Using the work of great Australian painters and poets as an entry point, this cultural study counters the popular myth that early colonial settlers were environmentally irresponsible and offers both aesthetic and historical evidence that suggests nature always figured prominently in the Australian national consciousness. Preserving endangered species, protecting forests, maintaining public land rights, and staving off climate change were at issue in the first environmental law of Australia enacted in 1788. Parlimentary debates, personal observations, and artistic renderings explore the texture and dimensions of early Australian environmentalism.
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Tim Bonyhady is both an art historian and environmental lawyer and is currently a Senior Fellow in the ANU's Urban and Environmental Program. His previous books include Images in Opposition: Australian Landscape Painting 1801-1890 and Places Worth Keeping: Conservationists, Politics and Law. This is his eleventh book.