Cathcart, Michael: The Water Dreamers

Michael Cathcart

The Water Dreamers: The Remarkable History of Our Dry Continent, Text Publishing, Melbourne, 2010

The book ‘offers an archaeology of our national psyche… and exposes the cultural forces that still powerfully shape our plans for this land’. (Tom Griffiths review) ‘Water defines Australia.’ (Weekly Times review)

Cathcart commences his book by quoting the German philosopher Johann Gottfried Herder (‘History is geography set in motion’) and paraphrasing the economic historian AGL Shaw, who said in 1944 that ‘the history of Australia could be written as the struggle to conquer two obstacles – great distances and a lack of water’. Cathcart himself says: ‘Water is the fundamental limit on how Australians live. It determines where we establish our cities, how we think about country, how we farm it, build on it, defend it and dream about it.’

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