No matter where you look in Australia, you’re more than likely to see a eucalyptus tree. Scrawny or majestic, smooth as pearl or rough as guts, they have defined a continent for millennia, and shaped the possibilities and imaginations of those who live among them.
Australia’s First Nations have long knowledge of the characters and abilities of the eucalypts. And as part of the disruption wrought by colonial Australia, botanists battled in a race to count, classify and characterise these complex species in their own system – a battle that has now spanned more than two hundred years.
Gum: The story of eucalypts & their champions tells the stories of that battle and of some of the other eucalyptographers – the explorers, poets, painters, foresters, conservationists, scientists, engine drivers and many more who have been obsessed by these trees and who have sought to champion their powers, explore their potential and describe their future states. Eucalypts have fuelled this country’s mighty fi res as readily as they’ve fuelled so many arguments about the ways they might be thought of – and yet they are as vulnerable as any other organism to the disruptions and threats of climate change.
This new edition of Gum, from award-winning author Ashley Hay, is a powerful and lyrical exploration of these transformative and still transforming trees. It’s a story of unique landscapes, curious people, and very big ideas.
Ashley Hay writes with heart, head, energy and passion. She understands the natural world as we must all experience it, with deep love and respect. To preserve Country and to save ourselves we must live with and in a treed world. They are our champions, just as Ashley Hay is for them. – Tony Birch, author of The White Girl and Dark as Last Night
Gum is one of my favourite books, I return to it often. Ashley Hay’s curiosity ranges wide, her research skills run deep and she’s a beautiful writer, thinker and storyteller. To have all these skills brought to bear upon a tree as deserving, as iconic, as the eucalyptus: well, I’m in heaven. – Sophie Cunningham, author of City of Trees and Melbourne
A classic of Australian environmental writing, Gum offers a startling new perspective on Australian history, suggesting powerful new ways of seeing the past and revealing the complex and often surprising ways trees shape both our physical and imaginary worlds. – James Bradley, author of Ghost Species and Clade