Think of a small, degraded patch of bush, surrounded by industrial sites and roads, only 4 kilometres from the centre of a sizeable city. It’s a tiny remnant of the ravages of gold fever, ‘symbolic of the way nature is now attacked and besieged on all sides.’ At just over 4 hectares, it has 50 mine shafts!
Why should anyone take an interest in such a place? Wouldn’t it be better just to look away, at somewhere a bit more encouraging?
To find an answer to these questions, have a look at Island with corners: Crimson Chats on the White Hills 2019. It’s the ‘complex story behind the Chinese Diggings Historic Reserve and the way it is today’, and is a 68 page large format book written by Bendigo field naturalist John Lindner. The appearance of unusual birds on the reserve provoked the author to a detailed examination of the history of this patch of land, and his careful documentation of this history is an enthralling and instructive read. As he says, ‘Every now and again, a mere mortal may be astonished by something wonderful, beautiful and unexpected in Nature.’ This book recounts such an experience. It’s an object lesson in paying attention to our local neighbourhood (the author lives one kilometre from the reserve). At a time when there’s a bit of angst around about limitations on travel, perhaps there’s a lesson here for all of us: the next Big Thing in travel might be a seemingly unimpressive patch of land around the corner.
So: if you’re getting a bit downcast by the way the world is going, you could do a lot worse than spend some time on this book. It’s $25 from the author at firstname.lastname@example.org