About Parched

Parched: Cultures of Drought in Regional Victoria will explore how people and communities have lived through and managed drought over time and in different regions of Victoria.

Big dries affect individuals, families, communities, economies, landscapes and ecosystems. They stretch the physical and mental resources and resilience of farms and regional centres. The meanings and experiences of Australian drought have changed over time and responses to it have always been contingent on local, social and cultural contexts.

This project aims to expand our knowledge of how we can better adapt to the environments on which we depend. We will concentrate on four Victorian regions and their NSW borderlands – Mildura, Bendigo, Albury/Wodonga and Shepparton – to explore the historic, artistic, media, cultural and scientific aspects of past and present droughts. In particular, we will focus on four droughts: those of Federation (1895–1903), World War II (1937–1945), the Millennium (1997–2009), and the recent drought (2017–2020).

The first of its kind in Australia, this project will contribute to resources for responding and adapting to the impacts of environmental change on rural and regional centres, and involve the wider community through a public program of collaboration with regional galleries, media, and community organisations. Over fifty oral history interviews will result in an oral history archive to be lodged with the State Library of Victoria. Comprising a multidisciplinary research team from La Trobe University and the University of Melbourne, the project brings together scholars from the environmental humanities, media, creative arts and climate science. It will run for three years, 2021-23 and is funded under the Australian Research Council Special Research Initiative.

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