Wastelands, Gardens, Hopes and Visions
The complex relationship of Australians with their climate is evident from the beginnings of European settlement. While, in the main, historians have focused on the negative of climate, outlining the ways in which droughts and floods have tested settler ingenuity, forged character and been an impediment, at times, to progress, this chapter gives voice to climate optimism. Promoting the climate is often described as boosterism. Yet this is far from the whole story as the trust in nature went far deeper, particularly as Australian settlers gained experience of the continent. More broadly, the tendency to assume that the Australian climate could support a British system of agriculture, and a sizeable population, rested with a foundational belief in the climate itself due to its material nature—its natural high variability, the cycles of wet and dry periods. This chapter explores how good seasons promoted a trust in climate in the period up to the late nineteenth century.