Interview with Colleen, Brent and Melissa Morrish by Deb Anderson at Tiega via Ouyen, in February 2007. Brent Morrish and Melissa Pohlner are harvesting contractors and farmers in Ouyen, Victoria. Brent was born and raised on his family's Ouyen farm. His wife Melissa was born in Ouyen and moved with her family to Ningan, New South Wales when she was five. She recently returned to Ouyen with Brent.

This 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

Colleen refers to the land owned by herself and her husband which had recently been compulsorily acquired by the State as it pondered constructing a toxic waste dump at Tiega. Colleen reflects on the difficulties her family faced while living on their land which they acquired in 1983-1984. She also mentions her involvement with the Women on Farms Gathering at Sea Lake. Melissa and Brent discuss the difficulties of the 2006 season as their yields 'were nothing flash' due to poor rain and mention their harvesting contracting business. The couple discuss their changing attitude to climate change, media coverage of climate change, impact of drought on the local community and the future of agriculture in the Mallee

Physical Description

TDK MC-60 mini cassette. Interview with the Morrishes is on side B. A recorded trip through the Mallee with Jane is on side A of the tape.


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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