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Like Nothing on this Earth: A Literary History of the Wheatbelt
During the twentieth century, the southwestern corner of Australia was cleared for intensive agriculture. In the space of several decades, an arc from Esperance to Geraldton, an area of land larger than England, was cleared of native flora for the farming of grain and livestock. Today, satellite maps show a sharp line ringing Perth. Inside that line, tan-coloured land is the most visible sign from space of human impact on the planet. Where once there was a vast mosaic of scrub and forest, there is now the Western Australian wheatbelt.
Tony Hughes-d’Aeth examines the creation of the wheatbelt through its creative writing. Some of Australia’s most well-known and significant writers - Albert Facey, Peter Cowan, Dorothy Hewett, Jack Davis, Elizabeth Jolley, and John Kinsella - wrote about their experience of the wheatbelt. Each gives insight into the human and environmental effects of this massive-scale agriculture.
Albert Facey records the hardship and poverty of small-time selection in Australia. Dorothy Hewett makes the wheatbelt visible as an ecological tragedy. Jack Davis shows us an Aboriginal experience of the wheatbelt. Through examining this writing, Tony Hughes-d’Aeth demonstrates the deep value of literature in understanding the human experience of geographical change.
Shortlisted - 2017 AUHE Prize for Literary Scholarship