Welcome to my blog. I am an Australian environmental historian and writer living and writing full-time in northern Tasmania. I have a background in public history, heritage and public policy and hold a BA from The University of Adelaide, MA in public history from Monash and a PhD in history from the Australian National University.

My current research interests include the environmental and cultural histories of the Southern Ocean, subantarctic islands and Antarctica; oceans and ice in the Anthropocene; human-animal relationships in ocean environments; environmental memory and storytelling; and island environmental stories from lutruwita (Tasmania).

I am currently a Visiting Fellow at the ANU School of History and member of the Centre for Environmental History. In recent years I have worked as senior historian at the Museum of Australian Democracy, a senior researcher in the Parliamentary Library where I specialised in the history of women’s political representation, and a senior researcher in the Senate Committee Office.

I have written on many aspects of Australian environmental, cultural and political history (see below). I have just finished writing a commissioned history of Australians in Antarctica for the National Library of Australia, and I’m now working on two new book projects.

  • The first is a book about law and global oceans, seas and shores being co-written with Erika Techera, Professor of Environmental Law at the University of Western Australia. It will be published by Routledge.
  • The second book marks a return to literary non-fiction about the natural world that I first explored in Wild Sea. This one focuses on Antarctica’s glacial and sea ice, and is provisionally titled ‘Melting: The Life and Death of Antarctica’s Ice’. It will be published by NewSouth in 2024.

Recent achievements

Wild Sea

  • Shortlisted, Frank Broeze Memorial Maritime History Book prize, 2019
  • Shortlisted and Highly Commended, Australian Capital Territory Book of the Year, 2019
  • Longlisted, Australian Book Industry Awards, Small Publishers’ Adult Book of the Year, 2019
  • Longlisted, New South Wales Premier’s History Awards, 2019
  • International and Australian reviews including: Nature: International Journal of Science; Science Magazine (US); Harper’s Magazine (US); The Spectator (UK); The Polar Journal (UK); Natural History Book Service (UK); History Today (UK); Global Maritime History; Blue Wolf Reviews; History Australia; Historical Records of Australian Science; Dictionary of Sydney; James Bradley, editor of Penguin Book of the Ocean, in The Australian
  • Excerpts published in The Atlantic (US); Sydney Morning Herald (Australia)
  • Listed in The Australian Books of the Year 2018, 22 December 2018

Selected interviews

Ice Bound: The Australian Story of Antarctica

Wild Sea

  • ABC Conversations with Sarah Kanowski, 22 June 2018
  • Time to Eat the Dogs: On Science, History, and Exploration, podcast with Michael Robinson, Professor of History, University of Hartford, Connecticut, USA, 3 July 2018
  • Saturday Extra with Geraldine Doogue, ABC Radio National, 9 June 2018
  • Radio Marinara with Bron Burton, Triple R community radio, Melbourne, 21 October 2018
  • New Books Network (Australia and New Zealand) with Jason Schulman, 7 September 2018

Selected books and articles

Ocean history

Ice Bound: The Australian Story of Antarctica, National Library of Australia, Canberra, 1 August 2022

Contributor to Narissa Bax et al, ‘Ocean resource use: building the coastal blue economy‘, Reviews in Fish Biology and Fisheries, March 2021 for the ‘Future Seas’ initiative (www.FutureSeas2030.org) hosted by the Centre for Marine Socioecology at the University of Tasmania

Review: Frances Steel, ed, New Zealand and the Sea: Historical Perspectives, Bridget Williams Books, 2019, for Australian Historical Studies, Routledge

Wild Sea: A History of the Southern Ocean, NewSouth Publishing,  2018; University of Chicago Press, 2019

(with Andrea Gaynor), ‘“I’ve had dolphins … looking for abalone for me”: Oral History and Subjectivities of Marine Engagement’, The Oral History Review, Oxford University Press, vol. 44, no. 2, 2017, pp. 260-277

Review: Michael Veitch, Southern Surveyor: Stories from Onboard Australia’s Ocean Research Vessel, CSIRO Publishing, 2015, for The Great Circle, Journal of the Australian Association for Maritime History, vol. 38, no. 2, 2016, pp. 93-95

‘Upwelling: The Rise of Ecological Consciousness in the Southern Ocean’, in Estelita Vaz, Arnaldo Melo and Cristina Joanaz de Melo, eds, Environmental History in the Making, vol. II, Springer, 2016

‘Carson, Rachel (1907-1964)’; Cook, James (1728-1779); ‘Science at the Poles’, Stephen K. Stein, ed, The Sea in World History: Exploration, Travel and Trade, ABC-CLIO, California, 2016

Rural history and heritage

‘Cultural Landscapes in Country Victoria’, in C. Sagazio, ed, National Trust Research Manual, Allen & Unwin, Sydney 1992, 2007

‘History and memory in Australia’s wheatlands’, in Graeme Davison and Marc Brodie, eds, Struggle Country: The Rural Ideal in Twentieth Century Australia, Monash University ePress, Clayton, Vic. 2005, 03.1-03.17

‘The Unsettled Country: Landscape, History, and Memory in Australia’s Wheatlands’, in Lindsay J. Proudfoot and Michael M. Roche, eds, (Dis)Placing Empire: Renegotiating British Colonial Geographies, Ashgate Publishing Limited, Aldershot, UK, 2005, pp. 41-59

 ‘Story Trees’, in Mandy Martin and Sarah Ryan, eds, The Lachlan: blue-gold, Environment Studio, National Institute of the Arts, Australian National University, Canberra, 2003

Kimberley Webber and Ian Hoskins with Joy McCann, What’s in Store? A History of Retailing in Australia, Powerhouse Publishing in association with the New South Wales Heritage Office, Sydney, 2003

‘Cultural Landscapes and ‘Designed Landscapes’, in Richard Aitken and Michael Looker, eds, The Oxford Companion to Australian Gardens, Oxford University Press, South Melbourne, Vic., 2002

‘The Central Highlands and Melbourne’s Water Supply, Victoria’ in Monuments and Sites Australia, published by Sri Lanka National Committee of ICOMOS for the International Council on Monuments and Sites, 1996

Victorian Steampower: An Illustrated Social History, Victoria Press and Scienceworks, Melbourne 1994

Women’s political representation

(with Marian Sawer), ‘Australia: The Slow Road to Parliament’, in Susan Franceschet, Mona Lena Krook and Netina Tan, eds, The Palgrave Handbook of Women’s Political Rights, Palgrave Macmillan, 2019

‘Unfinished Business: Women and the Republic’, in Mark McKenna and Benjamin Jones eds, Project Republic, Black Inc. Publishing, Collingwood, Vic., 2013

Representation of Women in Australian Parliaments 2014 (with Janet Wilson), Australian Parliamentary Library, Canberra, 9 July 2014

Electoral Quotas for Women: An International Overview, Australian Parliamentary Library, Canberra, 14 November 2013