Sunday, 26 October 2014

Professor Katie Holmes explores the Mallee

Picturing the Victorian Mallee, 1840-1945
Picturing the Victorian Mallee, 1840-1945
Picturing the Victorian Mallee, 1840-1945
Picturing the Victorian Mallee, 1840-1945
RHSV Past President Andrew Lemon with Professor Katie Holmes.


When Europeans first encountered the land we now know as the Mallee, they saw it as desolate, featureless, and hostile to human habitation. Fifty years later they were exultant about the ‘miracle of the Mallee’ as they celebrated its transformation into a vast field of golden grain. The ‘Howling Wilderness’ had become the ‘Promised Land’. But as the Federation Drought took hold, dreams of golden fields gave way to realities of dust, drought and despair. In the inter-war years, as Soldier Settlement Schemes floundered, the struggle for survival became, in the words of the Argus, ‘the story of a warfare, no less exacting, no less fierce, not a whit less decisive, than the war from which most of the settlers have come’.

History Week continued last Tuesday Professor Katie Holmes took the attentive audience through the different ways in which the Victorian  Mallee has been depicted  and imagined – in maps, images and words – and the impact these imaginings had on the settlement history of this region. Several people in attendance had personal stories to tell about the Mallee.


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