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26 March 2003

Australia has just weathered the longest and worst drought for a century.

Speakers from a range of disciplines will focus on the impact of drought and analyse its place in the environmental history of the world's driest inhabited continent at a free public forum at the National Museum this week.

The forum, marking this International Year of Freshwater, takes place this Sunday, just a week after 10,000 scientists and officials completed discussions on drought and water issues at the Third World Water Forum in Japan.

Dr Tom Griffiths, environmental and cultural historian from the Research School of Social Sciences at the ANU, will moderate the Museum forum and provide a history of 'the other turn-of-the-century' drought of 18951902. He'll reflect on how that drought influenced the way Australians saw themselves, their land and its potential.

Other speakers:

  • Alicia Brown, presenter of ABC Radio National's Bush Telegraph, will discuss the role of her program in reflecting rural experiences of drought;
  • John McDonald, journalist and former head of Australian art at the National Gallery of Australia, will focus on images of drought in Australian art;
  • Dr Linda Botterill, of the National Europe Centre at ANU, will talk about the politics of drought;
  • Amanda Hodge, Cairns-based environment reporter for The Australian, will outline how tropical Australia coped with the drought;
  • Daniel Connell, ANU PhD student, will analyse how climate change puts water management in the Murray-Darling Basin under threat.

The forum Drought in the Year of Freshwater will take place in the Museum's broadcast Studio from 2pm to 4pm on Sunday, 30 March.

The Museum's gallery Tangled Destinies: Land and People focuses on how human history is written on the land, and how Australian agriculture has been shaped by the natural environment.

For media enquiries, please contact Sandy Forbes at the National Museum of Australia on (02) 6208 5301, 0408 679 308 or .

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