Thursday, January 14, 2010

The dry land flourishes


John Oxley the first white explorer in the area saw land that was "uninhabitable and useless to civilized man". However, wherever the water touches rich crops grow ... grapes, grapes and more grapes. I've never seen so many vineyards. And citrus orchards by the mile. We are at Griffith.

Here's the blurb "Griffith was established in 1916 as part of the Murrumbidgee Irrigation Area project, designed to irrigate the dry lands of the Riverina and make them suitable for farming. Approximately 60% of Griffith’s population claim Italian background – the first wave of Italian immigrants came to Australia during the Depression while the second wave arrived in the late 1950s and early 1960s. Griffith is associated with good food and wine, which can be attributed equally to excellent growing conditions and Italian know-how. The Riverina is responsible for 60% of the grapes grown in New South Wales. "

3 comments:

  1. So it could have been part of the soldier-settler scheme.

    Now the problem that I see here is that the land is still not viable EXCEPT for the water. And it is the water that is becoming scarce. As you say, the channels are brimful, but that is because of the use of allocations and the locking up of water. If the rivers were to run freely again, this land would crumble.

    The ongoing dialogue this country would benefit from is about population. No longer should it be "populate or perish". If the resources required are too great and if the impact on the natural world is too permanent, then people should not be allowed to farm land that cannot support them except with government subsidies.

    Maybe I should shut up now ...

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  2. Go Julie - Go Julie!!
    The thing I don't get is that around this part of the country they grow rice??

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  3. Letty, rice coming up tomorrow I think.

    Julie, I knew the water would get you stirring. It's not so much the use of water that bothers me but paying the right price for it, for having the right infrastructure that doesn't squander water, for mitigating ecological effects. The productivity of this region with its combination of sun and water is astounding... this trip gave me a real appreciation of that aspect of the argument. It feeds our nation, it powers our economy.

    Much of our land, including the cities would not be viable without water in dams and irrigation and the water would otherwise just flow to the sea. But if we were paying the right price with due concern for those downstream would water intensive crops like rice and cotton be grown?

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