Fire Country: How Indigenous Fire Management could help save Australia by Victor Steffensen
Hardie Grant, 2020

This book might become a classic in the ongoing conversation and efforts to manage fire to bring back the health of the land of Australia (at the same time as protecting property and lives). Written after years of working with two senior elders the author describes in a conversational way and in some detail, the importance and significance of fire in indigenous cultures. It is a key tool in keeping the land healthy to support Country in all its forms (biodiversity). The early chapters about his observation and learning from the elders on the importance of being able to read the land were especially fascinating.

I was moved and encouraged reading about his doggedness in dealing with ‘the authorities’, the strength of his convictions and his setting-up of workshops around the country to demonstrate his beliefs. He remains optimistic—rather in the way Bruce Pascoe does—about the shared future Australians might enjoy if we can harness the old knowledge to current knowledge for the benefit of Country.

As The Biggest Estate on Earth, by Bill Gammage, changes the way we see Australian landscapes, this book changes our perceptions and awareness of the complexity and wonder of fire in our country. Thought provoking and encouraging, I think this is an important read for everyone.

Mandy Mitchell-Taverner

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