WHEN DID CLIMATE CHANGE
ARRIVE IN AUSTRALIA?
Australia has always been shaped by floods, droughts, and blistering heat. How big and how intense these events were is poorly understood due to the limited historical and observational records.
As the world’s driest inhabited continent, Australia often has droughts. In fact, there have been twelve major droughts recorded in Australia since the 1860s, the most severe being between 1895–1903, 1963–1968, 1982–1983 and 2002–2003.
What is drought?
Drought is a prolonged, abnormally dry period when the amount of available water is insufficient to meet normal use. There is no universal definition of drought. Meteorologists monitor the extent and severity of drought in terms of rainfall deficiencies.
It is generally difficult to compare one drought to another, since each drought differs in seasonality, location, size and duration. This is, in part, due to the different climate drivers from the Pacific, Indian, and Southern Oceans that can influence variations in rainfall.
The Federation Drought from 1895 to 1903 was the worst in Australia's history, if measured by the enormous stock losses it caused.
Historical records provide rough estimates of the extent and intensity of droughts in parts of Australia since the late 1700s. For example, captains’ logbooks from ships anchored off of Sydney describe the Settlement Drought (1790-1793), which threatened the tenuous foothold of early European settlers in Australia. And farmers’ records describe the Goyder Line Drought (1861–1866) that occurred in areas north of the known arable lands of South Australia.
One of Australia's most famous poets, Dorothea Mackellar, penned a famous poem that summed up this continent in 1906.
“I love a sunburnt country, A land of sweeping plains, Of ragged mountain ranges, Of droughts and flooding rains. I love her far horizons, I love her jewel-sea, Her beauty and her terror - The wide brown land for me!”
I was also inspired to write my first credible fiction book about the subject of drought, 'Gunnedah Hero' . Fourteen books later, that book is still my best seller. I have also written a screenplay for it and published the sequel, 'A Drover's Blanket'.
Here is a quote from the book:
'I will never forget one particular day in December of 1910. It was the day my brother, Angus, and I talked about my father’s trip up the long paddock – a day that changed my life forever. Years of drought had forced Dad to head north, droving our remaining cattle along the public roadways, searching for feed and water to keep them alive. He’d also be taking what was left of Uncle Jake’s herd and Mitch Saunders’ herd as well; maybe a hundred head all up. Angus was twelve years-of-age at the time and he was concerned about Dad leaving. I was too. According to The Age newspaper in Melbourne, Australia had lost nineteen million sheep and more than two million cattle since 1905. Five hard years of drought had decimated Australian farming communities.'
'Gunnedah Hero' is the award-winning story of a 14-year-old drover, Smokey 'Gun' Danson, who takes his cattle up the 'Long Paddock' in 1910 during one of the worst droughts in our history.
Fourteen-year-old Gunnedah ‘Gunnie’ Danson has a 500-word assignment on drought, and his late grandfather has left him a box containing a manuscript. It’s been written by Gunnie’s great-great-grandfather, Smokey ‘Gun’ Danson after his journey up the long paddock during a harsh drought as a fourteen-year-old drover in 1910. At the back of the manuscript is an envelope. It’s NOT to be opened until Gunnie has read the entire story.
Gunnie spends the weekend at Wiralee Station; a cattle station that’s been in the family since 1848. There, he reads the awesome manuscript and learns of Smokey’s adventurous journey.
Gunnie overhears several secretive conversations during the weekend. His snobby Aunty Kate wants to divorce his uncle and sell Wiralee Station. He finishes the manuscript and opens the mysterious envelope. Will it legally prevent his aunt from selling Wiralee Station?
To purchase a signed paperback, email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Footnote: The gentleman featured on the cover of my book is master drover, Mark Arbuthnot. Sadly, Mark recently passed away, having been the chief advisor for the filming of 'The Man From Snowy River' one and two. An extraordinary horseman and a great guy.
Below, you will see the cover of the sequel to this book, 'A Drover's Blanket'.