The RHSV holds regular lectures during the year, between February and November. Past RHSV lectures can be listened to on the Podcasts page.
Tuesday 21 October 2014 – Picturing the Victorian Mallee, 1840-1945.
Speaker: Professor Katie Holmes
Venue: Drill Hall, 239 A’Beckett Street, Melbourne.
Time: 5.15 Drinks. Lecture 5.45.
Cost: Members free: Non Members $10.00
When Europeans first encountered the land we now know as the Mallee, they saw it as desolate, featureless, and hostile to human habitation. Fifty years later they were exultant about the ‘miracle of the Mallee’ as they celebrated its transformation into a vast field of golden grain. The ‘Howling Wilderness’ had become the ‘Promised Land’. But as the Federation Drought took hold, dreams of golden fields gave way to realities of dust, drought and despair. In the inter-war years, as Soldier Settlement Schemes floundered, the struggle for survival became, in the words of the Argus, ‘the story of a warfare, no less exacting, no less fierce, not a whit less decisive, than the war from which most of the settlers have come’.
This talk will explore the different ways in which the Victorian Mallee has been depicted and imagined – in maps, images and words – and the impact these imaginings had on the settlement history of this region.
Katie Holmes is a Professor of History at La Trobe University. She has diverse historical interests including oral history, autobiographical writings, the history of gardens and environmental history. Her books include Spaces in Her Day: Australian women’s writing of the 1920s & 1930s (1994), and Between the Leaves: Stories of Australian women, writing and gardens (2011). She is currently working on an ARC funded environmental history of the Mallee lands of southern Australia. Her talk will draw from this research.