Lever, Susan: Reaping what was sown

Susan Lever

Reaping what was sown‘, Inside Story, 4 May 2017

A review of the book Like Nothing on this Earth: A Literary History of the Wheatbelt by Tony Hughes-d’Aeth. The book examines the clearing of land in Western Australia to grow wheat and what this activity led to: ‘a terrible story of the industrialisation of agriculture at the expense of the land, the people who lived there before settlement, the animals, birds and trees, and, ultimately, the people who cleared it’. It tells the story through the words of prose writers and poets native to this part of Australia, people like Albert Facey, Dorothy Hewett, Jack Davis, Elizabeth Jolley and many others.

‘This is an expansive, monumental book – as lengthy as most literary histories of Australia, let alone a region’, Lever says. It demonstrates the centrality of literary writing to our understanding of ourselves.’

Rebecca Jones’ chapter in The Honest History Book discusses the impact of climate on farming on the rural margins, particularly in South Australia. The chapter is called ‘Fires, droughts and flooding rains: Environmental influences on Australian history’.

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