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A Million Wild Acres : 200 Years of Man and an Australian Forest - Eric Rolls

A Million Wild Acres

200 Years of Man and an Australian Forest

By: Eric Rolls

Paperback | 1 May 2011 | Edition Number 30

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Thirty years ago, a bomb landed in the field of Australian consciousness of itself and its land in the form of Eric Rolls' A MILLION WILD ACRES. The ensuing explosion has caused extensive and heated debate ever since amongst historians, ecologists, environmentalists, poets and writers.

Now reprinted in a commemorative 30th Anniversary Edition for a new generation of readers and against the backdrop of renewed and urgent concern about climate change, it includes Tom Griffiths' seminal essay, The Writing of A Million Wild Acres, and a foreword by Les Murray drawn from his work Eric Rolls and the Golden Disobedience. Here is a contentious story of men and their passion for land; of occupation and settlement; of destruction and growth.

By following the tracks of these pioneers who crossed the Blue Mountains into northern New South Wales, Eric Rolls - poet, farmer and self-taught naturalist - has written the history of European settlement in Australia. He evokes the ruthlessness and determination of the first settlers who worked the land -- a land they knew little about.

Rolls has re-written the history of settlement and destroyed the argument that Australia's present dense eucalypt forests are the remnants of 200 years of energetic clearing. Neither education nor social advantage decided the success of the first settlers, or those squatters, selectors, stockmen and timber getters who helped grow the Pilliga forest. Few men were more violent than John Macarthur, few rogues more vigorous than William Cox, few statesmen more self-seeking than William Wentworth.

Rolls' environment teems with wildlife, with plants and trees, with feral pigs; with the marvellous interaction of insects and plants, rare animals and birds. The lovely tangle which is the modern forest comes to life as Rolls reflects on soils, living conditions, breeding and ecology. Winner of the prestigious Age Book of the Year Award, A Million Wild Acres is also an important account of the long-term effect man - both black and white - has had upon the forest.

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