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Environment and History

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Environment and History

Did they Really Hate Trees? Attitudes of Farmers, Tourists and Naturalists towards Nature in the Rainforests of Eastern Australia.

Warwick Frost

Environment and History 8(2002): 3-19

Feelings of hatred, fear and alienation towards the Australian environment have been amongst the major themes of Australian history. Farmers especially have been characterised as hating trees, particularly in the densely treed, difficult to clear rainforests of eastern Australia. In contrast, in recent years there has been consideration of nineteenth and early twentieth century tourists, naturalists and artists taking delight in these same rainforests. Generally characterised as having urban sentiments, they have been portrayed as in stark opposition to their rural counterparts.

Such a clear-cut division seems too absolute. This paper presents evidence of farmers who greatly appreciated the rainforests. Attempting to preserve rainforests, they failed in some cases, but in others were successful. In some instances, farmers were keen naturalists and in others they gradually evolved into tourism operators.

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