Lawrence, Susan & Peter Davies: Sludge: Disaster on Victoria’s Goldfields

Susan Lawrence & Peter Davies

Sludge: Disaster on Victoria’s Goldfields, Black Inc., Melbourne, 2019

Everyone knows gold made Victoria rich. But did you know gold mining was disastrous for the land, engulfing it in floods of sand, gravel and silt that gushed out of the mines? Or that this environmental devastation still affects our rivers and floodplains? Victorians had a name for this mining waste: ‘sludge’. Sludge submerged Victoria’s best grapevines near Bendigo, filled Laanecoorie Reservoir on the Loddon River and flowed down from Beechworth over thousands of hectares of rich agricultural land. Children and animals drowned in sludge lakes. Mining effluent contaminated three-quarters of Victoria’s creeks and rivers.

Sludge is the compelling story of the forgotten filth that plagued nineteenth-century Victoria. It exposes the big dirty secret of Victoria’s mining history – the way it transformed the state’s water and land, and how the battle against sludge helped lay the ground for the modern environmental movement. (blurb)

The book is reviewed for Honest History by Anne Beggs-Sunter. Review (pay-wall) in Australian Book Review by Alexandra Roginski. Google Books extracts. The authors with Phillip Adams on ABC Late Night Live.

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