- Audio Download
- Listening Length: 15 hours and 53 minutes
- Program Type: Audiobook
- Version: Unabridged
- Publisher: Audible Studios for Bloomsbury
- Audible.co.uk Release Date: 15 July 2014
- Language: English
- ASIN: B00K1UQ0D0
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank:
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White Beech: The Rainforest Years Audiobook – Unabridged
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There is a strange relationship between the immigrant Australian population with its superficial European roots, prejudices, bigotry and naiviety, and the indigenous population with its history deep in the mountains, valleys, deserts, rivers creeks and especially rainforests in that the immigrant is denied access to the culture and mystery of the continent, and when the immigrant feels they have some intuitive understanding of Australia, becomes almost an apologist for trespassing on the sacred lands of the ancestors.
I have experienced this myself - my birth family are from the same area (and slightly north - up to Noosa and Bundeburg) but it wasn't until my elder sister visited UK and I took her to our own sacred sites - for example the Rollrights - that she really understood the aching in the Aboriginal heart.
Germaine misses this point, despite her many years in the UK ....but perhaps she has always over-intellectualises and leaves little to intuition?
However a fab read and lesson in the history etc of a few acres and one woman's attempt to make amends for our screwing-up of the magic land of Oz.
She gives a decent historical overview of environmental degradation and the failure of farmers to understand what they are taking on. If you focus on what she is doing and why, and don't sweat over the names and claims of long dead botanists, you will have a good read.
But this is Germaine Greer and one cannot expect a temperate or balanced view. Below is a list of the things that most grated with me.
She snipes at others who put up notices threatening prosecution of those who remove plants from their land, yet puts up such notices herself. Her sister appears to have a career advising landowners on the maintenance of their properties in an environmentally sound way, and she has taught Germaine pretty much everything she knows about botany. Yet because she is not telling all her clients to just give the land back to the jungle, Germaine has the gall to doubt her sincerity and commitment.
She lapses into hippy speak at one point when she talks of the 'energy' in aboriginal sacred spaces. I almost fell off my chair laughing at her vain attempt to find the aboriginal owners of her land (spoiler - there never were any). I have no doubt that if there had been an aboriginal claim and the aborigines had taken exception to her plans there would have been the mother and father of all court battles.
I don't know if she has a view on global warming but she appears to make many return trips between England and Australia, while berating the people who mine the aluminium to make the planes.
She's a clever lady, and right about so much. Yet she makes enemies through her sheer lack of self knowledge.
This is a flawed book but there is enough of worth in it to justify buying it. It is also a physically well designed and appealing volume, particularly the jacket design.
She is of course,but now we meet her alter ego,her sister,and Germaine being Germaine,she sets out to learn all she can from her sister about the mysteries of plant life after she realizes she has stumbled providentially on an ancient Gondwanaland rainforest artfully disguised as an abandoned cattle farm.
Germaine the academic insists on popping up in the book to give us lengthy digressional lectures on obscure plant derivations,
species, genii and the like,but mercifully we get back onto the narrative soon enough.
And the narrative is extraordinay in what it unfolds about the restorative abilities of the ancient rainforest once the strangling interlolpers from later eras are cleared out.
This is a wake-up call for all Australians about their true treasure, but as the film of Nick Roeg elegaically portrayed, they are too damned scared of the natural world to really appreciate they are in a nightmare of fear.
She tells the story of her time spent owning and revitalising a small area of rainforest in Australia.
Strongly recommended, not just to environmentalists, but as a general read.