Crowded cities, untouched forests

Melbourne, April 1929

The lush, fertile landscape of Australia’s southernmost state of Victoria is described as still hardly cultivated.

Crossing South Australia’s stateline into the state of Victoria, Ross immediately notices a change in scenery. The change registers as an improvement, yet it is not defined by a specific imprint on the landscape, an example, that is, of a fully achieved Kulturboden. Rather, what Ross primarily likes about Victoria’s landscape is the damage that is not done here in comparison to South Australia, where large areas of forest has been cleared by ringbarking, leaving an “arid ghost of a tree” in its wake [p. 114]. The choice presented to inhabitants of mostly British extraction in Australia is thus between a crudely cultivated landscape and one not cultivated at all.

The reluctance of the Australian population to shape and cultivate their landscape is thrown into even starker relief by the fact that, according to Ross, Victoria has “the best climate and soil” of Australia. [p. 114] Despite this opportunity vast areas are unpopulated, owing to  large landowners’ conservative business models and the rural population’s exodus to the few cities.

Joachim Schätz

Colin Ross. Der “Gartenstaat” und die “Stadt fürs Geschäft”. In: Der unvollendete Kontinent. 1. Aufl. Leipzig: F.A. Brockhaus; 1930; 113–8, 104 verso, 112 recto verso.

Topic: Kulturboden
Case: Oceania-Asia trip 1928-30

See also

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