Sludge by Peter Davies, Susan Lawrence | Black Inc.

Sludge: Disaster on Victoria's Goldfields

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Awards for Sludge

  • Shortlisted, 2020 Prime Minister’s Literary Award for Australian History
  • Highly commended, 2020 Graham Connah Award for Best Publication

About the author

Peter Davies

Peter Davies is a research fellow in archaeology at La Trobe University whose work focuses on the social, industrial and environmental archaeology of colonial Australia. His previous books include Henry’s Mill: The Archaeology and History of …

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Susan Lawrence

Susan Lawrence is a professor of archaeology at La Trobe University and has spent thirty years studying the goldfields. She is the author of Dolly’s Creek: An Archaeology of a Victorian Goldfields Community and, with Peter Davies, An …

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Praise for Sludge

Sludge is a fascinating, entangled story of human endeavour and environmental destruction. An exciting and timely reminder that history is a dirty business, precisely because it oozes its way into the present.’ —Clare Wright

‘Sludge, slurry, slickens or porridge: call it what you will, mining waste made a mess of Victoria’s environment. In Sludge, Susan Lawrence and Peter Davies carefully investigate this murky history of greed, mismanagement, reform and forgetting. It is a gripping account of an environmental catastrophe, and it vividly conveys the long-term costs of short-term gains.’—Billy Griffiths

‘This is the book about the goldfields I most wanted to read but didn’t think could be written. It’s a remarkable achievement.’—Tom Griffiths

‘If Victorians dreamed of glittering gold, what they got was a tidal wave of sludge that covered the land like a poisonous blanket and made the rivers run thick as gruel. Susan Lawrence and Peter Davies vividly recreate the forgotten landscapes of nineteenth-century Victoria, revealing how people and mining destroyed the country that nurtured them, and how that silent legacy is still with us today. Here is a powerful parable, a work of brilliant rediscovery and a wakeup call for our own times.’ —Grace Karskens