AustLit logo
image of person or book cover 5414337690097144234.jpg
This image has been sourced from online.
Issue Details: First known date: 1981... 1981 A Million Wild Acres : 200 Years of Man and an Australian Forest
The material on this page is available to AustLit subscribers. If you are a subscriber or are from a subscribing organisation, please log in to gain full access. To explore options for subscribing to this unique teaching, research, and publishing resource for Australian culture and storytelling, please contact us or find out more.

AbstractHistoryArchive Description

'Here is a contentious story of men and their passion for land; of occupation and settlement; of destruction and growth. By following the tracks of these pioneers who crossed the Blue Mountains into northern New South Wales, Eric Rolls - poet, farmer and self-taught naturalist - has written the history of European settlement in Australia. He evokes the ruthlessness and determination of the first settlers who worked the land -- a land they knew little about.
Rolls has re-written the history of settlement and destroyed the argument that Australia's present dense eucalypt forests are the remnants of 200 years of energetic clearing. Neither education nor social advantage decided the success of the first settlers, or those squatters, selectors, stockmen and timber getters who helped grow the Pilliga forest. Few men were more violent than John Macarthur, few rogues more vigorous than William Cox, few statesmen more self-seeking than William Wentworth.
Rolls' environment teems with wildlife, with plants and trees, with feral pigs; with the marvellous interaction of insects and plants, rare animals and birds. The lovely tangle which is the modern forest comes to life as Rolls reflects on soils, living conditions, breeding and ecology' (GHR Press website).

Publication Details of Only Known VersionEarliest 2 Known Versions of

    • Melbourne, Victoria,: Nelson , 1981 .
      Extent: xiv, 465 p., 32 p. of platesp.
      Description: illus.
      ISBN: 0170053024
    • Ringwood, Ringwood - Croydon - Kilsyth area, Melbourne - East, Melbourne, Victoria,: Penguin , 1984 .
      Extent: xiii, 465p.p.
      Description: illus.
      ISBN: 0140071660
    • McMahons Point, North Sydney - Lane Cove area, Sydney Northern Suburbs, Sydney, New South Wales,: GHR Press , 2011 .
      image of person or book cover 5414337690097144234.jpg
      This image has been sourced from online.
      Extent: 1 v.p.
      Edition info: 30th. anniversary ed.
      • Foreword from 'Eric Rolls and The Golden Disobedience' by Les Murray ; introductory essay 'The Writing of A Million Wild Acres' by Tom Griffiths
      ISBN: 9780868064642 (pbk.) 9780868067148 (hbk. : limited ed.)

Other Formats

  • Also braille and sound recording.

Works about this Work

Encounters with Amnesia: Confronting the Ghosts of Australian Landscape Inga Simpson , 2019 single work essay
— Appears in: Griffith Review , January no. 63 2019; (p. 272-281)

'Nature writing has never been more popular. In recent years it has become an international publishing phenomenon, with titles such as Helen Macdonald's 'H is for Hawk' (Jonathan Cape, 2014), Robert Macfarlane's 'Landmarks' (Hamish Hamilton, 2015), Amy Liptrot's 'The Outrun' (Canongate, 2016) and Sy Montgomery's 'How to be a Good Creature' (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2018) scoring significant worldwide success. Australia, too, has its own rich history of nature writing. For more than a century, nature writing was 'the' primary literature for writing the country; a vital part of the ongoing process, for settler-Australians, of coming to feel at home in what were initially unfamiliar environments, and of creating a sense of national identity around them. Yet, today, nature writing is not widely known or understood here, and it's apparent that more Australians have read 'H is for Hawk' (18,000 copies sold so far according to Bookscan) than any of our own contemporary works.' (Publication abstract)


Dark Emu and the Blindness of Australian Agriculture Tony Hughes-d'Aeth , 2018 single work essay
— Appears in: The Conversation , 15 June 2018;

'What if Australia were to stop farming? At approximately 3% of gross domestic product, the removal of agriculture from the economy would be a significant hit. It would affect our balance of payments — 60% of agricultural produce is exported and it contributes 13% of Australia’s export revenue.' (Introduction)

Meat-Eaters Eve Vincent , 2018 single work essay
— Appears in: Sydney Review of Books , June 2018;

'In 2015, Richie Benaud hosted an ‘Australia Day’ barbeque, a pantheon of colonial historical figures on his invite list. Benaud gathered the English navigator, Captain James Cook, who remapped and renamed the east coast of this continent in 1770, and Burke and Wills, whose agonising deaths at Coopers Creek in 1861 were possibly in part the result of them coming to rely on the seeds of an aquatic fern, nardoo (Marsilea drummondii), for nutrition.' (Introduction)

Literature Shaped by the Landscape Nicolas Rothwell , 2014 single work column
— Appears in: The Australian , 31 October 2014; (p. 15)
'Eric Rolls and Les Murray found a path to a distinctively Australian voice.'
Pioneers of Pilliga Robert Willson , 2014 single work column
— Appears in: The Canberra Times , 23 March 2014; (p. 26)
Seeing the Forest and the Trees John Blay , 2008 single work review
— Appears in: The Australian Literary Review , February vol. 3 no. 1 2008; (p. 9-10)

— Review of A Million Wild Acres : 200 Years of Man and an Australian Forest Eric Rolls , 1981 single work non-fiction ; Convincing Ground : Learning to Fall in Love with Your Country Bruce Pascoe , 2007 single work prose
Changescapes Ross Gibson , 2010 single work criticism
— Appears in: Halfway House : The Poetics of Australian Spaces 2010; (p. 17-33)
Reading 'Walkabout' in the 1930s Mitchell Rolls , 2010 single work criticism
— Appears in: Australian Studies , vol. 2 no. 2010;
'The Australian magazine Walkabout, loosely modelled on National Geographic, was published between 1934 and 1974, with a concluding single edition being issued in January 1978. Unlike National Geographic, the very middlebrow Walkabout has attracted little critical scrutiny. The few responses to Walkabout have predominantly criticised its role in fomenting a specific version of the settlement myth, in particular that of promoting white progress and modernisation of the outback against a projected Aboriginal absence. Leaving aside its representation of Aborigines (this matter is dealt with in a forthcoming essay) this paper argues that at least in the first decade of Walkabout's long run, its warmth for and promotion of Australia, particularly the interior and remote regions, is distinctive when contrasted with the nationalist fervour of other contemporary movements, and that ideologically-bound criticism overlooks the more nuanced forms of settler belonging the magazine facilitated.' (Author's abstract)
Revisiting the Wild Acres Les Murray , 2011 single work criticism
— Appears in: Meanjin , Spring vol. 70 no. 3 2011; (p. 93-100)
Eric Rolls and the Golden Disobedience Les Murray , 1982 single work criticism
— Appears in: Quadrant , December vol. 26 no. 12 1982; (p. 44-53) Persistence in Folly 1984; (p. 149-167) The Paperbark Tree : Selected Prose 1992; (p. 163-183) A Working Forest : Selected Prose 1997; (p. 148-166) The Quality of Sprawl : Thoughts about Australia 1999; (p. 177-208)
Pioneers of Pilliga Robert Willson , 2014 single work column
— Appears in: The Canberra Times , 23 March 2014; (p. 26)
Last amended 5 Jul 2018 12:13:02
  • Pilliga, Narrabri - Boggabri - Wee Waa area, Far North NSW, New South Wales,
    Powered by Trove