on air now

A historical description of Australian drought from 1874

William Ranken (1839-1902) describes the relentless nature of drought in his book, The Dominion of Australia (1874).

“.. all around was the most dreadful desolation.

There is nothing so oppressive and utterly subduing as a drought. It is not a fierce calamity, not a dreaded blow, nor any brief struggle; here, in the vast interior of Australia, it is a torturing Titan, overwhelming and resistless, but slow and monotonous in its destruction.

Daily the same glaring angry sky, the same cracked, gaping, thirsty earth, the leaden ghastly foliage, the glistening few blades of grass – all quivering in the mighty heat.

No green thing, no fresh colour, no breath of wind, no sound from earth or air or beast or bird or insect; all in silence – in a breathless appalling silence.

Nightly the sun sets in sullen anger, and the moon rises in the cold distant ether.

The firmament is clear beyond conception, the stars bright, the moon radiant; all cool, distant, dewless, pitiless.”