Rivers the lifeblood of Australia

It is easy to sum up Australia as a 'dry continent', and in much of the country this is true. Yet Australia has some important rivers that are perhaps often overlooked, and this book is the answer to the many questions that the subject raises.

Author, Ian Hoskins, an academic and public historian for 30 years, has taught at various Sydney universities, worked as a curator at the Powerhouse Museum, and written in-depth books about Sydney Harbour and the New South Wales coast.

Perhaps this book provides the ideal segue from his former topics of coast to inland, as Hoskins turns his attention to nine of Australia's mightiest inland rivers and one riverine landscape. The selection is broad and eclectic but, then, any author has to draw the line somewhere.

This is a hefty book showing an astounding depth of research, richly illustrated by maps, old photographs sourced from a wide number of sources, as well as up-to-date images of the Murray, Franklin, Ord, Snowy, Yarra and several more rivers.

Most importantly, this book underlines the absolute importance of each of these waterways. In this era of endless drought where access to water has become even more vital, and a time of conflict over ownership of some stretches now, more than ever before, is a time to understand the role of rivers in this country.

As Hoskins writes that he has focused on these 'in order to traverse the history of Australia's rivers and the human relationships  to them: their shared and contested values....I have chosen these streams not because they are necessarily the most important in the country, or even to me personally. Rather they collectively span the continent and reveal some of the many ways in which Australians have imagined, used and changed their rivers.'

Rivers - the lifeblood of Australia, by Ian Hoskins, published by NLA Publishing, October, 2020, hardcover, rrp A$49.99. ISBN: 978-642-27956-9

 

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