Paul Novelly, Editor-in-Chief, The Rangeland Journal. Email:


As Editor-in-Chief of The Rangeland Journal, I get sent all sorts of “stuff”.

However, of most interest recently is a ‘link’ provided by my wife (via Facebook – she is an aficionado) of the Andrew Malcolm Stewart “A Yearning for the Country” photograph collection from the State Library of Western Australia.

You may already be aware of the photographs, but, if not, have a look.  Log into the State Library of Western Australia website, and, in the search engine, type Stewart, A.M.  Up they come.

There are whole series of photographs with titles such as “Land and vegetation around Wiluna” and “On the Nullarbor, September 1949”, and while there are photographs of “crops” and other things, the collection contains some marvellous old photographs from places such as Mt Wittenoom, Cherrabun, Wooleen, Barnong and Twin Peaks stations among others, the old Derby road, and the old Kimberley Research station (when run by CSIRO).

Many of the photographs are of field days and other delights, and would perhaps be of particular interest to the “old timers” from the WA Agriculture’s Rangeland Management Branch.  However, I think anyone interested in what the world of rangeland management looked like 65 or so years ago would find them fascinating, if only for the lack of Toyota 4WDs and the plethora of ‘utes’.

And there is also a potential task associated with looking at these photos.  If you like, go onto Facebook, find the State Library of Western Australia, and on the WA Library’s Facebook page, you will find the photos in a post dated June 13, 2022 (I “liked” the Library’s Facebook page first, but I don’t know if I had to – my wife suggested it).  Each photo then comes with a ‘comments’ section, and there is some comment and debate about several of the photographs as to where the photo might “really” have been taken, who is in them (WA Agriculture Department advisors feature in some of the field day photos) and so on.  Some names known to Western Australians have already weighed in with comments about one or more photos, and I am sure the “old timers” referred to above (they know who they are) would be well placed to either add to the explanations or add to the confusion.

I have always been envious of the numerous photograph collections published in the United States that show the rangelands one hundred or more years ago.  While there are some similar publications in Australia (I know the Tropical Savannas CRC published one from around the Victoria River District), I am always interested in new “old photos”.  And this is apparently not the only collection of such photographs held by the WA State Library.  Who knows what gems might be unearthed if they were examined by those with literally decades of experience.  And where else might that experience be found if not in the ARS membership.

If you haven’t seen them (and perhaps I am the last one to find them), they are magic.


Editor’s Note:

Since Paul submitted this article there have been a number of other interesting rangeland-related Facebook posts on the State Library of Western Australia Facebook page.  These include:

  • Snakes, Fires, Bushrangers, Beetles and Marloo (Parts 1 and 2) – August Goerling
  • A Retirement Well Spent – John Beard
  • The Astonishing Story of Harry Butler (Parts 1, 2 and 3)
  • Mrs Nullagine – Mrs Thora Agnes Lloyd Harris

Why not checked them out!