Review of Emily O’Gorman’s ‘Flood Country’


I recently reviewed Emily O’Gorman’s Flood Country: an environmental history of the Murray-Darling Basin for Australian Book Review, and my review can be found in their April 2013 issue.

The title is a little misleading. The book concerns the roles of floods and droughts in shaping the location and development of towns  in the Murray-Darling Basin, and people’s attitude to their environment – and especially the riverine and floodplain environment – from the mid-1800s to the present day. The book does not deal with non-human aspects of the environment to any great extent, apart from hydrology, and certainly does not consider the ecology of floods and droughts. It does, however, provide a detailed description of how rural (and to a lesser extent, city) people behaved when faced with floods and droughts.  The take-home-message is probably that Australians are very slow learners when it comes to these extreme, but natural, climatic events. Sigh.

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