School of History and Philosophy of Science
[The University of Sydney]

A Wide & Open Land: a journey through landscape, language & identity in Western 
Sydney's Cumberland Plain
Peter Ridgeway

Dates: Monday, 17/4/2023
Time: 5:30pm
Venue: F23, Michael Spence Building, Level 5, Room 501
How to register: Free, no registration required
Zoom Link:<>

Abstract: The Cumberland Plain Woodland is one of Australia's best known and 
most critically endangered ecosystems. The landscape is immediately 
recognisable: a flat basin of fertile land ringed by rugged sandstone walls; 
two opposing worlds sharing almost none of their biodiversity between them.

The human community identifies along almost identical boundaries with this 
ecological community, a cultural landscape so linked to landscape that its 
ecological name has entered common public use.

But this landscape of the mind did not exist just 40 years ago. The Darug, 
Gundungurra and Dharawal people divided their world by rivers, and still do; 
the vast Plain surrounded by sandstone is not in their world. Perhaps uniquely 
in Australia, the settler communities who invaded the West adopted Aboriginal 
landscapes of identity; until very recently the community of Campbelltown 
identified not with 'the West' but with the Illawarra, adopting the relational 
landscape of Dharawal Country in preference to geographical proximity.

Working for 20 years as a conservation ecologist in the Cumberland Plain I have 
become fascinated by how identity has been invented, framed, and misused, and 
how an ecological concept framed in the late 1980s has not only served in 
conserving an ecosystem, but extended to frame the dominant social identity of 
millions of Australians.

These thoughts culminated in my decision to walk this landscape end to end, 
meeting farmers, traditional owners, property developers and conservationists 
along the way, seeking to understand what 'the West' means. In the book which 
resulted I explore the entangled lives, histories and ecologies of one of 
Australia's most diverse and contested landscapes.

Bio: Peter Ridgeway is a conservation ecologist from Western Sydney where he 
leads the restoration of Cumberland Plain Woodland and its endangered plant and 
animal species. He works extensively with local Aboriginal communities, 
farmers, community groups and government to save one of Australia’s most 
critically threatened landscapes. In 2019 he walked 179 kilometres across rural 
Western Sydney to highlight the destruction of 'the West' and its impact on our 
communities both human and natural, subsequently publishing his account in A 
Wide & Open Land: walking the last of Western Sydney’s Woodlands.
Link to Zoom<>


[The University of Sydney]
Keep in touch
[Facebook] <>
[Twitter] <>
[Instagram] <>
[LinkedIn] <>
[YouTube] <>
Copyright © 2023 The University of Sydney, NSW 2006 Australia
Phone +61 2 9351 2222 ABN 15 211 513 464 CRICOS Number: 00026A

Please add to your address book or senders safe list to 
make sure you continue to see our emails in the future.

 your preferences | Opt 
 using TrueRemove®
Got this as a forward? Sign 
up<> to 
receive our future emails.
View this email online<>.

Disclaimer<> | Privacy 
statement<> | University of 

SydPhil mailing list

To unsubscribe, change your membership options, find answers to common 
problems, or visit our online archives, please go to the list information page:

Reply via email to