Landscapes of Our Hearts: Reconciling People and Environment

Matthew Colloff

2021 Winner

Landscapes of our Hearts

Judges' comments

Landscapes of Our Hearts is a compelling, elegantly written exploration of Australia’s diverse landscapes in all their beauty and mystery. From the High Country to the Willandra Lakes, from the intricacies of water management in NSW to Moreton Bay figs in Sydney’s Domain and beyond — the author looks at how different people and communities have made their mark on the environment, and how those environments have, in turn, shaped us. It suggests that a renewed connection to the landscape may help us re-imagine a shared and sustainable future. 

Landscapes of Our Hearts is a work of impressive breadth, a work of real intellectual and creative ambition. Sometimes lyrical, sometimes, hard-hitting, it interweaves environmental history with memoir, with Indigenous voices, fieldnotes, settler diaries, literary references and more. It asks the reader to look anew at our history, at the natural world, and ask ourselves how we might speak to each other across cultural divides and find creative ways to deal with climate change. 

This book takes a bold, inventive approach to the writing of history. There’s a questing voice at the heart of this text. Landscapes of Our Hearts digs deep to ask big, important questions—and resist simplistic answers. The writing is sophisticated and accomplished; it moves confidently across the domains of science and culture. Matthew Colloff synthesises research and ideas from multiple fields to create a highly readable work of history. This is a substantial and outstanding achievement.  

Updated on 21 February 2024