The Spirit of Rural Australia

By Liam Davison


More than 80 percent of Australia’s population is clustered in and around cities on the coastal fringe, and yet the lives of Australians on the land still capture our collective imagination.

For over 200 years the pioneering spirit of Australia’s rural people has enabled them to meet the challenges presented by a difficult climate in a fragile land. Today, that same spirit of resourcefulness helps farmers embrace the changes required to compete successfully in a globalised world market. “The Spirit of Rural Australia” acknowledges the foundations of the past and celebrates a future built upon a resilient country spirit. Evocative images and text combine to create a picture of rural life that will appeal to readers everywhere, but in particular, those Australians who have lived through the changes being explored. The book begins with an introductory essay surveying the rapid transformation of rural Australia from the early days of European settlement to the present. Five thematic sections follow, looking at critical elements of country life – Land, Work, Town, Communication and Home. Each section gives the reader an overview of how rural people across Australia come together to create a special sense of community and belonging. Character sketches interspersed throughout the book are drawn from particular images of people, place and landscape. Elements of story, anecdote, memoir and biography reanimate the lives of country people from a passing era, investing contemporary rural Australia with a healthy sense of place. There is a strong focus on work practices, lifestyles, and the daily routines of country people engaged in the activities that have helped shape the identity of rural communities over the last hundred years or so.

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