For over 100 years, people have been drawn to national parks by the promise of getting 'back to nature'. Australia has some of the oldest national parks in the world (the first park was created in 1879 just south of Sydney) and has more than any other country. They were distinctive for their emphasis on recreational use more than the protection of natural wonder. This focus on leisure activities has shaped the way in which Australians view their relationship to the parks since and posed a variety of challenges for park managers, concerned with the conservation of 'natural' landscapes.
How have people used national parks in the past?
What feelings of attachment have they inspired?
What impact have visitors had and how has popular enjoyment been negotiated with park authorities?
Playing in the Bush is an engaging account of the ways the national parks of New South Wales have been used over the past 130 years. Researched and written by seven young historians from the University of Sydney, the book weaves together stories of diverse experiences in our national parks. Established 'for the use of the public forever', they have had a long history of popular use and created deep emotional attachments among people from all walks of life.
From the romantic getaways of the late nineteenth century to the extreme sports of a century later, picnicking and partying, flower picking, nature study, camp fires, to getting up to no good, Playing in the Bush explores the place of national parks in Australia's cultures of recreation.
Caroline Ford is a cultural heritage researcher with the Office of Environment and Heritage (New South Wales).
Richard White is an honorary associate professor of history at the University of Sydney, specialising in the history of travel and tourism. He retired in 2013.
Notes on contributors
Introduction by Richard White and Caroline Ford1. The recreational rationale in NSW national parks by Richard White
2. Flirting with the picturesque: the effects of Romanticism and romance by Ella Barnett
3. It’s not all fun and games: rules, regulations and bad behaviour by Justine Greenwood
4. Playing with fire: the place of campfires in nature tourism by Julia Bowes
5. The comforts of nature: a history of recreational facilities by Fiona Howie
6. ‘The adventurer’s playground’: courting danger in national parks by Isobelle Barrett Meyering
7. Teaching citizenship: education and the nation in urban national parks by Claire Farrugia
' ... very relevant for people who are interested in park management but it also has broader appeal because of the diversity of its subject matter.'
Rachel Fitzhardinge Nature New South Wales
'One of the most satisfying aspects of the book, and one of its key contributions, is the way it so successfully illustrates the value of a historical perspective for deepening understanding of many current debates about the appropriate uses of national parks, and the range of management challenges that result.'
Lee Davidson Australian Historical Studies
'appealing series of essays considers ways in which national parks in New South Wales (NSW) have been managed and used for recreational leisure for 130 years ... a notable achievement by a group of young scholars.'
Melanie Hall Journal of Tourism History
' ... its evocative subject matter sent me off into reveries about my own experiences of campfires, romantic moments in sylvan glens and challenging canoe excursions, and then to the internet to investigate possibilities for future park visits. It will capture the imagination of the broad audience for which it is intended.'
Nancy Cushing Journal of Australian Studies
Size: 210 × 148 × 14 mm
14 colour illustrations and 35 b&w illustrations
Publication: 02 Aug 2012