New book on the history of the Paterson Valley

MAGIC: Cameron Archer on the riverbank at Paterson with his new book "The Magic Valley" which captures the changing patterns of the social and agricultural history of the valley. Picture: Michelle Mexon
MAGIC: Cameron Archer on the riverbank at Paterson with his new book "The Magic Valley" which captures the changing patterns of the social and agricultural history of the valley. Picture: Michelle Mexon

The Magic Pudding, the classic Australian children's book by Norman Lindsay tells of a pudding which always replenishes itself after being eaten.

The Magic Valley - The Paterson Valley Then and Now - is a new book by Dr Cameron Archer AM based on his 40-plus years living and working in the valley, along with his post graduate studies at the University of Newcastle.

Apart from working in the valley's community and agricultural industries Cameron has been active in the Paterson Historical Society for decades, writing various books through the Society and also with Tocal where he was principal of Tocal College for 27 years.

"I worked away on this for many years and then when I retired I finally got it over the line," he said.

"It's been a long process."

From the mid 1980s he interviewed many long time residents about their life and times on the Paterson River. In 2008 his PhD on the environmental history of the Valley was the springboard to this new book which is published through his own imprint, ACA Books.

The book is a fascinating read of 400 pages with a number of images previously unpublished and with maps to support the text.

The book gives a detailed examination of how the environment has changed, starting importantly with the way it was when cared for by the Aboriginal people.

"We can learn that this little valley has come through 200 years of European settlement and land use probably better than most," he said.

"It's hard to generalise about degradation of the environment but clearly the environment has been transformed, what we know now and with the attitude that is in our community, the valley as a piece of Australia is in good hands and in pretty good shape."

He aims to show that through the passage of time the valley has been very much like the magic pudding - due to its quite high rainfall, being reasonably stable and diverse it has been able to replenish itself.

Well known journalist and author Scott Bevan will launch the book on Sunday, September 22 at the Paterson School of Arts hall at 3pm.

The event is free but the Society would like to have an indication of numbers for catering purposes. RSVP to https://eventbrite.com.au/e/69807781955