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Book Review: Fire Country by Victor Steffensen

Book Review: Fire Country by Victor Steffensen

Book Review: Fire Country by Victor Steffensen

12 May 2020

Written by Victor Steffensen, an Indigenous descendant of the Tagalaka people, Fire Country passes on decades of his knowledge in ‘cultural burning’.

Reviewed by Peter Hobbs

Australia is still recovering from the trauma of a horrific fire season.

However, stories have emerged of properties that miraculously escaped, seemingly protected by Indigenous cultural burning methods. 

In this reformative book Fire Country, an Indigenous descendant of the Tagalaka people, Victor Steffensen, passes on decades of his knowledge in ‘cultural burning’ and is a timely guide to an ancient and seemingly superior method of land management.

The subhead to Fire Countrypromises that “fire management could save Australia”, but Victor is not just talking of asset and land protection. He sees the importance of this knowledge being handed down and embedded in everyday practice as a way to reconcile and unite Australians, for all to learn and to live closer to the land.

Like Bruce Pascoe’s Dark Emu, Fire Countryis one of the most important books I’ve read in years. I hope everyone explores and embraces this cultural practice, because, as Victor says, “The fire is just the beginning of understanding the important journey ahead for us all.”

Fire Country is available at major bookstores.

Captain Peter Hobbs is a Corps Officer at the Bellarine Peninsula corps plant and Coordinator of The Salvation Army Greater Geelong Missional Network.

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