In the 1890s agricultural settlers moved into the Victorian Mallee, an area characterized by low rainfall and a deep-rooted eucalyptus mallee scrub. By rolling, cutting, and burning this scrub, large areas could be rapidly brought under cereal crops. The key to success on this agricultural frontier was cheap land and the cropping of broad acres using labor-saving cultivation and harvesting machinery. From the 1890s to the early 1920s, settlers successfully farmed the southern regions of the Mallee. In the 1920s settlement pushed north into drier regions, but settlers were allocated blocks too small to be viable, and in the 1930s world commodity prices collapsed. From 1938 to 1944 settlers across the Mallee experienced a run of very dry years, and dust storms became a feature of Mallee life. Government intervention resulted in the consolidation of blocks, which enabled settlers to less intensively cultivate their land and to combine cropping with sheep farming. Government research encouraged new methods of cultivation in the 1940s to arrest sand drift.

The text of this article is only available as a PDF.
You do not currently have access to this content.