English, Department of


Date of this Version



Published in The Littoral Zone: Australian Contexts and Their Writers, ed. C. A. Cranston & Robert Zeller (Amsterdam: Rodopi, 2007), pp. 71-92.


This chapter surveys and assesses from an ecocentric perspective some representative literary portrayals of the Australian deserts. Generally, it contrasts works that portray the desert as an alien, hostile, and undifferentiated void with works that recognise and value the biological particularities of specific desert places. It explores the literature of three dominant cultural orientations to the deserts: pastoralism, mining, and traversal. It concludes with a consideration of several multi-voiced and/or multi-genred bioregionally informed works that suggest fruitful directions for more ecocentric literary approaches.