Examining the ways European society rapidly, radically transformed Australia's physical and human landscapes, the author writes of repeated environmental devastation - from the early slaughter of seals and whales to the destructive spread of sheep, through gold rushes and land settlement to British nuclear tests and the modern mining and timber industries. The author shows how Enlightenment ideas of progress, economic growth and development were reconstructed on Australian soil, and how the promise of the conquest of nature became a mockery in fact, resulting in the mass dislocation and destruction of indigenous populations. Accounts and comments by the explorers and surveyors, travellers, settlers and politicians, developers and activists who pioneered, directed, profited from and opposed the remaking of Australia's human and physical landscape imbue the story with life. The story unfolds through the delineation of phases of development -- convict transportation, free settlement, whaling, sealing, wool-growing, mining, logging -- from the domination of the developers to the emergence of opposition to the conquest of nature in Australia.
Thoroughly researched, and written with compelling and accessible scholarship, the book will appeal to anyone interested in Australian history and especially to those seeking an understanding of present-day environmental predicaments. "William Lines has spent two decades peregrinating around Australia, New Zealand, Britain and the United States, observing at first hand the human assault on the Earth.". This book is intended for students and researchers in environmental science, geography, and Australian studies.