Review

The River

Brainfood

The River

Product details

Product name: The River

Reviewer: Kate Arneman

Author: Chris Hammer

Publisher: MUP

Price: $34.99

G Rating:

4

As a veteran environment journalist, Chris Hammer considered himself pretty knowledgeable on the environmental crisis facing Australia's Murray-Darling River system. He was well-versed in gigalitres, irrigation quotas and the policy manoeuvres of state and federal governments. It was only when he decided to hit the road to see the Murray-Darling up close that he realised how much there was to learn beyond statistics and the bureaucratic language of official reports.

Instead of conducting his research from the Canberra Press Gallery and talking to politicians and policy-makers, he travelled to the communities most affected by the river's decline, conversing with the locals over a cold one at the pub. He visited the parched creeks and dried up lakes, learning to listen to the landscape as those outback kilometres ticked by.

The River is so much more than a collection of facts and figures about the Murray-Darling. In true travelogue style, Hammer uses his experiences in far-flung places as a springboard to a rich discussion of the past, present and future of the river. As he meets farmers, national park rangers, and traditional landowners, he explores the relationship between people, national identity and landscape.

His clear-eyed analysis of the environmental issues is matched by compelling and often poignant story-telling.

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