Mallee Country tells the powerful history of mallee lands and people across southern Australia from Deep Time to the present. Carefully shaped and managed by Aboriginal people for over 50,000 years, mallee country was dramatically transformed by settlers, first with sheep and rabbits, then by flattening and burning the mallee to make way for wheat. Government backed settlement schemes devastated lives and country, but some farmers learnt how to survive the droughts, dust storms, mice, locusts and salinity – as well as the vagaries of international markets – and became some of Australia’s most resilient agriculturalists. In mallee country, innovation and tenacity have been neighbours to hardship and failure.
Mallee Country is a story of how land and people shape each other. It is the story of how a landscape once derided by settlers as a ‘howling wilderness’ covered in ‘dismal scrub’ became home to citizens who delighted in mallee fauna and flora and fought to conserve it for future generations. And it is the story of the dreams, sweat and sorrows of people who face an uncertain future of depopulation and climate change with creativity and hope.