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The Bush  : Travels in the heart of Australia - Don Watson

The Bush

Travels in the heart of Australia

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Don Watson, author of the acclaimed Recollections of a Bleeding Heart and Death Sentence, on the sprawling, diverse, indefinable land we call bush. A milestone work of history, memoir and cultural critique.

The bush: in Australia no word resounds like it, and none is harder to define. Far from a conventional history of it, this is an idiosyncratic, highly original and insightful journey through Australian landscape, history and culture. Don Watson sees the bush in a way that neither romanticises nor decries it, evoking the heroic labour of the white farmers as well as the cost of that labour – on the Aboriginal inhabitants, on the land, on the farmers themselves.

Most powerfully, he probes our legends, from the axeman to the swagman to the grazier, looking deep into the stories we like to tell and those we've avoided telling, in history, literature, art, in the national myth and political debate.

The Bush is intelligent, warm, witty; it's full of fascinating anecdote, beautifully written, addictively readable. Its view is at once vastly informed and intensely personal. Don Watson is of the bush himself, having grown up on a dairy farm in South Gippsland. This book is part memoir, part travel document, his meanderings through Australia acting as a springboard for comment in much the same way as his rail travel did in American Journeys.

No one who reads The Bush will afterwards look at this country in quite the same way.


Inciteful story of rural Australia


A rare evocative story of Australian farming and the Australian bush.

Melbourne, Au


Informative and Engaging


A good read with some interesting information.

Fremantle, WA


Don Watson's song of loss for the bush


I'm old (60) and have noticed so many of the environmental tragedies Don writes about. I've been to some of the places Don writes about and he describes the situation accurately. A cry for greater spending on environmental remediation that Tony Abbott won't read.

Adelaide AU


Required reading for everyone


General entertainment reading. I love the author,

Perth, Australia


Absorbing ramble


It was a pleasure to read this informative, well written book covering aspects of Australian Country life interspersed with anecdotes and history. I appreciated that the author set out to inform rather than preach and to do so with immaculate attention to diction as indeed detail of characters and places. It would be one of the books I would recommend to non-Australian residents in order to obtain a snapshot of the Australian 'bush ethos'.

Kerang, Australia


Great non-fiction read


I am loving this book. Usually I read fiction, but in this book there is a lot of interesting information about bush 'beginnings', about treatment of aboriginals, about settlers battles and false expectations as well. It is not done in a heavy handed way, but with irony and some humour and sensitivity. However Don Watson doesn't shy away from the silent confronting stuff either - for instance, you see white settlement in a different light. It needs to be read in lumps rather than cover-to-cover to digest what is there, but that could be me. I haven't finished reading it yet, half-way through, but I'm sure I will continue Not to be disappointed.

Melbourne suburb

The Bush by Don Watson


Great as a historical reference about the underlying attitudes at different times about the "Great Australian Bush". In these times of interest in and concern about all things environmental, this is a great book to read to find out how we got to where we are in terms of our ideas and attitudes about the that iconic of all things Australian, the 'bush'. As well, it is very entertaining with anecdotes about childhood experiences, wildlife and nature in general. Highly recommended!

Sydney AU


If you enjoy the bush , you must buy


As with all of Don Watsons books , starting with Recollections of a Bleeding Heart , I have enjoyed it very, very much , as much for its readability as its history .



A classic already


This laconically paced investigation into the physical and spiritual effects of the mysterious "bush" of Australia argues all the ways it has shaped our national psyche - even for those who have never ventured far. For Watson's 'Bush" is more encompassing than our myths of stoic courage in confronting the silence of loneliness out there in the challenge of wilderness; it's also about the foreign agriculture we've attempted to impose and how the Aboriginal peoples managed the whole place better. I'm only one third into this sizable book, but enjoyably convinced of its meditative value, and by its courageous ambition (especially that) and its certain future as a 'must-have' for anyone interested in the history of feelings that lie deeper than events in our enormous home.




4.3 9


“Nothing he has written quite matches the wonders of The Bush... There is no dull page or even lifeless sentence between its covers and my urge is that if anyone wants a full blast of what Australia is, was, or might be, thrust The Bush into their hands.” - Roger McDonald, The Age

“Flawlessly elegant writing... Excellent, hard-headed history, too... Utterly mesmerising and entrancing... A challenge to contemplate what it really is about this country that makes us who we think we are." - Paul Daley, The Guardian

“An overwhelmingly affectionate portrait, one that's never sentimental or indulgently nostalgic... The Bush is the crown in Watson's oeuvre, a magnificent, sprawling ode to the best in Australia, a challenge to us all to find new ways of loving the country.” - The Saturday Paper

“Watson's magnificent, celebratory, contradictory study of the Australian bush will challenge the national imagination.” - Thomas Keneally, Weekend Australian

“A loving rumination on Australia, the landmass, and those who live on it and from it... Watson refuses to be captured by easy categorisations or received opinion... The writing is crisp, witty and sardonic... Watson is an original, with an authentic, prophetic voice.” - John Hirst, The Monthly

“Every now and again a book comes out that is so groundbreaking it causes you to think about a particular subject in a radically different light. Don Watson's The Bush: Travels in The Heart of Australia is one such work; a masterpiece of research, inquiry and poetry that challenges our basic assumptions of the Outback. Watson... has pulled off a dazzling achievement with The Bush, blending philosophy with science and storytelling... A beautifully written and thoughtful book.” - Johanna Leggatt, Weekly Times

“The power of this book does come from the way Watson positions himself as both an insider and outsider to the Australian bush... A meditation on Australia itself through a reflection on the bush.” - Frank Bongiorno, Australian Book Review

“A sprawling, fascinating book... Watson has pulled off a marvel, a book that educates and fascinates at the same time as it calls for action to preserve some things before they're lost. The best part, though, is his prose: bare and dry, with a dark sense of humour. A bit like the country he's describing.” - Margot Lloyd, The Advertiser

“Elegant, intricate, sprawling and sometimes harsh... [Watson] explores the bush with a mix of academic insight and campfire yarn... In a word: hypnotic.” - Jeff Maynard, Herald Sun

“His romantic prose moves seamlessly through autobiographical tales to discuss the landscapes and histories that have shaped Australia.” - National Geographic

“One of my favourite reads this year. What a writer he is... You find yourself sneaking off from others to be with it.” - Kathleen Noonan, Courier-Mail

Everyone Was Happy
The Bush Means Work
What is the Bush?
The Bush Will Not Lie Down
An Asylum for Lost Souls
A Collision of Cultures
Striving to Stay in Existence
Gardens of Verdure
Town and Country
Farming the Flood Plain
No Smallness In It
Waiting for the Fire

ISBN: 9781926428215
ISBN-10: 1926428218
Audience: General
Format: Hardcover
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 448
Published: 24th September 2014
Country of Publication: AU
Dimensions (cm): 24.5 x 16.5  x 5.0
Weight (kg): 24.5