Melbourne University Press is excited to announce the publication of The Murray: A River and Its People by Paul Sinclair. The Murray River is in crisis, and faces an uncertain future. In this evocative book, the author explores the reasons why the river has become degraded, and what these changes have meant to Australians. It will be an essential resource for those directly involved in the future of the Murray River, contributing to the larger debate about Australia’s threatened environment.
This in-depth study of the Murray River examines the changing cultural meanings of the river: the practical forgetfulness which has eroded the Aboriginal presence; the triumphant narratives in which a supposedly empty land is made purposeful by the life-giving powers of the Murray; the passion to make the river’s flow predictable and to replace ‘primitive’ forces with a domesticated and balanced landscape.
The focus is on shifts and changes. Sinclair describes the brief heyday of the riverboats and their transformation into a tourist attraction; the decline of the mighty Murray cod and the rise of the European carp; and the changing fortunes of the river towns. He demonstrates that ‘progress’ is often a myth, and that ecological degradation always has cultural costs.
This is an innovative cultural and environmental history, about landscape and fish, memory and concepts, imagination and desire. Through a complex interweaving of history, analysis, poetry, art, and individuals’ recollections, Paul Sinclair has created an original and subtly conceived work, offering imaginative space to think about land and water in new ways.
About the author:
Paul Sinclair grew up near the Murray River at Kerang, in northern Victoria. He has published widely on Australia’s environmental history, and has worked in collaboration with Mandy Martin and the late John Davis, two of Australia’s leading environmental artists. As part of the research for this book, Paul and his partner Jen Hocking paddled a canoe 1330 kilometres along the Murray, talking to people and getting to know the intricacies of the river. Paul worked at the 900,000-hectare Bookmark Biosphere Reserve in the South Australian Riverland, from 1999 to 2001. He is now a reasearch fellow at the Australian Centre, University of Melbourne.
A River and Its People
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