The Blue Plateau
At the farthest extent of Australia’s Blue Mountains, on the threshold of the country’s arid interior, the Blue Plateau reveals the vagaries of a hanging climate: the droughts last longer, the seasons change less, and the wildfires burn hotter and more often. In The Blue Plateau, Mark Tredinnick tries to learn what it means to fall in love with a home that is falling away.
A landscape memoir in the richest sense, Tredinnick’s story reveals as much about this contrary collection of canyons and ancient rivers, cow paddocks and wild eucalyptus forests as it does about the myriad generations who struggled to remain in the valley they loved. It captures the essence of a wilderness beyond subjugation, the spirit of a people just barely beyond defeat. Charting a lithology of indigenous presence, faltering settlers, failing ranches, floods, tragedy, and joy that the place constantly warps and erodes, The Blue Plateau reminds us that, though we may change the landscape around us, it works at us inexorably, with wind and water, heat and cold, altering who and what we are.
The result is an intimate and illuminating portrayal of tenacity, love, grief, and belonging. In the tradition of James Galvin, William Least Heat-Moon, and Annie Dillard, Tredinnick plumbs the depths of people’s relationship to a world in transition.
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Praise and Prizes
“One of the wisest, most gifted and ingenious writers you could hope to find.”
“The Blue Plateau conveys a deep sense, rooted in the very syntax of a lush prose about an austere land, that there can be no meaningful division between nature and culture, between humans and all the other life that interdepends with us, not in the backcountry of southeastern Australia, nor anywhere else. . . . I’ve never been to Australia, but now—after this book—it comes up in my dreams.”
“Mark Tredinnick tells us a vivid weave of stories which add up to a story of homeland, his for some years, and along the way he illustrates the complex ways we come to a sense of place, rural or downtown. The Blue Plateau is a gift; a guide to understanding all of us, everywhere; one of those books you read slowly, so it will last, and this one will.”
“Mark Tredinnick’s snapshots convey an intuitive, emotional heft. The author is also a crack natural historian who knows a brumby from a bullock, out there in the scribbly gum and hanging swamps. Tredinnick may not have been born in one of the valleys’ huts, but you would never know it from his elemental intimacy.”
“Mark Tredinnick’s book requires patience; readers may find themselves in a temporal thicket as several pasts mingle with an elusive present. Absorbed slowly, as a pastoral ‘landscape of loss’ and ‘experiment in seeing and listening,’ the book richly rewards that patience.”
“Mark Tredinnick’s mission in this strikingly beautiful testimony to the power of place is to convey the texture and ambiance of the Blue Plateau, and his spangled sentences glide like creeks around mighty eucalyptus. . . . In this exquisite meshing of landscape and language, Tredinnick gives voice to the spirit of a place where longing and change are writ large.”