promise of knowledgeable control was eventually restored and a widespread crisis in confidence averted. ‘Industrialism always proposes to correct its errors and excesses by more industrialisation’, notes Wendell Berry.14 In the 1990s, Australians asked scientists and technologists to explain and arrest the spectre of dryland salinisation, a process induced by the vigorous application of abstract, universal scientific theories and industrial technology. ‘Scientific and technological innovation both on farm and in laboratory will play a fundamental and increasing role in the development of sustainable farming’, CSIRO Land and Water scientist John Williams argued recently.15 Technology and science would meet salinisation with force. ‘Scientists have made a breakthrough that will give Queensland farmers a simple but effective tool in their fight against salinity’, a rural newspaper announced in 2002. ‘Field research carried out in the Murray-Darling Basin is expected to lead to the development of new technology that will detect salinity before it surfaces’, the Queensland newspaper explained, ‘allowing both irrigation and dryland farmers to take preventative measures to slow its progress, and potentially even stop it developing’.16

Responses to dryland salinity often demonise the salinisation process itself. Attention is directed away from causes: the industrial farming practices and global economic dynamics straining rural places. Responses focussed on symptoms shield the dominant model of primary production and agricultural trade from critique. Dryland salinisation is cast as a new ‘weed’ or ‘feral’, a production constraint for agricultural scientists and technologists to overcome. The old battle for mastery over the natural forces of is reinvigorated and relegitimised, the language of war reapplied. Politicians visited the Harden district in January 2003 to learn about ‘a new weapon to fight salinity’. They inspected plantations of a hybrid eucalypt called ‘Saltgrow’. The tree, promoters claimed, could thrive in waterlogged and salty soils.17 ‘Australia’s war on salinity has received a boost with the release of two new CD ROMs containing a wealth of information about natural resource management tools, models, frameworks and mapping programs’, an article declared in the agribusiness section of The Land newspaper.18 The Australian Academy of Science likewise used militaristic rhetoric to explain the different ways of monitoring salinisation patterns with electromagnetic photography from planes and satellites: ‘Armed with the information such methods will provide, a coordinated community response could succeed in combating the white death, before it eats out our agricultural heart.’19

Frequently, nationalism infuses the fearful, emotive rhetoric of responses to dryland salinisation. Dryland salinity is a ‘creeping white tomb that is overwhelming farmland across the nation’, a beast stalking ‘our farmers’, ready to consume the ‘agricultural heart’ of Australia.20 Militant, coordinated efforts are required to defeat enemies of the nation. In 2002, the Federal Government declared a national ‘war against salinity’.21 Looking beyond state borders, the Nature Conservation Council of New South Wales believes a national ‘environment levy’ on income tax is needed to raise enough money to fund the ‘fight’ against salinisation.22 Similarly, the Murray Darling Basin Commission recently called for a national ‘environmental services levy’ to raise more than sixty billion dollars over ten years. The massive amount of money could rehabilitate the fertile slopes and plains of inland southeast Australia, an area growing ‘over 40 per cent ($12 billion) of the nation’s agricultural production’.23 Investment generated by an environmental services levy would help sustain farmland production and national economic prosperity.

National plans seeking to address problems imagined as national in scale tend to deny possibilities for local agency and for subtle, particular adjustments to the unique patterns of places. Like the turn towards science and industry to explain and control dry-land salinisation, calls to nationalist sympathies reinforce other cultural and economic foundations of ecological disorder in agricultural regions. For a nation to function, local and personal considerations must be compromised to some degree. The contribution of Australian farm production to national export earnings is usually presented as an unquestionable achievement. The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade emphasises the national significance of Australian agricultural exports:

Agriculture is critical to the Australian economy. The Australian farm sector has long had a strong export focus, and 80 percent of total production is currently exported. Over the last ten years, exports of agricultural goods, including processed food and beverages, grew 58 percent in volume (on balance of payments basis) and 91 percent in nominal value terms, to nearly $32 billion in 2002. In 2002 agricultural products, including processed food and beverages, accounted for more than a quarter of Australian merchandise exports.24

Celebration of high agricultural productivity and national exports of primary produce obscures the localised social and ecological costs of industrial farming systems. People are led to believe that a vigorous national economy is absolutely beneficial, a pre-requisite for social and environmental wellbeing. Nationalist sympathies framed in economic terms encourage neglect towards components of rural places lacking immediate value in the global marketplace. In the nineteenth century, imperial policies and the economic demands of distant markets drove the development of industrial farmland and transport routes across rural Australia. Few colonists knew what local ecologies needed to remain strong and naturally productive. Industrial systems of agricultural production driven by forces rising elsewhere blocked opportunities to sense and understand the ecological dynamics of rural places. Dryland salinisation and other disorders in agricultural landscapes are products of entrenched tendencies to deny and disregard local components and natural patterns in favour of national and global imperatives.

Over time, reliance on agricultural science and powerful technology to harness land for production prevented close learning. Rather than seeking intimate ecological understanding and the integration of primary production into natural systems, settlers applied mechanical devices and universal scientific theories to erase and overcome particularities of rural places. ‘No one argued that we should accept this poor, old continent for what it was’, writes retired agricultural scientist David Smith. ‘It was ours to improve, to manage. We were to take what was and use our knowledge to make gain for our nation and humanity’.25 In the second half of the twentieth century, industrialisation and farm expansion forced thousands of farmers and workers away from agriculture and rural regions. Great machines propelled by fossil fuels banished humans from farmland. The process of agricultural industrialisation and rural depopulation, argues philosopher Wes Jackson, exemplifies ‘a law of human ecology: high energy destroys information’.26 Technological development, globalised economies of scale, and government policies continue to see fewer people work larger farms. Departing farmers and rural workers take knowledge and understandings garnered over decades and generations of labour and observation. On wide properties emptied of people and memories, less potential exists for farm managers and workers to learn the intricacies and particularities of rural places. Responsive relations between people and land are impeded. Without populous rural communities and intimate understandings of local ecologies, farming cannot be folded into complex, shifting patterns of nature.

As the Landcare movement emerged in the 1990s, environmental scientists and farmers developed methods to restore and maintain the productive capacity of farmland. Landcare has fostered valuable and widespread learning about local ecologies. Unfortunately, the movement has not encouraged critique of the economic and cultural dynamics underlying ecological disorder.27 In farming today, production and profit maximisation remain the primary goals and standards of measure. Landcare reaffirmed the same cultural tendencies responsible for disordering local ecologies. Farmland remained a ‘natural resource’ to be harnessed and managed with western science and technology for the exclusive good of humanity and the national economy. While the Landcare movement did foster dialogue between people and rural places, global economic forces and government policies favouring competition ensured monological relations of power over subjugated farmland remained the norm.

During the intense drought of 2002, a panel of prominent Australian environmental scientists calling themselves the ‘Wentworth Group’ issued Blueprint for a Living Continent.28 The document outlines strategies to prevent further land degradation and ‘maintain the natural resource base upon which our nation is built’.29 If the Blueprint became government policy, farmers and regional communities would ‘implement nationally accredited priorities, supported by world class scientific advice’.30 Within the framework presented by the scientists, rural places remain a vital source of national economic wealth:

As a nation we have grown wealthy on the food and fibre produced by extraordinarily hard working and innovative farmers. We have all shared in that wealth and we expect to continue to benefit from it.31

To integrate primary production within natural systems, the Blueprint advocates the application of ecological theories by environmental scientists:32

We have sufficient knowledge now to set a new direction that will involve a change in land use towards practices that are in harmony with the highly variable climate that is intrinsic to Australia. Such a direction could see the farming community walking in partnership with science.

The Wentworth Group identifies ‘real opportunities for corporate Australia to invest in this process and to contribute to landscape scale transformation.’33 Market prices and structures need reform, the scientists argue, to incorporate external costs presently borne by natural systems. According to the Blueprint, ‘environmental services’ provided by healthy farmland would be valued in monetary terms, and farmers paid accordingly. The Wentworth Group suggests the establishment of ‘a business-like Natural Resource Management Commission (the environmental equivalent of the Productivity Commission)’ to ensure effective working relationships between rural people and government agencies.34

Seeking firm foundations for ecological regeneration, Blueprint for a Living Continent calls for ‘radical and fundamental reform’.

We don’t have all the answers—nobody does—but before we start laying bricks and mortar, we have got to get the foundations right, otherwise the cathedral will tumble with the smallest of tremors.34

Far from offering sound new foundations, strategies proposed by the Wentworth Group encapsulate the same blend of industry, nationalism, and universal science underlying the ecological problems the scientists hope to address. Blueprint for a Living Continent advocates a familiar plan. Throughout the twentieth century, scientists worked with industry groups and farmers to develop new agricultural systems. Despite arguing for the integration of farming with natural patterns of land and climate, it seems the Wentworth Group of scientists does not consider local knowledge about particular rural places a prerequisite for change. Instead, the delivery of funding and ‘world class scientific advice’ to farmers will suffice. In the established tradition of agricultural science, the scientists devalue knowledge of rural places created outside the scientific paradigm. Once again, ‘experts’ would distribute scientific knowledge for application in rural places. By privileging abstract knowledge over local understandings, the panel of scientists reinforces the same universal framework of western science blocking the rise of farming systems in tune with Australian ecologies. Awareness of the intricacies and details of rural places is required before agriculture can be drawn into natural systems. Attention to ecological detail requires rejection of monological positions of mastery over land and the initiation of respectful dialogue with place. Intimate local knowledge emerges from close engagement with particular patterns of individual places over long periods of time, a dynamic characteristic of Aboriginal understandings: ‘The country is the context, the shape, the reason for the knowledge’, writes environmental historian Libby Robin.36 Once the central significance of local, contextual knowledge garnered through dialogical processes is recognised and incorporated into official strategies, remedial plans like those proposed by the Wentworth Group may hold greater potential.

The Wentworth Group of environmental scientists and likeminded reformists also fail to acknowledge the historical and cultural dynamics responsible for the ecological disordering of rural places. Blueprint for a Living Continent and other proposed solutions designed to fit within the dominant modern order inadvertently reinforce tendencies for neglectful and destructive actions. Critique of underlying attitudes and problematic institutional structures is avoided. Reordering of priorities does not occur. The document issued by the Wentworth Group exhibits a shallow conception of the fundamental basis to ecological problems in rural Australia. Imperial policies, economic constraints, and imported frameworks of perception and belief drove colonists to destroy and displace Aboriginal clans, harness land for primary production, and disrupt local ecologies. Historical, cultural, and economic processes shaping destructive activity and blocking dialogue between people and rural places are the primary causes of ecological disorder in agricultural regions, not the absence of sophisticated western scientific knowledge or technological capacity.

Industrial monologues suppress voices rising from rural places. In 2002, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation produced The Silent Flood, a major documentary. The series examined the phenomena of land and water salinisation induced by settler activities, a process the producers of the series described as ‘the biggest environmental threat to Australia in the 21st Century’.37 The title ‘Silent Flood’ implies a widespread view that salinisation takes place quietly. Dryland salinity scalds appear quietly, trees and grasses die quietly, animals and insects dependent on grassy woodland plants vanish quietly. ‘Silent Flood’ makes sense and is marketable nationwide because efforts at mastery have deafened settlers to the varied expressions of rural places. Local ecologies and other species offer messages that are intelligible to people. In the field of modern, industrial agriculture, non-human agencies and natural forces present in rural places are sidelined and silenced. Different understandings arise when people seek dialogue with farmland and dynamic components of living systems. When we turn towards rural places, land and stricken beings may be heard to scream, to weep.

Graham Strong is a young farmer near Birrego, across the Murrumbidgee River from where Mary Gilmore admired the calm, careful responses of Wiradjuri people to a summer outbreak of fire. Here at Birrego, on the dry margins of the southwest slopes, sparse columns of white cypress pines and dark green globes of elderly kurrajong trees rise from paddocks of wheat and sheep. Generations of farming and grazing have ensured no young trees emerged inside paddocks. Native shrubs and grasses able to conserve moisture and hold soil have vanished from farmland.

Ecological changes brought by agricultural development and monocultural production at Birrego and across rural Australia make dialogue and learning difficult. Local extinctions of many grassy woodland species and the simplification of natural processes block understanding of the dynamic, productive potential of local ecologies. When conversations between people and land begin, dialogue is unavoidably erratic and halting. Graham wrote of the ‘uncomfortable feelings’ he experiences ‘standing next to a 400 year old kurrajong tree in a bare paddock.’38 He built a sturdy fence around one large kurrajong, enclosing a wide area around the tree. ‘That was to protect it’, Graham explained, ‘and to give it some respect and try and restore some of that dialogue, to say ‘I am listening to you.’39

Graham rejects the ‘natural resource management’ discourse of ‘sustainable agriculture’, the rhetoric of strategies designed to maintain industrial, productionist agriculture. Graham and I talked about the term ‘regenerative agriculture’. Unlike ‘sustainable’, the label ‘regenerative’ acknowledges a painful history of disorder and loss. Rejecting the term ‘sustainable’ and adopting ‘regenerative’ invokes formidable new relationships. Opening dialogue with a subjugated and wounded entity, Graham observed, is not a comfortable process:

I sometimes feel equally awkward or uncomfortable to use the term ‘Regenerative Agriculture’ because it poses such a challenge to my soul and deeply confronts me and challenges me to feel, think and act deeply. The ethical obligation emerges like a tortured soul begging for recognition, love & nurturing.40

George Main is an environmental historian and museum curator. He recently finished his PhD thesis, an exploration of the cultural foundations of ecological disorder in an agricultural region.

    1. ‘Bethungra evacuated as bush fire ran wild’, Cootamundra Herald, 19 January 1987.
    2. ‘Fire victims well known at Cootamundra’, Cootamundra Herald, 19 January 1987.
    3. Stephen J Pyne, Burning Bush: a fire history of Australia, University of Washington Press, Seattle, 1998.
    4. Gilmore, Old Days: Old Ways, p. 153.
    5. Gilmore, Old Days: Old Ways, p. 152.
    6. Bill Gammage, Australia Under Aboriginal Management, 15th Barry Andrews Memorial Lecture, Australian Defence Force Academy, Canberra, 2002, p. 9.
    7. Theodor W Adorno and Max Horkheimer, Dialectic of Enlightenment, Verso Editions, London, 1979, p. 9.
    8. Peter McGauran, Federal Minister for Science, ‘New Bushfire Research’, media release,, accessed July 2003.
    9. ‘Fire as hearth or holocaust: it’s our choice, says expert’, Sydney Morning Herald, 6 October 2003.
    10. Justin Murphy, ‘Salinity—our silent disaster’,; ‘Bitter harvest: dryland salinity in Australia, Sydney Morning Herald, 3 December 1999; ‘Dryland killer chocking the land’s lifeblood, Advertiser, 20 November 2001; ‘Salinity: Qld’s life or death decision’, Queensland Country Life, 18 July 2002; and ‘Salinity alarm bells ringing’, Queensland Country Life, 23 May 2002.
    11. Wendell Berry, quoted in Jackson, Altars of Unhewn Stone, p. 10.
    12. Brody, The Other Side of Eden.
    13. George Myerson, Ecology and the End of Postmodernity, Icon Books, Campidge, 2001, p. 41.
    14. Berry, ‘The Whole Horse’, p. 10.
    15. Williams, ‘Towards Sustainable Land Management’, p. 13.
    16. ‘New weapon to fight salinity’, Rural Weekly, 25 January 2002.
    17. ‘‘Anti-salinity weapon’ impresses politicians, Wagga Wagga Daily Advertiser, 9 January 2003.
    18. ‘New CD-ROMs to help the war on salinity’, The Land, online daily news, 1 October 2003,, accessed October 2003.
    19. Australian Academy of Science, ‘Monitoring the white death—soil salinity’,, accessed July 2003.
    20. ‘Howard turns his mind to establishing a legacy’, Australian, 2 November 2002; and Jennifer Goldie, Kate McDonald and Fran Molloy, ‘Feature Article’,, accessed May 2002.
    21. Joint statement by Warren Truss, Federal Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, David Kemp, Federal Minister for the Environment and Heritage, and Stephen Robertson, Queensland Minister for Natural Resources and Mines, AFFA02/164WTJ, 3 July 2002.
    22. ‘Medicare-style ‘Environment Levy’ necessary to beat salinity, land clearing’,, accessed October 2001.
    23. Murray Darling Basin Commission, How to Encourage Sustainable Land Use in Dryland Regions of the Murray-Darling Basin,, accessed January 2003.
    24. Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, ‘Trade in Agriculture’,, accessed July 2003.

  1. David F Smith, Natural Gain in the Grazing Lands of Southern Australia, UNSW Press, Sydney, 2000, pp. 201-205.
  2. Jackson, Altars of Unhewn Stone, p. 15.
  3. See ‘Demanding production’, Chapter Two.
  4. World Wildlife Fund Australia, Blueprint for a Living Continent: A Way Forward from the Wentworth Group of Concerned Scientists, WWF Australia, Sydney, 2002.
  5. World Wildlife Fund Australia, Blueprint for a Living Continent, p. 19.
  6. World Wildlife Fund Australia, Blueprint for a Living Continent, p. 4.
  7. World Wildlife Fund Australia, Blueprint for a Living Continent, p. 3.
  8. World Wildlife Fund Australia, Blueprint for a Living Continent, p. 3.
  9. World Wildlife Fund Australia, Blueprint for a Living Continent, p. 3.
  10. World Wildlife Fund Australia, Blueprint for a Living Continent, p. 4.
  11. World Wildlife Fund Australia, Blueprint for a Living Continent, p. 4.
  12. Libby Robin, ‘Ecology and Identity: Australians Caring for Deserts’, in David Callahan (ed.), Australia: Who Cares?, St Lucia, University of Queensland Press, 2004 (forthcoming).
  13. Australian Broadcasting Corporation, ‘Salinity: Australia’s Silent Flood’,, accessed July 2003.
  14. Graham Strong, email correspondence, 12 May 2003.
  15. Graham Strong, conversation at Queanbeyan, 13 January 2004.
  16. Graham Strong, 12 May 2003.

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