Summary

Interview with Bev Cook by Deb Anderson at Nandaly in February 2005. Bev Cook is a dryland farmer on her property at Nandaly in Victoria's Mallee region. Bev came to the Mallee from Melbourne in 1960 to work as a governess. She moved to Sea Lake a year later and then moved to Nandaly after marrying her husband in 1961. In this interview, Bev discusses her experiences of living with the drought in the Mallee and the future of the district.

This interview is one of 24 oral histories documenting the lived experience of drought, and the cultural and historical construction of climate, and which forms the Mallee Climate Oral History Collection. This Collection is an outcome of the PhD research by Deb Anderson. In 2003 Deb Anderson received a Doctoral Research Scholarship, jointly sponsored by the University of Melbourne (Australian Centre) and Museum Victoria. The key focus of her cross-disciplinary research was the lived experience of drought and perceptions of climate change in the Victorian Mallee.

These oral histories and photographs are featured in a book by Deb Anderson, entitled 'Endurance: Australian Stories of Drought', published by CSIRO in 2014.

The project has direct links to individuals, locations and themes featured in the Victorian Women on Farms Gathering Collection, Australia's Biggest Family Album and the Future Harvest project.

Description of Content

Bev discusses her move to the Mallee for work, her close connection to the area, living through the 1982 drought, physical impacts of drought, relationship with the environment, weather forecasting, the future of the Mallee, the role of science in farming and drought, government policy, community support during a drought and media coverage of the drought.

Physical Description

Imation brand Compact Disc.

Significance

This collection documents the lived experience of drought and perceptions of climate change in the semi-arid Mallee wheat-belt of Victoria. This project coincided with a key moment in time when Australians were confronted with the issue of climate change and its meaning for their futures. The oral histories and photographs document the enduring historical narratives of Mallee life of endurance, adaptation and survival, which are placed in the context of contemporary concerns about drought and climate variability, and an uncertain future in a climate change world.

A ‘life history’ approach was used for each participant in the oral history project. The interviews allowed participants to talk about their lived experience of drought and perceptions of climate change, in their own terms. These 22 people come from a variety of backgrounds and community involvement: farmers, financial counsellors, members of social action and welfare groups, members of local government, a newspaper editor, a nurse, educators, administrators, agronomists and researchers. The photographs support the oral histories with images of the participants in the context of their family, farm, and broader rural landscape.

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