Why do Australian rainforests occur as islands within the vast tracts of Eucalyptus? Why is fire a critical ecological factor in every Australian landscape? What were the consequences of the use of fire by the Ice Age colonists? In this original and challenging book, David Bowman critically examines all hypotheses that have been advanced to answer these questions. He demonstrates that fire is the most critical factor in controlling the distribution of rainforest throughout Australia. Furthermore, while Aboriginal people used fire to skillfully manage and preserve habitats, he concludes that they did not significantly influence the evolution of Australia's unique flora and fauna. This volume, the first comprehensive overview of the diverse literature on this topic, solves the puzzle of the archipelago of rainforest habitats in Australia. It is essential reading for all ecologists, foresters, conservation biologists, and others interested in the biogeography and ecology of Australian rainforests.
A stout gentleman of middle age and two boys were sitting in the public room of a modest inn in Melbourne. The gentleman was known to the public as Professor Hemmenway, who announced himself on the programme of his entertainment as "The Magician of Madagascar," though he freely confessed to his confidential friends that he had never seen the island of that name.
Pastoral Australia tells the story of the expansion of Australia's pastoral industry, how it drove European settlement and involved Aboriginal people in the new settler society. The rural life that once saw Australia "ride on the sheep's back" is no longer what defines Australians, yet it is largely their history as a pastoral nation that has endured in heritage places and which is embedded in their self-image as Australians.