Philip Hoare in The Telegraph:
On the shores of New South Wales, a coast along which, even now, one could imagine James Cook sailing past on the Endeavourof a civilisation on the edge of utter wilderness. growth forest into what would eventually become lavatory paper.
In many ways, Greer’s book is a middle-aged escape act. Put her in the open country, and she feels happy: “Only in suburbia do I begin to feel frantic and hopeless, suddenly back where I was in my teens, imprisoned, heartsick, revolted by the endless roofscape, waiting for life to begin.” She’d rather end her life in the wastes: “Better a swift agony in the desert than my mother’s long twilight in a seaside nursing home.” After much searching of Australia’s wild corners, Greer finally finds her utopia in the shape of Cave Creek, 60 hectares of rainforest on the Gold Coast of Queensland boasting a remarkably high degree of biodiversity – and a chequered history of logging and intrusive agriculture. It is that new world conflict that powers White Beech’s story: one of invasive species – botanical, animal and human. After all, its author has declared it her intention never to call Australia home until Aboriginal sovereignty is recognised. Indeed, Greer’s first act, having bought Cave Creek, is to try to find its traditional owners – the Aboriginal people whose deep-time culture cuts through Western occupation. And yet Greer’s own bloody-minded, can-do attitude, it seems to me, is an essentially Australian characteristic. The rest of this wonderfully idiosyncratic book is taken up with the documentation of Greer’s “Cave Creek Rainforest Rehabilitation Scheme”, designated by plastic signs around the property instructing all comers that anyone taking anything out of it will be subject to prosecution (or, worse still, the vocal ire of its owner).