Urban Salvage

The Drum


      JULY 2010

  • The River
  • What's New?

The River

The RiverCanberra journalist Chris Hammer has written a book on the Murray-Darling River basin that is a personal encounter with rural Australia. 'The River' isn't a didactic tome on the perils of ignoring Climate Change prophecies, but it recognises climate change, drought and irrigation as the key problems that beset the Murray-Darling basin. To everything to which you could apply structural economics or Marxist historiography, there is as well the meddling pollie, the renegade border irrigator, the ratbags, the no-hopers, yabbie rustlers and gelignite terrorists on the Paroo.

Hammer is able to convincingly portray aloof technocrats, the decent landowners, the optimists, as well as the despair, the sadness and the courage of small communities; the individuals who serve these communities with a steady heart and a sturdy hand; the importance of the family and its slow fragmentation in the bush.

Hammer steps out of airconditioned city life into an ageing unairconditioned Hyundai - eschewing the Holden ute, the Toyota Landcruiser or even elemental icons of rural Australia as say a Conargo Pub bumper sticker. He makes the mistake of questioning the first yarn told to him. Then, realising truth lies deeper than detail, he develops a hunger for bush yarns from this moment. The real bullshit in 'The River' comes in bureaucratic dosages - it seeps from the obscure and dense preamble to government policy documents. (p186)

'Somewhere in Canberra, the technocrats have decided that Wakool isn't worth the conveyance water... I think they want to shut down the irrigation area. But much better to prolong the suffering before stepping in to buy the water. Much better to pick the irrigators off one by one in distressed sales, much better to drive the price down as far as possible. Much better to announce generous sounding transition grants once the farmers are bankrupted, much better than telling them outright their time is up, much better than buying them out while they retain some of their savings and some of their dignity. Much better for politicians; much better for taxpayers...'

It's a great read in a candid, direct and personal language and will fill you with nostalgia for simpler times.


The River is published by Melbourne University Press
ISBN 9780522857368
Paperback. Published March 2010.

What's New?

Recycled Turpentine T & G   60 x 19mm   Rate $99.00/m2

Not often found as a salvaged floorboard, and often confused with Brushbox, Turpentine shares a wandering grainline, often revealed as a meandering fracture on the surface of old wharf decking. But it seems to drift to the deeper-toned end of the same colour spectrum. Purpley so - as if seen through a glass darkly. There's something about a 60mm board that works. Producing dimensional serotonins or proportion endorphins.


KD Jarrah   190 x 42mm   DAR Rate $33.00/m

Superbly coloured deep wine reds in kiln-dried boards. Suit shelving and furniture uses.


KD Stringybarks - Galley Lining Board   115 x 14mm   Rate $44.00/m2

New lining board available in limited quantities. We remill this product from falldown board from sawmills. It is only technically recycled - but according to some definitions, not - so let's not get hung up on labels in this era of PC fundamentalism. It is low value or waste forest product we have found a good higher valued use for. Plus it comes from certified forests in NSW. A tongue & groove edge profile that doesn't fully close up, but instead provides a U-groove or 4mm trenched face profile. A modern shadowline. Great for ceilings. Perfect for shop and commercial fitouts.