"I grew up in Melbourne, on the outskirts of the city. At the bottom of the hill where we lived, a creek had been realigned to prevent it from flooding. Huge concrete slabs on either side created an artificial channel that stretched as far as the eye could see. My friends and I would set off on our bikes, with the creek on our right and the city behind us. We would spend the day exploring beyond the suburbs until eventually the sewers, motorways, reservoirs and backyards began to give way to the natural flora and fauna of the Victorian bush. We watched the balance of power shift; two different worlds combining to give birth to another. Victor Hugo described this as “that kind of bastard countryside, somewhat ugly but bizarre, made up of two different natures.”
I’m still drawn to the spaces where natural and human worlds clash, interact and combine. However the innocent excitement I once felt for these places has given way to unease. Writing in the 19th century, Hugo could not have foreseen the catastrophic effects humanity would have on nature. But we see it everywhere. Industrialisation and accelerated human modification of the landscape have created ecological challenges which all of us, including scientists and political leaders, are either struggling to cope with, or even more terrifyingly, seeking to ignore."